Afghans Left in Limbo | “Why I Am Now a Christian”

  1. Editor’s Note: On Global Gatherings and the BLESS Prayer
  2. Pakistan: Final Warning Leaves Thousands of Afghans in Limbo
  3. The Philippines: A Smoothie Business Spread Hope, Happiness, and Jesus
  4. Israel: Grappling with Collective, Generational Trauma
  5. USA: Why Well-Known Atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali Is Now a Christian

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Editor’s Note: On Global Gatherings and the Bless Prayer


Maybe, like me, you wish you could attend some of the amazing collaborative, creative gatherings you see on the Missions Catalyst calendar. Or perhaps you’d like to make it to meetings of global significance like the APEC leaders’ meeting happening in San Francisco.

Which ones would make Heaven’s headlines? When people gathering to encourage one another and lift up the name of Jesus, that’s surely worth noting. See Brian Stiller’s recent dispatches from The Future of the Gospel Forum in Turkey and a Global Pentecostal Summit held in Singapore. I am blown away by reports of what God is doing.

At the ame time, we continue to hear about heartbreaking situations. So, I’d also like to share a little tool that I came across to help us pray for the suffering and sick this holiday season. Mission India suggests using the very flexible BLESS prayer. (See also a description of this prayer from Zúme.) I’m using it to pray for Palestinians in Gaza and for the 125 kids receiving Operation Christmas Child boxes my church sent this week. Who’s on your list?

May you, too, be blessed as you pray!

Thankful for you,

Pakistan: Final Warning Leaves Thousands of Afghans in Limbo

Source: INcontext International, November 1, 2023

On October 3, the government of Pakistan announced that all “illegal immigrants” must leave the country by November 1 or face forced deportation. The announcement has been criticized by foreign governments and international rights organizations for its alleged targeting of the approximately 1.7 million Afghans living in the country as refugees and displaced persons.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced that those who voluntarily turn themselves in will receive “incentives and help” with their relocation. However, those who do not leave voluntarily will face arrest, detention, and deportation with no assistance. Those leaving are allowed to take up to 50,000 Pakistani rupees (US$173) out of the country.

Bugti emphasized that there will be no deadline extensions, and any Afghan person found without proper documentation will be handed over to Afghan authorities. He also warned that businesses and property owned by Afghans are also at risk of seizure. However, the decision is said to not affect those who are officially registered as refugees in Pakistan or those with proper paperwork to be in the country.

Read the full story and check out INcontext’s infograph on how to Pray for the Globally Displaced.

Wondering how things are going now that the deadline has passed? See a photo essay about the returnees,  “Just Sitting in the Dirt”: Afghans Forced From Pakistan Struggle to Find Shelter (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). Many are also returning to Afghanistan from Iran and facing similar conditions. The UN estimates that over 29 million Afghans—out of a population of around 40 million—need humanitarian assistance. Globally, the number of displaced people continues to break records.

The Philippines: A Smoothie Business Spreads Hope, Happiness, and Jesus

Source: Haggai International, November 2, 2023

In September 2012, Mango Magic was born with the idea to bring fresh mango smoothies to Tacloban, Philippines. In 2013, the successful business that had begun flourishing was wiped out by typhoon Yolanda. But, through hard work and dedication, the [owners] started their business from the ground up again. Today, it is a successful business with thriving franchises throughout the Philippines.

Like many Filipinos [president and CEO JJ Chan] was raised in the church. He knew about God at a very young age and was always active in the church [but] realized that, over the years, his focus and achievements in life had become about worldly success and the approval of others. He rededicated his life to Jesus and began living his life through God’s plans, and not his own.

“I am now re-committed to being God’s instrument to effect change and transformation in the lives of people in this nation through the gospel of Jesus,” he says.

He cares for his employees the way Jesus cares for his people and, just as Mango Magic wants to “spread happiness in every smoothie,” JJ wants to ensure all the employees experience true joy in Jesus.

Read the full story.

See also Coffee Shop Makes Global Impact (Assemblies of God News) and and another story about making creative connections that I couldn’t resist, I Love Your Hairy Feet (Operation Mobilization).

Israel: Nation Grapples with Collective, Generational Trauma

Source: Mission Network News, November 14, 2023

Israeli forces are at the gates of Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza City’s main hospital above Hamas headquarters. The hospital is running out of fuel, and at least 32 patients have died. Yet, Hamas blocked Israeli efforts to deliver more fuel. The IDF says they plan to help evacuate babies at the hospital’s request.

An Israeli defense spokesperson emphasized Al Shifa Hospital is not under siege and reminded the world that Hamas still has 239 Israeli hostages.

Meanwhile, missile sirens continue to sound every day in Israel. Over 9,500 rockets have been fired on Israel from both Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north since the war began.

Victor Kalisher of the Bible Society in Israel says Israelis are grappling with collective, generational trauma. “When someone has been through a trauma, everything that reminds you of that brings you back to the situation that you remember.”

Read the full story with a few links, prayer points, and reminders of the ways trauma is woven through the nation’s history, and another for an angle you may not have seen: Bedouin Blood Brothers and the Destiny of Israel (One for Israel).

For an interesting virtual visit to the Holy Land, watch Levitical Choir Performs at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount (YouTube/The Temple Institute).

USA: Why Well-Known Atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali Is Now a Christian

Source: Christian Headlines, November 14, 2023

A well-known scholar and author who grew up Muslim before turning to atheism says she now considers herself a Christian and believes her new faith provides the best answers to the purpose and meaning of life.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow for the Stanford University Hoover Institution, previously was considered a member of the New Atheist movement alongside authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens.

But in a new column at UnHerd, she says she has become a Christian.

Hirsi Ali attributes her conversion to global reasons—she believes atheism doesn’t have the answers for a clash of civilizations—but also to spiritual reasons.

“I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable—indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?”

Hirsi Ali’s 2006 book Infidel recounted her early years in Somalia and her eventual rejection of Islam.

Read the full story. You might also appreciate a commentary on the conversion of former atheists and agnostics in The Empire Strikes Back (Ted Esler).

See also Artificial Intelligence Researcher Became “Billy Graham of Iran” (God Reports).