Mission News Network

News Worth Listening To
  1. Syria (MNN) – With all of the hype surrounding North Korea, the tit-for-tat Twitter wars surrounding the White House and policy issues, the roar over what’s happening in the Middle East has been downgraded to less urgent news.

    (Image courtesy of Global Catalytic Ministries)

    Three days ago, a Reuter’s headline trumpeted “ISIS has fallen in its last Syrian stronghold”.  Yet, by Friday, newscasts had relegated the story to a mere mention, considering the significance of a three-year struggle for liberation. Raqqa was considered the de facto capital city for the caliphate.  By the time US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces raised a militia flag inside the main stadium, there wasn’t much of the city left that wasn’t in ruins.   Even as celebrations began, the United States Central Command stopped short of declaring victory, noting pockets of ISIS fighters remain. Even though they’ve lost much of the ground they snatched up in 2014, the group isn’t gone. They’ve already begun preparing for a new phase. Mohamed of Global Catalytic Ministries (GCM)explains, “Because this ideology is still alive, ISIS will morph into something new.  That’s the key question: Praise God that ISIS has fallen and they’re leaving Iraq and Syria, but what about the ideology?” He added that there will still be funded groups around like the Taliban and al Qaeda that share a similar view on ultraconservative Islam.  When asked what would change that kind of worldview, he responded, “We need to show people that the true way of following God is not by killing yourself, blowing yourself up and killing anyone who’s not like you, but loving on people and showing them that God is love and God is full of forgiveness.”  More to the point, he noted the admonition in Matthew 10:16 regarding being ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves’, even when surrounded by tens of millions of Muslims who are devoted to Sharia Law which mandates that those who turn away from Islam must be punished and killed.

    (Image courtesy Global Catalytic Ministries)

    Now is the time to introduce hope—especially with the elation of freedom in Iraq and Syria.  “One of the most powerful ways that we can come alongside the Underground Church in these devastated areas of Iraq and Syria is just being compassionate; how can we come alongside of them and lift them back up?” Is it dangerous?  Most certainly.  Mohamed cites the earlier part of Matthew 10:16, where Jesus says, “‘I send you as sheep among wolves.’” However, he believes this fear is like a smoke screen which distorts what’s really going on. “The real ‘fake news’ is this: the wars, the fighting, the killing. The real news is that Jesus is moving powerfully in the Middle East. God is moving! It’s not all destruction and death and craziness. It’s actually amazing things.”   He also says this side of their work is less about personal risk and more about the biggest spiritual revival happening in the Middle East since the Islamic conquest.  “The Middle East is kind of like China 20 years ago, where hundreds, thousands, then millions, are coming to Jesus. The same thing is happening in the Middle East, but we need prayer because this is a spiritual battle.” People sometimes want to know what difference they can make in such an overwhelming, broken situation.  To that question, he answers, “Everything begins, is in the middle, and finishes with prayer, so I’m actually looking for people to pray for us because I know that God will lead them to move in other ways, too.  I’m looking for prayer partners.” The goal is to get a thousand people dedicated to pray for GCM in a year.  Imagine what God could do through the prayers of His people!  GCM is on track to release an app at the beginning of 2018 to help people pray more intelligently about transforming Muslims through Jesus Christ around the world.

    (Image courtesy Global Catalytic Ministries)

    You can also help provide the supplies they need to help survivors.  GCM sends hygiene kits and food supplies to partners who work in refugee camps and other areas affected by ISIS.  They’re also going to need medical personnel as the region recovers. “We are in a huge need of medicine, especially in Syria because the fighting has being going on till [recently], especially in Raqqa.  Helping us getting supplies, moving supplies, coming yourself—we’re also looking for doctors, surgeons, nurses and midwives that are feeling the call of God to come to the Middle East.” In the vacuum left by ISIS, now is the time to act.  Click here to get detailson how to come alongside the Underground Church in the Middle East.
  2. Iran (MNN) -- Nearly 90 percent of the people groups in Iran are considered unreached with the Gospel,according to The Joshua Project. Furthermore, 99.6 percent of the Iranian population is part of an unreached people group.

    (Photo courtesy of Jesus Film Project)

    But this year, the Jesus Film Project is celebrating the completion of two new JESUS Film recording translations for the Qashqai and Kurmanji language groups in Iran. The JESUS Film is a popular tool for reaching unreached, unengaged people around the world -- especially those in oral cultures -- with the story of Jesus Christ and the hope he provides. Both Qashqai and Kurmanji have around one million speakers. And they’re both on the unreached, unengaged people group list for Iran.

    JESUS Film in Qashqai

    The Qashqai language has been on Jesus Film Project’s radar since the 80s, but they were unable to make progress.

    (Photo courtesy of Ninara via Flickr under Creative Commons via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8uu7S2 )

    Jennifer Richardson with Jesus Film Project explains, “Qashqai had zero Gospel material available in their language. They’re mainly a nomadic people group, and that number is slowly decreasing [with] urbanization and moving into cities. But there is still a pretty large number that are still nomadic and it’s an oral language, there’s no written Qashqai language.” Recently, God connected Jesus Film Project with a Qashqai believer who was able to volunteer for the JESUS Film recording. Up until that point, they needed at least 20 voice actors to do a full translation of the JESUS Film. But the ministry came out with a new process called single-voice narration for JESUS Film recordings where they only need one speaker. “There are a lot of languages on the unreached, unengaged people group list where it would be really hard to find 20 voice actors, which is what we use for the full voice translation. And this especially works great in the oral cultures where they are used to storytelling anyway. So all we need is one person to do the translation of this single-voice narration script and they actually narrate the film.” Jesus Film Project decided to test the one-voice narration in this part of the world with the Qashqai language and they received positive feedback! Now Qashqai speakers have access to the truth of the Gospel for the first time. Please pray for a Church to sprout among the Qashqai people with the introduction of Christ’s story in their heart language. Pray for new Qashqai believers to grow in spiritual maturity, to form discipleship relationships with one another, and to use the JESUS Film to reach others.

