THE FRONTIER journal
NEWS + STORIES FROM THE MINISTRY OF FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP
SPECIAL EDITION: 2018 ANNUAL REPORT
OUR MINISTRY PARTNERSHIPS GIVE US AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE WAYS GOD IS BRINGING NEW LIFE TO PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD. DESPITE HARDSHIP AND OPPOSITION, FOLLOWERS OF JESUS ARE HELPING OTHERS DISCOVER THE GOOD NEWS HE OFFERS WHILE THEY WORK FOR THE FLOURISHING OF THEIR COMMUNITIES. AS WE LOOKED TO THE FRONTIER IN 2018, THIS IS WHAT WE SAW GOD DO.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2 4 9 19 25 1
HIGHLIGHTS + CELEBRATION FRONTIER LEADERSHIP FORMATION GROUP 6 WAYS TO PRAY FOR THE FRONTIER
LOOKING AHEAD Â© 2019 FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP
LIGHT OF HOPE MINISTRY ETHIOPIA Light of Hope Ministry Ethiopia (LOHME) serves the more than 10 million predominantly Muslim Arsi Oromo people, providing access to the Gospel through community development and spiritual formation in culturally honoring ways. With school construction, education, healthcare, vocational and pastoral training, church planting, Bible translation and pioneering efforts in contextualization, LOHME is creating opportunities for people to encounter the Good News of Jesus in their own language and culture for the first time. CONTINUED ON PAGE 3
LIGHT OF HOPE MINISTRY ETHIOPIA (CONTINUED) 2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS In the spring, a translation team completed an audio version of the Arsi Oromo New Testament. LOHME is distributing this recording, along with a print version of the New Testament, to ministry leaders and churches in the region. A written translation of the Old Testament is now complete. Construction is underway on Light of Hope Academy, a school to train future healthcare workers and teachers. The roof and exterior walls are finished, and interior plastering and electrical work are in progress. This first phase of construction is expected to be complete in 2019, with healthcare training beginning as soon as the fall in partnership with the local hospital. Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, and his administration have instituted numerous positive reforms––free press, the release of political prisoners, women in governmental leadership––bringing hope for a more stable future to many Ethiopians.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Despite positive changes at the national level, not all citizens see the impact in their regions. Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromia regional states are still experiencing ethnic tension and clashes. LOHME plans to build seven primary schools in 2019. Negotiating with locals to procure property and organize tradespeople and materials for construction is often a difficult task, especially due to the remote location of many villages. LOHME expects to publish a printed version of the Arsi Oromo Bible in 2019.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT God is using education to bring dignity and opportunity to the Arsi Oromo. In 2018, more than 40,000 children attended LOHME primary schools in communities which previously had no access to formal education. Associate Director Taliilee Fiqruu (who earned her Doctor of Ministry degree in February) loves visiting these schools because it reminds her of her own childhood in Ethiopia and the opportunities God opened to her through education. Through LOHME schools, Arsi Oromo children are growing up learning to read not only in Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language), but also in their own language. Children who receive a copy of the Arsi Oromo New Testament are excited because they’re already able to read it. LOHME primary schools are serving the educational needs of communities and opening doors for future ministry opportunities. Greater political stability after a tumultuous period has allowed LOHME staff to travel freely, gather with the communities they serve and begin construction projects after a long hiatus. In the midst of suffering and persecution among the Oromo people in recent years, we witnessed God’s grace as He drew the Oromo Church closer to Himself, strengthening their unity and enabling them to stand as beacons of encouragement and hope. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM. 3
HIGHLIGHTS + CELEBRATION 2018 brought opportunities to trust God as He led in new ways and rejoice as He sustained us. Weâ€™re grateful for these and other gifts and developments that strengthened our ministry over the past year.
