Roundup 247

By Justin Long

Issue No. 247 – 30 April 2021

See archives & subscribe here. Please share this with others. Know a trend the Roundup isn’t watching? Something surprise you last week? Email me here.

New Observations (aka ‘The Blog’)

The job of a missionary includes leaving. Link

The implications of declining population growth rates. Link

More observations, here.

Don’t Miss

Beyond’s next DMM Nugget: “You are not alone in this” – May 6th, 7-8:30pm CST.
One of the biggest assets, and the last of the seven high-value activities of disciple-makers, is ongoing coaching. Coaching takes different forms, but the consistent support and accountability given and received are invaluable. By having others who are pursuing disciple-making movements alongside you and someone who is a step or two ahead mentoring and encouraging you, your God-given passion stays bright. Join us for this last nugget of the semester as we discuss coaching. Learn why it’s a true key to success in your own disciple-making efforts!

New Events

Northern Africa (266m)

Covid surge in Sudan, flights from India suspended. Link
… West Darfur capital declared a disaster area: violence, Covid, aid welcome. Link

“Why there’s hope for Libya” — Link
… “For the first time in years, Libyans are marking Ramadan in relative peace. The guns have fallen silent.”

East Africa (520m)

“Look after my babies”—in Ethiopia, a Tigray family’s quest. AP
Tigray gets less aid than other comparable disaster zones have. New Humanitarian
Tigray war is fueling Amhara expansionism. FP

Sudan threatens legal action if Ethiopia dam filled without deal. Al Jazeera

7 million at risk of starvation across six countries in East Africa. World Vision

Western Africa (457m)

370,000 children displaced in Cent Air Repub, highest since 2014 – UN

An interesting long read on how the bridge over the Niger River connects two economically vital areas of Nigeria, and traffic here becomes a ‘chokepoint’ literally stifling progress. NYT

Nigeria: another day of violence, ‘no different from many other days.’ HRW
… Boko Haram still active: takes over Kaure, a town 2 hours from Abuja. Pulse
… River State bans night-time border crossings due to heightened insecurity. Reuters

Continued Covid deterioration in Nigeria: one-third are unemployed. Link

Western Asia (303m)

“There’s no rain”: climate change threatens Iraq’s Bedouins – Al Jazeera
… nomadic herders in the Muthanna deserts paint a grim picture …
… “projects temperatures will climb 2 degrees, rainfall fall by 9% in 30 years”
2 weeks ago: Drought & abundance in Mesopotamian marshes – NYT
… a look at the lives of the Ma’dan, or Marsh Arabs …

Qatar’s hot, rainless summers: 50.4C, rainfall < 100mm. Guardian

Turkey announces a nationwide lockdown from 29 April to 17 May. Hurriyet
… schools closed, all workplaces closed or shifted to work-from-home except some excluded by the Interior Ministry, cafes and restaurants will offer only delivery services, supermarkets close Sundays, intercity travel subject to permission, public transport reduced to 50% capacity, more …

… Turks leave large cities for their home towns – Link

South + Central Asia (2b)

Will China’s policies in Afghanistan change after the US pulls out? RFE

“Drought is the destiny of the Middle East” – Increasing desertification in Iran – Link
… is impacting many of the less-evangelized nomadic groups …

Unable to get to Russia, thousands of Uzbeks look to Kyrgyzstan for jobs – RFE

Covid in India
“Coronavirus has caused the health system. Patients are on their own.” – WPost
“Patients suffocate amid oxygen shortage” – AP
“Record with 379,000 new infections in 24 hours” – SCMP
… 18.3m cases, 204k deaths, wealthy trying to flee the country …
“catastrophic second wave shows no signs of slowing” – Economist
“Cremating so many… getting requests to cut down trees in city parks for wood” Al Jazeera
”Haunting images of mass cremation sites” – Link
“India asks Twitter to take down some tweets critical of its Covid-19 handling.” Reuters
“India sends its armed forces to help tackle surging new infections.” Reuters
* Numerous reports of movement-related folks being impacted – sickness, deaths

Undercounting deaths:
… NYT: “As Covid-19 devastates India, deaths go undercounted” – NYT
… India could have up to 500+ million infections – Gizmodo
… India’s uncounted Covid-19 deaths – New Yorker
… IHME model of true infections

A grisly scenario: if the entire population of India were infected (it is not impossible this will happen), and the global average of 2.5% mortality were incurred, India would be looking at 32 million deaths. That death rate is common to areas where hospitals have not failed, and so should be thought of as a floor, not a ceiling.

