THE FRONTIER journal NEWS + STORIES FROM THE MINISTRY OF FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PAGE 2
REGIONAL NEWS PAGE 9
PRAYERS FOR THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH PAGE 12
FROM FIELD TO FORCE PAGE 5
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RICHARD HANEY
Towering pyramids cast giant shadows under the watchful eye of the Sphinx. The sun burns bright over miles and miles of golden sand. The mighty Nile River waters the Delta and turns sand into fertile soil. This land is immortalized by mummies and sarcophagi adorning museums all over the world. Once pharaohs ruled; names like Ramses and Nefertiti are etched into history. This is Egypt, an ancient power whose influence on the world lives on. In Old Testament stories, Egypt was the land of captivity. Born into slavery, Moses was cradled among the reeds of the Nile––his family’s attempt to save him from Pharaoh’s death sentence on all newborn Hebrew boys. He was found and adopted into the royal family by Pharaoh’s daughter. Yet God called him to lead his people to the Promised Land. Along with Moses, Jacob and Joseph were Hebrew leaders whose stories intertwined with Egypt. In the New Testament, Egypt turned from hostile power to a place of refuge when the Holy Family settled there after fleeing Herod’s sword. The early Church spread into North Africa, where the Coptic Church today remains one of the oldest in the world. Monasticism was born in the Egyptian desert. Anthony, one of the earliest monks, lived an ascetic life in the wilderness imitating Christ’s battle against Satan’s temptations in the desert. Does a prominent past predict a significant future? Today Egypt is the most populous Arab country with nearly 100 million citizens, and almost 10% of its population is Christian (both Coptic and Protestant), the highest number of any Middle Eastern nation. It’s one of 22 Arabic-speaking countries, giving followers of Jesus tremendous potential to impact communities without access to the Gospel throughout the region. One well-known congregation is Kasr El Dobara in Cairo. It’s the Middle East’s largest Arab Christian church and seats 1,500 with additional overflow seating and live-streamed services. The Bible Society of Egypt, the world’s largest Arabic Bible publishing operation, is making God’s Word available in print, audio and visual forms. The Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo is training ministry leaders using an Arabic translation of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement as part of their curriculum. You’ll read more in the following pages about how we see God working through the Egyptian Church to impact the Middle East and beyond. We celebrate the faithfulness, wisdom and enthusiasm of our partners as they pursue God’s coming Kingdom. Join us in thanking God for our many years of partnership with these dear friends.
© 2019 FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP page 2
From Field to Force
HANNAH TEAGUE, CREATIVE DIRECTOR WITH DAN MCNERNEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
HIGHLY ESTEEMED THROUGHOUT THE GREATER ARAB WORLD + BEYOND, EGYPT HAS MADE AN INDELIBLE MARK ON HISTORY, CULTURE, EDUCATION + RELIGION. ITS BORDERS LINK AFRICA TO THE REMAINDER OF THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE + THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA WITH THE INDIAN OCEAN, LONG SINCE ESTABLISHING IT AS A MAJOR POWER IN MIDDLE EASTERN GEOPOLITICS. AGAINST THIS BACKDROP, THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH IS THRIVING IN THE MIDST OF UNPRECEDENTED MOVEMENT TOWARD JESUS IN MUSLIM-MAJORITY CONTEXTS. ONCE A MISSION FIELD, EGYPT HAS BECOME A MISSION FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH + IS POISED TO LEAD THE WAY IN A NEW ERA OF GOSPEL PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLDâ€™S FRONTIERS. continued on page 6
Ask Dan McNerney to tell you about Egypt, and you’ll immediately sense the
joy radiating from him. But this wasn’t always the case. His journey toward deep affection for this nation—and the larger Arab Muslim community—began one pivotal Tuesday morning nearly 18 years ago. Like many Americans, the events of September 11, 2001, broke Dan’s world open. Up until that point, his ministry was focused in Latin America and Europe with little awareness of the Middle East or Islam. But this day set in motion a work of God in Dan’s heart, propelling him from confusion and anger to a desire to understand as much as he could about this complex region and faith. Arab Muslims worldwide were rocked by the events of 9/11. Militant Islam
