"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." (1Cor 9:22)
in this issue First Quarter 2004, Vol. 8 No. 1
- Feature: God Resorts to Ingenious Methods
- News: Pray for Warrior Leaders of Afghanistan
- News: Assyrian Remnant Fears Extermination
- News: Vision for Baghdad Becomes Reality
- Resource: Send Me: Your Journey to the Nations
- Resource: Cat & Dog Theology: Insights on God-Man Relations
- Opportunity: Muslim Studies Training Programs in 2004
- Opportunity: Bring Smiles to Iraqi Children Through Service Men & Women
- Opportunity: Support &/or Attend World Conference for Military Christians
- Profile: Spiritual Landscape of Mauritania
Feature:God Resorts to Ingenious Methods
by Dr. Bruce Sidebotham
In most countries where the majority do not consider themselves Christians, local and national authorities prohibit overt evangelism with broadcasting, rallies literature, and visitation. In these locations, God resorts to methods that are more subtle and ingenious.
In order to get the gospel seen, heard, and understood in hostile places like Afghanistan and Iraq, God orchestrates conditions and deploys emissaries who must be respected and cannot be avoided.
In the Middle East, Balkans, and Central Asia today, no American church representatives are more closely observed and deferentially treated than Christian American soldiers.
Historically, in the course of their daily lives, travelers, businessmen, diplomats, explorers, and soldiers have done more to spread the gospel than people sent and paid full time. Many of the Apostle Paul's most mobile and influential converts, through whom the gospel spread still further, were probably some of the soldiers to whom he had been chained. That the very first gentile believer was a Roman peacekeeping soldier deployed to Palestine (Acts 10) highlights the strategic value of transient vocations in God's plan to "bless all nations."
Charlemagne's armies converted pagan tribes throughout Western Europe. Galley slaves captured in Europe evangelized Viking Scandinavia. Marco Polo shared the gospel in the Chinese court. Those who followed after Christopher Columbus reached American Indians from Canada to Argentina. As a courageous explorer, David Livingstone took the gospel to the interior of the "dark continent." William Carey, who established evangelical Christianity in India, maintained his presence in Calcutta as a shoe maker. Robert Morrison, who translated the Bible into Mandarin Chinese, was a British diplomat. Hudson Taylor, who launched the gospel into inland China, did so as a medical doctor and school teacher.
And the Apostle Paul, that first great evangelist to the gentiles, often supported himself and gained respectable community access by making tents (Acts 18:1-3; 20:17-18, 34). As a result of this precedent, when vocation blossoms into cross-cultural ministry we call it "tentmaking."
All Christians demonstrate their faith within spheres of vocational influence, but tentmakers do so cross-culturally.
"Trading" is the foundation of tentmaking. Goods and services or expertise get traded for things of value in all cultures. The trader role establishes an outsider's value. When outsiders offer something valuable and receive fair exchange, both sides benefit and grow in respect for one another. The more valuable outsiders become, the more influence they exert, and the more tolerance they experience. Tentmaker proficiency and professional excellence are not only hallmarks of Christian integrity but result in Christian testimony among people who would otherwise have none.
In the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans, American soldiers are offering one of the most valuable commodities on the face of the earth – security. The Christian faith lived by many of these unswervingly diligent soldiers paves the way for unprecedented gospel ministry.
Cross-cultural witness of this kind has some noteworthy advantages over that offered by full-time missionaries.
On the other hand, tentmaking also presents some significant challenges.
- It enhances credibility, integrity, and respect for the outsider.
- It projects the gospel into areas which would otherwise never see it.
- It facilitates indigenous leadership of any fruits of the tentmaker's testimony, because the tentmaker is not expected to be a religious professional and direct religious activities.
- It provides financial support, reducing monetary burdens on sending and receiving communities.
Because of these risks and benefits and due to this convergence of divinely orchestrated events, we, as an American church, need to recruit, equip, and emotionally support our "army" of tentmakers. We must train them for ministry proficiency while at the same time motivating them to professional excellence. We must establish networks for providing encouragement, advice, and accountability. God is doing something totally amazing in our day. Will we participate knowingly and enthusiastically, or ignorantly and reluctantly?
