By Justin D. Long, ed.
Perspective, Insight, Context, Analysis
Status of Global Mission 2018 (PDF), from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.
North Africa / Warring States
“Time has come for sanctions on South Sudan,” says AU chief
… Civil war began in 2013, eased, then intensified 2016.
… 10k+ dead, 4m+ displaced. 70% children out of school. Deprivation, sex violence.
“Faith in the War Zone: how Sudanese believers are living boldly in a deadly culture”
… a brief survey of some of the key issues by Open Doors.
What’s going on in Mali
Libya slave trade feeds on an endless supply of migrants
… ‘trade has been a daily reality for Africans in Libya for over 4 years’
A dozen shades of khaki
… a long read survey of counter-insurgency operations in the Sahel
… insurgent groups often lead to kidnappings, martyrdoms of Christian workers
Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have agreed to cooperate on Grand Renaissance Dam
… but this isn’t the end of the disagreements, necessarily.
Returning from slavery in Libya to thriving sex-trafficking industry back home
… this is a horrific story.
Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa
Sitting on one of the world’s great untapped gold deposits
… near the Sudanese border. What might a gold rush here look like?
The alarming decline of democracy in East Africa (Foreign Affairs)
… regimes that superficially adhere to democracy but employ authoritarian tactics
Ethiopia announces pardon of 2,000 prisoners arrested in 2015 unrest
… to be released ‘in a few days’ after ‘taking rehabilitation courses’
Somaliland: Horn of Africa’s breakaway state
… a CFR Backgrounder
Cape Town ‘Zero Day’ coming even quicker: Apr 16, not 22.
… www.capetown.gov.za/watermap: ‘paint town the green, avoid Day Zero’
Central Asia / Caucasus
Kazakhstan: 279 known prosecutions for religious-related activities in 2017
… worship meetings, offering literature, sharing faith, prayers in mosques, child to meetings, etc
… and, Amended religious law to ban home group meetings in Kazakhstan.
The Sorrows of Kazakhstan’s Generation Z
… young generation comfortable with technology, faced with old & new problems
Uzbekistan dismisses long-serving, much feared security service chief.
… As Uzbekistan last Stalinist political exits, what’s next?
… human rights activists warn against premature celebration.
Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf
Book: Jews don’t need Jesus… and other misconceptions (MissioNexus)
… ‘reflections of a Jewish believer’: book summary (paywall)
Gaza’s religious ministry launches Khotaba, the Yelp for Islamic preachers
… rate preachers, find out where they are preaching
Yemen: Separatists capture Aden, government confined to palace
… Southeners control Aden. End may be possible.
… 22 million people require aid; 400k children suffering from malnutrition
Syria: Assad+Iran, with Russian permission, attacks Turkish Afrin invasion forces
… Russia, earlier, on Turkish invasion: am I my brother’s keeper?
… and, pro-Assad violence in southern de-escalation zone about to kick off
… Erdogan: ‘Turkey will clean entire Syrian border’; might expand offensive
… Nearly 60% of Syria’s pre-war population is displaced
Jordan ends subsidies on pita bread, prices to go up 60-100%
Be sure to check out Intl Turkey Network upcoming conf, Feb 22-23
… first in 5 years. Much has changed: “A new day… for a mature church…”
The remarkable scale of Turkey’s “Global Purge”
… “how it became a threat to the rule of law everywhere”
Iran: Most protestors from recent unrest freed, 300 still in jail
… a handful of people died in custody (govt: “2 suicides”)
Iran faces growing rates of suicide, depression, drug abuse
… “multi-decadal trend… not a sudden spike…”
Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto
Why attack Afghan civilians? Creating chaos rewards the Taliban
… hotel siege killed 22, ambulance bombing killed 103, attack on Kabul military academy.
… Afghanis are angry at their government for failure to protect even the capital
Taliban threaten/active in 70% of Afghanistan: videos, maps. (BBC)
… useful map: “clear” = center/NW; Taliban = E, S, W.
… In Nov 2015, govt controlled 72% of the nation, Taliban 7%: stunning reversal
Mag-6.1 earthquake hits NE Afghanistan near Pakistan border.