NEW PARTNERS + PROJECTS:
INTERNATIONAL TRIPS LED BY STAFF + BOARD MEMBERS
PRIMARY SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS (NIGER) RURAL COMMUNITY CENTER (CENTRAL ASIA) SUDANESE / SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEE MINISTRY SURI LITERACY (ETHIOPIA)
CENTRAL ASIA EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN EGYPT ETHIOPIA INDIA MONGOLIA NIGER UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
RAISED FOR PARTNERS + PROJECTS
NEW STAFF MEMBER
GUIDESTAR SILVER RATING
GIVEN THROUGH OUR CHRISTMAS GIFT CATALOG
SOUTHWEST ETHIOPIA Southwest Ethiopia, a region bordering the Great Rift Valley, is home to numerous unreached people groups. One of our partners, the Jimma Bethel Synod (JBS) of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, serves in five key regions south of Jimma: Menja, Tsara, Dawro, Ameya and Kaffa. Many people in these areas live in fear of evil spirits, and JBS is eager to introduce them to the hope and freedom Jesus offers. JBS is sharing the Good News through traveling evangelists, leadership training for women, youth initiatives and outreach to university students and Muslims. Our partners in the Southwest Bethel Synod serve among the Dizi and Suri people groups. The young and growing Dizi Church is training and equipping pastors, evangelists and other leaders to share the Good News of Jesus in their community. We’ve supported their ministry through Bible translation and an apple orchard project, which will eventually generate income to subsidize a health clinic and church leaders’ salaries. Among the Suri, we’re partnering with an ongoing Bible translation project that has developed a written language and is now introducing literacy programs for children and adults. 5
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS JBS’ network of churches is growing, increasing access to the Gospel among marginalized people groups like the Menja as well as students at Jimma University, the nation’s second-largest university. With support from Frontier Fellowship, JBS was able to add a Muslim outreach focus to their 2018 ministry efforts. We celebrate the many people who are coming to know Jesus through JBS’ work in this region. We successfully transferred project management of the Dizi Bible Translation to Seed Company. The Maji Apple Nursery continues to move toward self-sustainability. In collaboration with our partners, we’re gradually tapering off support as apple and seedling sales provide more income. We anticipate this project becoming fully self-sustaining by the end of 2020. The Harold Kurtz Memorial Church was dedicated in May in Maji—a symbol of God’s faithfulness to the Dizi people over many years.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES The Suri Literacy Project began with exciting potential to impact Suri students through the integration of Bible stories and scripture portions in official primary school curriculum. Tragically, the project manager was ambushed and killed in November, bringing this initiative to a halt. We’re praying for God to raise up new people to continue the work, but we’re currently in a difficult transition period as we and our partners discern the way forward. As more and more people decide to follow Jesus in Southwest Ethiopia, leadership development is crucial. More pastors and leaders are needed to disciple the growing body of believers. We’re exploring new opportunities for involvement in additional Bible translation (Baale) and literacy efforts (Dizi).
INSIGHTS + IMPACT How do we help people gain access to the Good News? We’re engaged in Bible translation, literacy programs and orality efforts, trying to discover with our partners which approach is best for each context. We praise God that people are encountering Jesus through both written and oral forms of the Gospel and choosing to follow Him. As the church in Maji grows in its ability to support itself, members are able to generously share resources like clean water with their non-Christian neighbors––a tangible example of God’s love and care for all Dizi people. We’re grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to encounter the grace of God as it’s uniquely expressed through culturally and linguistically diverse people groups. Our brothers and sisters in Southwest Ethiopia are encouraging us to trust more fully in God’s provision and timing. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT MISSION ADVOCATE BOB VON SCHIMMELMANN (VONSCHIMMELMANN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
NIGER The Eglise Evangélique de la République du Niger (EERN) is sharing the Good News of Jesus in a nation where there are few followers of Jesus. EERN is training church planters and pastors, establishing churches and helping people groups like the Hausa, Djerma, Fulani and Tuareg gain access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation improvements, education, health initiatives and medical care.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS We helped several new churches and individuals in the US connect with EERN. Through generous donations, church planters working in rural areas received salary support and funds to purchase oxen and carts. These gifts are helping them better provide for their families and offer transportation and other help to their communities. An American congregation provided funds to dig wells and improve hygiene in a town where a church planter works. God is using these projects to improve the standard of living for people and open doors to share the Gospel. EERN has completed construction of two hosting centers to provide weekday accommodations for Muslim and Christian students who must walk long distances to attend the nearest middle or high school. Staffed by EERN pastors, these hosting centers provide a safe, hospitable place for students to sleep, study and experience the love of Christ.