- Secular work environments provide little to no encouragement and emotional support for ministry endeavors.
- Ministry activities by employees may threaten agendas and profits (the bottom line) of employers. For example, overzealous soldiers could compromise unit and even national security.
- Effectiveness requires double education in both faith and profession and places double demands upon time to pursue excellence in both ministry and work.
- The self sufficiency inherent in tentmaking breaches accountability for ministry endeavors to ministry organizations. For example, independently acting soldiers could unwittingly intensify persecution experienced by indigenous believers.
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News:Sources: en.wikipedia.org * us.oneworld.net * www.geocities.com/hazaraha * www.jang.com.pk * www.defenselink.mil * english.peopledaily.com.cn * www.afghan-web.com
Pray for Warrior Leaders of Afghanistan
General Abdul Rashid Dostum
- Deputy Defense Ministrer
Together with forces loyal to him, Dostum controls an area around Mazar-e-sharif about the size of the state of Massachusetts. He encourages women to work freely. He promotes music and sports, and he allows alcohol. He is tolerant towards people of other religions.
Ustad Atta Mohammed
- director of Afghan Special Forces and a leader of Jemiat-e-Islami
Atta Mohammed and the Tajik militia he leads support the Karzai interim government and the US led coalition, but they are in bitter and frequently armed rivalry with Rashid Dostum's Uzbeks.
- interim President of the transitional administration
Karzai was born in Kandahar on 24 Dec 1957. He comes from the powerful Populazai clan which has produced and supported many Afghan kings. Karzai speaks six languages; Pushtu, Dari, Urdu, English, French and Hindi. Initially a supporter of the Taliban when they began consolidating power, Karzai became disillusioned with them. In 1997 he began working from outside the country to reinstate the former king, Zahir Shah.
Gul Agha Shirzai
- Federal Minister of Urban Affairs
Shirzai brutally governed Kandahar Province before the Taliban took it over and stepped back into governing Kandahar as the Taliban were deposed. He is anti-Taliban, and pro Karzai, but his human rights record is one of the most notoriously brutal.
Gul Buddin Hekmatyar
- Ghilzai Pashtun
- head of the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan
Hekmatyar seems to be leading an anti-coalition alliance with Taliban leader Muhammad Omar and al Qaida remnants. He is thought to be the one behind assassination attempts on interim President Karzai. He speaks several languages (including English), has three wives and many children.
- governor of the province of Herat
Khan liberated Herat from the Soviets and keeps the loyalty of a 25,000 man provincial army. He had a moderate profile in the Northern Alliance, supports the US role in Afghanistan, and has a reasonably good human rights record.
- Regional Military Commander
Amanulah Khan is pressing for minority Pashtun representation in Herat's Tajik dominated provincial government. Forces loyal to him frequently clash with those loyal to Ismail Khan.
Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf
- head of the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan (Ittihad-i-Islami Barai Azadi Afghanistan)
Second to the Taliban, Sayyaf leads Afghanistan's most radical Islamic group. He and his followers desire strict implementation of Wahabi style Muslim law. Sayyaf is being shut out of the new coalition ruling Afghanistan though he may have support from hundreds of thousands who think he should rule. After the 1979-89 war against the Soviets, Sayyaf founded the University of Sawal al-Jihad outside Peshawar, Pakistan. Some of its graduates went on to found the radical Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines.
- political head of the United National and Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
Rabbani heads the Northern Alliance which successfully ousted the Soviets from Kabul. He was President of Afghanistan in Kabul from 1992 until pushed out by the Taliban in 1996. He holds several degrees in Islamic law and theology including a masters degree from the University of Al-Azhar in Cairo.
- Deputy President and head of the pro-Iranian and mostly Shiite Hizb-i-Wahdat party
Khalili was one of the first warlords appointed by President Hamed Karzai's into the transitional cabinet. He has supported American efforts in Afghanistan and is one of the most moderate in his religious convictions.
