Operation World

Join Matthew and Ted as they have a conversation with Jason Mandryk, Editor of Operation World.

Learn about the history and the future of the definitive global prayer handbook that has been used by more than a million Christians to pray for the nations. Whether you are an intercessor praying behind the scenes for world change, a missionary abroad or simply curious about the world, Operation World will give you the information necessary to play a vital role in fulfilling the Great Commission.


welcome to the mission matters
the mission matters is a partnership
between 1615
and mission nexus who have a shared
passion to mobilize god’s people
to be a part of his mission the mission
matters is hosted by matthew ellison
president of 1615 and ted estler
president of mission nexus
make sure you like share and subscribe
so you don’t miss an episode
today’s episode is sponsored by support
raising solutions
support raising solutions is a christian
ministry that serves the body of christ
around the world to provide biblical and
practical training on how to raise your
and launch your ministry they desire to
flood the nations
with great commission workers who are
spiritually healthy
vision driven and fully funded and now
here are your hosts matthew ellison and
ted estwick
welcome once again to the mission
matters podcast i’m matthew ellison
and as always i am joined by my good
friend and partner in crime ted essler
ted it’s always good to see you brother
good to see you hey i saw you last night
we actually did an event
last night uh i don’t know when this
will actually
air but last night was the virtual book
yeah that i’m going to get the title
wrong if i try to reproduce it because
it’s different than the first one i want
to give the first title what’s the title
conversations on when everything is
missions tagline rediscovering the
mission of the church
so i assume that that uh the virtual
book launch is going to be available
online is that right matthew
right it’ll be online tomorrow of course
tomorrow’s going to be different than
when they watch this
january but yes it’s going to be
interested in that would go to 1615.org
and look
for the book launch 1615.org this is a
continuation of our first book when
everything is missions
and now we’ve introduced 15 other people
to the conversation
added their voices and you’re one of
those voices so yeah we saw you last
night and you talked about the
of the great commission and we’ll just
leave it at that they need to log on
and listen to it your chapter is
excellent by the way well thanks
appreciate that well hey listen we
always like to start with the softball
as you know and
it’s season of advent i love advent man
it is just
the mystery of the incarnation just gets
me every single december
and i’ve just been thinking about
christmas memories right now and so
i want to start with um what’s a
childhood christmas memory that you just
hold on to i’ll begin i’ll toss it to
you ted mine has to be and i’m gonna my
tear up even saying
this my childhood kitchen my mother
cooking lefse and krumkaka
um i i’m of norwegian descent if you
didn’t figure it out with the mention of
those two foods there
but lefse is a potato bread it’s a
potato flatbread
and man in the kitchen which is filled
with the smell of lefse cooking
it’s kind of like a norwegian tortilla
if you will and then krumkaka and
christmas music in the background
watching my mom cook that’s a childhood
memory that i will never forget how
about you ted
well it’s funny you know i grew up with
both those foods too because i have
norwegian descent i’m kind of like a
scandinavian stew
with norwegian and dane mixed together
but we have those foods but the the
memory that always sticks out to me is
when i was a little boy i got this
little helicopter gift it was a
helicopter that went around on a circle
and you use these two little wires to
kind of manipulate it it was just
the most epic gift i you can imagine for
a little boy to get
and when i was about 40 45 years old
somewhere in there
my brother went out and found that gift
um it was the original gift it was uh
new inbox but very old and i got to play
with that gift all over again
as an adult and it actually had gotten
better through the years
that’s that’s one of my favorite
christmas uh
christmas memories so our guest today is
mandrake and i’m gonna ask you to
introduce yourself in just a second
jason but
let’s first start with that christmas
question what’s a memory that you have
right i think uh the one that sticks out
for me
being a someone who is raised in canada
but been based in the uk
for 20 years now is the the coming
together of the clan
so grandma grandpa aunts
uncles cousins and somehow
all piling into someone’s family home
you know food drink games
laughter christmas specials more food
and then somehow we all managed to find
a place to sleep you know
in this one modest size home who whoever
it was
a bit like uh john denver’s grandma’s
feather bed
you just you know everyone piles in
wherever they can find a place to sleep
and the kids are in sleeping bags on the
floor and there’s hide-a-beds coming out
and then the next day on boxing day
going out and
ice skating or playing ice hockey
something that you don’t get a lot of
in the uk so precious where where in
canada did you grow up
i grew up mostly in winnipeg uh so
manitoba central canada
where there was always plenty of snow
and ice uh over the christmas period
you know i lived for three years in
and i have a very uh soft spot for
canada so but i was in
london ontario so other ways away from
where you’re at
uh jason um we’re going to be getting
into operation world and what it’s all
about but
could you please introduce yourself to
our audience so they know who you are