Nepal starts 15-day Covid lockdown as infections spike. Al Jazeera
… fueled by mutant strains from India. Reuters

I guess Bhutan is less worried: vaccinated 93% of its adults in 2 weeks. NPR

Pakistan’s “stuttering vaccination drive”: less than 1% of the population. Diplomat

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Long read ethnography on the lives of China’s trucker wives. Sixth Tone

US relaxes entry restrictions for students traveling from China. Sixth Tone
… will have an impact on ministry options. Also, on the budgets of many colleges.

China’s population decline?
Some reports that China to announce first pop decline in 60 years. SCMP
But, other reports: China says, no, population gains. SCMP

China has made complicity in Xinjiang repression profitable for some companies. Link
… social media users lambast Western clothing retailers for disavowing Xinjiang cotton

Japan declares a state of emergency and a limited Covid lockdown in key cities. NPR

How Covid-19 is affecting NKor’s economy: proving its reliance on China. Diplomat
… freight train services resumed March 23, bringing in food, fertilizer …

Southeast Asia (700m)

Covid-19 Third Wave menaces SE Asian nations – Diplomat
… Phil > 1m infections, Indonesia at ~5k cases per day, Thailand +2k new infections …

Indonesia has seen more than 1.6 million infections. Mosques have begun cutting back activities to discourage crowds. That means free food initiatives for Iftar (the after-sunset meal during Ramadan) have been cut back, which means less food handouts for the needy. Link

“Renewed clashes displace thousands” – UN
“Ethnic minority Karen insurgents attacked a Myanmar army outpost near Thai border” – Reuters
“Murder and treason charges against one of the main protest leaders.” Reuters
* Reports of martyrs, though not generally public

“City-wide lockdowns, skyrocketing prices, uncertainty”

“As covid-19 surges in Thailand, a crisis of confidence” + month-long lockdown – SCMP

N America / W Europe

“Germans under 30 are the group that most believes in God.”

Brazil’s ‘rapid and violent’ Covid variant devastates Latin America. Guardian


Covid case data

… 4/30: 150.6 (+5.8) cases, 3.17m deaths
… 4/23: 144.8m (+6.32) cases, 3.07m deaths.
… 4/16: 138.48m (+4.38) cases, 2.97m deaths
… 4/9: 134.1m (+4.9) cases, 2.90m deaths
… 4/2: 129.2m (+4.3) cases, 2.82m deaths
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT,

Researchers “closing in” on “long Covid.” Economist
Breakthrough infections are to be expected, but studies show they are rare. MIT Technology Review

Other new data

Lots of data available for display in the Stratus system. Link

Longer Reads

“The future of Christians in the Middle East.” National Review


Several indicators that easing pandemic lockdowns in some places are beginning to lead to less engagement in online activities. “People are spending more time off-line.” This will also impact the various mission mobilization activities, etc., of agencies that developed during the pandemic. Faltering growth for: NetflixSpotifyPinterestClubhouse.

A quarter of UK adults say they would be comfortable taking spiritual advice from an AI priest. Link

AI is misreading human emotions, despite what Big Tech companies say. Atlantic

The UK & Microsoft are building the world’s most powerful weather supercomputer. Link

Uzbekistan passes laws banning the use of the Internet to ‘disrespect’ the government or organize protests. Link

Drones used in Togo to apply pesticides to rice crops each season. Africa Report

The New Yorker has fascinating long-read investigation (with lots of examples) of Sudowrite, a new application of GPT-3 technology for AI-assisted writing. Link

The computer chip shortage is about to hit us where it really hurts – MacBooks and iPads. NPR

Thanks to the 38!

The Roundup is perhaps the most visible thing I do in mission research. If you give, you’ll support this weekly publication as well as the rest of the work I do documenting movements and engagement gaps, which helps missionaries and mission agencies know where to send workers.  (Thanks to the 38 so far in 2021!)

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