Roundup #257

By Justin Long

Issue No. 256 – 2 July 2021

Did someone send this to you? Thanks to our Fans and Patrons, it’s free! Get on the mailing list.


Beyond’s summer DMM Nuggets will feature a sequence of 3 sessions on the foundations of discipleship. The first one was very well attended. We talked about the character of a disciple–one who loves and obeys Jesus. The second in the series, “What a disciple does,” will be held Thursday, July 8th, from 7pm-8:30pm CST. If you know someone interested in movements and discipleship, who wants to get in “on the ground floor,” this is still an excellent starting point. Get more details here.

The latest DMM Dashboard is from November 2020 (Covid has unfortunately prevented many of the regular end-of-year updates), and can be found online here.


Northern Africa (266m)

Hundreds in Khartoum, Sudan protested reforms that slashed subsidies on bread and fuel, calling for the fall of the regime. Al Jazeera

East Africa (520m)

Tigray isn’t over yet:
“I didn’t expect to make it back alive”: an interview with Tigray’s leader – NYT
“Accept our rule or no cease fire, rebels say” – BBC
Tigray forces mobilize against Amhara militias after federal troop withdrawal. Guardian
Doctors Without Borders halts work in parts of Tigray after aid workers killed. AFP
Displaced nurses provide health care to the displaced in Tigray. UNHCR
Report: Allegedly, Somali army participated (illegally) in Tigray war. RFI
Some alarming reports of Eritrean refugees killed by local militias in Tigray. BBC
400k face famine in Tigray. Times of India
The World Food Program has resumed operations in the region. UN

Mega Dam Flashpoint: Ethiopia begins 2nd dam filling, angering Egypt. France24
… Sudan is “outraged following the announcement” – AllAfrica
UN Security Council meeting on filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Link
… Ethiopia says it is under no obligation to seek consent to fill the dam …

Watching Ethiopia v Sudan Flashpoint: Sudan has been consolidating its presence, funding in fertile al-Fashqa area (which has been contested with Ethiopia), building new roads, offering training, cheap loans to farmers. Bloomberg

South Sudan: UNICEF warns of ‘desperation and hopelessness’ for children – UN
… high child mortality… 10% of children not expected to reach 5th birthday …
Somaliland’s strategic case for independence – Foreign Policy
… new container port unveiled in Berbera, elections held, but no recognition …
Deepening crisis in Mozambique has displaced 100,000. Link
… “cut hungry farmers off from their fields and livelihoods”
… but no one is sure who the attackers really are

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Fertility is falling in many places, but not Africa: “The future of humanity will be less white and increasingly African”: by 2100, 1 in 3 people will be born in sub-Saharan Africa, and Nigeria’s population will overtake China’s to become the second largest country after India. By 2050, DR Congo will have close to 200 million people (Kinshasa metro will be 2x Dallas-Fort Worth), and Abidjan, Ivory Coast will surpass 10 million. These are heavily Christian areas, so they will even further affect the geographic center of Christianity. The Africa Report

Further on that topic, “The promise of Africa’s ‘Youth Bulge’” – Foreign Affairs
… they don’t mention it, but helping youth be disciple makers will be important …

Longread: long shot bid to end rampant banditry in Nigeria’s NW – New Humanitarian
… 340 schoolboys abducted (later rescued)… 200k displaced…
France is pulling out of West Africa, its largest overseas military mission. FP
Over 2,100 “people movements” (displacement) in June.

One night inside Nigeria’s kidnapping emergency: abducted babies, schoolchildren, hospital workers – more than 3,000 have been abducted this year as law and order collapses across swathes of the country – WSJ

Mercy Corp report: “Fear of the Unknown–Religion, Identity, Conflict in Northern Nigeria.” Only some violence has been inter-religious in nature; the more religious, the less likely to support violence; violence largely driven by insecurity and lack of trust between people groups; religion is not direct cause but provides opportunity and motivation. PDF

Western Asia (303m)

The Syrian war displaced nearly half of Syria’s population; now, some countries are pushing for refugees to return, even though security risks remain. Link

Lebanon: lines for fuel grow, food and medicine are scarce – NYT
NGOs try to scale up agricultural programs as food runs out – Al Jazeera

Coping with its own electricity needs, Iran has cut gas and electricity exports to Iraq, contributing to a major electricity crisis in that nation. Link

Basra, Iraq protests erupt as power cuts hit scorching Iraq. Link

South + Central Asia (2b)