sure well you’ve got got my name already
i’ve been serving with the ministry of
operation world for the last 20 plus
and operation world is a ministry of wec
international which is a mission
organization founded
over 100 years ago by ct stud and our
um our focus as an agency is on reaching
the unreached or the unevangelized
and uh i’m the co-leader of the team
with my my colleague
molly wall and i’ve been involved with
multiple editions of operation world
over the years in the areas of research
analysis writing editing production
ministry so if someone is completely
of what operation world is and i bet
there’s probably not many
listening to our call in that camp but
let’s assume they don’t know what it is
explain what operation world is about
okay yeah um i think the best way to do
that is to
give you a very abbreviated origin story
of operation world it was founded by
patrick johnstone
in the 1960s when he was a mission
missionary serving in southern africa
with another agency called the dorothea
and his work was primarily doing
evangelism in the
rapidly expanding uh urban
shanty towns and slums of apartheid era
south africa and zimbabwe
and other countries around there and
african churches were were growing
rapidly at that time because of
evangelism in part also because of rapid
population growth
and these churches were gathering
together for like
camp week a week of praise and worship
of bible study of teaching
and preaching a fellowship and of prayer
and because of the fact that it was in
the 1960s
and it was in africa and it was during
the apartheid
era these african brothers and sisters
had very little access to knowledge
about what was going on
in the outside world but they felt a
burden to pray for the nations
they didn’t know what to pray for china
or for russia
or for brazil or for norway or whichever
and so they asked the missionaries who
were a mix of westerners and africans
to help furnish them with some
information that would enable them
to pray in an informed manner for the
needs of these other nations
and patrick got assigned to basically
cobble together
a little booklet that was uh 16 pages
folded in half you know in black and
white typed out on a typewriter and then
uh reproduced
that featured 30 different countries and
very simple prayer points
and hand-drawn um hand-shaded maps that
he had done himself
and the church really you know they
really took to this and they really
began to press into
sustained prayer and then they said you
know we want more of this
and patrick said well if i’m going to do
this again i think we should do it for
every country not just a handful of
um little did he know the amount of work
that would be going into that and the
the millions of copies in many languages
that have been distributed
in the subsequent decades uh but that
was how it was born it was out of the
of the african church to pray for the
and to engage in in its own missionary
to um to their own missional con
construct and context
it grew from that time patrick and his
and the ministry of operation world
relocated to the uk
uh where it’s been based since 1980 uh
where it still is now
and uh the various formats and forms of
media in which we continue to produce
information that’s based on research and
in order to mobilize mission and prayer
for the whole world
that continues but it obviously looks
very different
technologically speaking from what was
the norm in 1965
it’s a fascinating story i had no idea
about the history and
it just enriches it even more for me
knowing how it began
in south africa so my family
my kids are 22 20 and 17 but when they
were little we use the kids version i
can’t remember what it’s called a
windows on the world is that is that
the first children’s version was called
you can change the world
and then it was retitled in a subsequent
edition to window on the world
yeah so we’ve benefited from it many
times the children’s version and of
course the operation world version
but i’d be curious to know how
widespread the use of operation world is
that’s a good question i mean we we have
information about
you know how many copies of a
might be printed and distributed
i think one of the areas that would
probably be deemed a success in a sense
is that operation world has gone from
being virtually the only kind of
or the only kind of resource of this
nature that’s available
to becoming just one amongst the family
of resources that exists for the purpose
of informing the global church
and mobilizing toward mission and prayer
um resources like the perspectives
uh course and all of the all of the
publications that are associated with
including other groups that are within
the family of perspectives
uh resources like the joshua project
which focuses on ethno-linguistic people
uh resources like prayercast which has a
very similar vision to operation world
frames it through short easily
video there there are others as well
many others
and so i think in part a lot of these
because operation world helped to set
the stage to recognize
the scope of the great commission and
the task
unfinished and gave people a framework
and a platform to take their own passion
their own sets of gifts their own domain
of media
and begin to do the same kind of
information based
mobilizing of prayer and mobilizing of
mission into the broader framework
and and so that’s great that we’re no
longer the only
the only resource that points people
toward mission or that
uh engages them in prayer for the
nations it’s good that there’s more
out there we’ve always been a small team
from day one until now it’s always been
a missionary team
so people involved are volunteers or or
supported missionaries either with wek
or with another agency
and so we really also believe in the the
