World: Honoring Data in Missions

Source: WEA Mission Commission, August 26, 2023

More than 30 years have passed since the term “managerial missiology” was introduced to the vocabulary of global missions. At the turn of the century, the concept was embraced and explored by the Mission Commission as we countered what we considered to be an unbalanced emphasis on human controls to achieve the Matthew 24:14 vision in obedience to Jesus’ Matthew 28:18-20 commission within a certain time constraint.

But, as a wise person once said, “God cannot lead you where to go with information you do not know.” It is well beyond time to address the denigration of missions research, statistics, data, and other information that has evolved in some missions circles. We desperately need robust and well-presented data to guide us as we “reimagine” missions for the new era ahead.

The full article. Maybe we and our churches and ministries should ask ourselves: Do we tend to elevate data too highly or dismiss it too quickly? Is there a middle way?

Australia and Bhutan: Mass Exodus Brings Hope Amid Uncertainty

Source: INcontext International, August 16, 2023

Since May 2022, 12,000 Bhutanese have emigrated to Australia, approximately 1.5% of the population [of Bhutan]. In 2022, there were 30,000 Bhutanese living in Australia, and the rate at which people are leaving is increasing exponentially.

Bhutan has a mostly closed economy, largely dependent on tourism and hydroelectric power. When the borders were reopened post COVID-19 in September 2022, new tourism taxes on top of a nightly fee caused a slower-than-expected recovery in the country’s tourism sector [and contributed to] a 24% unemployment rate, especially among students, who now find themselves fleeing to Australia.

There are several perspectives to consider concerning this mass migration.

Firstly, more Bhutanese will have the opportunity to be exposed to Christianity in Australia. The global Body of Christ can pray that the Australian Church will take up this opportunity to minister to those coming from a nation with such a large “unreached” population, and that the Bhutanese who encounter Christ in Australia will have a desire to return to their country and share the gospel with those within their sphere of influence.

Secondly, Bhutan might be pressured to be more open in order to encourage more people to stay in the country.

In all instances of migration, we can see the fingerprints of God.

Read the full story. Also from INcontext, read Unlocking the Heart of the Unreached World. It describes the challenges and opportunities for ministry in the eight countries of South Asia.

Speaking of what God’s doing through migration, read an article making a case that immigrant churches may be key to church growth in America (Ministry Watch) and a related article about a network of diaspora churches We Must Praise Him in the African Way (The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others). Inspiring.

🌏 Korea, Niger, India, Eritrea, and a Watching World

  1. Editor’s Note: Persecution, Proverbs 22, and a World Parliament
  2. Korea: The Future of the Korean Mission Movement
  3. Niger: Triggers, Causes, and Ramifications of the Coup
  4. India: Religious Violence in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur
  5. Eritrea: 13 Christians Have Been Set Free from Prison

Read or share the email edition or scroll down to read the stories.

Persecution, Proverbs 22, & a Parliament of World Religions


This edition includes several in-depth analyses (in the form of short excerpts). You may want to save or share some of them with others. They address situations in Korea, Niger, and India with skill, humility, and a biblical perspective. Too heavy for you today? Skip to the end for news of prisoners set free in Eritrea and several other countries.

A few more finds:

Standing with the Persecuted

Supporting and praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters is a frequent theme in our Missions Catalyst news briefs. But Wissam al-Saliby says it’s not enough. In fact, he goes so far as to say international anti-persecution strategies are failing Nigerian churches (Christianity Today). Learn more about al-Saliby and his fight for persecuted Christians around the world in Faithful Among the Nations (World).

Wisdom from Proverbs

We’ve heard a lot about the Proverbs 31 woman. But where are today’s Proverbs 22 men? Read Jaimie Oliver Garande of Zimbabwe’s brief reflection on Proverbs 22:9 in To Solve Problems Skillfully (Haggai International). Do you think we need more Proverbs 22 leaders? Let’s pray for them.

Also pray for those participating in the Parliament of World’s Religions, August 14-18 in Chicago. But all religions are not one. I suggest you get the insider scoop from Carl Teichrib, a critical observer and author of the book Game of Gods.


Korea: The Future of the Korean Mission Movement

Source: Lausanne Global Analysis, July 2023

Korean churches have been committed to cross-cultural missions for decades. They have officially sent out more than 22,000 missionaries abroad in 2021. However, things are not what they used to be.

Changes in mission contexts have grown over the years with increasing nationalism, difficult visa situations, and an influx of migrants to Korea. Symptoms of change and confusion in mission were present long before the COVID era. The most palpable blow was a systemic eviction of Korean missionaries from a restrictive access country in 2017 and 2018. The number of Korean missionaries in this country was once more than 4,000 and has dropped to less than 40 percent of 4,000, according to the data in 2022.

Another critical change was the decline of Christianity in Korea. The number of Christians in Korea has plateaued for the past two decades since 2000 and has decreased drastically in recent years. The problem is not just with the number. Society’s trust [in] Christians is at its record low.

The full story has footnotes, charts and a bit of a case study for a new way forward. The author argues that Korean churches (and others) needs to adopt a more holistic understanding of mission that is not limited to international sending and church planting or focused only on the unreached.

See also Why Christianity Quit Growing in Korea (The Gospel Coalition).

Got time for a couple of podcasts?