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Despite the ongoing threat of terrorist activity in the region, Niger’s constitution guarantees religious freedom. Tolerance between Muslims and Christians is relatively high, and EERN is able to freely share the Good News in culturally sensitive ways. We’re eager to continue partnering with EERN as they train and send more church planters to new villages. One of EERN’s church planters was killed in a motorcycle accident in September. We’ve been praying for God to comfort his family and community as they grieve this loss and ask for His grace for the new church planter who has taken up the work to establish a church in a new town.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT A church we’re connected with in the US contributed funds for primary school scholarships for more than 40 children. These scholarships support students who couldn’t otherwise afford tuition fees at EERN schools, where they receive an excellent education and have the chance to hear about God’s love for them. Scholarship funds also allow children of church planters to attend boarding school while their families live in rural villages without access to education. One father attended the local church and decided to follow Jesus because of the compassion shown to his child through the scholarship program. We celebrate the ways God’s global Church is strengthened and enriched as American and Nigerien Christians work, learn and grow together. We’ve been reminded through our EERN friends that following Jesus often comes at great cost. Our brothers and sisters in Niger are patient and resilient, facing crises with faith and perseverance. We’re inspired by their commitment through difficult circumstances and thank God for His power at work within them (Ephesians 3:20). TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM). 7
SUDAN + SOUTH SUDAN In Darfur, a region of west Sudan that has experienced much turmoil, followers of Jesus are making God’s love evident to those longing for hope, peace and a more stable future. Our partners are providing education and pastoral training for new leaders who are serving among Sudan’s unreached people groups. Ongoing ethnic and religious conflict and famine have displaced many people from Sudan and South Sudan and forced them to seek safety in neighboring nations. We’ve partnered with a group of pastors who’ve expanded their ministry to serve refugees in East and Central Africa. They’re building relationships with formerly unengaged people groups, meeting practical needs and creating access to the Good News of Jesus. CONTINUED ON PAGE 11
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SUDAN + SOUTH SUDAN (CONTINUED) 2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS Our partners at the Bible school in Sudan held English classes for refugees living nearby and hope to offer them more educational opportunities in 2019. Several American congregations and individuals contributed toward the tuition fees for a student from Darfur to attend the Bible school. Recognizing the need for fresh ministry approaches as pressure on Christians grows in Sudan, leaders sent two dozen pastors to a neighboring country to receive training in business as mission strategies. After completing this course, pastors returned to their communities with renewed vision to share God’s love with their neighbors. Demonstrations erupted throughout Sudan in December over the rising cost of bread and fuel. Unrest continues as citizens protest rising inflation and other economic hardships. Doctors and other professionals went on strike, and the government issued states of emergency and curfews in several cities amid calls for the president to step down. One of our newest projects, the Sudanese/South Sudanese Refugee Ministry, is providing support to pastors who are serving in refugee camps. Pastors offered classes to refugees twice a week, mentored new leaders, developed house churches and provided counseling and care to refugees suffering from trauma.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Since the secession of South Sudan in 2011, there’s been a movement in the north to establish Sudan as an Islamic state. Persecution of Christians is increasing––especially in places like Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Christians have experienced social and economic discrimination, harassment and arrest. Churches have been sued by the government and had their buildings siezed or demolished. Yet our partners continue to proclaim the Gospel in this difficult context, and the Church keeps growing. As inflation soars, the Bible school is struggling even more to make ends meet. Students can’t afford tuition, teachers aren’t always paid and the electricity was recently turned off. Classes are now being held outside. Violence, economic instability and food scarcity are forcing large numbers of people from Sudan and South Sudan to flee to neighboring nations. Many arrive in refugee camps with PTSD and other serious physical and psychological needs. Our partners (some of whom were displaced themselves) are embracing refugees with practical help and pastoral care. Ethnic division has long been a source of conflict in Sudan and South Sudan. Our refugee ministry partners are cultivating reconciliation between ethnic groups by working together, rather than only within their own tribes, to serve the diverse populations within the camps. Our partner church in Sudan continues a process toward reconciliation following division over how to respond to government pressure. Key leaders attended a reconciliation gathering at the beginning of the year, and a pastor from South Sudan is facilitating negotiations between both sides. We pray for grace and healing during this long process toward restoration. Our partners are exploring micro-business grants as a way to help new pastors support their families through small business initiatives. 11
