Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Indonesia (MNN/WAS) -- The election commission in Indonesia announced this week that President Joko Widodo won April's election with 55 percent of the vote. While it was good news for Widodo and his allies, not everyone agreed with the results. Rival Prabowo Subianto refused to concede, declared himself the rightful winner of the April 17 poll, and promised to contest the results through the courts.

    A narrow view on riots in Indonesia

    As a result, political tension spilled into deadly clashes several nights in Java and Jakarta, with police using tear gas to disperse the mobs. At stake: the validity of the presidential poll, amid accusations of widespread fraud. Parts of Jakarta were in lockdown, with streets cordoned off and 30,000 police and military troops on standby. The president addressed the nation Wednesday night and reassured people that the violence was under control. As of Thursday, nearly 60,000 security personnel patrolled the streets.

    (Photo courtesy of Bruce Smith)

    Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associatesconfirms the situation even as they kick off a number of Bible translation projects in Borneo. "To me, what this reflects is how incendiary the whole situation is. You have the largest Muslim nation in the world [and] you've got a pretty large Christian minority. There's also a mixture of lots of other religious groups there as well. So, religion actually plays a very important role in the whole election process." Many of the protests take place on a local level, says Smith. "There are crowds in certain places, but basically, our translation teams know how to navigate the situations. They know how to stay out of harm's way and keep the work going -- so it hasn't disrupted us." To put the situation into context, Smith observes, "A lot of times the violence is about as big as the camera lens. What it appears is that the whole nation is in violence, and that's just not the case."

    Growing pains

    Smith describes the unrest as the convulsion of a nation in transition. "It's a reflection of how challenging the environment is from a security position. The flip side of it that we're seeing day-to-day is that more and more languages are asking for God's Word in their own language." It's important to note, "We're actually seeing an open door in some places where Christians have been elected into government positions. They're actually making progress toward supporting Bible translation using government funding. So again, we see this as a ripe opportunity for Bible translation to keep moving forward."

    Clamor for hope

    Wycliffe Associates intends to launch 100 new Bible translations this year among the most populous people on the island of Borneo. More than three million Dayak people on Borneo -- representing 287 languages -- are without the Scriptures.

    (Photo courtesy of Bruce Smith)

    Decades ago, missionaries shared the Gospel with the Dayak, predominantly in the Indonesian language. Word of mouth saw the Gospel spread from the cities to smaller towns and villages. Only a handful of the local languages had Bible translations. In some of the most remote Dayak villages, only a few of the residents speak Indonesian. Through an innovative translation method known as MAST, or Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation, Wycliffe Associates provides training to mother-tongue translators in a workshop setting, staffed by local believers. "These are all minority languages in which the Gospel has been proclaimed. There is a church that exists. You have church structures that are connected denominationally. You have elders and deacons and pastors -- you know, all of the normal things that we associate with a developed church -- and you have believers within that church that are multilingual, that are ready to do the translation work under their church's leadership." Smith adds that the translators and church leadership participate in a review process throughout the translation project to help ensure the translation is accurate. Twenty-first century neurological and education theories guided the development of the MAST strategy, which consists of four drafting steps and four accuracy checking steps.

    "One hundred language groups are already recruiting mother-tongue Bible translators to start translating," says Smith.

    Wycliffe Associates helps to connect these believers to the technology and tools: computer tablets, Bible translation resources, and training. "We are mobilizing a team of Indonesian Christian facilitators who can train the local people using our MAST methodology and can encourage them and walk alongside them through this process. So, truly, hundreds of facilitators are already in place that are able to respond to these other languages that are ready to get started."       Header photo courtesy of Gunawan Kartapranata/Wikimedia/CC.
  2. USA (MNN) -- In this year’s State of the Bible report, Barna Research Group notes that fewer than one in four believers regularly spend time in God’s Word. Yet the same number of people say the Bible influences how they live. Keys for Kids’ Ministries’ Greg Yoder observes, “We've basically become disengaged in the Bible here in the United States. There [is] only five percent of people that consider themselves biblically-centered. Only 19 percent say that they're 'Bible engaged.'” If adult Christians don’t invest in their own spiritual lives, how does it affect the next generation of believers? Barna explores the spiritual formation of children in this March report. Most Christian parents will acknowledge they are ultimately responsible for their child’s spiritual health, Yoder notes. However, “I think we replaced our social lives as families with gizmos, with smartphones... and we've become less interactive.

    “I think that's why we're relying more on the Church to teach our kids and to train our kids. Unfortunately, when you don't get that backing in the homes, you start seeing kids step away from the faith because it really doesn't mean much to them.”

    Keys for Kids helps young people discover Christ for themselves through daily devotionals – available in print and online – radio programs, and more. See what Keys for Kids has to offer here!