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News:Fikret Bila reports for the Turkish ress (12 Jan), "Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq are pushing for an ethnic-based federation. They are planning a dual federation based on the Kurds and the Arabs. The ethnic Turkmen and others would not be taken into consideration." 1
Assyrian Remnants Fear Extermination
from World Evangelical Alliance - Religious Liberty News & Analysis, by Elizabeth Kendal
The civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, announced however that the U.S. would agree on establishing federalism in Iraq, but based on geographic and not demographic, ethnic partition, although he would be happy for the Kurds to control the northern regions with the exception of Kirkuk.2
Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath regime pursued Arabization. It moved Arabs into regions dominated by ethnic minorities in order to change the demographics. The Kurdish claim is for an ethnic federation and a reversal of Arabization. One thing that is not being talked about is the effect such a situation would have on the other minorities of northern Iraq, such as the Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs).
A Christian Remnant
According to Nineveh.com, "The Assyrians of today are the indigenous Aramaic-speaking descendants of the ancient Assyrian people." 3 They have their own language, culture and heritage which can be traced back at least 6750 years.
Peter BetBasoo summarizes Assyrian history on the Assyrian nternational News Agency (AINA) website. He says Assyrians are "a Semitic people indigenous to Mesopotamia." He locates historic Assyria in north Mesopotamia, spanning four countries - from the Euphrates River in north-eastern Syria, through the eastern corner of Turkey, western edge of Iran, and northern Iraq to about 100 miles south of Kirkuk. The plains of Arbil and Nineveh (Mosul) were the breadbaskets of the Assyrian people.
The Assyrian Church of the East was founded in 33 A.D., and the Assyrians converted from Ashurism to Eastern Christianity in the three centuries after Christ. They became a great religious empire with a missionary movement that took the gospel into China.
Arabs captured Mesopotamia in 630 A.D. and subjugated the Assyrians to Islam.
Kurds swept into Assyria in 1261 A.D. after King Salih Isma'il ordered them to emigrate from the mountains of Turkey to the Nineveh plains. Assyrians left their homes and fled to Arbil. Many lost their lives.
When Timurlane the Mongol arrived in 1300 A.D, he found the Assyrian people traumatized and decimated. He massacred and drove them out further until only a fraction remained.
Only a decade after the genocide of the Armenians (1915-23), the Assyrians suffered another major massacre in Iraq during the post-WW1 mandate period (1933).
Since Islam arrived, the the Assyrian people have faced frequent massacres and almost continual oppression.4
The AINA reports that the present Kurdish proposal "to establish an ethnically based autonomous area beyond the current occupied northern provinces has alarmed various Iraqi communities including Assyrians, Arabs, Turkmen, and Yezidis."5
Escalating fighting along ethnic lines in northern Iraq causes great concern. AINA quotes Mr. Abgar Maloul of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) as saying that "ethnic federalism built on the premise of the subjugation by one ethnic group of other minorities is not what we envisioned a liberated Iraq would resemble. We have long stood for a free, sovereign, secular, and democratic Iraq for all Iraqis."5
Ashor Giwargis, born in Beirut in 1970, does research and writes out of concern for Iraq's Assyrian Christians. He claims, "Before the coming of the Ba'ath regime to Iraq in1968, Assyrians constituted 65% of the population of the northern region, and the Kurds were about 15% and Arabs about 20%. . . . today we have some 3.2 million Assyrians in the Diaspora. The Assyrians make up 30% of Iraqi immigrants."
He points out, "In Iran the Assyrians were more than 150,000 before the coming of Khomeni in 1979, but now they are only about 30,000."
This is a situation to watch very closely. Christians worldwide must make it known that we regard the future and fate of our Assyrian Christian brothers and sisters as a very important issue.
1) "Iraq Federation?" by Fikret Bila, Turkish Press, 12 Jan 04. www.turkishpress.com
2) "Washington And The Kurds." Abdullah Al Ashaal. Al-Hayat. 19 Jan 04.