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Through the Darfur Outreach project, a man is receiving support for his education and pastoral training. When he graduates in two years, he’ll be equipped to lead a house church and better qualified for a paying job to support his family. Our Sudanese and South Sudanese friends are teaching us that leadership requires trusting God to provide and boldness to move forward in ministry even when it doesn’t feel possible. Despite persecution, instability and uncertainty, our partners remain committed to training more pastors to share the Good News and establish house churches. “I’ve learned that friendship can exist across cultures and across the world. When I need prayer, the first person I reach out to is the accountant at the Bible school. We’ve shared our joys and concerns in our work and our families over many years. I’ve been humbled by our partners’ perseverance and desire to do great things for God even as their difficulties increase—difficulties that are unimaginable to me. I’ve become more committed to reading scripture and spending more time in prayer daily. I now have faith that I can pray and have a long-term impact on my partners’ circumstances.” —Associate Director Denise Sciuto TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DENISE SCIUTO (DSCIUTO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
CENTRAL ASIA Central Asia is made up of six republics: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This region, situated at the geographical crossroads of some of historyâ€™s greatest empires, now struggles beneath the weight of social and political conflict, restrictive expressions of Islam, poverty, remnants of Communist rule and limited religious freedom. Weâ€™re connected with Central Asian ministry leaders who are serving in the region and among migrants living in Russia through community development, education, care for vulnerable women, evangelism, church planting, pastoral training and youth outreach.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS During the summer, a Central Asian ministry partner had the opportunity to visit the US and preach in churches and at the New Wilmington Mission Conference, beginning new partnerships with several churches. We helped fund two initiatives to connect leaders: a conference for 110 youth leaders from throughout Central Asia and a three-day strategic meeting for 11 Central Asian pastors and house church leaders working in six Russian cities. These events were rare opportunities for ministry leaders to meet in person, encourage one another and sharpen their strategies. Our partners at a womenâ€™s shelter are helping vulnerable and exploited women experience physical, psychological and spiritual restoration. In addition to basic skills training and mentoring, this ministry nurtures emotional and spiritual growth through counseling, group discussions and ongoing support from other women. This year, counselors facilitated individual sessions to 21 residents of the shelter, local women and staff members. In the fall, the shelter was able to hire and train three more young women to work for their coffee shop and local catering services. Sixteen women have successfully completed culinary courses. Twenty-nine women have successfully completed sewing courses. The shelter hired a sewing specialist to train women on a professional level, and a designer provided master classes. Some cooking and sewing course graduates are now employed by local businesses.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Circumstances remain tense in many countries: imprisonment of church leaders, tourist attacks by ISIS supporters, radical Islamâ€™s growing control and general instability. But there are also changes for the better, particularly in one nation which is relaxing its restrictions on Christians. Significant economic and physical hardship is driving a growing number of Central Asian migrants and refugees to seek work and better opportunities in Russia. One partner reports there are more than four million migrants in Moscow alone, and 60% are between the ages of 18 and 25. Our partners recognize an open door to reach the predominantly Muslim migrant population now living in Russia. In this new context, migrants are gaining access to the Gospel with greater freedom from the social pressures of their home communities. A new law in Russia makes it illegal for non-citizens to engage in ministry. Because of this, Central Asian ministry leaders are at risk of police harassment, fines or deportation. Many face burnout due to the constant stress on their personal lives and ministries. This coming year, our partners hope to develop business as mission initiatives to provide income generation for their ministries and move toward financial self-sustainability. Weâ€™re committed to helping Central Asian ministry leaders gather for training and fellowship in 2019.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Our work this year focused on encouraging a number of Central Asian pastors and church planters who live and serve in Russia. God is raising up new leaders for the Central Asian Church and guiding them as they work together and develop mature partnerships. CONTINUED ON PAGE 15
CENTRAL ASIA (CONTINUED) Women who come to the shelter for help often want quick solutions to their struggles, but some understand it will take time to process and heal. We rejoice that women are experiencing real transformation through this ministry. As we witness divisiveness and hostility between people and nations on a global scale, we recognize the contrast of God’s call to His children to be agents of peace and demonstrate the unity He makes possible. Our partners ask for our prayers and welcome our visits, giving us opportunities to move toward one another in relationship rather than withdrawing out of fear. “I’ve been energized by stepping back from a focus on one particular country and ministry for a time of reflection and research on mission trends, strategies and contexts in the larger Central Asian region and beyond. I’ve been encouraged when a congregation or denominational group in the US chooses to learn more and consider next steps.” —Associate Director Rita Johnson “I learned that many of our partners are struggling in the same ways I am— struggling to be faithful in ministry and to care for their families. I’m deeply grateful for the friendship of our partner, SL, and his joyful endurance of life and ministry challenges as he proclaims Jesus to Central Asians. He always reminds me of God’s love for us.” —Associate Director Donald Marsden TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS RITA JOHNSON (RJOHNSON@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM) + DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
