News from Agencies Collaborating With the US Center for World Mission
The Toba Indians: Missionaries Who Need a Surveyor!
Dave Sand, a Mobilization staff member recently returned from Argentina, reports the need for a surveyor to assist the Toba Indians in northern Argentina. The Toba Indians in Chaco, Argentina, are in need of a surveyor to help them survey and register their land with the government.
Many of the Toba Indians are Christians and have a powerful Christian testimony with the authorities as well as with the community in general. If a Christian surveyor will do this for them, it will strengthen the influence of the believers within the tribe, and help break through to three other unreached tribes. There is already an Argentine surveyor, registered with the government and willing to sign the survey papers, but a fully supported surveyor is needed to do the leg work. It is estimated that the job will take a maximum of six months to be completed.
For information, contact Harvest Evangelism, Inc., Box 20310, San Jose CA 95160-0310 (408/927-9052). For more specific details, contact Dave Thompson, Harvest Evangelism's director in the province of Chaco. His international phone number is 011-54-722-24794.
Puerto Rico Mobilizes!
Doug and Audrey Smith of the Institute of Latin American Studies report that 40 students of mission representing various demominations spent July 28-August 10 at Puerto Rico's Bethany Missions Institute studying the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course. Before the first class, Doug asked, "What would you like to see happen as a result of these two weeks together?" They came up with some far-reaching goals:
- Find denominational motivators to team-teach Perspectives back in their home churches in order to inspire prayer for unreached peoples, starting with their own island people groups.
- Use their research papers as springboards for each church to intelligently adopt one of these peoples by July '91.
- See a Puerto Rican Center for World Mission take shape--a challenge Dr. Ralph Winter gave them last March at their First Puerto Rican Regional COMIBAM (Ibero American Missions Congress) Conference.
- Produce the Global Prayer Digest in Spanish in time for the second COMIBAM Conference in March '91.
Doug thanks God for student enthusiasm, the videotaping of the full course for sharing throughout the island and the group's mission vision. Their initial vision was given by Dr. Winter and followed up by Wes Tullis, formerly of the USCWM Mobilization Department; Edison Quiroz, Puerto Rico's COMIBAM representative; and ex-students like Jorge Robles of AMEN (Evangelical Mission Association to the Nations) , already working among Muslims in his own country of Peru.
Pray that God will honor one of the prime goals of this teaching and research trip: that each country may establish its own network of centers for mission!
Pray for the Church in China!
China Ministries International reports continuing growth in the Chinese church amid continuing pressure. CMI shares the following story:
A converted Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB) official has stood firm in his faith under government repression for his leadership role in three house churches, reports a Mainland traveler just returned from China's eastern coast.
This brother, so much moved by God's love after his conversion, had quit his RAB post and worked to spread the Gospel. He then was given leadership in three house churches. His house-church activities were discovered by the government, and he was pressed by the regional TSPM (Three-Self Patriotic Movement) to register his churches. The order came in the form of three choices: abandon preaching and work for the TSPM as head of a TSPM factory; continue preaching but register his churches under the TSPM and preach only in religious places recognized by the government; or go to jail if he rejected both of the proposals. The brother chose imprisonment.
The Mainland traveler met the brother after he had been out of jail for twenty days. According to the traveler, the once jailed brother expressed no fear towards Public Security officials and his previous RAB colleagues, who kept on coming to his house and pressing him to comply with the government's religious policy. The brother told the traveler that he is ready to face any trial or form of hard labor to be true to his faith. Meanwhile, though with more caution, he continues to open his house to his brethren for fellowship meetings.
The example of this former RAB official represents thousands who would rather suffer than lose their freedom of belief. Pray for the church in China in a Nehemia Fellowship in your area. Contact China Ministries International, 1605 Elizabeth St., Pasadena CA 91104 USA.
FACE Tours China for Documentary Film
In September, 26 China Interface performers joined Chinese performers in Anhui Province, China, for the filming of "Rainbow," a 90-minute TV documentary depicting Chinese and American performing arts. The Fellowship of Artists for Cultural Exchange (FACE) organized the tour. , Hosts of the show are Chinese actress Sun Dao Lin and the Hollywood actress Susan Howard. This film will promote cultural exchange between China and America, and express mankind's yearning for beauty and an ideal world. The Chinese director was deeply impressed with the group's friendliness, working attitude and pursuit of artistic perfection.
A Jamaican Paradox
There are more churches per capita in Jamaica than most anywhere in the world, yet studies show that 70% of Jamaicans rarely attend church. Tim and Dorothy Monsma recently spent a couple weeks in Kingston investigating this paradox on behalf of Cities for Christ Worldwide.
The church in Jamaica is largely a church for the middle and upper classes, but the lower class majority of Jamaicans are mostly outside the church. In the city of Kingston, for example, half the city is made up of the poor, and of these poor at least 10% are desperately poor. They live in shantytowns and do not have regular work. The battle to survive leaves them no time for spiritual matters.
The working poor often find it necessary to work seven days a week, with little or no opportunity for church attendance. Transportation for getting to church can be a problem and some are ashamed to attend church because they don't have nice clothes. Others simply aren't interested in Jesus Christ and His salvation.
Pray for the Monsmas as they continue studying ways to reach the world's urbanized pockets of unreached peoples.
Praise the Lord that last year 19 more language groups had the Gospel message made available to them through audio recordings. At the start of 1990, dialects "captured" on recordings numbered 4,432, and the number continues to grow, reports Gospel Recordings director Larry Allmon.
Deb Marcusse of Gospel Recordings and Ellen Bay of Language Recordings have teamed up for an extensive recording venture through West Africa. They began in Liberia in February and plan to continue through seven countries. As they will be traveling in Muslim areas, animist areas and areas of civil unrest, they would like prayer for travel safety and strength to endure.
