in this issue 01 December 1999, Vol. 3 No. 6
- People Profile
- Agency Profile
- Resource Reviews
- News and Needs
- Web Site Review
Strategic Exposure Results in Effective Prayers
by Bruce Sidebotham
Today's threats come from parts of the world least touched by the gospel. The 10/40 Window contains two-thirds of the world's population, ninety percent of the world's least evangelized ethnic groups, eighty percent of the world's abject poverty, and less than one percent of the world's Christians.
God is using the prayers of his people to prepare this region for extraordinary blessing.
According to leaders of the AD2000 United Prayer Track, in 1993 twenty-one million people prayed for the then sixty-two nations of the 10/40 Window, and nearly two-hundred teams made trips to pray on site.
In 1995 thirty-six million prayed for the Window's one-hundred major cities, and ten-thousand went on teams to visit these cities and pray on location.
In 1997 an estimated fifty million prayed for the Window's 1,739 major unreached people groups, and thousands took trips to pray right from the midst of these unreached peoples.
Hundreds of churches continue sending teams of intercessors into the 10/40 Window to walk around and pray with their eyes open. These "tourists" have the privilege of praying for what they actually see and seeing with the perspective that comes through prayer.
Most military personnel have the privilege of praying like this with all expenses paid.
From Patmos John saw the "prayers of the saints" collected and offered to God on a golden altar. When the resulting fire was hurled to earth in a golden censer it caused thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake! (Revelation 8:3-5)
Prayer is a causative faith link between physical and spiritual realities. If faith which is "the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) can move mountains, then a little true insight combined with bold intercession can change the world. Great spiritual breakthroughs are always linked to great prayer. Victory in the spiritual realm precedes every other genuine victory.
Deployed military personnel can join together and pray with greater than average insight and enthusiasm on their many peace keeping assignments.
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Social Healing Comes Through Intercessory PrayerSecular media has largely omitted reporting on the role prayer has played in the great social and political transformations of our time, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Romanian revolution, and the birth of the new South Africa. In these cases, believers were actively praying for God's intervention during the times of social turmoil preceding the changes which later occurred.
by John Robb
As Christians across Rwanda supported by thousands of believers elsewhere have been praying for reconciliation in their tortured land, hardened extremists, who took part in the 1994 genocide, and terrorist attacks since that time, are coming out of the jungles to give themselves up and to ask forgiveness. In some cases, those who lost family members in the rampage are now providing meals and caring in other ways for those who actually killed their own relatives. God is at work in a profound manner healing inner wounds through the giving and receiving of forgiveness.
Dr. Larry Dossey, a medical doctor who wrote Healing Words: the Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine, refers to over one hundred scientific experiments, which have conclusively demonstrated that "prayer brings about significant changes in a variety of living beings." He calls these experiments the "best kept secrets in medical science."
Dr. Dossey does not apply his findings to human communities, but they have deep implications for the healing and transforming of troubled societies like Bosnia. If the prayers of intercessors can produce physiological changes, can't they also be used by God to produce societal, structural changes, including the end of conflict and the restoration of social health?
We believe that it was the prayers of thousands of intercessors joined to those of local believers which turned the tide of the Bosnian conflict during August of 1995, and will bring ultimate healing and restoration.
Prayer leaders in the New York City area have noted the "transformational effect" of ministries like the Lord's Watch, a 24-hour prayer vigil which has occurred every month since 1995. It is supported by over 4,000 people from 120 churches. They note that this city, known for its dangerous social climate, has seen "the most significant drop in crime" in its history over the last two years, to become "the safest city in America with a population of one million or more."
Conversations with World Vision staff and Christian workers in many countries have convinced us that there is no real transformation, involving people coming to Christ and adopting the values of His kingdom, apart from the united intercession of God's people.
Jesus startlingly promises. "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:18-19) Jesus gives us a blank check which we can cash by uniting in prayer with other believers. "Anything" becomes possible, even changing the history of nations.
John Robb is International Coordinator of the AD2000 Unreached Peoples Network.
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The Arabian Peninsula Lies Strategically Open Today
Twenty-one Arabic speaking countries spread across North Africa and the Middle East embrace some 270 million people growing by half a million every month. At their geographic and cultural heart lie seven countries on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Arabian Peninsula sits at the center of the 10/40 Window. No other region of this window has been more hostile to the gospel.
This is a land of stark contrasts and rapid change. Enormous oil wealth gleams in modern cities while nomadic tribesmen live as they have for thousands of years.
