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July 1987


Editorial Comment

The Meaning of "Mission"

What is World Evangelization and is it Possible to Achieve?

Official Critiques China Religious Policyray for Muslims in China

Worldwide News

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Worldwide News

Edited by John Holzmann

Believers Feel the Heat in Turkey
Christians in Turkey increasingly are finding themselves in the center of conflict between Turkey's secular government and militant Muslim fundamentalists. And they are finding it an uncomfortable place to be. During the last year, authorities revoked the visas of at least three expatriate couples and two single people. Some national Christians have been imprisoned for short periods; others are frequently "hassled" by local authorities.

In late January, 12 people, most members of the Turkish Christian Fellowship, were arrested in Ankara. One was accused of distributing Christian literature printed outside of Turkey. Apparently, the rest were imprisoned because of their association with the man. All were released a week later, but, according to one MNS source, at least two of them have since lost their government jobs. The rest are likely to be blacklisted and, undoubtedly, will experience social pressure from family and friends.

That incident followed a common pattern, according to another MNS source. Local authorities often are urged by fundamentalist groups to arrest Christians. Later, when word reaches government officials at the top, the local decisions are overturned.

Expatriate workers are watched closely as well. Authorities often show up at their doors unannounced to search their homes and ask questions. Subsequently, some have had their visas cancelled÷always without explanation.

One MNS source strongly suggested that Iranians who live in Turkey÷nearly one million live in Istanbul alone÷incite Turkish Muslim groups.

While the number of known evangelical Christians in Turkey is less than 300. radio programs and a type of "pen pal evangelism" are producing significant new contacts. The pen pal program gets about 100 responses per month. Inquirers are sent a Bible correspondence course; some; lowed up by Christians in Turkey.

Generally, social pressures and incidents like that in Ankara tend to keep Christians a bit secretive. But some believers in Ankara are becoming bolder. They want to approach the government and ask for legal permission to assemble.

Meanwhile, North American observers say there is a void in the lives of many Turkish Muslims. Many don't attend mosque. Some Muslim traditions, such as the women's headcovering, have been changed or done away with. The traditional day of rest has been moved from Friday to Sunday.

"Growth in the number of Christians has not been tremendous," said one contact "But there is a feeling that we're on the verge of something big."

÷Tim Ratzloffd

Quick Glimpses
Ivory Coast is home to one of the fastest-growing churches in West Africa, I 1973, most churches have grown between 10 and 30 percent per year. Literature has been important both in attracting interest in the gospel and in following up contacts made through radio broadcasts, correspondence courses, outdoor evangelism, and classes taught in primary public school 


Some 85 percent of all Haitians are in bondage to voodoo. But evangelical Christians arc multiplying and now make up 12.3 percent of the population. 


According to the Kansai Mission Research Center, in 1950 there was one Christian for every 40,000 Japanese; in 1980 the number of Christians had increased so that there was one Christian for every 19,000 Japanese. 

÷Asia Theo. News

Evangelical Church Alive and Growing in Brazil
With a total community of close to 19 million, the evangelical churches in Brazil are growing rapidly. Communicant church membership is growing at about five times the rate of the overall population.

One of the keys to this growth has been the development of national leadership. There are now 27,000 ordained Brazilian pastors, close to 6,000 evangelical students in seminaries, 4,000 in Bible institutes, and another 12,000 enrolled in TEE (Theological Education by Extension) programs.

While not all the seminary and Bible college students will go into the ministry, and while most of those in TEE programs will remain unordained, still, there is a tremendous pool of trained leadership within the Brazilian churches.

According to Richard Sturz, a veteran Conservative Baptist missionary, another major contributor to church growth in Brazil is the "supernaturalist grasp of reality" found in Pentecostal and charismatic churches.

Sturz says Pentecostal and charismatic churches account for over three-quarters the total evangelical population in Brazil.

"While money, food, and clothes are important to the (Brazilian) people, God and spirit beings are much more significant," Sturz said. "The Brazilians hunger for a direct and personal relationship with the transcendent world of the spirits.

"It simply is not true, in Brazil at least, that one must care for (the people's) physical needs before they will have an interest in spiritual matters." 


Laotian Church Grows Despite Difficulties
Expatriate missionaries are no longer allowed in Laos, but their earlier work is bearing fruit The church is growing.

Christians are not permitted to conduct mass evangelism, in some areas there is occasional government interference in church matters, and almost no church enjoys trained leadership. Still, for the most part, Christians have considerable freedom to worship, and individual believers are involved in personal evangelism.

The work yet to be done in Laos is great: 91 percent of Laotians are animist or Buddhist, and there are 51 different ethnic groups with no gospel witness.


Rural Churches in Sri Lanka Multiply
A recent survey conducted by the Church Growth Research Center of Sri Lanka reveals a 27 percent increase in the number of rural churches in 1986.

Following on the heels of a 21 percent increase in 1985, the expansion of Christianity in this tiny island comes after a century of steady decline.

The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG) is one of the largest groups working in this tiny island nation. Eloise Clarno, executive secretary of the ICFG's department of missions, said that besides the sovereign work of God, the only explanation for the rate of growth is the fact that "signs and wonders are following the ministries of the indigenous leaders."

"Most of our churches have been started as the result of someone being miraculously healed, or delivered from demonic powers," she said. 

Although church growth strategists rejoice in the increase in the number of rural churches, they point out that rural churches number only 648.