4) www.aina.org/aol/peter/brief.htm and aina.org/releases/2004/karkukaut.htm
5) "Kurdish Autonomy Proposal Threatens Iraqi Territorial Integrity," AINA, 8 Jan 04. www.aina.org/releases/2004/karkukaut.htm
Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2003) "Iraqi Assyrians: Barometer of Pluralism" by Jonathan Eric Lewis. www.meforum.org/article/558/
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News:It's a full house at The Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Baghdad, Iraq. Regular worshipers have learned to arrive early for a seat in the crowded sanctuary, where believers and seekers are packed together on every bench. Those who come later stand in a semicircle around the perimeter of the room, and the overflow crowd spills into the corridor.
Vision for Baghdad Becomes Reality
This is no special event but a weekly service at this vibrant Christian center. Hundreds of people come to hear the good news that God loves them and sent his Son to die for them.
The vision for a C&MA church in Iraq began during the Persian Gulf War. A Lebanese church leader took relief teams right into Baghdad. As a result, hundreds of Iraqis who had fled to Jordan came to know Jesus Christ. Among them were men who received biblical training and discipleship. Today, they lead congregations of believers throughout the Middle East.
One of these pastors gave his heart to Christ after hearing this church leader preach in Jordan. Later he felt called to full-time ministry and attended Bible school in Beirut for three years before returning to Baghdad.
Because of the oppression of Saddam Hussein's regime, the man was unable to open an evangelical church. Instead, he and his wife operated a nursery school where a small group of Iraqi believers met during the weekend.
Within a week of the fall of Baghdad last year, this church held its first open meeting. It had only 70 chairs available; many who attended had to stand. Later, the church acquired a two-story facility in central Baghdad. "We have made the tallest cross in all Baghdad with the name of the church underneath it along with the words ‘Jesus is the light of the world,'" the pastor said.
Several days later, a threatening note with the name of a local organization was left at the church. Immediately, the pastor went to the headquarters of this group to talk about this message. His boldness was rewarded by the leaders, who told him not to worry about the note.
There are plans for the Bible school in Beirut to open a branch campus in Baghdad. According to the pastor, 20 Iraqi men and women have applied. Twenty two Iraqis are now taking classes. Teachers from the school will travel to Baghdad for modules of training during a two-week period.
Unexpected problems have surfaced. "Many church groups are coming to Baghdad, and they want to start their own churches," the Lebanon leader said. "Because they neither have followers nor any idea where to start, they are running after the people I have taught for 12 years." So far four families have left.
One group offered the C&MA pastor thousands of dollars if he would let them claim the work he is doing. "We realize there is a harvest field here. Please pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to know how to deal with other groups."
A spirit of unity seems to be breaking out among evangelicals in Baghdad. After the open-air ordination service of an Alliance pastor, a C&MA minister (who had traveled from Jordan for the event) invited leaders of the city's evangelical congregation to a meeting. They recognized the need to work together in witnessing about Jesus and discussed the possibility of forming an evangelical synod.
In the meantime, the C&MA church continues to thrive. As many as 500 people fill the church each Sunday.
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Resource:This interactive manual gives individuals with a desire to serve God overseas a comprehensive overview of what "longer-term cross-cultural service" is all about. It is an ideal resource for every returning service member who is asking the question, "What about full time long-term missions?"
Send Me: Your Journey to the Nations
by Steve Hoke & Bill Taylor
$8.00/copy, manual format, 136 pages
Key sections of this manual include:
Send Me is co-published by the World Evangelical Fellowship Missions Commission and William Carey Library.
- assessing your fitness for missions ministry and counting the costs
- identifying and pursuing needs for further education
- discovering your call and finding supporting organizations
- career path models and expectations from candidacy to retirement
- uncovering resources for ministry, fund raising, and training
Ordering Info. . .
Phone: (626) 798-0819
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Resource:There's a joke about cats and dogs that conveys their differences.
