As I grew older, I searched for the deeper meanings of Christmas. But what I found meaningful about Christmas at one stage of my life would not always suffice for the next. It seems to me that, as we grow and experience life in many ways, Christmas grows with us. We do not leave it behind. It shows up every year. It meets us at different points in our lives and we ponder its meaning anew.read more
Middle East and North Africa
Religion, especially Islam, uniquely characterizes the Middle East and North Africa. Despite their ancient heritage and historical contributions since the first century, Christians remain vulnerable and relatively few in number across the region. Against considerable hardship and even violent persecution in some countries, the Church perseveres as a faithful remnant. Today, the region is home to over 20 million Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians.
As it ministers in hostile settings, the Middle Eastern and North African Church has great need for well-equipped leaders. Theological schools seek to train Christian leaders who can preach the Gospel amid adversity and address pressing issues, such as suffering and witness, forgiveness and reconciliation, and engagement with Islam. War and terrorism in the region have driven millions from their homes, but the Church is reaching out with the love of Christ. Many refugees are responding to the Gospel with encouraging openness.
Through LeaderStudies, SCHOLARLEADERS currently supports nine leaders from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon. Through the Vital SustainAbility Initiative, we have worked closely with leaders of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo as they develop plans for training pastors for Egypt and throughout the Arabic-speaking world. We also celebrate the work of reconciliation led by Musalaha founder and 2009 ScholarLeader of the Year, Dr. Salim Munayer, and his colleagues at Bethlehem Bible College.
Please join us in prayer for our sisters and brothers who live and serve in this region. Their commitment to Christ and His Church inspires and challenges us all. Pray for those who teach, train, minister, and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pray especially for new believers who choose to follow Christ at great personal cost.
Photo: Coptic Church in Cairo Egypt (Credit: Evan Hunter).
It is customary for Chinese churches to reach out to local communities at Christmastime. However, as the situation worsens for many churches, and as Christians are constantly discouraged and even threatened, I am really not sure how we could sit around the table again this year to sing Christmas carols and retell the story of the Nativity. We Christians are in tears, crying as the psalmist once cried out in overwhelming desperation: “How long, O Lord, will you look on…” (Ps. 35:17).read more
In Japan, where only 1-2% of the population is Christian, people do not celebrate Christmas in the way Christians around the world do. Our culture generally associates Christmas with romance; thus, young people feel urged to find someone with whom to spend this “romantic holiday.” Alternatively, many families perceive Christmas as the day when they eat Kentucky Fried Chicken together (it is funny but true!). For many Japanese, Christmas is not the day for celebrating our Savior’s birth.read more
What strikes me about the Christmas story (according to Mathew’s account) is that the first Christmas was not a quiet and nice story at all. On the contrary, from the very beginning, on that first Christmas, the good news of salvation for humankind was jeopardized by hatred and violence.read more
We ask for your intercession on behalf of Beni. Our town has been brutally attacked twice in six days. The armed group that has been killing civilians in the Beni territory since 2014 has made incursions into the town of Beni and into our neighboring town of Oicha, killing over 75 of the most vulnerable inhabitants over the last three weeks. On November 24, one of the members of our contractor’s construction crew, the son of one of our campus guards, was killed in his neighborhood near our main campus.read more
Pray for Malawi and the aftermath of the general elections we had in May. Some political parties have not accepted the election results and the case is in court. There have been protests, at times violent, calling for the chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission to resign. Pray that justice will prevail and that there will be peace in our country.read more
What is very crucial about Liberia is the number of young people in the nation. Liberia has a very youthful population, and Esther and I have had the opportunity of discipling and preaching the gospel to youths. Please pray that the young people in Liberia will come to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and have a transformative relationship with God.read more
My service has been in the area of missions and transformation, as well as missions in pluralistic religious contexts (Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions). In my 16 years of missions experience in Ghana, I have observed a phenomenal response to the gospel, as is common in some other sub-Saharan African countries. Operation World reports that “from 1900 to 2010, [African] Christian numbers grew from 9.1% of the population to 48.8%, and from 7.5 million to 504 million.”read more
For me, pray for God’s wisdom in my new role as Bishop of the Mwanza Diocese, good health, and networking with different people worldwide to enhance the ministry in the Mwanza Diocese. I need partners for working together on church leadership empowerment, evangelism and outreach ministries, youth ministry, women’s and children’s ministries, retired pastors’ ministry, etc. Even though my diocese has 550 churches, only 200 pastors have been fully trained in Bible schools. Over 300 pastors have not received training due to the inability to pay school fees.read more