Taliban says it controls 85% of Afghanistan. Reuters
Taliban says it will present a peace plan at talks next month. Reuters
… “we have the upper hand… but very serious about talks and dialogue”
… I have to wonder if the national govt will be there by next month …
… but, “the world will not accept a government imposed by force”
If the Taliban wins the war, can they still lose the peace? FP Premium
Taliban’s rapid advance puts key cities at risk of being overtaken. WPost
Taliban surround major Afghan cities, ready for showdown when US gone. CBS
… HelmandBadghis.
5 million Afghans displaced due to war in the past two years – Ariana
… 32,000 families in 25 provinces in the past two months alone …
Uzbekistan braces for possible Afghan refugee crisis – Eurasianet
… erecting tent cities outside Termez in anticipation of border flows …
Tajikistan offers haven to fleeing Afgh soldiers, mobilizes 20k troops – Eurasianet
… Taliban says “we are no threat to them”
Taliban find new revenues as they seize US built border gateway with Tajikistan – WSJ
… “lucrative source of new revenues” may be why they want to stay on good terms
Taliban in Badakhshan, bordering China – RFE
… seeks to reassure Beijing, “won’t interfere in China’s internal affairs” – WSJ
… New road in Badakshan links Afghanistan & China through Wakhan corridor – BBC
… China wants Pakistan’s help to stabilize Afghanistan after US withdrawal – SCMP
… As US withdrawal opens Pandora’s box, Pakistan & China on the firing line. SCMP

“What America didn’t understand about its longest war” – Politico
… “The Taliban fight for belief… the army and police fight for money. The Taliban are willing to lose their head to fight. How can the army and police compete?… ” Interesting exploration of the different levels of and inspirations for commitment; when such people become disciple-makers, are the results any wonder?

India’s Bhopal crematorium was overwhelmed w/uncollected remains, so it used the human ashes to make a memorial park to pay tribute to the deaths. Link

Indian Christians used WhatsApp groups to form the “Love Your Neighbor” network to bring relief & comfort to tens of thousands of Indians impacted by Covid. CT

Iran: record Covid-19 hospitalizations in Tehran – IranWire
… 17,000 outpatients, 5,400 in intensive care …

2-minute video: 4 million people work in 20,000 brick kilns across Pakistan, in debt slavery. GNA

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China: “My life as a Christian under a communist regime”: not as bad as some places, but worse off than others. Part of the challenge is a lack of theological development due to a lack of freedom to explore a diversity of opinions and insights. (Also, remember the old proverb: anything you say about China is true in some places, false in others.) TGC

The Chinese Communist Party is scared of Christianity: religion remains one of the greatest sources of resistance to authoritarian rule – Foreign Policy

In Hong Kong, ideologies pose a risk and teenagers need to be monitored – Reuters
… parents, principles, teachers, pastors urged to report teens …

The Christian heart of Hong Kong activism – “only 12% of the population, but they play an outsize role, and their values incline them toward sacrifice.” WSJ Op/Ed

Thousands are quitting Hong Kong – “families, young people, professionals” – others remain, calling the city “quieter, more stable” – SCMP

In China, patriotic nostalgia is big business: tourists in replica Red Army uniforms visit the villages where they were made – Economist

In an effort to get their kids into good public schools, anxious parents are driving a home price surge in China. Bloomberg

Chinese Millennials are “chilling”–or, “defying the prosperity narrative”–and Beijing isn’t happy about it: “Do I have to work 12 hours a day in a sweatshop? Is that justice?” NYT

China’s former 1-child policy continues to haunt families: the personal impact on some families, and the larger societal impacts–Single’s Day, millions of missing women and the lengths families will go to find wives for their sons, “rural families expect the husband to provide a material guarantee for any future wife,” and (ironically) now that people are allowed to have more children, they don’t want to, because of all these costs. NPR

Retracing the Long March: Middle Class dreams and mudslides. A fascinating travelogue/long read series, this time exploring Guizhou. SupChina

‘Ethnic extinction’: Uyghur children forced to grow up in Mandarin-speaking environments, resulting in the loss of their language and culture. SupChina

Japan: Due to Covid upsurge, the Olympics will be held without spectators in Tokyo. That will dampen traditional sports ministries around the event – Link

Kim Jong Un comments reflect growing fear over N Korea food crisis. Food is available, but prices have risen & cash income has disappeared due to the pandemic. Diplomat

S Korea offers quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors – SCMP

Southeast Asia (700m)

Indonesia: Java hospitals running out of oxygen – WPost
… “on edge of catastrophe” as Covid lockdown looms. Al Jazeera

Vietnam announces broad Covid-19 curbs in Ho Chi Minh – Reuters

Military, police declare war on doctors, who were early & fierce opponents – AP
“From political crisis to multi-dimensional human catastrophe” – UN
Telenor, Norwegian mobile operator in Myanmar, thinking of leaving – Link
… finds itself complicit in restricting Internet access, targeting regime opponents

N America / W Europe / Pacific

Delta variant invades Pacific island of Fiji. NYT
Most Covid rules set to end in the UK. BBC

Haiti’s president was assassinated. BBC
Haiti still awaiting first Covid vaccines, as cases surge. New Humanitarian

Vaccinate or repent, Russian Orthodox Church says: “people refusing to be vaccinated are sinners who will have to atone for the rest of their lives” – Reuters

If that seems overboard, consider “The shocking enormity of Russia’s botched pandemic response” – a massive third wave spreading unchecked, anti-vaxxers rampant, and the Kremlin’s vaccine diplomacy has failed – FP


