July News from around the World

AFRICA: Increased Information Technology Capacity Critical for Bible Translation Work
JAARS Africa area liaison Bill Mayes envisions a day when every Bible translation center on that continent can enjoy Web page retrieval rates of less than five seconds, as opposed to twenty seconds or more, the current rate. Toward that goal, he is developing plans for enhancing information technology capacity, an indispensible foundation needed for seeing God’s word translated into the languages of Africa and carrying out the Last Languages Initiative, a campaign launched by JAARS project partner Wycliffe. In fiscal year 2008-2009 JAARS and Wycliffe caught the vision of a “well-wired” Africa and have provided generously toward upgrades. Numerous countries (including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Sudan, and Uganda) have received major services upgrades or have works in progress. (JAARS)

INDONESIA: Group Makes Threats and Warns Legislator to Convert to Islam
Compass Direct News reported that on 23 April 2009, after Dominikus Supriyanto won a seat in the district legislature in West Sumatra, his celebration was cut short when an Islamic group warned him to convert to Islam or lose his seat. The group, which identified itself as the Islamic Forum of West Pasaman, attacked Supriyanto’s home by throwing stones, which broke several windows. Supriyanto was home at the time and heard them yell threats about becoming Muslim to stay in politics. Despite these threats, Supriyanto has no intention of giving up his seat or changing his religion. (Mission Network News)

ISRAEL: CISF Names First Recipient of Scholar-Leader Award
Dr. Salim Munayer has been named the first recipient of the Christian International Scholarship Foundation (CISF) scholar-leader award for his work as founder and director of Jerusalem-based Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation and for his service as academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College from 1989 to 2008. Musalaha Ministry seeks to build reconciliation between Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews in Israel, as well as other segments of society. Munayer was raised in a Palestinian Christian family in the Orthodox tradition and can trace his roots to the Holy Land for generations. He was born in Lod and grew up in a mixed community of Arabs and Jewish Israelis. (Assist News Service)

MEXICO: 2009 Culiacan Project Peaceful and Productive
Global Recordings Network (GRN) reported in June that its 2009 Culiacan Project reached thousands of people without any dangerous incidents. This is a special blessing in that the level of violence in Culiacan had been very high during the last part of 2008 due to increased drug activity. GRN further reported that almost seven thousand cassettes or CDs were given out in over 120 different Indian languages and dialects. Christian resources in Spanish and native languages, along with blankets, clothing, sewing kits, and glasses also were handed out. GRN Mexico has been holding the annual month-long outreach for many years. The project seeks to reach the thousands of indigenous Indians who travel from many parts of Mexico to Culiacan to harvest crops. (Global Recording Network)

MIDDLE EAST: Arab Youth Tune into Strongholds Program
The Lebanese worship band Stongholds recently launched a live program on SAT-7 as a way to reach more people, both on the air and via text messages, email, and a Facebook site. During each show, band members introduce Arabic worship videos, take requests, and perform songs. They also talk to viewers. At the end of each show the hosts encourage viewers to visit the Facebook site to send prayer requests and to list songs or topics they would like to see in the next episode. “We are getting many responses. People like to send text messages, especially from Iraq,” said Joyce, one of the show’s hosts and also a singer for the band. (SAT-7)

NEPAL: OneHope Plans “Hope Nepal”
An effort targeted for Christmas 2009 called “Hope Nepal” will attempt to reach many for Christ in a country only recently declared a secular state. Part of the effort will be televising The GodMan film around the country over a period of a few days. The computer-generated photo-realistic animation film of the Book of Hope tells the life story of Jesus and can be targeted toward a particular country or culture. The event will resemble a similar one held in India called “Hope India.” Over 400 million people viewed The GodMan through that event, including over twelve million children who received copies of the Book of Hope. Although Nepal is a much smaller nation than India, it has plenty of television networks, and organizer OneHope president Bob Hoskins hopes that “Hope Nepal” will have a similar impact on the country. (Mission Network News)