Insights for Relating to Your Master
A dog says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, you must be God."
A cat says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God."
The traits of cats and dogs can teach us about our theological views and the attitudes we have towards God and our relationship with him. Using the differences between cats and dogs in a light-handed manner, Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison challenge us in profound ways. This life-enhancing book will give you new perspective on prayer, worship, and service and will lead you to deeper delight in the God who delights in you.
Available from www.gabriel-resources.com.
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Muslim Studies Training Programs in 2004
Organization Program/Course Dates Horizons International
Islam & Muslims: Foundations for Understanding
Christianity & Ialam: Similarities and Differences
Breaking Strongholds: Kingdom Clash & Power Encounter
Transforming Muslims and Restoring the Image of God
Training for International Christian Missions
Conference for Muslim Converts
2 - 9 Jun
9 - 16 Jun
16 - 23 Jun
23 - 30 Jun
27 Jul - 3 Aug
4 - 11 Aug
Summer Inst of Muslim Studies
The Hideaway, Colo Spgs, CO
(2 classes each week)
Looking at Islam thru Christian Eyes
Winning & Discipling Muslims
Church Planting Among Muslims
Evangelism & Contextualization of Muslims
Creative Entries to the Muslim Mind
Apologetics: Overcoming Muslim Arguments
Ministering to Muslim Women
19 - 23 Jul
19 - 23 Jul
26 - 30 Jul
26 - 30 Jul
2 - 6 Aug
2 - 6 Aug
9 - 13 Aug
9 - 13 Aug
Columbia Inst of Muslim Studies
Intro to Islam
Approaches to Islam
Revelation, Qur'an, and Muslim Traditions
5 - 9 Jul
12 - 16 Jul
19 - 23 Jul
26 - 30 Jul
Southwestern Baptist Theo. Sem.
One & Two Week Short Courses
at the World Mission Center in Ft. Worth
May & Jun People of the Book
Conference for Muslim Background Believers
in the Wa. D.C. metro area
4 - 6 Sep Fuller Theo. Sem.
week long short courses
in Pasadena, CA
Jun & Jul Arab World Ministries
Summer Inst on Islam in Philadelphia
Intro to Islam & Cross-Cultural Communication
25 May - 5 Jun CHRISTAR
Summer Training & Outreach Prog (STOP)
in the New York Metro area
classroom in morning, afternoon field application
3 Jul - 2 Aug Crescent Project
in conjunction with Pioneers, Orlando, FL
1 wk orientation, 2 wk trip in USA or overseas
13 Jun - 4 Jul Assembly of God Theo. Sem.
2 wk seminar in Springfield, MO
24 Jul - 4 Aug
Seminars and Workshops that Will Come to You
Organization Program Contact Ministry to Muslims Introduction to Islam 1-719-597-0609 Zwemmer Center for Muslim Studies Muslim Awareness Seminars
and Extension Courses
1-800-777-2227 ext. 3325
1-803-754-4100 ext. 3325
Crescent Project Sharing the Hope
1 Day Seminars
Horizons Interational Reach out to Muslims Seminars 1-303-442-3333
People of the Book Lessons on Islam
and Cross-Cultural Understanding
Operation Reveille Insights on Testimony
for Christians in the Military
Good News for the Crescent World
Seminars on Islam
and Reaching out to Muslims
The Navigators lectures by Dr. Nabeel T. Jabbour 1-719-578-8973
Perspectives Courses Perspectives on the World of Islam www.perspectivesonislam.org Operation Mobilization, UK Markaz Tehquiq Al-Haq MTH@care4free.net
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Opportunity:Iraqi children received toys and school supplies donated from Americans across the United States and delivered by soldiers and airmen in uniform. They can laugh, sing songs, and play with their new toys. Thousands of others still cannot.
Bring Smiles to Iraqi Children Through Service Men & Women
The chapel staff and volunteers at this air base are asking for help to bring smiles to needy Iraqi children.
To find out how you can help, contact Operation Reveille.