had been gaining strength for some time, but terrorism on such a large scale was formerly unthought of. Many began to question whether violence like this was what Islam truly taught and how that could align with their convictions. A slowlybuilding crisis of faith quickly accelerated as moderates became more moderate, fundamentalists grew more militant and others turned to atheism. At the same time, many Muslims began exploring the teachings of Jesus. Into this tumultuous period entered the Egyptian Church. Well-established organizations like the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC), the Synod of the Nile (representing the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt), the Bible Society of Egypt and Kasr El Dobara Church were actively engaged in ministry for years, yet most Protestant Christians had avoided any overt evangelism. In contrast to the historically bold Coptic Orthodox Church (dating back to the 1st century CE and withstanding persecution and martyrdom for more than a millenium), Protestants had remained more muted and cautious. But as this new turmoil within Islam literally brought neighbors to their doors asking to learn more about Isa (Jesus), His people moved forward in faith. In 2002, conversations with ministry friends opened up the opportunity for Dan to co-lead a trip to Egypt, where he learned more about this newfound receptivity to the Good News of Jesus. Building upon decades of relationships between American and Egyptian Presbyterians, Frontier Fellowship stepped into a deeper level of partnership with these now-beloved brothers and sisters who have increased our capacity to imagine how much more God might do. In what can only be described as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Muslims across Egypt began encountering Jesus in dreams and visions. They started to question the rigidity of Islam and think more critically about their beliefs. People were hungry for access to the Bible and recognized they often had more common ground with Christians than the fundamentalists of their own faith. As the early 2000s ushered in the rise of the internet, technological advances, satellite TV and changing attitudes and growing progressivism among young adults, the social fabric of Egypt changed dramatically. And where faithful followers of Jesus had planted and watered, God was bringing forth a harvest. Together with our sister organization, The Outreach Foundation, we came
alongside ETSC to help the seminary respond to these new opportunities. With the formation of the school’s first missions department and implementation of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course (later translated into Arabic), ETSC began empowering its students to walk into their God-given roles. “Perspectives added beautiful fuel to the Church,” Dan says. “It helped ministry leaders develop uniquely Egyptian missiology and learn how to indigenize the Gospel. It moved the Church from seeing themselves as those who only receive missionaries and instead as those who send them.” This growth represented an exciting paradigm shift. “Ten to 15 years ago, church planting wasn’t happening, missionaries weren’t being sent,” shares Dan. Now church planters are working in Egypt, and missionaries have moved abroad to the UK, Germany, United Arab Emirates and South Sudan. page 6
The political unrest, revolution and subsequent coup of 2011–2014 brought
about new social and political freedoms for Egyptians in general and Christians in particular. Most view the current presidential administration in a positive light due to the greater religious liberty they’ve received since Sisi came to power. He’s a devout Muslim but rejects fundamentalism and believes Islam needs reform. Most Egyptians are in favor of a more modern, progressive society and value freer thinking. In comparison to the rest of the Middle East, Egypt welcomes diverse perspectives, and most citizens are unwilling to return to pre-revolution life. Yet the reality of living in a more open society is that it remains physically and politically vulnerable to a wide range of ideologies. While many Christians are experiencing more freedom of expression, the weight of these threats is palpable. In the eyes of fundamentalists, Christians are the enemy of Islam. Underground terrorist groups are widespread, and Christians and foreign visitors continue to be the target of attacks. Our partners estimate that in addition to Egypt’s approximately 12 million
professing Christians, there are now 3–4 million living in secrecy. In many cases, followers of Jesus from a Muslim background (often called Muslim Background Believers or MBBs) still attend their local mosques and haven’t revealed their new faith to their families. They’re constantly negotiating their dual identities, risking discovery, persecution, relationships and in some cases, their legal standing. Muslims in Egypt are predominantly Sunni, part of Islam’s largest denomination that comprises at least 85% of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims (The Oxford Dictionary of Islam). Sunnis take a more traditionalist approach to interpretation of the Quran and consider Shia Islam and minority sects as departures from orthodox belief. Given Egypt’s social, political and religious influence beyond its borders, it’s a strategic place from which to impact the rest of the Sunni Muslim community with the Good News of Jesus. And its proximity to a number of crises has brought an influx of refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. While Egypt accepts people seeking refuge, it doesn’t build camps and expects refugees to assimilate into society. Our partners see the refugees in their midst as a gift and consider it their responsibility to care for their needs. Through practical support and culturally sensitive approaches to sharing the Gospel, they’re giving themselves to the help and healing of people who’ve endured trauma and loss. Over the years, we’ve witnessed the expansion of our partners’ ministries as