Native inhabitants can be divided into eight major people groups (Yemeni, Hijazi, Saudi, Bedouin, Omani, Bahraini, Socotran, & Mahra). These are descended from two different Semitic cultures. People of the northern culture come from nomadic tribes that were wandering the deserts when they were joined by the children of Ishmael and Esau. People of the southern culture are descended from Joktan and Cush. They populated the rain fed uplands of Yemen and established a wealthy civilization fed by trade routes from India and Africa.
Today a quarter of the Peninsula's population is expatriate. Four percent, or 420,000 of these, are Christians. The other ten million expatriates come from seven major unreached people groups in Persia, Africa, and South Asia. Also, thousands of promising youth leave the Peninsula to study abroad every year.
Percent of Expatriates in Arabian Countries
Country % Expat Population U.A.E. 75 % 2.7 million Qatar 71 % 600,000 Kuwait 60 % 1.8 million Bahrain 38 % 600,000 Saudi Arabia 30 % 19.4 million Oman 28 % 2.2 million Yemen 3 % 16.1 million
Brief Profile of Saudi Arabia
This absolute monarchy with twenty-five percent of the world's known oil reserves promotes Islam aggressively all around the world. Most of its subjects live on the west coast and much of its land is uninhabitable. Between the large royal family and the state religion, most things in public and private life are tightly controlled.
Saudi Arabia contains Islam's holiest shrines. Numerous religious freedom advocating agencies have called this country the most restrictive in the world.
The muttawa (religious police) harass, arrest, imprison, and deport expatriate Christians attempting to practice their faith secretly. Converting from Islam leads to execution. Under these conditions, few expatriate Christians have meaningful contact with Saudis, but the number of secret believers is still increasing.
Brief Profile of Kuwait
Wedged between the Saudi monarchy and Saddam Hussein, this wasteland lives off oil and imported labor. Fully sixty percent of its people are migrant workers who cannot vote in elections for members of parliament.
Immigrant Christians have much more freedom in Kuwait than in neighboring Saudi Arabia, and they have more freedom than before the Gulf War in 1991. There are two Catholic and five Protestant churches. Twenty-five ethnic communities fellowship under the National Evangelical Church umbrella which offers main services in English, Arabic, Urdu, and Malayali.
Brief Profile of Bahrain
Linked by causeway to the tightly controlled Saudi mainland, this oil producing urban center gives deep meaning to the adjective "off-shore" in entertainment and investing. Bahrain hosts the well respected American Mission Hospital and a busy Christian bookstore as well many expatriate Christian communities including a congregation of evangelical Arabs.
Brief Profile of Qatar
Fully seventy percent of the people under this tightly controlled absolute Islamic monarchy on the Qatari peninsula are non-resident immigrant workers attracted by natural gas and oil. Christian witness is tightly controlled although expatriate believers may meet in private homes, and there is an Anglican church.
Brief Profile of the United Arab Emirates
This confederation of seven kingdoms ruled from Abu Dhabi prospers on the flow of oil and the backs of immigrant workers who comprise seventy-five percent of the population. Prosperity has made natives more cosmopolitan and more open to new ideas, but it has also agitated the fundamentalists. Expatriate Christians worshipping in English, Arabic, Urdu, Filipino, and Indian languages have considerable freedom. Two Christian groups minister from medical facilities.
Brief Profile of Oman
From a rugged mountainous southeastern coast, the Sultan of this absolute monarchy controls the strategic Straights of Hormuz and fabulous wealth in oil. Among the indigenous peoples there are very few known believers, but expatriate Christians can meet and worship with relative freedom. The first Protestant missionary to Muslims, Samuel Zwemer, began his work here in 1890. His heritage of hospitals, clinics, and missionary workers continues under the government health service and the Reformed Church of America.
Brief Profile of Yemen
Poorest of the Arabian countries, this home of frankincense and the Biblical Queen of Sheba contrasts arid deserts and lush mountains, beautiful people in squalid conditions, and gracious hospitality with frequent wars. Refugees from Africa and tensions following years of feuding between the fundamentalist north and the once Marxist-leaning moderate south challenge stability despite peaceful elections in 1993. Yemen has few expatriates and very few Christians. Only two churches, one Catholic and one Anglican, are for expatriates in the port city of Aden. There are no Yemeni congregations.