Covid global case data data

… 7/08: 185.7m (+3.0m) cases, 4.01m deaths
… 7/02: 182.7m (+2.6m) cases, 3.11m deaths
… 6/25: 180.1m (+2.6m) cases, 3.90m deaths
… 6/18: 177.5m (+2.6m) cases, 3.84m deaths
… 6/11: 174.9m (+3.1m) cases, 3.77m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT *

Regional/continental/global trends
Africa marks ‘its worst pandemic weeks yet’, cases surging, vaccine scarce. NYT
… Covid-19 has cost African tourism ~$250 billion – Africa Report
Economist ‘normalcy index’: life halfway back to pre-Covid norms. Link
Delta variant found in 98 countries, continues to mutate. Link
Most people in poor countries will have to wait ’til 2023 for vaccine access. Link
… 11 billion doses needed to fully vaccinate 70% of the world’s population …
… 80% of doses went to high-income/upper-middle-income countries
… 1% of people in low-income countries have at least one dose
… COVAX pledge to vaccinate 20% of low-income countries by end of year
… purchased 2 billion doses but has shipped only ~100m as of 2 July

Other new data

World logs hottest or second-hottest June on record. NYT
… temps markedly above average across the 10/40 Window …

Billions risk being without access to water & sanitation services by 2030 – UN
… WHO: 3 in 10 could not wash their hands with soap & water
… from 2016-2020, access to safe drinking water up from 70 to 74%
… by 2030, 81% of people will have access to safe drinking water at home
… but 1.6 billion people without

A perhaps completely unimportant yet fascinating link: a majority of Americans think aliens exist, but they lean more toward E.T. & Arrival than Avengers. Link


Longreads saved to Instapaper

The man behind China’s aggressive new voice: how one bureaucrat, armed with just a Twitter account, remade Beijing’s diplomacy for a nationalistic era. NYT

“How the Spanish flu fractured African Christianity” (and led to, among other things, the founding of Nigeria’s Faith Tabernacle Church) – OZY

From money to monsoons: obstacles loom for countries awaiting vaccine doses. “Even as millions of donated doses make their way… countries may not have the means to give out shots to citizens on a massive scale…” NPR

What wen’t so wrong with covid in India? Everything. MIT Tech Review

The next great disruption is hybrid work–are we ready? Microsoft
… “over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year”

Recommended books

Blessed: a history of the American Prosperity Gospel. Civil war to 2013.
Upstream: solve problems before they happen. Practical intro to systems thinking.

In the queue…

Fifty inventions that shaped the modern economy. Explores implications.
Pinpoint: how GPS is changing technology, culture and our minds. History, implications.
Friends: Understanding the power of our most important relationships. By Dunbar.
Never saw it coming: why we are blind to worst case scenarios.
Wanting: why we copy our desires for others, and the implications


Tech & Futures

Buzz off, bees–pollination robots are here. WSJ

Throwable military robots sent to assist with Florida condo collapse. WPost

Killer robots: “The age of autonomous war is already here.” WPost
… “missiles, guns, drones that think for themselves are already killing people in combat, and have been for years.”

Google, Facebook, others threaten to quit Hong Kong over privacy law. Guardian

Internet shutdowns are now ‘entrenched’ in certain regions – UN

Dashboard light flashes red for the future of the internal combustion engine.
… EU lawmakers consider effectively banning gasoline, diesel by 2035 … enables you to share a password, secret message, or private link using a one-time encrypted URL. Could be useful for sending credentials. Link

Twitter thinking about letting you to tweet to “trusted friends” only. (You can already decide who gets to reply to your tweets–now you would get to decide who sees them.) This is another in the “echo chambers vs Twitter craziness” trend. Link

The real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war. Guardian



“To tend, unfailingly, unflinchingly, towards a goal, is the secret to success.” ~Anna Pavlova

“They took the babies. It makes the families pay the ransom quicker.” ~Adamu Jubril, WSJ piece on Nigeria’s kidnapping emergency.

“Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” ~Seneca

Patrons make it possible, Fans keep it free

Thank you to the 55 who keep us moving forward!

The Roundup is perhaps the most visible thing I do in missions research. Our fans and patrons make it possible for us to do the research behind it, 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.

Our fans have given $10 to $100 for the year, and our Patrons have invested over $1,000 each yearly. I appreciate you, and every reader who comments weekly on the value of the Roundup appreciates you too!
 Inspired to be a fan or a patron?
Click here to learn how to donate.

Another way to help: forward this to a friend who could benefit from it!

Help us improve

Feedback survey here – early responses helped us tweak the Roundup!

Related Articles

Welcoming the Stranger

Presenter: Matthew Soerens, US Director of Church Mobilization, World Relief Description: Refugee and immigration issues have dominated headlines globally recently. While many American Christians view these…

Roundup #279

By Justin D. Long Issue No. 279 – 7 January 2022 Thanks to our Fans and Patrons, it’s free!Get on the mailing list. TL;DR:1 Sudan faces…

Upcoming Events