DIASPORA MUSLIM OUTREACH (US) In the Chicago area, Associate Director Dan McNerney is coaching 10 churches involved in ongoing holy book studies, joint community service projects and other meaningful interfaith exchanges. In other cities across the US, Christians are breaking through barriers of fear and misunderstanding as they form redemptive relationships with members of mosques and Muslim communities.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS Our staff saw a noticeable increase in the number of churches requesting help with establishing bridge-building relationships with their local Muslim communities. Dan McNerney’s church in Chicago entered its 10th year of friendship with a local Bosnian mosque. Members of Dan’s church and a nearby Lutheran church are serving alongside members of the mosque to provide clothing and food for people experiencing hunger and homelessness in their area. Their amount of donations has more than quadrupled since they began collaborating with the Muslim community. The Muslims who’ve participated in this have asked their new Christian friends to teach them about God’s commands in the Bible to care for the poor. God is clearly blessing this effort and creating bonds between those involved. In addition to joint service projects, these two faith communities also study their holy books together once a month. At first participants were cautious, avoided 15
debate and sought to find common ground between their religions. But as trust has grown, they’ve entered into deeper dialogue concerning different views on Jesus, His crucifixion and resurrection, the Trinity and other complex theological issues—relying on God to reveal what’s true in their conversations.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES In light of rising nationalism in the US and growing suspicion or fear of Muslims, we see the value of interfaith dialogue now more than ever. We’re continuing to encourage churches to initiate bridge-building relationships with their local Muslim communities.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT These activities have greatly enriched the dialogue and relationships between Christians and Muslims in the Chicago area, and many lives have been deeply impacted. Muslims have grown to appreciate the Bible in new ways. Christians have become less fearful of Islam and more open to learn about the Muslim way of life. We rejoice that Muslims in the US are encountering Christ through friendship with His followers. We believe that the more Muslims gain access to Jesus’ Good News, the more they’ll want to learn about Him. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DAN MCNERNEY (DMCNERNEY@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
OROMO OUTREACH (US) God is raising up leaders from the Oromo diaspora who are passionate about taking the message of the Gospel to their families and neighbors in the Portland, Oregon, area. These young women and men are eager to learn scripture and engage communities who don’t yet know Jesus. Associate Director Taliilee Fiqruu’s ministry is focused on coming alongside these leaders to train and mobilize them.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS Small group Bible studies in homes allow people to come just as they are to fellowship and grow spiritually. Group members invite friends from church, their neighborhoods and workplaces for prayer, communion, Bible study and often a potluck meal. When they gather in a friend’s living room, it’s more than a strategy—it’s about creating a sense of family. They’re interested in what God is doing in each others’ lives and the world and how they can participate.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Although positive changes are taking place now in Ethiopia, memories of the oppression and persecution faced by Oromo people in recent years are still fresh. These small group Bible studies have become safe places to process and pray for God’s healing and redemption among Oromo people.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Because of our engagement among the Oromo diaspora, young women and men are being inspired to take part in Kingdom work. They’re opening their homes for small group studies and inviting others to build relationships and grow together in Christ. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR TALIILEE FIQRUU (TFIQRUU@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM). 16
Middle East + Arabian Peninsula
UAE + IRAN Our partnerships with Arab and Persian followers of Jesus give us opportunities to see the incredible movement of God on the Arabian Peninsula and in Iran. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), weâ€™re supporting ministry leaders who are sharing the Good News of Jesus in culturally honoring and compassionate ways. In Iran and among the Iranian diaspora, weâ€™re partnering with ministry leaders who are responding to the needs of the underground church by providing theological education and leadership development for new pastors and leaders. 17
