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?
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.
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.
- North Africa: The Tendrils of the Gospel
- Eritrea: 7,000 Days in Prison for Two Christian Pastors
- Cuba: Cuban Missionaries Ready to Go to the Nations
- East Asia: Three Interesting Stories About China
- 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.
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.
Source: Mission Network News, July 21, 2023
Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs recalls, “Just months after my visit to Eritrea, several of the pastors I had met were arrested. Saturday, July 22 [marked] the 7,000th night in prison for two of those pastors, Kiflu Gebremeskel and Haile Nayzgi.
“Like every other imprisoned Christian in Eritrea (currently estimated at nearly 400 people), they have been denied legal counsel and a trial. In fact, they’ve never even been formally charged with a crime.
“Seven thousand days in prison. Please take a moment to think about that number. One thousand weeks away from their families. Children that were very young when their fathers were arrested are now college graduates and even parents themselves. How many family milestones have these two Christians missed over the past 7,000 days?
“If you are a Christian, please pray for them. God has sustained persecuted Christians through many trials and long imprisonments; I’ve heard amazing stories of how he has worked in prison cells in China, Iran, and Sudan. Please pray that God is writing similar stories—even today—in the lives of Pastor Kiflu and Pastor Haile. Ask God to sustain, protect, and provide for their wives, children, and grandchildren, and pray that He will graciously reunite these families soon.”
Read or listen to the full story, evidently based on this two-minute YouTube video (Voice of the Martyrs USA).
Reaching for a calculator? 7,000 days is more than 19 years.
From another part of Africa, read Military Coup Puts Christians in Niger on Edge (Global Christian Relief) and see Niger Coup: A Simple Guide to What’s Happening (BBC).
Source: Southern Baptist International Mission Board, July 27, 2023
Cuban Baptists are poised to go to the nations. International Mission Board teams are eager to receive these missionary candidates as global missionary partners. But it’s sometimes difficult for them to get visas, and at times, when they do, they’re finding it hard to renew them.
Currently, more than 50 potential missionaries in Cuba are preparing to go. These missionaries, backed by the mission boards of the Cuban Baptist conventions, are largely sent by funds provided through the Cubans to the Nations project.
Saul and Dora were working with the lost in Colombia. Both are musicians, and they’ve been able to use their musical giftings to compose songs, sharing the gospel in the musical style of each of the people groups. They’re now back in Cuba awaiting reassignment because of visa issues.
Another Cuban missionary family also worked with unreached groups in Colombia. The husband is a doctor, and he was able to provide medical and gospel access to several communities. The wife is a musician. She was able to work with the other musicians to share the gospel through music. Currently, they are also back in Cuba waiting to be reassigned because their visas were denied.
The full article includes pictures and more stories about Cuban missionaries as well as a way you can help them financially.
See also a story about Southern Baptists and their collaborative efforts in Puerto Rico (North American Mission Board) and, from another source, consider what Harvey Kwiyani says on reimagining global witness in his recent thought-provoking post, Nothing For Us Without Us.
Government efforts to control of the church in China may be old news, but now, apparently, the country has launched a plan to make Christianity around the world look more like it does in China.
Read China Announces Plans to “Change the Face of World Christianity” (Back to Jerusalem).
A Revival of Prayer
According to leading pastors in Taipei, Taiwanese Christians are responding to the threat of war with China with an unprecedented movement of prayer and fasting for revival, unity, repentance and protection.
Read 40,000 Revival Prayer Groups Spring Up as Taiwan’s Christians Face Beijing’s Belligerence (Christian Broadcasting Network).
Young Adults in China
On a more general note, you might appreciate an article about how young people in China are turning away from high-pressured careers to stay at home with their families—that is, their families of origin.
Read What are “full-time children”? Young adults in China are rejecting the rat race and getting paid by their parents to do chores while living at home and (possibly related?) Life as a Chinese Gen-Zer just got a lot harder thanks to the Chinese government hiking college tuition by up to 54% (Business Insider).
Source: A Life Overseas, July 18, 2023
I have a friend who lives in darkness. Her giant house has armored doors. There are snarly dogs in her courtyard and a muscular, protective husband in her home office. She never leaves home unless covered from head to toe, and even then, only to visit her brothers.
Yet, when she opens the door and pulls me inside her home, where dark, high windows let in only a hint of sunlight, she lights up the darkness. She is like a treasure hidden in a field.
Oh, how I want to share Jesus with my friend.
Once, my husband and I were presenting about our mission to one of our supporting churches. I told them about this very special woman and posed a rhetorical question: “Who is going to tell her about Jesus?” To my surprise, someone in the congregation answered.
“You,” he said.
I swallowed a big lump in my throat, because I knew he was right.
If she hears about Jesus, it will likely be from my mouth, between sips of bittersweet mint tea with afternoon Arabic cartoons playing in the background.
And, if I’m honest, it’s terrifying.
Read Dear Missionary: Are You Afraid of Success? The author’s conversation with herself about her fears and tendency to sabotage her own efforts is poignant; you may relate.
In this edition:
- Bible Study: God’s Heart for Muslims, Third Edition
- Journal Issue: EMQ on the Digital Frontier of Missions
- Articles: Found Around the Web
- Events: Conferences, Training, and More in August
Read or share the email edition, or scroll down to see the stories.