Missions Catalyst 03.18.09 – World News Briefs

In This Issue: Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Russia, and More

  • RUSSIA – Heat of Harvest in Cold of Winter
  • SRI LANKA – Civilians in North Desperate
  • WORLD – Three Thousand per Hour Follow Christ
  • USA – Reaching Bengali Hindus and Muslims in New England
  • NIGERIA – Radio Station to Promote Godliness
  • INDIA – Pastor Shot in Bomb Attack
  • EVENTS – Encountering the World of Islam, Crossing Cultures

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic digest of mission news and resources designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Use it to fuel your prayers, find tips and opportunities, and stay in touch with how God is building his kingdom all over the world. Please forward it freely!

World News Briefs, edited by Pat Noble, are published twice a month.

RUSSIA – Heat of Harvest in Cold of Winter

Source: World Christian Ministries, February 19, 2009

Can you imagine turning a Russian Communist national treasure into a command center for the spread of the gospel throughout the former Soviet Union?

Incredibly, the New Testament Church (NTC) of Perm, Russia, has done just that. That congregation was able to purchase Vladimir Lenin’s Palace of Culture in 2005 and make it a headquarters for spreading the gospel all across Russia and former Soviet states.

Today NTC owns the largest church building in all of Russia. Its remodeled opera house auditorium seats 1,000 and NTC conducts three services each Sunday to accommodate its congregation of 3,500. So far they have planted 300 churches. They hope to plant 100 more in 2009. They also want to reach 2010 cities, towns and villages by the end of 2010.

There is no freeze on the gospel, thanks to Edward Grabavenko and his teams of warm-hearted Russian believers. They have faced the challenge before them courageously, and the fields are still white for the harvest.

Full story with map and pictures here.

SRI LANKA – Civilians in North Desperate

Source: Operation Mobilization News Bytes and Headlines, March 2009

The Sri Lankan Army has continued its relentless march north and east of the island, gaining control of territory formerly held by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

The Red Cross warns that a humanitarian disaster is looming as the LTTE is holding a UN-estimated 200,000 civilians as human shields. Some have been killed as they have tried to flee into the area controlled by government soldiers.

Thousands more Tamil families suffer unhygienic conditions in overcrowded camps for the displaced where they will likely have to stay at least two years. Five Christian NGOs have government permission to work in the camps and a hospital.

Meanwhile, Christians are very concerned that legislation against “unethical conversion” in Sri Lanka has been presented again by the Buddhist majority. Activists accuse Christians of offering jobs or money in order to get people to convert to Christianity.

Sign up for OM Headlines here.

Editor’s Note: The Window International Network has issued an emergency prayer alert for Sri Lanka. Viewer discretion advised; includes pictures of extreme brutality.

WORLD – Three Thousand per Hour Follow Christ

Source: Joshua Project via Joel News JNI 677, March 10, 2009

Joshua Project, a collaborative missions effort that focuses on unreached people groups, reports that an average of 160,000 a day hear the message of redemption in Christ for the first time. Every hour, 3,000 more people decide to follow Jesus Christ.

In 1800, those who had never heard the gospel were almost 75 percent of the globe’s population. Today the percentage of those who have not heard is 28 percent. That means, however, that about 1.5 billion people have not heard the gospel message even one time!

Fifteen years ago there were about 100 prayer networks around the world. Today there are 4,000 networks involving an estimated 25,000,000 intercessors.

Progress of the Gospel in the 10/40 Window:

Less than 2 percent of all missions giving is directed toward the 10/40 Window. Yet dollar for dollar and hour for hour, the harvest coming from the 10/40 Window nations outstrips that from the rest of the world 100 to 1.

The top 10 countries with the largest ‘unevangelized population’ are located in the 10/40 Window. Eighty-five percent of the world’s poorest of the poor live in the 10/40 Window. Forty-three of the top 50 countries that persecute Christians are in the 10/40 Window.