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS The Iranian government continues to tighten its control of the nation and recently initiated a new, harsher phase of attempting to eliminate all Christian activity and literature. This includes closing many print shops and imprisoning shop owners for printing Bibles. While we’re still providing funds for printing Bibles, this initiative has grown much more difficult. We continue to support two Egyptian missionaries in the UAE who are building relationships with Muslims who want to learn more about and follow Jesus. These new disciples are being mentored in the UAE, Europe and post-Soviet states where there is less scrutiny from the government or secret police. In the fall, our partners from Pars Theological Centre (a UK-based ministry serving followers of Jesus in Iran) traveled to the US to connect with churches. This ministry provides spiritual formation and education through an online BA program, publications, media, leadership forums, pastoral training and counseling with the goal of cultivating men and women of influence to lead the Iranian Church. As a result of Pars’ visit, more American Christians will be praying for and supporting these new leaders in 2019. In November, board member Amy Delgado co-led a vision trip to the UAE to connect with our local partners.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES The US government renewed its economic sanctions against Iran rather than continue with the existing peace accord. As a result, the Iranian economy is suffering, and the average Iranian citizen faces financial instability. Iran’s underground church continues to flourish despite persecution and suffering. Our partners report that many Iranians no longer want to identify with the Muslim faith, and their eyes and hearts are opening to the truth of Jesus. Many Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula have grown increasingly disillusioned by and dissatisfied with Islam in light of extremism and authoritarian leadership. Weary of violence and repression, some are beginning to explore Christianity, and the number of Muslims becoming followers of Jesus is increasing.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Iran (formerly Persia, once the world’s largest empire) has a long history of tolerance, innovation and cultural diversity. Some people believe it could become the first Muslim country to reject Islam. It’s ripe for freedom of expression and openness to truth. It’s extremely strategic for the global Church to support the growth of Christianity in Iran. If Christianity continues to grow, it will have a significant influence on the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula as well as the Persianspeaking world, including Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. Though Emiratis are traditionally conservative, the UAE is one of the Middle East’s most liberal countries and generally tolerant of other cultures and beliefs. This is due in large part to the sizable expatriate workforce (more than 85% of the UAE’s population) undergirding its oil, construction and trade industries. Because of this less restrictive environment, our partners in the UAE are finding greater opportunities to serve new followers of Jesus in the region who often return to their countries of origin to become leaders in underground churches. Some spend their summers in Europe sharing the Good News with vacationing Arab Muslims. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM. 18
6TOWAYS PRAY FOR
THE FRONTIER As we look to the frontier—the peoples and places still waiting to hear the Good News of Jesus—God invites us to partner with Him in prayer. When we pray, hearts are transformed, closed doors are opened, rigid mindsets become flexible, spiritual obstacles are cleared, insights emerge, creativity flows and the impossible becomes possible. Jesus encourages us to ask anything in His name and expect that He will act (John 14:14). Join us as we boldly pray for His Kingdom to come to every nation, tribe, people and language.
Ask God to open avenues of access—spiritual, mental, emotional, geographic, linguistic and political—to people and places that remain hidden or blocked from the Gospel message. Pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. PSALM 24, MATTHEW 6:10, COLOSSIANS 4:2–4
Ask God to help the global Church identify, equip and send workers to carry the Good News to those still waiting to hear it. LUKE 10:1–9, ROMANS 10:14–15, 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1
Ask God to prepare the hearts and minds of people to receive the Good News, grow in faith and bear fruit. EZEKIEL 11:19–20, PSALM 63:1–5, MARK 4:1–20
Ask God to care for His workers and their loved ones as they serve in challenging contexts and for Him to give every resource needed to accomplish His work. Ask for financial provision, wisdom, creativity, cultural insights and sensitivity, language acquisition, stamina, rest, renewal, supportive communities and protection from physical and spiritual dangers. ISAIAH 41:10, EPHESIANS 6:10–20, PHILIPPIANS 4:19
Ask God to knit the hearts of His people together in unity and that each member of His Body––especially those serving in the same communities––would be clothed in humility. Pray for them to be secure in the gifts God has given them, eager to celebrate and embrace the unique contributions of others and committed to working in partnership for the good of God’s Kingdom. PSALM 133, EPHESIANS 4:1–16
Ask God to guard and guide churches as they become established among new people groups. Pray for strong, humble leaders to disciple new followers of Jesus, for groundedness in God’s Word, for contextualized expressions of worship to emerge and for the faithful witness of believers to transform their communities. EPHESIANS 3:16–19, PHILIPPIANS 1:9–11, COLOSSIANS 1:9–14
IF YOU’D LIKE TO RECEIVE OUR MONTHLY PRAYER EMAIL, CONTACT PRAYER@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