idea that this is a missionary team that
serves together
that produces this resource it’s not a
it’s not a corporate driven structure in
that sense
and and that it is deliberately uh
globalized and consultative the way that
we want to write about the countries
is based yes of course on research but
it’s also based on
engaging and listening to christian
leaders from the places that we’re
writing about
and getting them to give input and
changing what we would say
or changing how we would pray about
those nations
based on what the people who know those
nations best the the christian leaders
who are from those places and are
serving in those contexts
so the network element of operation
world has always been very essential and
of course
that’s much easier to do in today’s
world than it was back in the
apartheid era zimbabwe or southern
rhodesia as it was then called
tell us a little bit about how you
actually do the data collection
yeah there i guess there’s kind of three
three main streams uh
to what we do and and the first element
of that is we subscribe
to publications journals magazines
newsletters um circulars um
all kinds of secular broadly christian
as well as
uh missiologically specific sometimes
all the way down to maybe a specific
country or a specific people group
and we subscribe to these and we share
that reading out amongst the team
and we take note of the stuff that would
help to inform and shape how we
want to write prayer points or how we
would include the data
in our analysis of the data for our
country so that’s the incoming stream
then there’s also the the stream of
activity where we go out and we find the
that we know we need we’re aware that we
lack this information and so we go out
and find it and that might be
denominational data
uh where we can get it it might be
missionary demographics like uh
how many people are serving in this
country although that’s of course
increasingly difficult to both define
and obtain
um or what are the most strategic and
important areas that we can press into
for this country or for this region and
you go and you try to find what you can
the third stream which is in in some
ways the most important is that
relational network of people with whom
we connect
in every country if we can although
often they are very small
or remote countries they can be quite
difficult to find people on the ground
and we ask them how can the global
church be praying
for your nation and we send them our
draft of what we’ve compiled
and we say everything that you want to
change show us
how can we how can we make this better
and then through a
a consultative process and back and
forth with them not just that with an
individual but sometimes it’s an entire
um an entire group that works together
on that process sometimes it’s different
key people in a country
with whom we’re individually in contact
and so through that
synthetical process we arrive at a draft
we’re happy to publish and they’re happy
to have published that represents their
country well
do you ever get people to kind of
campaign this really has to be in there
this really has to be in there but
you do huh inevitably right
there’s always been um uh push and pull
and of course some people feel
very passionately about a particular
issue yeah
um i remember in one instance there were
there were two contacts that we had from
a certain uh
latin american country and one of them
was very optimistic and enthusiastic
about the evangelical population of that
another was very um let’s say had a
narrower understanding of who belonged
within evangelicalism
and it was also very cautious um with
regard to numbers and counting
and so the they had these widely
divergent um
you know frameworks from which they
could enumerate evangelicals
and we had to listen to them both and
and come up with an answer that
that satisfied them both and of course
we have our own internal
consistent methodology as for how to do
that so when we walk people through it
even if they disagree with our
conclusions they can see
the rationale as to how we arrived at it
um and the other thing is very often and
patrick was a master
at doing this in his day i’m i’m trying
to learn from his example
and that is that sometimes the people
who are most vociferous
in their responses let’s say after they
get an addition of operation world
they’ll write in and say
you got this issue totally wrong and
here’s you know here’s all the points
are you have to change this
the best way to improve our material is
to turn them from
from critics into allies and very often
those people are so
passionate about their country or about
this issue
that when you begin to come alongside
and direct that passion
and work together within that you can
come up with
really excellent material that
incorporates both their framework
our own framework and ends up with
something much better than either could
have accomplished on its own
so when it happened currently the world
is changing so rapidly right now
i mean right it is moving at a fast
so i’d be curious to know how often you
publish i i would think that
a lot of the information um not that
praying for any country or people group
is stale i mean it’s
god’s gonna interpret those prayers and
it’s going to you know do his work
but the actual data is changing how
often do you publish
well when you’re talking about the big
thick book then
um it’s been 10 years now since that
came out
we published a subsequent work which was
a simplified version called
um pray for the world subsequent to that
we published an app which is
uh free called operation world on both
iphone and android platforms and
that is a good point because one of the
advantages of having an app
is that i can go in and update something