they’ve developed their vision, launched missionary and church planting movements, discipled new followers of Jesus, strengthened church leaders and cared for people’s emotional and spiritual wounds. They’ve asked God to take them to dark places in order to welcome more people into the light of the Gospel. Seventeen years and more than a dozen trips later, Egypt has become one of the greatest blessings of Dan’s life. “It’s thrilling to help Americans discover what God is doing in Egypt. The joy of taking people to sit at the feet of fully devoted Christians who are risking everything to follow Jesus has only grown after all these years. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of.” Our partners consider this a kairos moment for the Egyptian Church. The increasing globalization of our world is opening up access to the Good News like never before, and we’d be remiss to not pay attention. “Our partners are asking God to tear down the walls that keep people from encountering the Good News of His Kingdom,” Dan says. “They’re praying for the Holy Spirit to emancipate people from the slavery of their religion, to open their eyes to see the grace, beauty and freedom Jesus offers. Why wouldn’t we join what God started here?” page 7
WHEN ONE TURNS TO THE LORD, THE VEIL IS REMOVED. NOW THE LORD IS THE SPIRIT, AND WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS FREEDOM. AND ALL OF US, WITH UNVEILED FACES, SEEING THE GLORY OF THE LORD AS THOUGH REFLECTED IN A MIRROR, ARE BEING TRANSFORMED INTO THE SAME IMAGE FROM ONE DEGREE OF GLORY TO ANOTHER. 2 CORINTHIANS 3:16â€“18
REGIONAL NEWS ETHIOPIA LIGHT OF HOPE MINISTRY ETHIOPIA During Associate Director Taliilee Fiqruu’s recent visit to Ethiopia, she trained more than 100 worship leaders, choir members and soloists from Arsi Oromospeaking churches in contextualization of cultural music. Now more young singers are inspired to create indigenous Gospel songs in their people group’s language and musical style. People formerly indifferent to Christianity are finally seeing their culture reflected in songs about the Good News of Jesus. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
JIMMA OUTREACH The number of churches in the Jimma Bethel Synod (JBS) continues to grow among people groups like the Menja, Tsara and Mano. There are now 42 congregations within JBS and outreach programs to 46 additional communities.
MAJI APPLE NURSERY The apple project workers are anticipating a fruitful apple harvest, which will strengthen the sustainability of the orchard and support the local Dizi Church.
SURI LITERACY PROJECT Barkele is settling into his new role as director. This project, in cooperation with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, will provide literacy education to 2,000 children from the Suri people group. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT MISSION ADVOCATE BOB VON SCHIMMELMANN (BVONSCHIMMELMANN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
NIGER EGLISE EVANGÉLIQUE DE LA RÉPUBLIQUE DU NIGER (EERN) EERN has expanded its work into several areas with little or no Christian presence. Our partnership with EERN is helping church planters build relationships with their new neighbors through transportation and agriculutral support. EERN continues to train church planters in Community Health Evangelism (CHE). One recently gathered members of his village to address their frequent illnesses. As they discussed their challenges, people began to recognize the resources already present in their community and their ability to take ownership of solutions. These and other activities are strengthening communities and opening up access for church planters to share the Good News. Churches in Virginia are supporting students at two EERN schools, many of them young girls who wouldn’t otherwise receive an education. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM). CONTINUED ON PAGE 10
SUDAN + SOUTH SUDAN DARFUR OUTREACH We’re excited about a new opportunity to support students from Darfur who want to further their education at Nile Theological College in Juba, South Sudan. As more ministry leaders receive pastoral and theological training, more unreached ethnic groups will have the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus.