… a reminder that strong earthquakes are common/dangerous in this area
Why Christians must prep themselves for new regulations on religious affairs
… regulations circulated last September take effect next week
… analysis from Pastor Wang Yi, Early Rain Church, Sichuan Province
The Digital Emperor of China’s Surveillance State
… just an autocracy using tech to curtail liberty, economic freedom
… Top 3 VPNs for working within China by WhatsonWeibo and NYT
… WoW: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, VyprVPN
… NYT: ExressVPN, NordVPN, Golden Frog
China promotes marriage by giving newlyweds cash
… because of the “insanely high cost of marriage” (also, awards/incentives avail. for births)
… changing demographic patterns important as church spreads also through families
… are demographics (marriage/birth) patterns different for Christians? Deserves study
… Christian demography vs Roman demography enabled church to survive in early days
China’s rise and the Church’s call (TGC)
… more and more difficult to enter China. But China is mobilizing to send to the world.
A different look: “The military has seen the writing on the wall”
… “Americans… not in touch w/just how close we are to war on Korean Peninsula”
… Victor Cha: giving NKor a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk for Americans
Book: A river in darkness: one man’s escape from North Korea
… published this month, free on Kindle Unlimited
… ‘a shocking and devastating tale of a country’s utter contempt for its citizens.’
SE Asia Press freedoms collapse
… “2018 could be worse for SE Asian democracy than 2017”
The Rakhine State Crisis, and Myanmar’s other severe problems
… Rohingya not the only issue. Also, conflict in Kachin and Shan States.
… For Myanmar’s army, ethnic bloodletting is key to power and riches (NYT)
Malaysia’s top court annuls unilateral conversions of minors
… both parents must consent to the religious conversion
… in favor of a Hindu woman whose former husband became Muslim
Notable Europe / Americas
Bolivia was going to make evangelism a crime.
… then the President revoked the restrictions.
Older US women are having more children than a decade ago.
… and having more children. US fertility is rising.
… 15% of women aged 40 to 44 have never married.
… 55% of unmarried 40-to-44 have at least one child.
… 90% of married 40-to-44s have at least one child.
… compare to falloff in births to teens in recent decades
American visitors aren’t flying to Cuba in droves anymore.
… tour operators: please come back.
Op/Ed: Europe’s multicultural fears hide an integration success story
… ‘and they’re not forming parallel societies’
… ‘and religious affiliation of the countries isn’t changing as a result’
USA headed to new joblessness low of 3.5%
… ‘job market so tight employers having to cough up wage increases’
… could impact supply of missionary workers (vs other jobs) + fundraising $
Further: every one of the world’s big economies is now expanding
… ‘synchronous growth that is creating jobs, lifting fortunes, tempering discord’
The share of Americans who leave Islam is offset by those who convert in
New global data
Forbes: 51% of US companies valued at US$1bln or more founded by immigrants
… Create on average 700 jobs per company
… generate over $4.8T in revenue globally, employ 18.9 million globally
China has over 772 million Internet users.
… good English summary of released government statistics
Remittances from around the world are major assets for developing countries
… $574 billion sent back home
Longer reads & Resources
Let your friends know where you are: Social media, Availability bias, and missions
… Eddie A blogs about apps insisting that we share what we’re doing
… “My concern is that people will shift their support from those who don’t talk about their work (because they can’t) to those who can and do share exciting stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This is all the more concerning, because it is very often those who are in the hard situations, the ones they can’t talk about, who have the most need of committed, long-term prayer support.”
Migrants are more profitable than drugs: how the mafia infiltrated Italy’s asylum system
… >80% of Nigerian women brought to Europe unknowingly ‘sponsored’ by sex traffickers
Can planet Earth feed 10 billion people?
Translating the N.T. Wright/David Hart tussle
… “reminds us how hard and important Bible translation can be.”
… A fascinating read, and it did make me think of how hard field work probably is.
… The joys and benefits of bilingualism: over half the world is bilingual.
How much does scripture influence the political behavior of Islamists?
… a Brookings poll looks at the question.
True Believers: How ISIS made jihad religious again (Foreign Affairs)
… a review of the book “Anatomy of Terror” by Ali Soufan.
Book: Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi
… The new generation of working women transforming the Muslim world
Book: Marks of a Movement: free ebook available
… “What the church today can learn from the Wesleyan revival”
Lifehacking, Tactics, Skills, Rules
Everthing you should know about happiness in one infographic
… based on scientific/social research, BUT
… fascinating strong correlation to Biblical concepts and beliefs!