Sign up for Joel News here.

See also: State of World Christianity 2009, from the World Evangelization Research Center.

USA – Reaching Bengali Hindus and Muslims in New England

Source: Baptist Press News, March 14, 2009

According to [Paul and Elizabeth] Biswas [American Mission Board missionaries] about 1 million Bengalis live in the United States. About 7,000 Bengalis live in metro Boston – 4,000 in the Cambridge area. Eighty-eight percent of Bengalis from Bangladesh are Muslim; 11 percent are Hindus and Buddhists; and 1 percent are Christians.

“The biggest challenge for my ministry here is to mobilize the local churches,” Paul Biswas said. “We have more than 150 people groups here in the Boston area and the American churches are getting a new experience. They don’t know how to reach out to the vast number of Muslims and Hindus.”

Is it difficult to reach out to Muslims and Hindus with the gospel?

“As for Hindus, that’s my culture and background, so it’s not too difficult. Hindus think of Jesus as a god,” Biswas said. “I don’t find it difficult to reach out to Muslims, especially in the U.S. …It’s much harder back in Bangladesh.”

Full story with pictures here.

Editor’s note: Interested in reaching out to American Muslims? Consider attending an Oasis conference. To network with others reaching out to Hindus, consider the Rethinking Forum, April 18-20 in Pasadena, California.

NIGERIA – Radio Station to Promote Godliness

Source: Ecumenical News International, March 10, 2009

Nigerian banker Erastus Akingbola has launched a radio station that seeks to propagate morals, ethics, and godliness as the basic principles for nation-building in a country that forbids outright religious broadcasting.

Inspiration FM is the first Nigerian station to promote “godliness” as one of its objectives. Nigeria’s broadcasting code forbids the establishment of stations for outright religious broadcasting to the country’s 146 million people of whom about 50 percent are Muslims and 40 percent Christians. Christian and Islamic religious broadcasts are usually classified as commercial programs [but individual paid programs] can be broadcast on television and radio stations in the country.

Akingbola lamented what he called the debasement of the country’s moral, socio-economic, political, and even religious values. He said there is an urgent need to address the situation in Africa’s most populous nation, which despite its oil wealth, is beset by rampant corruption that holds back development.

Full story here.

Editor’s note: Learn more about what Nigerians are doing in mission by visiting the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association.

INDIA – Pastor Shot in Bomb Attack

Source: Compass Direct, March 10, 2009

In an effort to stop conversions to Christianity in the eastern state of Bihar, a 25-year-old man exploded a crude bomb in a church and shot the pastor on Sunday, March 8.

Police Inspector Hari Krishna Mandal told Compass that the attacker, Rajesh Singh, had come fully prepared to kill the pastor, Vinod Kumar, and then take his own life.

“Rajesh Singh threw a crude bomb from the window of the church, and the sound of the explosion created a chaos in the congregation,” said Inspector Mandal. As members of the church began to run out, he added, Singh came into the building and shot the pastor with a handmade pistol [before] church members caught hold of him and handed him over to police, the inspector said.

“In his statement, Singh said he was personally against Christian conversions and wanted to kill the pastor to stop conversions.”

The 35-year-old pastor was taken to a hospital in nearby Varanasi and at press time was out of danger of losing his life, according to [a local Christian leader].

Full story here.

EVENTS – Encountering the World of Islam, Crossing Cultures

Source: Marti Smith

March 30 – Start of another Encountering the World of Islam online class (International). This 12-week class is offered online several times a year by Caleb Resources. (Learn about live classes here. Consider hosting one at your church. It’s a good follow-up to Perspectives.)

May 1-2 – Crossing Cultures workshop (Pittsburgh, PA, USA). Mission trip in a weekend, focused on local ethnic communities. Sponsored by World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, with Caleb Resources (general info about the program here).

Read about more events on the Missions Catalyst Events Calendar. We welcome your submissions!

Questions, comments, submissions? Contact us.


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