and hypothetically speaking it can be
ruled out the next day
and so it is able i’m glad that you said
god can interpret those prayers
because the reality is there we go
the reality is that none of us have a
hundred percent
um accuracy and and uh perspicaciousness
on how best to pray for any country we
do the best we can
the very nature of data is that if
you’re seeing it
it’s already obsolete in a sense because
the context will have changed between
the time that it was produced and when
you’re reading it
however we also recognize that when
we’re praying for nations
and we’re praying about strategic issues
that are at the heart and soul of
how a nation understands itself and the
missiological challenges that exist
we can get caught up in the the cult of
the new
and the microwave mentality that
everything has to be instant
when really robust deep
consultative research processes take
and the world is a big place and as much
as in some ways you’re absolutely the
right that everything is moving at
pace and accelerating into the future in
a lot of ways
um that’s not the case that countries
in some of the more um profound
missiological challenges
are very much the same today as they
were 10 20
even 50 years ago and part of global
intercession is that persistence
that you just keep adding prayers into
the bowl or
chipping away at the wall or whenever
whatever analogy you want to use
and one day you keep praying in the
faith that one day that’s going to reach
the tipping point and we see the kingdom
of god break through
and aren’t we all grateful that the way
god answers our prayers
is not limited to the way that we pray
them uh and that’s crucial
um beautiful
what i’d like to do when we’re when
we’re finished with this discussion
the very last thing is today uh ukraine
comes up
on the app now it’s not going to be what
comes up when you listen to the podcast
but i’m going to read the paragraph and
we’ll end that way and i’m going to
encourage the podcast listeners to pray
wherever they’re at whenever they listen
to it
for the nation of ukraine um jason could
you tell us
what’s the biggest joy for you in being
engaged in this work
yeah well it’s an incredible privilege
to be seated
at this awkward or uncomfortable
but very dynamic uh place where the
prayer movements
the mission movements and the research
movements come together
and where those converge amazing stuff
sometimes sometimes the stuff that
happens is conflict
or disagreement but out of that there’s
always energy
and there’s always excitement and so
it’s a real privilege to be sitting
where those spears intersect
i think the privilege of being able to
engage with
and listen to and learn from
the body of christ all around the world
um you know egypt
thankfully the world is becoming more
multicultural and more globalized
but what we have regardless of where
we’re from
the blind spots that we have in our
faith the cultural baggage that we carry
in our christianity that we’re not even
aware of
that kind of stuff gets exposed when you
begin to relate to the global body of
and it helps all of us to be truly part
of a global body together we have so
much to learn as
canadians or brits or americans from the
church in nigeria and what god is doing
in the mission movement there
from the church in china from the church
in brazil from the church in north korea
we have so much that we can learn even
while we have a lot that we can offer
and to be in the place where that
interaction is occurring
it is a joy and it is a privilege and we
want to share it through operation world
with the rest of the body of christ
you know when we were in the waiting
room before we started recording we were
talking about the racial tensions today
issues of race and strife um i’m
reminded again
of a quote from mark twain one of my
favorites he says travel is fatal to
it’s much more robust than that but you
know we can’t travel right now during
covet but we can travel with our prayers
and i love that you hit on that one of
the ways that we can see
unity in the body of christ and really
dismantling of some of those things
is by praying for the world and
understanding what the rest of the world
is going through so
this is this is timely operation world’s
always been timely but i think it has a
special place right now
in this segment of history that we find
ourselves in
yeah which makes a great responsibility
for us i’m reminded of another quote uh
actually you you mentioned a a little
while ago and that was the oswald
chambers quote
that prayer does not fit us for the
greater work prayer is
the greater work and when we’re locked
down because of
a global pandemic and when we see the
news of what’s unfolding in other places
i think hopefully one of the outcomes of
of covid
and out of all of the crises of 2020 is
that a global church
that has learned how to re-engage in
well i’d like to kind of finish with the
um so you said the last print book was
10 years ago maybe you’re not going to
print anymore i don’t know what you’re
thinking but
what what’s the what does the future
hold for operation world
yeah well god knows and we’re planning
in that direction i think the most
important part is yes we absolutely plan
another version of operation world
while recognizing the accelerating
technological changes
and the fundamental shift in what we
understand to be a new
cycle in the world today even if we want
to push back against some of those
and that’s why we’ve gone to an app and
that’s why we will continue to engage
with digital content
and that may become the main and most
dynamic way in which we’re pushing out
that informs that mobilizes and that
hopefully draws people to prayer now the
last edition of operation world
um over a thousand pages pretty dense
got translated into two languages uh