    How do you get kids to read the Bible?

    As any parent knows, kids are curious. Even the smallest hint at Christmas presents leads many children to investigate every nook and cranny of their parents’ closets in a search for hidden toys. Yoder says the same principle applies to spiritual matters, especially for young people between the ages of four and fourteen years old – a range he calls the “4/14 Window.”

    Pray kids who don’t know Christ will encounter His love this summer through “Word with Zach.”
    (Graphic courtesy of Keys for Kids Ministries)

    “Eighty percent of kids are looking for some kind of spiritual truth,” Yoder notes. “With that desire comes the opportunity for many Christians…to help teach spiritual truth. “As we invest in our kids’ lives spiritually, you're not going to necessarily see it today.... But...you might be surprised in a month or two when you start seeing your young person really change.” Timmy* is a perfect example. He was one of the 5,500 children who signed up last year for Keys for Kids’ summer reading program, “Word with Zach.” Along the way, Timmy gave his heart to the Lord. “He changed so significantly that [his] mom and dad wanted to know what was going on. They started reading the devotional and they, in turn, gave their heart[s] to Christ,” says Yoder.

    “You can't help but see lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through His spoken Word.”

    This summer, “Word with Zach” starts on June 1. Register now to enter a prize drawing. “We've got a lot of great prizes in store for young people. Plus, at the very end – if you read every single day – your name will be entered to win a brand new Kindle Fire.”         *Name changed   Header image courtesy of Samantha Sophia via Unsplash.
  3. International (MNN) -- There is a strong temptation in society to form “them versus us” identities. The schisms between political parties, religious groups, races, and socioeconomic statuses can be deep. Between Christians and Muslims, this divide often looks like fear. Persecution against Christians is on the rise around the world. With many Christian attacks perpetrated by Muslim extremists, that fear only grows. However, Jane* from Cry Out says allowing fear to dominate our interactions hinders our Christian witness in the Muslim world. “I think there are so many misperceptions that all Muslims are terrorists, or all Muslims want all non-Muslims to die, which is so not true. Muslims are just normal people like you and me. They have families, they have friends, they have dreams, they have hopes, they have aspirations, [and] they have just as many fears as we have. “Often, I think they have even more fear because we have the knowledge of the truth. We have the revelation of Jesus's love for us. They don't have any of the certainty that we have in God.... I think a lot of them live with more fear than we realize. But we allow our own fear, which is not based on truth, to blind ourselves to who they are.” Right now, the Muslim world is in the thick of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month focused on fasting and prayer as Muslims seek Allah’s favor. There are many Christian prayer initiatives during Ramadan encouraging believers to pray for Muslims to find salvation in Jesus Christ. Jane says praying for Muslims, especially during a season like Ramadan, can actively change our own hearts and foster compassion for the Muslim world.

    (Photo courtesy of Love Muslims)

    “Maybe part of what we should be praying is that God would replace the fear that we feel for the unknown -- for the person we don't understand because he or she looks different from me -- to replace that with His love for them. Because God loves all Muslims all over the world. “I think we can ask God to give us that love, that we would have the boldness to go to them and just speak to them as normal people and just love them the way that He loves them. We are Jesus's hands and feet. How will they know that Jesus loves them if we're not willing to love them?" Ramadan is a critical time to pray because it’s a time when Muslims are genuinely hungry to hear from God. They want the truth and are more spiritually aware, perhaps, than any other time of the year. “They are very focused on giving up their physical things, so they can encounter spiritual things,” says Jane. “They're very open to dreams [and] to encounters with God. There's an openness to talk about God. There's an openness to engage with God. There's an openness to seek His face in whatever way they can meet Him.” Cry Out frequently hears stories of Muslims who have dreams and visions of “a man in white” during Ramadan. They soon discover that man is Jesus and come to faith in Him.

    (Image courtesy of Cry Out via Facebook)

    “There's an openness for encountering angels.  There's an openness for prayer, for having dreams or visions in the night. I think we can pray specifically for people to dream about Jesus or for angels to appear in people's dreams during this month,” says Jane. “But even more than that, we can pray for believers that know Muslims, or that are neighbors with Muslims, or that live in Muslim countries to have the boldness in this month to actually ask their Muslim friends, 'Have you had a dream of a man in white? Can we talk about it? Do you want to talk about who the man in white was in your dream?' “Especially believers in the West should be encouraged and challenged during this month. As we're praying for our Muslim neighbors [and] our Muslim friends to have these dreams, we should also have the boldness to actually ask them when they have dreams, and whether they will be open to talking about those dreams.” Click here to learn more about Cry Out and their ministry in the Muslim world!       *Name changed for security purposes.