Another team of recordists, Jon Rulison and Gerhard Klassen, are currently recording in the country of Cameroon in West Africa. This is a land of 10 million people where over 400 languages are spoken. Last year they were able to record ten languages in six weeks, but there are still 300 languages in which recordings are needed.
Studio in a Box!
Studio in a Box is an ingenious concept for extending communications potential to smaller nations and minority language groups. Designed by World Population Study Center director Frank Kaleb Jansen, the Studio in a Box is an ultra-modern, fully equipped radio and TV production studio. The $120,000 facility is built into a steel shipping container which can be transported into the remotest village and placed into operation within hours after arrival. The unit is self-contained, self-powered, fully insulated and sound-proofed. The latest monitoring and editing equipment, including air conditioning, is built into the studio. All essential equipment for video and sound production is provided, including a portable recorder for field work.
Eventually, the Studio would serve as a learning center for that area-- offering various educational courses and training.
Of course, the implications of its use as a vehicle for the Gospel as a Christian installs and maintains such a facility makes the Studio in a Box an amazing new tool for mission!
Sponsors are being sought for the equipping, shipping, and installation of Studios in a Box in specific locations overseas. For more information, contact Studio in a Box, World Population Study Center, 1539 E. Howard St, Pasadena CA 91104 USA.
Soviet Armenians Hear the Gospel in the USA
The Armenian Bible College, one of the collaborating agencies of USCWM in Pasadena, offers a B.A. program in Biblical Studies, publishes Christian books and sermon cassettes and plants new Armenian churches.
In August, 1988, College president Yeghia Babikian announced plans to plant the first Armenian church in North Hollywood where about 325 Soviet Armenian families had immigrated from the USSR. During the following 5-6 weeks, although they received newsletters, gifts, and invitations to dinner, none of the families showed up! The prospects of planting a church in North Hollywood seemed terribly disappointing. President Babikian tells the rest of the story:
One Sunday morning, on our way to the church I shared my concern with my wife. She reminded me of God's instruction to the Israelites to be still and watch what He would do. That very same Sunday, Armenians started coming to the church services, and in a couple of months the congregation numbered 85!
Although the members of the congregation were descendents of the first Christian nation in human history (Armenia declared itself Christian in AD 301), they had no knowledge of the Scriptures. Only after three months of teaching the Bible in our Sunday School did one of them courageously volunteer to share his knowledge of Adam and Eve's condition after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. He said, "Oh, yes, on their way out from the Garden of Eden, they came to a sea they had to cross. Fortunately, God had given Adam a rod. Adam hit the water with that rod, and the sea parted allowing them to cross safely"! Similar responses proved to us that the congregation thought they were Christians only because they were born Armenians.
During the first 4-5 months, we never preached on "Protestant themes. " However, on my way to church on Christmas day, I told my wife, "No matter what, today I will tell our people why Jesus came to this earth." I was particularly sensitive toward an intelligent man, a former communist with whom I had established a good rapport, who had been a supervisor of a large group of employees in Soviet Armenia. He had started attending our services regularly, I was afraid that at the conclusion of the service, he might comment, "I thought you were an educated, open-minded Armenian. What was this Protestant stuff you presented to us this morning?" During the sermon, the moment I mentioned that Jesus came to this earth to shed his blood for the salvation of our souls, immediately a commotion broke out around my wife. I requested the women to talk to my wife after the service. At the conclusion of the sermon, the very same man rushed after me. I knew he was going to challenge me. He held my hand, and looking into my eyes said, "I had never heard such a sermon before! It is a pity that just one group of Armenians heard it this morning. All Armenians around the world should have listened to this message." I was greatly encouraged.
On our way back home, I asked my wife about the commotion that broke out next to her during the service. She said, "The moment you said, 'Jesus came to this world to shed His blood for the salvation of souls,' they turned to me and said, 'Is what your husband just said really true?'"
Then, I started giving altar calls, and they started accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Praise the Lord!
Deeply rooted in the Armenian culture is the notion that Christians cannot be certain whether they will make it to heaven. They think that this knowledge pertains only to the Omniscient God. After the congregation started accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior, we gradually started emphasizing the believers' assurance of salvation. On several occasions,
I preached on the Book of Life. One day, when I was again hinting on Christians' assurance of their salvation (I had not dared yet to ask who were confident of their destination to heaven), one of the ladies in the audience promptly exclaimed, "I will go to heaven because my name is written in the Book of Life! Glory be to God!"
On another occasion, while I was concluding my sermon, I was trying to decide whether or not to give an altar call. Although the presence of the Lord was very real, I decided to conclude the sermon with a prayer. Just before my prayer, a man who was a new convert raised his hand to say something. Immediately, I had mixed feelings. (I don't like anyone from the audience to say anything at the conclusion of a sermon, lest he ask an irrelevant question or make an abrasive remark.) Anyhow, I gestured to him to speak. Surprisingly, the man did not talk to me but rather to the audience, saying, "Dear co- patriots, you just heard the clear message of the Gospel. What are you waiting for? Give your hearts to the Lord." And he sat down. Amazing! Praise the Lord.
Currently, the North Hollywood Armenian Church has 55 charter members, a Sunday morning attendance of 80-90, a constituency of 160- 170, and a target mission field of 500-550 Armenian families (within a 30-minute radius). A spirit of brotherhood, love, and fellowship prevails at all age levels.
The United States of America could not have welcomed these immigrants from the USSR in a better way than by offering the Gospel of the Nazarene. The Armemian Bible College cannot have a nobler mission than training ministers, publishing Armenian Christian literature and planting new Armenian churches!
The Baptist General Conference reports that 85-90% of all people appointed to fulltime career mission service with them in the past ten years have had an Urbana experience!