EGYPT Many Middle Eastern nations look to Egypt as a cultural, economic and political leader. Egypt also leads the Arab world with the highest number of Christians. God has given Egyptian followers of Jesus a vision to share the Gospel and is using the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC) and the Egyptian Church to pioneer frontier mission movements throughout the Middle East and beyond. There’s a known, long-established Arab Church in Egypt, and there’s also a growing underground church made up of people from different cultural backgrounds. A network of wise, gifted leaders are discipling new followers of Jesus in culturally sensitive ways. They’re also responding to the needs of the rising number of refugees entering Egypt.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS A Frontier Fellowship vision trip team visited ETSC last March to attend the dedication celebration of the Arabic translation of the Perspectives curriculum. ETSC continues to produce globally-minded, frontier mission-oriented leaders. Forty-four students graduated from the seminary in 2018. Dr. Atef Gendy, ETSC’s president, visited churches in the Chicago area in the summer to share about the exciting growth of the Egyptian Church. He reported there are now approximately 11 million people publicly following Jesus and between 2–4 million underground Christians from a Muslim background. In October, our partners gathered with several hundred people from throughout Egypt for a time of prayer for their nation, families and the Church.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES The Egyptian government instituted tough economic reforms, including a devaluation of its currency in late 2016. The ensuing rise in inflation has caused significant economic hardship for many Egyptians. Christianity continues to grow in Egypt. President el-Sisi, who promotes a moderate form of Islam, has promised expanded protection for Egyptian Christians and eased the requirements for them to obtain permits for new church construction. Despite greater political freedom, Egyptian followers of Jesus continued to suffer persecution in 2018, including a terrorist attack on a group of pilgrims traveling to a retreat and the abduction and forced conversion of several girls and women by Islamic militants.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Capacity for frontier mission engagement continues to grow in Egypt. The Synod of the Nile, the main governing body for Egyptian Presbyterians, recently expanded its frontier mission efforts to include sending additional workers throughout the Middle East and Africa. ETSC has increased its frontier mission education using the new Perspectives translation. God seems to be preparing the Egyptian Church to play a major role in building His Kingdom. Our Egyptian partners show us courageous, grace-filled faith. They aren’t surprised by persecution, recognizing that Jesus and many of His disciples over the centuries have suffered because of their faith. They embrace Jesus’ call to extend compassion and forgiveness to their oppressors (Matthew 5:44) while praying boldly for many more people to encounter Him. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
INDIA Our two primary partner organizations are serving at the forefront of church planting and disciple-making movements among the nation’s 2,500+ unreached people groups. Their ministries provide discipleship, church planting and evangelism training to leaders and promote community development through microfinance projects, health education, women’s initiatives, children’s homes, literacy programs and sustainable farming practices. CONTINUED ON PAGE 23
SOUTH ASIA 22
INDIA (CONTINUED) 2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS Our ministry partners see increasing numbers of people put their faith in Jesus and respond through baptism. One partner reported more than 13,000 baptisms from January to June, and on a single day in October, ministry leaders baptized 194 people. Our other partner reported 3,500 new believers and 885 baptisms from July to September. Both ministries have expanded their networks throughout the states of North India and recently into Nepal.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES India’s ranking on Open Doors’ persecution index, the World Watch List, has risen steadily in recent years and is now at #10. Emboldened by right-wing political leaders in favor of establishing Hindu supremacy, religious nationalism is on the rise, and extremists are targeting Christians for their beliefs. In May, three people connected with one of our partners were falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned for several weeks. In a neighboring state, nearly 300 Christians were charged under religious conversion laws. Despite rising persecution, the Indian Church continues to grow. The decrease of a significant funding source for one of our partners reaffirmed the need for local financial sustainability. Recognizing the importance of collaboration, one partner is empowering other ministry leaders instead of only building up his own organization. One partner plans to build a school as an income-generating project to expand the ministry’s long-term financial sustainability. Our partners note a significant openness toward the Gospel in their region, particularly among Dalit and indigenous tribal groups. While the number of trained workers is increasing, many more are still needed to bring the Good News of Jesus to villages still waiting to receive it.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT We’re learning from our partners that it’s often more effective to disciple new believers in North India through storytelling, music and other oral methods. Our support enables our partners to increase training of church planters,
allowing more people to encounter the Gospel and more house churches to grow and flourish. Our partners demonstrate to us the importance of prayer as a primary tool in frontier mission. Before engaging a village with the Gospel, they prayerfully walk through it and ask God to open avenues for people to receive His Word. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR CODY WATSON (CWATSON@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
PAKISTAN Schools in the Sand provides education for children of the Meghwal and Bhil ethnic groups. These minority tribes face significant discrimination by other groups, which keeps them trapped in a cycle of poverty. Schools in the Sand offers Meghwal and Bhil children (who aren’t welcome in local schools) the opportunity to attend classes and eventually take a government exam, which gives them access to continued education. Through this ministry, families are hearing the Good News of Jesus.