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An Arab Shares His Typical TestimonyTalal grew up on the Arabian Peninsula. He came to faith through a dream, but as a new Christian he was unable to obtain a Bible or even meet another Christian.
by Luis Bush, International Director of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement
Soon after Talal's conversion he went to study in another Arab country. There he decided to pursue his new faith actively. He went to an Evangelical church, was baptized and joined their youth group. He was warmly welcomed. An experienced Christian elder discipled Talal so that he returned to the Arabian Peninsula a mature Christian.
Talal began to share his faith, and his brother accepted Christ. Encouraged, Talal continued to share with others in his family. Then one of his cousins threatened to kill him if he did not recite the Islamic creed and denounce his faith. Not knowing where to turn, Talal capitulated and his cousin relented.
After four years of searching for fellowship, Talal was finally able to make contact with us. He is still sharing his faith, but more quietly now. He and his brother had not had any fellowship for four years.
Talal feels guilty because he denied Christ. We have tried to help and encourage him. Recently, he said to me, "You live in a different world. For you being a Christian is easy. For me it is hard!"
Talal's story is typical for the Arabian Peninsula. He faces fear, accusation, family pressures, lack of fellowship, and many more challenges as he strives to grow in his faith. However, in some areas there already is an indigenous local church. Small pockets of believers meet together in homes. In some instances entire families have come to Christ.
I have visited most of the countries in the Arabian Peninsula and have met with many Christians there. This land presents us with great need and many opportunities.
Arabic Language Christian Satellite TVChristians in the Middle East are excited about the culturally and politically appropriate Christian Satellite Television broadcasting of SAT-7. One Syrian wrote, "Is there really a Christian channel? . . . I cannot describe my happiness with this wonderful news!"
Presents Culturally Sensitive Gospel of the Middle East
Broadcasting in Arabic eighteen hours a week, SAT-7 seeks to encourage minority Christian communities in their faith, service and witness, present the gospel without cultural offense, and offer up a balanced Biblical perspective on human life and society.
P.O. Box 1113
Wayne, PA 19087-0113
1-610-995-9151 / 995-9155 (fax)
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Training for Relating to Muslims Is Coming to an Area Near You
Military personnel are interacting with Islam more and more every day. Arab International Ministry (AIM) offers the day long MEET (Middle East Evangelism Training) seminar to help people relate with compassion, sensitivity, and the love of Christ.
- Tammy's sister is dating a man from Saudi Arabia and is thinking of converting to Islam.
- Kevin made friends in the Officer's Basic Course with a Muslim lieutenant from Tunisia named Ibrahim.
- David is going TDY to Saudi Arabia next month. Kevin is going to Bosnia.
- Stephen maintains personnel records with a Muslim assistant.
Training is conducted by AIM representatives with years of experience in the Muslim world and focuses on biblical principles for building bridges and relationships. It introduces Islam's history, structure, practices, and beliefs. It outlines the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. It gives practical guidelines for avoiding confrontation when talking with Muslims about spiritual matters. And it answers eight tough questions frequently asked of Christians by Muslims. Registration costs $30 per person or $50 per couple.
To Register contact:
Arab International Ministry
Toll Free 1-888-446-5457
P.O. Box 50986
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Training Dates and Locations in 2000
Date Location 15 Jan Colorado Springs 17 January Phoenix 22 January San Diego 19 February Atlanta 21 February Columbia, SC 18 March Detroit 07 April Dallas 08 April Waco, TX 29 April Wheaton College, IL 20 May Columbus, OH
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Bless Unreached Peoples With Craft FairsHomespun International (HI) is looking for chapel councils and PWOCs to host craft fairs that benefit evangelism and church planting in closed countries.
Many missionaries today are entering hard-to-reach communities by establishing themselves as viable economic contributors. Trust and relationships build as they establish workshops providing local employment and purchase local products for export abroad.
But these missionaries do not seek to exploit cheap labor. Rather, they are seeking to bless impoverished peoples economically and spiritually.
HI desperately needs stateside partners to display and sell these products. Without shareholders and with a minimum of overhead, proceeds go right back to the overseas communities where they help poor families and orphans and help the missionaries bring Jesus to needy people.
In addition to booth displays and craft inventory, stateside partners receive a promotional kit on how and where the items were made, the people who made them, and how the craft sales will benefit each community.
1243 S. Colorado Blvd. #11
Denver, CO 80246
1-(303) 758-4114 / 758-3111 (fax)
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Operation Reveille Publishes Deployment HandbookGod is on a mission. Since history began, he has been using every war, famine, and ruler towards reconciling the world to himself.
Now, like Jonah, from the belly of the proverbial whale, you (or someone you love) are being cast upon the beach among people with whom you might rather not have a relationship.