SUDANESE / SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEE MINISTRY One of our partners recently facilitated trauma healing sessions for refugees in Kenya and plans to travel with several ministry leaders to do the same in Ethiopia. We’re thankful for their willingness to engage in this important work, especially as those who’ve experienced the same types of trauma themselves.
UNACCOMPANIED MINORS FOSTER PROGRAM Trauma care is strengthening families who will soon host unaccompanied refugee children. As God heals adults, they’re becoming better equipped to support children who’ve gone through traumatic circumstances. Our partners plan to visit unaccompanied minors in Ethiopia who they’ve supported since before South Sudan’s 2013 civil war. They hope to begin a similar foster program there as well. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DENISE SCIUTO (DSCIUTO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
CENTRAL ASIA CENTRAL ASIAN MIGRANTS MINISTRY Our partners are reaching out to Central Asian Muslim migrants who’ve left their home countries to find work in Russia. Their churches are encouraging members to practice care and hospitality by inviting migrants into their homes and developing friendships. These relationships are providing opportunities to share how Jesus has transformed their lives. Churches engaged in outreach to Central Asians are also forming partnerships across the Russian Federation, strengthening their efforts as they serve together.
CENTRAL ASIAN YOUTH OUTREACH Our partner recently gathered 100 pastors and ministry leaders for training, encouragement and strategic planning around their vision to reach 2% of Central Asia’s youth with the Good News by the year 2022. Plans are underway for a youth conference in August that will bring 1,000 young people together from across Central Asia to hear about Jesus’ love for them.
RURAL COMMUNITY CENTER This partner organization is training eight young local doctors as family medicine/ general practitioners, a versatile role in this region where specialists are few. Experienced physicians are needed to volunteer 1–2 weeks of their time to CONTINUED ON PAGE 14
EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN CAIRO EGYPT
THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN CAIRO (ETSC) BEGAN IN 1863 AS A “FLOATING CAMPUS” ON A HOUSEBOAT + WAS LATER ESTABLISHED AS A PERMANENT INSTITUTION. ETSC BECAME A FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP PARTNER IN 2002.
MISSION PASTORAL AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING TO EQUIP MEN + WOMEN FOR LOCAL + INTERNATIONAL MINISTRY + SHARE THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS WITH ARAB COMMUNITIES
PROGRAMS ETSC TRAINS MORE THAN 300 STUDENTS EACH YEAR THROUGH GRADUATE-LEVEL PROGRAMS, CONTINUING EDUCATION, DISTANCE LEARNING + A ROBUST MISSIONS DEPARTMENT
DEVELOPING LEADERS TO SERVE THE CHURCH IN EGYPT + BEYOND SUPPORT ETSC’S WORK THROUGH PERSPECTIVES COURSE DEVELOPMENT
PRAYERS FOR THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH shared by our ministry partners at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (ETSC)
THANK GOD FOR THE GROWING MINISTRY OF CHURCH PLANTING—A NEW FRONTIER FOR EGYPTIAN FOLLOWERS OF JESUS. ASK GOD TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL, EMOTIONAL + SPIRITUAL SUPPORT FOR CHURCH PLANTERS. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. —Philippians 1:3–6
THANK GOD FOR MOMENTUM WITHIN THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH TO SEND MISSIONARIES THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE EAST + EUROPE. ASK GOD TO PROVIDE WISDOM AS CHURCHES DISCERN HOW TO EFFECTIVELY EQUIP, SEND, SUPPORT + RETAIN MISSIONARIES. For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding... —Colossians 1:9
ASK GOD TO USE THE PERSPECTIVES COURSE TO RAISE AWARENESS WITHIN THE ARAB CHURCH OF ITS ROLE IN GOD'S MISSION. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you...and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” —Genesis 12:1–3
PRAY FOR NEW BELIEVERS FROM OTHER RELIGIOUS BACKGROUNDS TO BE STRONG IN THEIR FAITH + AUTHENTIC WITNESSES FOR THE GOSPEL. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." —Matthew 5:14–16
THANK GOD FOR A RECENT LAW THAT ACCELERATES THE BUILDING PERMIT + REGISTRATION PROCESS FOR CHURCHES. ASK GOD TO USE THIS PERIOD OF POLITICAL FAVOR + FREEDOM TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE GROWING EGYPTIAN CHURCH. I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. —1 Timothy 2:1–2
PRAY FOR ETSC TO CONTINUE ITS MINISTRY OF EQUIPPING MISSION-MINDED LEADERS FOR THE EGYPTIAN CHURCH + ARABIC-SPEAKING WORLD. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.... It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom.... For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me. —Colossians 1:25–29
provide training in surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, outpatient care and other areas. Pray that God will lead doctors to respond to this need.