korean and surprisingly indonesian
uh but then the abbreviated version
which we did in order to facilitate
this this has gone in more than ten
languages so we recognize that in some
ways bigger is not better
and we want to actually be able to
engage with people who don’t read
in english and so part of that is
getting the resources into other
but part of that is getting it into
formats that are non-books
and so they that may be an app that may
be videos that may be podcasts
that may be um reports and so we are um
shifting towards a more constantly
updated and maintained digital
uh resource while at the same time our
plan is to
publish something that’s smaller than
this but still substantive
on a more frequent basis that allows us
have a continual turnover of data and a
up-to-date uh and fresh field for each
subsequent edition we’re beginning work
on that now it’ll be a few years before
it’s all completed
but we’re the building blocks are in
place right now and we’re beginning to
build the team and get the momentum
great meanwhile we update the app so ted
let’s uh move to the ukraine piece
you’re going to read that
and then we’ll end the show with our
special segment we always do
all right so today the information on
this is just the kind of the opening
paragraph there’s more data on here if
you’ve not seen this app you should get
the app
operation world at your whatever your
app store is
communism fell 25 years ago but its
effects persist
the new market economy drove many into
poverty while a few gain extreme
wealth through corrupt means these
oligarchs make money from ukraine but
usually invest their riches outside the
ukraine’s economic troubles increase the
political tension between east and west
when communism ended the empty space
without values or morals led to a rapid
of hopelessness alcoholism and the
spread of hiv aids
many opportunities exist for holistic
and compassionate ministries
and believers must not miss this open
so please pray for ukraine uh when this
podcast ends
yeah patrick you made an illusion
earlier about filling the bowls i’m
assuming you were thinking of revelation
chapter five
that’s an aspect to yeah what i was
referring to yeah a
beautiful picture the suggestion there
is that i think the prayers of the
saints are at least in part
prayers for the nations so let’s fill
the bowls today with prayers for the
people of ukraine and
as ted said download the app and make
this part of our rhythm of our
relationship with christ
because the world is on his heart so uh
thanks so much patrick what a blessing
to be with you today we’ve got one more
segment here that we always do with ted
ted reveals to us
something he likes so ted what is on the
list today
well you know i get a lot of books sent
to me um
and i i’m a digital guy i read most
stuff digitally
i don’t do a lot of paper books anymore
but this one got sent to me
in paper format it’s called press on
it’s by david dave giles
and dave is the um leader of a mission
called encompass global
it’s a the mission agency affiliated
with the brethren denomination
here in the u.s and they have a huge
in africa with churches that they
you know 100 years ago huge footprint
but what’s interesting this is a a
devotional book
with a very strong cross-cultural
emphasis to it and you
you read through it you do bible
readings you respond to questions here
it’s just an excellent resource if
you’re in global mission
if you’re on the field and you’re
looking to kind of fill up the tank
or if you’re considering it this book is
uh really a great challenge
um so that’s one thing i actually got to
throw in another thing here matthew
right a little bonus segment for us as
it were
so i’ve been experimenting a lot with uh
in the best way to do it from my home
office and i know it’s a topic that a
lot of people are talking about
and a piece of advice that i’ve gotten
over and over again is forget about your
worry about the lighting and so
i’ve actually got kind of a fancy light
set up here
now i’ve got too much blue in me today i
can tell by looking at the zoom call
but i ignored the advice about the
camera and i actually bought myself a
new camera
and i bought a cheap camera 18 20 bucks
my old camera was three or four years
and this one is twice the camera now
it’s not
perfect solution because it’s a wide
angle so i’m sitting really close to it
i don’t really like that a whole lot
but the point is just that sometimes you
get advice
and that advice might not be right so
you have to experiment
and just the whole concept of
experimenting is also something i like
so i want to encourage everybody to be
creatively experimenting with their zoom
to make them just a little bit better so
and by the way you you mac
book users we know who you are okay
because you’re always looking at us down
on the screen like this so
we’ve gotten out a little bit so that’s
something i like today
great great uh thanks ted always good to
be with you and
jason what a great interview really
appreciate the work you’re doing
and uh man i i don’t know who said it
but but the least we can do is the most
we can do
prayer is what is so needed today always
needed but especially now so thanks very
thanks a lot bless you before you go
would you visit our hosts websites there
you will find a wealth of interesting
and challenging information
about the state of the great commission
they are 1615.org
and missionnexus.org if you enjoyed
today’s episode
please like share and subscribe so you
don’t miss one
thanks again to our sponsor support
raising solutions
make sure to check out their website at
the mission matters is presented through
a partnership between 1615
missions coaching and mission nexus

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