Niger: Triggers, Causes, and Ramifications of the Coup

Source: Sahel Blog, August 3, 2023

On July 26, Niger suffered a coup, or perhaps a show of force that escalated into a coup. On July 28, the CNSP proclaimed the head of the Presidential Guard, Abdourahmane Tchiani (or Tiani), as military head of state. The coup has all sorts of geopolitical ramifications, real and imagined, but here I want to leave geopolitics aside and focus on Niger.

The first question concerns the proximate trigger for the coup. Tchiani himself, in a major speech on July 28, evoked “the continuous degradation of the security situation in our country” as well as “bad economic and social governance” as the reasons for the coup. Meanwhile, well-informed observers believe that the real trigger was an effort by [ousted president Mohamed] Bazoum to fire Tchiani. That is the most plausible theory I’ve heard so far.

Tchiani, born in 1964, is an elite, career member of the Nigerien Armed Forces. He has been at the head of the Presidential Guard since 2011. It is probably obvious why he would not want to give up such a post, but to add a little academic heft to the discussion, this saga has made me think of Professor Richard Joseph’s work on “prebendalism” in neighboring Nigeria—the idea that corrupt officeholders treat their offices as extractive opportunities for themselves and their network of supporters. In this view, Tchiani saw his job as simply too valuable to lose.

Read the rest of this long and thorough analysis; including links.

See also an infographic on the coup in Niger (INcontext).

How will believers and ministries be affected by the presence of military dictatorships stretching across this band of Africa from coast to coast? Justin Long addresses this in a new prayer publication based on his weekly news roundup.

India: Religious Violence in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur

Source: Christian Freedom International, August 10, 2023

Pastors and believers in Uttar Pradesh, India, are being jailed, including mothers with their babies, reports the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin.

Since an anti-conversion law was passed in December 2020 up to May 2023, “234 people have been arrested and jailed under the statute, none convicted,” reported Morning Star News.

Pastor Harendra Singh and his wife Priya were arrested during a worship service on July 30. Hindu political extremists accused the couple of trying to convince villagers to convert. Their three-year-old son was incarcerated with Priya.

The same day, Pastor Amarjeet Ram and five believers were arrested during a prayer meeting. Seven other Christians were jailed in other districts.

Days earlier, nine believers were jailed after Hindu nationalists invaded their prayer meeting, threatened, and smashed church property. Later, five women who gathered to pray for the jailed believers were also accused and jailed.

Pray for India’s pastors and believers to remain steadfast in their faith. Pray for God’s protection for Christians to worship and serve others.

Read the full story for more incidents.

Also read this collection by multiple contributors, Reporting on Hindu Nationalism (Religion Link). There’s a lot there.

Eritrea: 13 Christians Have Been Set Free from Prison

Source: Todd Nettleton, Voice of the Martyrs, August 2023

On July 22, I sent an email asking you to pray for two Christian pastors spending their 7,000th day in prison and to demand that the Eritrean government release them and hundreds of other imprisoned Christians. In the days after that email went out, more than 10,000 people added their names to the list of those praying for Pastors Haile Nayzgi and Kiflu Gebremeskel as well as other imprisoned Christians in Eritrea.

On the website, we provided information about sending an email or fax to the Eritrean Embassy on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Eritrea. I don’t know how many emails and faxes were sent, but some readers told us their emails to the embassy were bouncing back. Perhaps embassy staff turned off their email server to stop the deluge of emails from concerned Christians.

Just six days after sending that email, we received word from Christian contacts in Eritrea that 13 Christian prisoners had been set free! These six men and seven women had been in prison for 10 years!

I’m saddened that Pastors Nayzgi and Gebremeskel were not among those released. We continue to pray that they will be freed from their prison cells soon, perhaps even as Peter was set free in Acts 12.

Read the full story.

See also other good news of Christians released in Algeria, Haiti, Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan.

Tendrils of the Gospel | 7,000 Days in Prison

  1. North Africa: The Tendrils of the Gospel
  2. Eritrea: 7,000 Days in Prison for Two Christian Pastors
  3. Cuba: Cuban Missionaries Ready to Go to the Nations
  4. East Asia: Three Interesting Stories About China
  5. Muslim World: I Have a Friend Who Lives in Darkness

Read or share the email version or scroll down.

Image: Eritrean Christians worshiping (Voice of the Martyrs). See related story in this edition and pray for our global brothers and sisters.

North Africa: The Tendrils of the Gospel

Source: Anglican Frontier Missions, June 22, 2023

On a short-term mission trip to North Africa, we were encouraged by the rector of our host church to explore further south where the population is primarily Berber. There was something there he wanted us to discover, and we saw the twinkle in his eye. The region we visited was on the edge of the arid Sahara and was totally Muslim.

We entered a small Berber museum [in the form of] an underground dwelling. Underground homes provide protection from the excessive heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, and, in ancient times, from raiders. The museum curator greeted us warmly, eager to share with us the history and customs of his people. Knowing we were Christians, he was also pleased to share with us the Christian history of his people.

We were shocked and thrilled to find tendrils of the gospel still present among the Berbers. The people in this particular Berber village record their religious history on their wedding textiles, woven by the bride’s family and embroidered by the groom’s family. They include symbols of animism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most prominent symbols are Christian ones: three crosses, a fish, a palm frond for Palm Sunday, and three Vs for the persons of the Trinity.

As we now prepare to become long-term cross-cultural workers in the same region in which we saw these wedding textiles, we’re so encouraged to know that God has already gone before us.

Read the full story.

Note that tendrils of the gospel show up in other cultures, too. Many of the places that are unreached today once had a Christian presence.