Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Pakistan (MNN) – Open Doors USA confirms the unsettling circumstances surrounding the torture and death of a 28-year old gardenerin Pakistan. Police took Amir Masih into custody on August 28. Three days later, says Isaac Six of Open Doors USA, he was dead. "What's shocking and brutal about this is that it was carried out by the authorities and that it was done so blatantly. The family was able to pick up Mr. Masih after he'd been tortured for days. He was alive for a few hours to tell his story to the family before he passed away. "

    Justice for Amir?

    Stock photo of police in Lahore. Pakistan (Photo courtesy of Luke X Martin/Flickr/CC)

    Mr. Masih's employer accused him of theft, which led to the arrest. As for due process? Christians in Pakistan face widespread discrimination and religious intolerance. They often face false accusations with little to no recourse or protection. In this situation, Six says, "The evidence is blatant that there was terrible torture done here, and it looks like the authorities are investigating, which is good. But often in these cases, there's no accountability for those who are responsible. That's the thing we're following closely."    While the case garnered widespread attention, Six cautions, "That doesn't mean that they necessarily will be justice. Sometimes after the attention blows over, everything sort of fades away, and it becomes harder to really hold people accountable." The attention could complicate justice. "A lot of Pakistani society has been radicalized, and I want to quantify that a bit, but there's a number of very powerful groups that are very fanatical about a very radical form of Islam, and they hold a lot of sway. So even when the government or others want to do the right thing, it's sometimes very difficult to do that."

    (Photo of Asia Bibi and her lawyer, courtesy of Open Doors USA)

    Citing Asia Bibi's case, he reminds us, "Just the hint that she would be released and then that she might be able to leave the country led to tens of thousands of people in the streets rioting and calling for her to be executed." Death threats plagued court officials, and Bibi's lawyer eventually left the country. 

    Christians are second-class citizens in Pakistan

    Pakistan is fifthon the current Open Doors USA World Watch List, a report that ranks the 50 countries where it is most challenging to profess and practice the Christian faith. The irony is that the country's founder promoted religious freedom, yet some of the world's most widely-known cases of Christian persecution happened there.   

    (Screen capture courtesy of Prayercast)

    Even the call for societal change on a large scale is risky. Politicians calling for blasphemy law reformsface death threats. Assassins killed two. Six says the conversation continues. "It's always great to talk about societal change. One of the ways that really happens is through the Gospel. It is important for those on the front lines of this to continue doing that important work because I think that's the only way we're really going to see change."

    A call for supernatural change

    As far as what an outsider can do to promote change within Pakistan, Six makes this request: "It's the number one request we ever hear when working with the persecuted Church, and that is to pray. In this case, of course, praying for the family. First that, they would find strength, and they'd be comforted, that people and supporters would surround them during this time and help meet their needs; praying for those authorities who are investigating to follow a just path and to hold people accountable for this; praying for broader change in Pakistan and for peace in that country."  Masih's wife and two sons, one 7-years-old and the other 14-days-old, survive him.     (Headline photo courtesy Wikimedia/CC)
  2. The Americas (MNN) -- A significant gap remains in reaching the global Deaf community for Christ. Less than two-percent of Deaf people know Him as Lord. None of the world’s 400+ sign languages has a complete Bible. Deaf Bible Society works alongside sign language Bible translators to close the Scripture gap. As the Americas Field Coordinator for DBS, Azael BuPerry– a Deaf man – ensures everyone is on the same page. “Wycliffe, I believe all of them can hear,” BuPerry says through a female interpreter.

    “It’s hard (for them) to have direct communications with the Deaf community and especially with the translation team.”

    Language barriers between Deaf and hearing people prove a constant challenge, as discussed previously here. BuPerry serves as a liaison between Deaf translators in the Americas and the non-Deaf support team connected to each project. Click here to support sign language Bible translations in the Americas.

    Why is sign language Scripture important?

    (Graphic courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)

    Deaf Bible Society currently works alongside Wycliffe USA and The Seed Company to translate God’s Word into the sign languages of Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Brazil. Next year, they hope to expand and start new translation work in Ecuador, Guatemala, the Dominion Republic, and Costa Rica. Multiple Spanish and English versions of the Bible are available for free on platforms like BibleGateway.com. However, written text doesn’t quite meet the spiritual needs of Deaf communities. See how sign language Scripture transforms Deaf people like Maria. Sign language Scripture is so critical because it unlocks understanding for the Deaf, BuPerry explains.

    “I can read and write in English, and I can understand it. But, when I actually watch the Scriptures in my heart language, (American Sign Language) I can clearly understand what the Scriptures are saying.”

    He compares the language difference to eating soup with a fork. “If we’re trying to eat a bowl of soup with a fork, you can taste it but you don’t actually get to have all of it. So, it’s better to eat a bowl of soup with a spoon because then you get all of the food,” BuPerry says. “It’s just like reading the Scriptures. If you’re able to see in your heart language, then you get all of the Word.”

    How can I help?

    (Graphic courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)

    Ongoing prayer and financial support are critical to "closing the Scripture gap" in the Americas. Click here to get started. “It's going to be a long time before we finish [all the translation work],” BuPerry says. “Pray that we are able to at least start these projects for all of the Americas.”     Header image courtesy of aitoff via Pixabay.  
  3. International (MNN) – Did you know over 75 percentof the world’s population are oral communicators? E3 Partners says cultures within this population communicate primarily through storytelling, drama, and song.

    e3 Orality Cause

    (Photo courtesy of e3 Partners)

    Thankfully, over 70 percent of the Bible is a compilation of stories. These stories tell the overarching story of God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation for humanity. E3’s Marketing Communication Manager Jeff Johnston says e3 is making sharing the Gospel with oral learners a priority. How? Through its e3 Orality Cause. Short-term trips consisting of first-timers and a dedicated team who work with locals Christians focus on sharing the Gospel in areas with extremely low literacy rates. “What the orality team has been able to do is train themselves (and all the people that go on trips with them) to be able to confidently share these different stories that ultimately lead to [the] story in the Gospel,” Johnston explains.

    Training Local Leaders

    e3 is also equipping strong local Christian leaders to continue this work on their own. Some are even being trained accidentally. Translators who work with e3 Orality teams build relationships with the people they translate for. Ultimately, translating the stories of the Bible so frequently means the translators commit these stories to memory. Plus, during their time translating, these translators also learn how to share the Gospel and the stories they have learned.

    (Photo courtesy of e3 Partners)

    “It's been really amazing to see how God's been able to use just the passion of our morality team. And the passionate [of] those that go on these trips with them ultimately lead to an explosion of the Gospel in all these different areas where literacy rates are practically zero or where there's no written language,” Johnston says. Will you consider helping by joining an e3 Orality trip? “Our orality team is always taking trips, always looking for new people to reach and new areas to go to, to really just help the Gospel [to] continue to grow in places where there's no written language, or where it's hard to spread the Gospel through the written scriptures,” Johnston says. Learn more about e3’s Orality Cause and how to sign-up for a trip here. But for now, please pray for the movement of the Gospel in orality cultures. Pray that God’s story will impact hearts and for people to put their faith in Him. And pray the Gospel’s impact as it is shared through stories.     Header photo courtesy of e3 Partners