WOMEN’S SHELTER In March, one of our staff members and four vision trip participants toured the expanded kitchens of the café our partners operate in conjunction with the women’s shelter. Our partners want to expand their catering services and employ more women trained in cooking and baking. They hope to have 20% of their budget provided by income-generating projects in 2019, an increase from prior years in which nearly all funding was dependent on grants. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS RITA JOHNSON (RJOHNSON@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM) + DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
DIASPORA US BRIDGE BUILDING Recent massacres in New Zealand and Sri Lanka have increased awareness among Muslims and Christians in the US of the vital importance of peacemaking initiatives. In the wake of these tragic events, Associate Director Dan McNerney witnessed meaningful expressions of solidarity and compassion between churches and mosques with which he’s connected in the Chicago area. We’ve had the privilege over the years of helping churches and mosques form redemptive, interfaith relationships. We thank God more churches are reaching out, asking for guidance as they seek to know their local Muslim communities. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR DAN MCNERNEY (DMCNERNEY@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
MIDDLE EAST + ARABIAN PENINSULA EGYPT In April, Associate Director Dan McNerney and a team of 15 mission leaders returned from a vision trip to Cairo. They visited with church planters who shared how greater political and social freedoms have allowed them to open churches in new areas. The team also learned about the phenomenal spread of the Good News among Muslims throughout Egypt, the Middle East and Europe. Pray for the Egyptian Church as it disciples and equips men and women to be effective witnesses to the Arabic-speaking world.
IRAN There are more than a dozen major networks of underground churches in Iran, and each network contains hundreds of small house churches. These churches are mainly comprised of followers of Jesus from a Muslim background. By design, each network knows very little about another, as network leaders are periodically arrested, jailed, tortured and interrogated for information.
We were involved with the printing and distribution of Farsi Bibles among one network until the government discovered and shut down the operation. However, we’ve since connected with another network that has begun a new printing and distribution effort. Thousands of Iranian followers of Jesus are desperate for access to God’s Word in their language. page 14
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE) A nation in the former Soviet Union has become a safe location for new followers of Jesus from the Arabian Peninsula to receive training and counseling. In their home countries, they live under constant pressure and fear of discovery and ensuing harassment or persecution. Our partners facilitate 1–2 week retreats, which allow participants to enjoy freedoms they don’t otherwise experience. Pray for the resources our partners need to organize these events for groups of 30–50 several times yearly, providing vital fellowship, discipleship and pastoral care. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
INDIA EMPOWER BELIEVERS CONNECTION (EBC) Many EBC leaders are beginning to use Discovery Bible Studies, a seeker-friendly approach, to share more about Jesus. One leader started study groups in four villages by visiting a local hospital and sharing his testimony with patients’ families. He was asked to pray for the patients, and when several of them were healed, he was invited to their villages. Twenty-eight people are now encountering Jesus through these Bible studies.
NEW LIFE MISSION CHURCH (NLMC) We praise God that NLMC’s new school opened April 1 with 200 students. Once construction of the second floor is complete, the school will be able to accomodate 500 students.
STARFISH ALLIANCE Our partner recently taught 150 Muslims about the death and resurrection of Jesus using the Quran. Similar to the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:16–34, he’s using familiar texts to introduce conversation about the Good News of Jesus. In another city, a former imam (Muslim religious leader) with whom our partner works recently baptized 17 people. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR CODY WATSON (CWATSON@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
PAKISTAN SCHOOLS IN THE SAND Our partners hope to add three classrooms to two primary schools. Three classes currently study outside, and another four classes share space in the same room. Additional classroom space will increase capacity to serve these students. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
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