Operation Reveille's Handbook for Deployment helps military Christians to seize the initiative without compro-mising their integrity through opportunities afforded by presence, prayers, friendship, support, and involvement.
Contacts for obtaining materials and partnering with others are also provided.
This handbook cautions about the importance of maintaining a blameless testimony within the military profession through excellence, loyalty, and integrity.
Powerful rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, Augustus Caesar, Hitler, and Mao were used in spite of themselves to further God's global agenda. Military Christians have the privilege of participating consciously.
These handbooks will help you or your loved one make the most of peace keeping assignments.
Order yours from Operation Reveille;
suggested donation, $1.00 per book.
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Caleb Project Offers Prayer Journey How-To ManualCaleb Project's seventy page, Prayer Journeys: A Leader's How-To Manual, teaches how to make the most of first hand exposure to unreached people groups by praying on-site in their midst.
It is an invaluable tool for leaders and others who want to be involved in prayer walking within sensitive areas of the 10/40 Window.
Cost of $5.00 per book, plus shipping and handling should be paid when ordering.
10 West Dry Creek Cir.
Littleton, CO 80120-4413
(303) 730-4177 (fax)
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Dousing Religious Persecution Early Helps to Prevent Future ConflagrationsReligious persecution is not just a hot button issue which politicians must attend to in order to please their right winged constituency. It is an indicator of regional attitudes of hate that destabilize societies and launch wars. Diplomats and policy makers must attend to the issues of religious persecution in order to understand important dynamics affecting the political and economic dimensions which they prefer.
news and needs
With only a few exceptions, religious persecution is associated with every area of potential or actual military conflict. Also, in nearly every instance, religious persecution preceded militarization of the problem.
Church burnings and other forms of persecuting Christians began escalating in Indonesia long before Catholic East Timor required an international peacekeeping force to stem a growing humanitarian disaster.
Milosovic and Tudjman worked for years to convince their respective peoples that Croats were crypto-Nazis and Serbs were all Chetnik assassins before the war started.
Khartoum's assault on southern Sudan has been fired by this same pattern in fanaticism.
The Taliban's repressive rule in Afghanistan supported from Sunni Pakistan rides on the heels of civil war with Shiite Muslim factions.
Russia's current war in Chechnya complete with terrorist bombings in Moscow and the kidnaping of Christian leaders in Grozny flows from resurgent radical Islam that had long been suppressed by communism.
Even Iraq's invasion of Kuwait followed an orchestrated rise in hatred for Jews, their allies, and the allies of their allies.
Addressing the realities of religious conflict is part of the solution in these areas and part of preventing others.
Obed Minchakpu reports for Compass Direct (CD), "The decision by at least five northern states to implement sharia (Islamic Law) is pushing Nigeria to the brink of a religious war."
Reporting from Bolivia, David Miller says, "Marxist guerillas in Columbia have stepped up their campaign of intimidation against evangelicals, restricting religious freedom in areas under their control and executing Christians who disobey their orders."
In a special report on China for CD, Paul Davenport relays the opinion of a sympathetic government official that increasing repression of unregistered house churches is driven by fear "of all groups who do not see their primary role as supporting the state."
Alex Buchan of CD says we must "listen to the persecuted." History teaches that those who persecute minorities today "are the same people who will launch international wars tomorrow." Spotting and attending to sparks in the religious realm can help prevent subsequent fires.
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Fifty Years of Communism in China Covers Most Incredible Story of Twentieth CenturyThe most incredible story of the twentieth century won't get much press coverage going into Y2K, because it is the story of the church's survival under communism. It includes Polish Catholic courage, Russian Orthodox resilience, Romanian Baptist perseverance, and the greatest revival of all time in China.
news and needs
Alex Buchan writes of a man he visited in Shanghai in 1987 who was giving up his job and going into the country to preach. One year later he was pastoring churches in ten towns. Five years later he was shepherding 90,000 in five provinces. Last year his movement had grown to 500,000 in eight provinces and was averaging 548 converts a day.
Mao's victory and the founding of the Peoples's Republic of China exactly fifty years ago, spelled doom and gloom to outside observers. By 1952, all western missionaries had been kicked out. Campaigns of criticism and accusation diminished the church all through the 50s. In 1966 the few remaining city churches were closed by Red Guards, and the Cultural Revolution was begun.
Hundreds of years of mission work in China had seemingly ended in failure. Institutional Christianity in had been extinguished, but unbeknownst to outsiders, a vibrant and costly discipleship in the New Testament tradition of meeting in homes had emerged.