2018 KEY DEVELOPMENTS + EVENTS We’re in a transition period with Schools in the Sand. Associate Director Haemin Lee, our point of contact for this project, left our staff in December to begin a new role as a mission pastor in the Tampa area. CJ, Schools in the Sand’s director, plans to retire soon and is in the process of identifying and training a new leader so the ministry can remain strong beyond his tenure. Please pray with us as we seek God’s wisdom for the future.
CHALLENGES + OPPORTUNITIES Pakistan is an Islamic republic ruled by Islamic law. This often makes life difficult for the less than 4% of the population that isn’t Muslim. Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other non-Muslims regularly experience harassment, social exclusion and persecution. Relations between the US and Pakistan have been tenuous since 9/11. Sharp disagreements over Pakistan’s involvement in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan prompted the US to suspend millions in aid to Pakistan in September. The fractured relationship has also caused Pakistan to show greater scrutiny toward foreigners, who’ve found it more difficult in recent months to transfer funds and renew visas. Christian workers are concerned about the future viability of ministry in the region and are keeping a close eye on how conversations between the US and Pakistan develop. Schools in the Sand would like to begin income-generating initiatives to help locals live more economically sustainable lives.
INSIGHTS + IMPACT Hundreds of children each year who would otherwise be unable to attend local schools are receiving their primary school education and hearing about the love of Jesus through Schools in the Sand. Over the last decade, many people have chosen to follow Him because of this ministry. CJ’s steadfast and resilient faith, despite a challenging ministry context, is teaching us to face the obstacles in our own lives with faith, patience and flexibility. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM. 24
LOOKING AHEAD RICHARD HANEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The dawn of a new year offers a natural hinge moment to reflect on the events of the previous one and consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Several of us ended the year in St. Louis at Urbana 18, where we had the opportunity to connect with a number of students and ministry workers. It was energizing to witness students’ interest in frontier mission and hear their insightful questions. I’m encouraged to see new generations of women and men who are committed to creating avenues of access to the Gospel for those who’ve never heard it. This year we’re preparing to launch our new Frontier Leadership Formation Group for ages 22–30 (see pages 9–10). We’re partnering with Fuller Seminary to offer a program of spiritual formation, study, mentoring and intercultural/ interfaith bridge building, facilitated online and through quarterly retreats. The program’s home base in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the US, will provide unique
cross-cultural experiences and learning opportunities. We’re excited to be a part of the process of helping young adults discover how God is at work in the world and discern how He invites them to join Him. After a second trip to Mongolia in 2018 to connect with Campus Crusade workers I met in 2017, I’m eager to return this year with hopes to further deepen relationships. These leaders are engaged in burgeoning campus, church and nomad ministries with a vision to train frontier mission workers. We’re continuing to develop relationships with ministry friends serving Buddhists elsewhere in Asia and are praying about possible exploratory trips in 2019. As we consider new opportunities and partnerships, we’re asking God to grow our staff to help us mobilize more churches, college students, individuals and families. More than two billion people lack access to the Gospel—they have no church, no Bible in their language and no one to share with them the hope Jesus offers. We take seriously our calling to help the global Church care about the world’s ethnolinguistic groups that are still waiting to hear the Good News of His Kingdom. And we pray for and work toward the characteristics of this coming Kingdom, investing holistically in communities because we believe the Gospel restores and revitalizes every aspect of life. We ended 2018 with our Advent devotional, Behold, which invited us to notice and respond to the ways God is making all things new in the world around us. In this new year, we pray for many more people to gain opportunities to behold Jesus for the first time and begin to taste the life abundant He generously extends to us.
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Special edition of The Frontier Journal describing ministry developments from 2018.