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Support &/or Attend the World Conference for Military ChristiansWhat is it?
A gathering of Military Christians from all over the world
* When: 14-18 September 2004
* Where: Seoul, Korea
Who will Attend?
Military Believers from over 100 nations
Many will be from restricted countries
What are the goals of the conference?
* To encourage and facilitate Military Christian Fellowships
* To help get MCFs started where they don't yet exist
* To foster chaplain training and chaplaincy formation
Why is support needed?
Many attendees from poor countries cannot afford the expenses.
How can I help?
* Pray for God to use this World Conference mightily.
* Give so that delegates from poor countries may attend.
* Consider attending to represent your own fellowship.
AMCF is an association of indigenously organized, interdenominational national military Christian fellowships.
ACCTS is helping AMCF to organize and fund conference scholarships.
For more information please contact:
ACCTS (Assoc. for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service)
PO Box 27239
Denver, CO 80227
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M A U R I T A N I A
Cultural and Spiritual Landscape
Load Acrobat Version
The latest move in taking war on terrorism to the terrorists finds soldiers being sent to Mauritania.
Mauritania bridges the "no-mans-land" between Africa's light-skinned north and dark-skinned south. It, and other isolated "bridge" countries of the West African Sahel (Mali, Niger, Chad), have become the latest "soft spots" in which Al Qaida cells are finding refuge.
The majority people of Mauritania are the Moors, or Maure, for whom Mauritania is named. These are descendants of original Berber inhabitants who, together with the descendants of their 15th century Arab conquerors and the descendants of their black African slaves, all speak one language – Hassani Arabic. It is the language of the Hassan tribe of Yemen. This dialect is very close to the classical Arabic of the Quran and quite distinct from Arabic spoken in the Mahgrib.
Roughly one third of Mauritanians live on coveted farm land along the Senegal River. These are black skinned people of the Tukulor, Fulbe, Wolof, Sonike, and Bambara tribes whose population centers lie outside of Mauritania.
A small minority are expatriates. Most are French, many are Korean, and the rest come from other European and African countries. Both French and Hassani Arabic are official national languages.
Major Ethnicities in Mauritania People Name Language Est. Percent
of 2.6 mil. Population
notes White Moor Hassani Arabic 42% Berber/Arab Black Moor Hassani Arabic 28% former slaves Fulbe & Tukulor Pulaar 16% over 2 mil. in Senegal Wolof Wolof 8% over 3 mil. in Senegal Sonike Sonike 4% nearly 1 mil. in Mali Bambara Bambara 1% nearly 3 mil. in Mali Expatriates various 1% mostly French
Mauritania's constitution stipulates that Islam is the national religion and Muslim law is the foundation for all civil affairs. Muslim schools provide most of the country's education. Officially, Mauritanians follow the Maliki branch of Sunni theology. Unofficially, most Mauritanians follow pre-Islamic mystical beliefs accomodated by various Sufi cults which hold their primary allegiance.
There are no Bible translations and no gospel broadcasts in Hassani Arabic. There are no churches of native Mauritanians. Roman Catholics have the only recognized church, and its members are all foreigners – mostly French. A small group of expatriate Protestants meets unofficially in the national capital. The last Protestant mission agency to work officially in Mauritania withdrew in 1965.
Mauritania is one of the most impoverished nations on earth. Thirty percent of its children are malnourished. Infant mortality is 0.84%. Men usually die by the age of 54, women by 57. 63% of adults are illiterate. One in four households have television.
Drought struck the region hard in the 70s. Winds drove off top soil turning the once ranch friendly Sahel into Sahara desert and forcing a full third of the people who were nomadic herders into cities.
Race based discrimination abounds. Slavery was widely practiced as recently as 1960, and though it was outlawed again in 1980, "Jim Crow" style treatment persists. Though over half the population is black, these are linguistically and culturally divided. The black Moors speak Arabic and blend more smoothly with their former masters. Besides their different tribal tongues, the blacks along the Senegal River all speak French.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 8, Number 1 - First Quarter 2004
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