PAKISTAN: Refugees in Urgent Need of Relief Supplies
Pakistan’s Swat Valley, once a beautiful valley with lush green mountains, is now a deadly war zone. Authorities estimate that eighty-five percent of the province’s population is now displaced by the violence. World Vision (WV) staff members are ready to help and distribute relief supplies; currently, however, there just aren’t enough supplies to go around. “Thousands and thousands urgently need help, but we’re out of reserves and must rely entirely on the generosity of our supporters in order to expand our response during these tight economic times,” said Randy Strash, disaster fundraising specialist for World Vision in the United States. Graham Strong, WV’s director in Pakistan expressed concern for host communities inundated with refugees. “The Pakistani people are responding very generously to the needs of their neighbors who have fled the conflict. But with such a strain on scarce resources, there is potential for conflict over time. So it’s critical for relief groups to meet the needs of not only the displaced, but also the communities hosting them,” said Strong. (World Vision)

PARAGUAY: Indigenous Peoples Come Together at Mennonite Conference
Mennonite Mission Network representatives in South America join Anabaptists worldwide in preparing for Mennonite World Conference Assembly Gathered this month in Asuncion, Paraguay. Nearly thirty members of First Nations congregations in the USA and Canada will visit the homes and churches of their indigenous brothers and sisters following Assembly Gathered. In addition to their Paraguayan hosts, they will be joined by other Latin American indigenous Mennonite leaders. A grant from the Stella Devenpeck fund through Mennonite Mission Network (with Native Mennonite Ministries and Native Ministry Canada leaders) will help support the travel and gathering. (Mennonite Mission Network)

SIERRA LEONE: Barnabas Aid Works Amidst Growing Anti-Christian Sentiment
Barnabas Aid is supporting ongoing ministry in Sierra Leone, now one of the poorest countries in the world. The country is predominantly Islamic, and Christians number only about twelve percent of the population. President Koroma, elected in 2007, is a Christian; however, the influence of Islam is growing in the country. Hostility toward Christians became evident during Ramadan in 2008, when some Christians and churches were attacked. One church, with many converts from Islam in its congregation, was attacked during worship service on 5 September 2008. Police intervened and at least twenty-five Muslims were arrested. (Barnabas Aid)

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Literature Partnership Distributes Work by Indian Christian Leader
JSM-Langham Literature has launched a project to distribute The Holy Spirit: Lord and Life-Giver by Langham Scholar Ivan Satyavrata to pastors and scholars in Southeast Asia, as well as to more than thirty countries in the Majority World. The text was selected as the seventh title in the Global Christian Library (GCL), a series of resources produced in partnership by John Stott Ministries, Langham Literature, and InterVarsity Press. GCL seeks to provide sound biblical texts by evangelical theologians from different countries who can apply their cultural contexts. Twenty-five thousand copies of The Holy Spirit are being dispatched as part of JSM-Langham Literature’s graduate book program for diploma-level graduates, as well as alumni who are currently in active ministry. As a theologian and leader of the Church in India, Satyavrata is committed to sharing how the presence of the Holy Spirit is key to this transformative time when millions of new believers in the region are experiencing a hunger for God. (John Stott Ministries)

SRI LANKA: Gospel for Asia Continues Hard Work in the Wake of Long Civil War
Civil war between Sri Lanka's government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group is now over, and it is time to minister to the survivors, according to Gospel for Asia (GFA) president K.P. Yohannan. “While the 26-year-long conflict has come to an end by the news of the Tamil Tigers' surrender, in reality this is the beginning of pain and crisis for hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced….There are twenty-five thousand now in refugee camps, and the suffering is especially acute among the children and elderly.” The United Nations estimates that seventy thousand civilians were killed in the fighting during the last thirty years. There is a concern that the number will increase. GFA-supported missionaries have been working in Sri Lanka for many years. Some are former rebel fighters, while others come from the majority Sinhalese population. Most of these missionaries now serve as pastors of Sri Lankan churches. The fact that Tamil and Sinhalese Christians work side-by-side has been a tremendous witness to the people. (Assist News Service)

UZBEKISTAN: Karakalpakstan Republic Bans the Bible
The senior religious affairs official for the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic of north-western Uzbekistan has banned specific religious books and films confiscated from religious believers on at least three occasions in 2009. In a story for Forum 18 News Service, Felix Corley reported that among items Nurulla Zhamolov has “banned for import, distribution or use in teaching on the territory of the Republic of Karakalpakstan” are the Bible, a hymn book, a Bible Encyclopedia, a Bible dictionary, and a children's Bible. Forum 18 reported that the authorities in Karakalpakstan routinely confiscate religious literature they find in the homes of religious believers during raids. It remains unclear what further activity the authorities will undertake in light of the bans on specific works. (Assist News Service)