Ranjit de Silva, president of Lanka Bible College, notes that statistics must be seen "in light of the total task of reaching 25,483 unreached villages, including tea and rubber estates." 


Singapore '87 Highlights Younger Leaders' Needs
An international gathering of 300 younger Christian leaders met June 1-10 in Singapore to address common concerns in world evangelization.

Sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, "Singapore '87" sought to foster networks of cooperation and trust among those who will give significant leadership to the Church into the twenty-first century.

Throughout the conference participants, representing a wide range of congregation-based and "para-church" ministries, reflected on various aspects of leadership, both personal and professional.

Integrity, devotion, and family life were considered in plenary sessions and workshops during the first five days. The second five days tackled such issues as urbanization, population growth, injustice, and the need to reach unreached peoples.

The plenary session on unreached peoples featured addresses by John Robb of World Vision, John Stott of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, and Martin Alphonse, a leader in south India and former missionary to Singapore.

Stott and Alphonse gave strong endorsements to current efforts to identify and reach unreached peoples, but both expressed reservations about the application Of the "homogeneous unit principle" which undergirds much of the frontier missions movement.

Stott called for a greater emphasis on cultural heterogeneity in the local church, and Alphonse noted the complexities of distinguishing between peoples in today's rapidly changing cultural contexts.

A larger follow-up conference for North American leaders, "Leadership '88," is planned for July 5-8 next year in Washington, D.C. 

÷Darrell R. Dorr

Persecution Leads Muslim to New Life
Hasim (not his real name) was a faithful Muslim in a Middle Eastern country. The police mistook him for a Christian who had been evangelizing in the community, so for two weeks they interrogated him, beating him on the soles of his feet.

As he lay in bed following his release, waiting for his mangled feet to heal, Hasim's thoughts turned to the gospel message his captors had accused him of preaching. He was moved to pray.

"God, if these things are true, make yourself known to me," he said.

To his amazement, his feet were healed immediately. He leaped up and began praising God.

Later, the Christian whom the police had been seeking came to Hasim's door to ask his forgiveness. He was surprised and pleased to find he had a new brother in the Lord. 


Prisoners Converted in Muslim Country
A mission leader has told the Missionary News Service about a significant response to the gospel among prisoners in a Muslim country, which, for reasons of security, cannot be publicly identified.

The commissioner of two prisons asked missionaries to start a literacy work among illiterate prisoners. Six prison officers were trained and 250 prisoners were enrolled.

The literacy materials are based on the Bible, so that as prisoners are taught to read, they are learning the Scriptures.

As a result, prisoners are continually coming to faith in Christ. In addition to the literacy course, a discipleship training program has also been started in the prison. The group has grown so much that it has been divided into three groups. 


Unreached Peoples Congress in Mali Sets 10-Year Goals
The Unreached Peoples Congress of Mali held in April this year was a historic occasion as 376 pastors, denominational leaders, and missionaries gathered for the First time ever to consider the evangelization of the country's unreached peoples.

A number of fine speakers from other African countries as well as local church leaders challenged the participants to make bold plans to reach the 98 percent non-Christian majority with the gospel.

Particularly striking was the earnest appeal of the solitary pastor from Timbuktu, that remotest of the remote towns, in the Saharan north of the country.

Rev. Nock, himself a Muslim convert who narrowly escaped death at the hands of his own family, urged the great majority of Christian workers deployed in the more developed south to brave the inhospitable desert conditions in order to minister to the northern nomadic tribes.

At the end of the Congress, the participants adopted the ten-year goals of:

1. Planting the Church in all 35 ethnic groups (12 of these have not yet been entered by Christian workers, and in only three of the 35 do Christians number more than one percent); and

2. Winning 20 percent of the population to Christ. 

÷ John Robb (WVI)


Tanzanian Church Growth Breaks Records
A missionary couple and a team of African evangelists working with them in Key-la district, Tanzania, baptized 14,409 new believers in 1986. Over the past nine years, the total baptisms have numbered 40,212. During that same period, the number of churches and preaching points grew from 60 to 329, while total church membership increased from 3,740 to 32,423.

Doug and Evelyn Knapp, who went to Tanzania as agricultural missionaries, ministered in the area for 16 years before the spiritual breakthrough began. They credit much of the growth to prayer, crusades by U.S. volunteers, the work of trained African evangelists, and the foundational efforts of earlier missionaries.


Bulgarian Churches Grow Against the Grain
The recent arrest and deportation of Pavel Ignatov, the 38-year-old leader of the 25 Bulgarian unregistered Pentecostal churches, highlights the climate of the growing Pentecostal churches in Bulgaria.

In January Ignatov was sentenced to three years labor in the south. His deportation follows six years of persecution by the authorities, including the abduction and molestation of his eight-year-old son.

The unregistered Pentecostal Church, which authorities say will never be sanctioned, has endured four generations of oppression and has started over from nearly nothing several times, yet today it represents 4,000 believers.

The churches in the capital city of Sofia secretly baptized 200 new believers last year, bringing the total there to 600. The baptisms are held at night in the mountains and other remote areas. In the larger cities the Christians meet in homes, though the homeowner faces a penalty as high as two months salary if they are caught in session.

Working in such a context, the believers use every occasion, including weddings and funerals, to build each other up in the faith. They contact each other daily to pray for one another, which may help explain how they are able to function when their leaders are taken away by the authorities. 


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