By smashing the church, the communists disbersed it and established the conditions for its revival. Christianity became embedded in Chinese culture, permeated Chinese families, and expressed itself in kitchens and living rooms in unprecedented fashion. One Shanghai pastor remarked, "Before 1949, we practiced Christianity in churches, and hardly anywhere else. After the persecution, we practiced it in our homes and therefore everywhere else."
Before Mao, the Chinese were quite uninterested in religion. Wu Mujian, a former professor of Greek New Testament at Beijing Theological Seminary observes, "He introduced the people to worship, taught them hymns, forced them to 'quiet time' around a little red book, insisted on rituals of confession and repentance, and required complete obedience and adulation." When Mao died his nation of worshipers became a multitude of seekers.
In 1979, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began attempting to gather and reestablish control over the pieces it had shattered by restoring "patriotic" churches such as those of the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM).
Today TSPM churches contain thirteen million members. But the majority of China's sixty million Christians (5% of the population) have no desire to be government registered, because the state still asserts its right to control religious affairs. For example, churches under government supervision must forbid praying for sick in expectation of healing and conducting Sunday school for children under eighteen.
After Tienanmen Square, thousands of disillusioned students and intellectuals turned to Christ, but the government also began cracking down on unregistered religious activities, equating them with "hostile foreign forces" seeking to subvert the country.
Repression of "unofficial" versions of Christianity may be at its worst since the Cultural Revolution. House church members and leaders sporadically endure high fines, property confiscations, arrests, imprisonments, beatings, and in some cases, death while in police custody. Persecution is worst in the northern and central provinces of Hebei, Henan, and Anhui.
This uneven persecution seems to be maturing the house churches structurally and theologically. The biggest lesson from history for Chinese Christians may be that their greatest enemy is not persecution but spreading consumerism and materialism.
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Sudan Gets Touched by AngelsReligious persecution and racist warfare has made southern Sudan the world's worst humanitarian crisis and most neglected disaster. The oldest community of Christians in Africa is near exhaustion from enduring the longest war of this century.
news and needs
Since 1983, when the constitution was amended imposing Sharia (Islamic law) on the whole country, war has killed over two million civilians and displaced four million more. That's more war related casualties than any other conflict since World War II and more internal refugees than in any other country today.
CBS's fall premier of Touched by an Angel finally put Sudan in the national spotlight. Here are three ways you can help. . .
- Pray for the people of southern Sudan.
- Support organizations assisting southern Sudan with spiritual training and humanitarian assistance. . .
- In the past four years Frontline Fellowship based in South Africa has delivered over 120,000 Bibles and Christian books and conducted over 1,200 services and training lectures inside the Sudan war zone. Now they are establishing a mission station to house a Bible College, radio station, and literature base from which they will launch outreaches across the country.
- In Touch Mission International's Blue Nile Project helps the people of Sudan's southern Blue Nile province by addressing spiritual and humanitarian issues (like the slave trade) there.
- Africa Christian Faith in Action, also in South Africa, distributes Bibles, medical supplies, food, clothing, school materials, seed, and farming tools, in coordination with local Sudanese churches and mission leaders to meet needs in the most productive way.
- Christian Freedom International supplies villages in southern Sudan with medicine, books, and humanitarian supplies.
- Appeal to legislators and government officials. Specifically, call or write the President and your representatives asking them to support passage of a strong Sudan Peace Act bill. This legislation . . .
- condemns targeting of civilians and human rights violations in Sudan,
- increases pressure on the United Nations to monitor impartially human rights there,
- supports sanctions against Sudan,
- requires presidential reporting to Congress on the exploitation of Sudan's oil fields,
- presses for reform of United Nations humanitarian assistance which is currently manipulated by the government in Khartoum,
- provides expanded authority to assist war ravaged civilian populations with relief and infrastructure,
- provides humanitarian aid to armed forces protecting civilian populations targeted by the Sudan government and their proxy forces.
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Links to Information and Agencies Helping Slaves in Sudan
web site review
Assembled in conjunction with the fall premier episode of Touched By an Angel, "For Such a Time as This," the "Angels in Sudan" web site links you to all kinds of information and organizations that will help you participate through prayer and advocacy for these persecuted, neglected, and sometimes enslaved brothers and sisters in Christ.
Links to CBS and advertising sponsors are included so that you can encourage this kind of programming.
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The Reveille Shofar
Volume 3, Number 6 - O1 December 1999
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