    JESUS Film in Kurmanji

    The Kurmanji are a southern Kurdish people group more settled in the western part of Iran. Richardson shares, “We’ve had a [Kurmanji] script for several years and been told it would be very hard to get that many voice actors out of the country willing to risk their lives basically because they could be arrested or worse for being a part of this. And we didn’t have the single-voice narration as an option yet, so we’ve just been kind of sitting on this script, praying for people.” Finally, she says, “We were able to make a contact who said, ‘I have a solution. I have enough people. I have a place. I have a studio.’ It all just came together that quickly, so it was cool to see how God had kind of ordained this certain time.” But when the Kurmanji recording team finished and left, afterward the team saw there needed to be a few corrections. So the film was still incomplete even after the first recording nearly four years ago. However, God wasn’t finished.

    (Photo courtesy of Jesus Film Project)

    Around six months ago, the Jesus Film Project connected with another contact who was able to gather more believers to finish the Kurmanji recording corrections for the JESUS Film. Richardson says the recording process was impactful even for the voice actors. “They told us that this really changed their walk with God, being a part of this recording. They had never heard the Gospel in their own language before. The person who was doing one of the main parts that we had to redo in this corrective recording said that God spoke to him and, for the first time, he felt empowered to share his faith after speaking through the book of Luke and understanding the power of God and that it wasn’t just for him but for him to also share his faith with others.

    Future JESUS Film Recordings

    There are still 14 Iranian languages on Jesus Film Project’s hold list. These language projects are fully funded. But they still need safe recording locations and contacts for the translations and voice acting. So their biggest need right now is prayer for God to connect them with the right people who can help make these final JESUS Film Iranian language recordings happen. “We have another recording coming up in December, so we’d love prayers just for those involved, for safety and just that they would have a similar encounter with God through this and that this would strengthen their faith.” And, Richardson asks, “For those that now have these tools available in Qashqai and Kurmanji…[pray] that the power of God would be with this tool and that he’ll open doors for people to hear about him for the first time, which is exciting. Click here for the JESUS Film in Qashqai! Click here for the JESUS Film in Kurmanji!
  3. International (MNN) – Today is World Student Day, a global event founded by International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. World Student Day has been going on for over 10 years and was born out of a desire to tangibly encourage students. In fact, according to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Kurt Thiel, IFES was founded by nine international Christian student movements, including InterVarsity, at Harvard in 1947. These movements joined forces to connect internationally. Since its founding, IFES has added over 150 more movements from across the world.

    World Student Day

    World Student Day

    (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity via Facebook)

    “It’s one day, which happens once every year, where we try to gather students from movements all around the world to pray together. That’s a hard thing to do physically, but we have developed lots of digital tools to help us do that," IFES’s Jonathan Greenaway shares. "Central to that is a special website, which is ifeswsd.org. And there, students can send in their prayer requests and see prayer requests from countries all around the world.” Currently, there are seventy-five countries represented on the site with at least one-hundred-and-sixty prayer request submissions. And despite World Student Day being considered a one-day event, so many students from so many countries across the globe take part in it that the event lasts a bit longer than the typical 24 hours. “We actually started at midday UK time, which was about midnight somewhere in the South Pacific,” Greenaway explains. “[It] will run for a whole 48 hours until the sun sets somewhere in the Pacific again.” Yet, World Student Day isn’t only encouraging students, it’s also encouraging those who have helped bring this day to fruition. “It’s been really encouraging for me. I’ve been doing lots of the tech, building the technical support for this event for a while,” Greenaway shares. “But, just reading through some of the prayer cards this week, when we’re editing them, is really encouraging to see students in different context talking about the challenges that they face.”

    Joined in Christ

    World Student Day has become a forum that shows both the challenges and opportunities for Christian students across the world. Greenaway says they’ve had prayer requests from students in Kenya who suffered from the infamous terrorist attack from a couple of years ago, asking for prayers for the new Christian union that’s been established at their university.

    (Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship via Facebook)

    Prayer requests have been coming in from Puerto Rico, which was recently hit by multiple hurricanes. Requests are also coming in from students in Europe, who face challenges with a secular society and identity issues. And InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, who is partnered with IFES, has students participating in World Student Day, too. “I learned recently that an InterVarsity group in San Diego is going to travel across the border. They’re going to walk across the border to Tijuana and gather with students in Tijuana to pray together," InterVarsity’s Kurt Thiel shares. "The movement in Mexico is called Compa. And so, InterVarsity USA and Compa students will be gathering together and praying together. It’s wonderful when you can do that in person. That’s usually not the case, but in San Diego it’s possible.” Furthermore, Thiel says when people open themselves up to people from other places, backgrounds, and situations, it impacts our faith for the richer.

    How to Get Involved

    Please, would you also pray for these students across the globe? Please pray for these students’ encouragement, for their faith to grow, and for God’s direction and work in their lives. Pray for the cultural barriers, specifically language and the ability and opportunity to get involved. And finally, pray for IFES to continue reaching more countries as it partners with national Christians. “There are 151 million students around the world. It’s a huge opportunity, a huge mission field and we want to see those students reached,” Thiel shares. “Because by reaching students, we really do reach the Church and society around the world.” Find more ways to pray and learn more about World Student Day here! For more information about International Fellowship of Evangelic Students, click here! Get involved on social media by using the hashtag #ifeswsd. SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave