Missions News

Equipping the Equippers in Kenya


Mission Network News Report

Posted: 26 April, 2013

Kenya (MNN) ―  Kenya means "God's resting place" in all three of the original languages of the indigenous people of the area.

The country's spiritual history is rich, with Christianity dating back to the 15th century.  Still, there's room for "firsts" in terms of Great Commission work.   Last week (18-20 April), Global Advance hosted the Global Advance Apostolic Conference  in Nairobi, Kenya.

What makes that a first? According to  David Shibley with Global Advance, it was the first-ever event assembling 98 overseers of denominations and church planting networks throughout Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.  "They represented about 15,000 churches. Of course, they were convening at a very important time in the aftermath of a bitterly disputed election."  

The summit convened days after the Supreme Court of Kenya decided the winner in a closely contested poll.  At stake in this particularly complex election was choosing the president and deputy president, county governors, senators, members of parliament, and women representatives.

The aftermath of the 2007 post-election violence (which resulted in 1,300 deaths and thousands more displaced) left an ugly scar in the minds of Kenyans. This time around, Shibley credits Christians with keeping the peace after contentious presidential elections.  "These wonderful men who convened really led the way. They appealed for peace, and they also urged great amounts of prayer in the aftermath of this recent election. Consequently, even though the election was bitterly disputed, there was generally peace in the aftermath this time, over and against the election of several years ago."

Days after the results were announced, the summit began. Differences were put aside under the Great Commission, Shibley notes.  "Different bishops had been on different sides of the issue and had supported different candidates and yet they came together in a real spirit of unity and prayer."  What's more, he adds,  in a forum of fellowship, these church leaders began responding to the call of working together to evangelize and disciple all of East Africa. "They came together as the single body of Christ. We dealt with issues about succession, raising up younger leaders in the church, and also responding to the increasing Islamic violence against churches throughout East Africa."

At the end of the conference, the delegates came up with the Nairobi Confession.   In it, Shibley says, these church leaders committed to setting aside the fourth Sunday of every June as Gospel Sunday.  "On that day, throughout these 15,000 churches represented by these 98 overseers, it will be something of an evangelistic rally in each of the churches. There will be a clear presentation of the Gospel and an invitation given to repent and receive Christ."

"What made this unique is that these were the equippers of the equippers," adds Shibley.  He goes on to explain that by the end, these Gospel workers had a new vision and tools to see their commitment through.  "In conjunction with The JESUS Film Project, we were able to give copies of the JESUS film in several of the East African languages and dialects to these overseers." What's next? "I believe there's going to be a great new surge of evangelism throughout East Africa."

Global Advance holds both Frontline Shepherds Conferences  and Marketplace Missions  to help equip church leaders evangelize and disciple their own and surrounding nations. 
Bishops Kidnapped
CNN News reports:
April 27, 2013

Syrian church officials say two bishops kidnapped in the northern part of the country are still missing. Earlier reports said the bishops had been released, but had to recant when facts proved otherwise.

The two men were taken from their car by gunpoint as they traveled outside the city of Allepo. A relative of one of the men said they were taken by foreign fighters from Chechnya.

One is a Greek Orthodox Bishop and the other is a bishop in the Assyrian Orthodox Church.

Syria's main rebel group condemned the kidnapping and blamed the Assad Regime.
Egyptian Coptic Christians Under Attack
Mission Network News Reports:
Published April 9, 2013 

Egypt (MNN) ― Over the weekend, Egypt suffered its worst religious violence since President Morsi came to power last year.

Open Doors Minister-at-Large Paul Estabrooks says tensions had already built up. "In light of some violence that occurred just days before the weekend, there was a funeral at St. Mark's Cathedral--the Coptic orthodox cathedral--which is the home of the pope of the Coptic Church, the main cathedral for the Coptic Christian believers."

The four who were buried on April 7 had died in clashes with Muslims on April 4 in a town north of Cairo. That violence was allegedly sparked by accusations that local Christians had made offensive drawings on the wall of a local religious school.

Christians have been concerned about their situation in Egypt ever since the Arab Spring began about two years ago, says Estabrooks, adding, "It just kind of shows again that the ‘Arab Spring' has become a ‘Christian Winter.'"

Tempers flared when the funeral procession came out of the church. When it was over, Estabrooks says, "At least 80 people were wounded in these clashes, so there was obviously tremendous fighting. Six people had been killed in the violence over the weekend. It just shows that things are very challenging there."

Angry Christians say there is no protection for religious minorities. In fact, notes Estabrooks, "The Christians claim that the police actually sided with the anti-Christian demonstrators and actually fired tear gas into the church cathedral as all of this was happening."

In a conciliatory gesture, President Mohamed Morsi condemned the violence against Christians. "His quoted words were: ‘I consider any attack on the Cathedral as an attack on me, personally,'" says Estabrooks. However, the Muslim Brotherhood's political party blamed the Copts for the violence, claiming the Cathedral gathering was a preparation "for civil war."

Coptic Christians compose about 10% of Egypt's estimated 90 million people. Many fled in the early days of the Arab Spring. For those who remain, they face increasing economic and social challenges because of their Christian faith. Pray that they will see the Lord provide for their basic needs, displaying a witness of God's care to non-Christians.

Most importantly, Estabrooks comments, "Pray that God reveals to them how they should biblically respond to this challenge. It would be a great help for them." Ask God to strengthen and embolden Christians in this time of political uncertainty and give them new opportunities to share the Gospel.