Book: Looming Transitions: Starting & Finishing well in cross-cultural service
… not yet read, but it comes recommended by ChinaSource and looks interesting
… a related book: Stranger in Every Land: reflections of a transcultural adult
… both of these are free if you use Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.
5 powerful secrets for increasing emotional intelligence
… yes, this does have application to mission work
… self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills
… plus links to a bunch of other articles, readings, etc.
Startups, Strategy, Books
Lean Startup Methodology: 8:54 slideshare video
… appropriate to pioneer missions because you can’t predict 5-years in advance
… Lean Startups are about searching for a workable model, first
… Listen to Customers: “Why doesn’t your God speak my language?”
… Listen to Customers: “When you can put the church on the back of a camel…”
North Star Metrics vs. One Metric that Matters
… Linked Don’t Let Your North Star Metric Deceive You
… both of these are incredibly concise dives into choosing meaningful metrics
… useful if you’re measuring for recruitment, for donations, or (probably) for CPM
In defense of experiment velocity: despite the title,
… it’s not how fast you experiment, it’s how much you learn from each experiment
Don’t just talk to customers, get them to do something
… people are terrible at predicting their future behaviors;
… actions are worth more than words. Check out “The Mom Test.”
… this has parallels in the idea of immediate action in obedience-based discipleship
The Network Effects Manual
… 13 different network effects that “build defensible businesses”
… movements = networks, & net effects contribute to rise/fall of religious affiliation
UPG Profiles, Travelogues, Stories
The 2018 State of the Digital Union: a survey from War on the Rocks
… The “seven deadly sins of cyber security we must all face”
… good review of the areas of insecurity; these will affect agency corporate IT as well
Workout tracking app accidentally reveals location of secret military bases and routes
… could also be used to identify specific individuals and routes they take
… be careful of globally accessible shared data that documents routines!
Facebook’s latest fix for fake news: ask users what they trust
… this will impact mission agencies & their use of Facebook to promote causes.
… FB to worried marketers: get users to mark you as “see first”
The Follower Factory
… everyone wants to be popular online: inside social media’s black market.
… FB: 60 million automated accounts.
Apparently, less than 10% of Gmail users enable 2-factor authentication
… don’t follow the crowd. Enabling 2-FA is a nearly unbreachable hack preventer.
Teamsters in USA want to ban UPS from using drones or driverless vehicles.
… My estimate: a ban will never happen. The whole industry is ripe for disruption.
Artificial intelligence is going to supercharge surveillance
… giving digital cameras brains to match their eyes, analyze live video w/o humans needed
… “when police can digitally tail you around a city just by uploading your mugshot”
… this kind of functionality is a ways off in the West, but… China, India, etc… will be ASAP
The law is nowhere near ready for the rise of AI-generated fake pornography
… this Wired UK article is a SFW review of a recent tech-enabled trend
… possible, impactful: revenge porn, governments using fake porn for trumped up charges
“Either God is neglecting vast regions of the world where millions of souls live and die without hearing about Jesus, or too many of us are choosing to remain in well ploughed fields… We can not finish the task unless we are willing to evaluate current world trends and realities and adjust our methodology accordingly.” ~C. M. Clark
“The study of the past is always a cross-cultural exercise. Even when we share the ethnicity and language of the objects of our study, we do not share their world or their view of the world.” ~Andrew Walls
“Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one… ” ~Tim Keller
“If God allowed a perfect man to suffer terribly, why should we think that something like that could never happen to us?” ~Tim Keller
“We live in a globalized world where Christians in the West are more resourced and informed than ever but care less and less about God’s global mission to establish his reign among every people, tribe, language, and nation.” ~@AsianRoughRider, h/t David Joannes
The great cities of the world “will never be reached by a flood of foreign missionaries or by a tide of missionary dollars; they must be reached by a trained, Spirit-filled, national church encouraged in it’s earliest stages to be itself a missionary church.” ~J.P. Hogan
“If God wills the evangelization of the world, and you refuse to support missions, then you are opposed to the will of God.” ~Oswald J. Smith
“The obvious is the hardest thing of all to point out to anyone who has genuinely lost sight of it.” ~Owen Barfield
“Is he the leader or just the loudest?” ~Caleb Southerland