THE FRONTIER journal
NEWS + STORIES FROM THE MINISTRY OF FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP
PRACTICING PARTNERSHIP MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PAGE 2
REGIONAL UPDATES PAGE 3
MINISTRY PARTNER PROFILE PAGE 10
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RICHARD HANEY
In many ways, the world is growing smaller. Technology has connected people like never before. Business, tourism and education take us to destinations across the globe in a matter of hours. People are migrating and moving in search of opportunities, freedom and refuge. We have greater access to new ideas and people who can help us see the world in different ways. Some years ago in Brazil, I had the opportunity to meet long-term missionary Sherron George. She later wrote a book on partnership (Called as Partners in Christ’s Service: The Practice of God’s Mission), grounding her understanding of it by reflecting on the relationship of the Trinity:
“PARTNERSHIP IS A FUNDAMENTAL DYNAMIC OF THE TRIUNE MISSIONARY GOD OF LOVE WHO IS, ACTS AND RELATES IN MUTUAL PARTNERSHIP IN SENDING THE SON, THE SPIRIT AND THE CHURCH INTO THE WORLD AS INSTRUMENTS OF GOD’S SAVING MISSION.” We see that interdependency modeled throughout the New Testament as the early Church worked together to carry the Good News to others. The apostle Paul had numerous ministry partners throughout the Roman Empire (Barnabas, John Mark, Silas, Timothy, Lydia, Priscilla, Aquila and others) and wrote repeatedly of their service together. Today, the global Church echoes the partnership of these disciples while continuing to build God’s Kingdom. As we look to the frontier of missions, we’re learning how the Gospel is translated into new languages and cultures. We’re seeing how indigenous followers of Jesus are often the best equipped to reach their communities because they already understand the unique realities of their contexts. They’re essential coworkers, informing and inspiring our vision. Is there still a role for the Western Church? We believe there is. But our place is increasingly not at the helm. A growing majority of the world’s Christians live in the Global South. The Church is flourishing in new places and mobilizing men and women to take the Good News of Jesus where it’s not yet known. Those of us in the West have the privilege of coming alongside to learn from, amplify and reimagine frontier mission through these indigenous movements. Just as we rely on God’s Trinitarian love, we depend on our global brothers and sisters to help us discover His Kingdom expressed in new ways and among new communities. We’re grateful for their voices and perspectives that help us recognize the truth of the Gospel more clearly and care more deeply for His world.
© 2018 FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP page 2
REGIONAL UPDATES OUR ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS SHARE GLIMPSES OF GOD AT WORK AROUND THE WORLD
LIGHT OF HOPE MINISTRY ETHIOPIA (LOHME)
A wave of political change is underway in Ethiopia. On April 2, the ruling political party elected the first Oromo and Muslim background Christian, Dr. Abiye Ahmed, to be the party’s chair and new prime minister. Many Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia are celebrating his election because they’re hopeful he’ll bring true democracy and lasting stability to the country. Pray that his track record as a bridge builder will continue to be a hallmark of his leadership of the nation and he’ll support Christians who are facing marginalization and persecution. While there are still many political hurdles and challenges to overcome, enough progress is being made that the government lifted the state of emergency in early June, two months earlier than expected. All of LOHME’s schools are running smoothly now that unrest and demonstrations have subsided and travel restrictions have been lifted. Pray for continued peace as our partners serve these communities. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
SOUTHWEST ETHIOPIA Construction of a church in the town of Maji was recently completed. The building, in memory of Frontier Fellowship’s first executive director Harold Kurtz, was dedicated in May. We celebrate this milestone with our partners that signifies the wonderful work God has done among the Dizi people to root and establish the Gospel in their midst. In early June, Executive Director Richard Haney and Mission Advocate Bob Von Schimmelmann traveled with longtime mission worker, John Haspels, to visit partners and ministry friends in Jimma, Maji and Tulegit. The Seed Company, a partner organization with Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL, has committed to come alongside the Dizi Bible translation project (and another Bible translation underway for the nearby Suri people) with practical and financial support. We thank God for this provision that will bring the stability needed to see both projects through to completion. Please pray as we continue to discern how best to encourage and serve God’s work in Southwest Ethiopia. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT TARA CHASE (TCHASE@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM) OR BOB VON SCHIMMELMANN (VONSCHIMMELMANN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM). CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
PRACTICING PARTNERSHIP RICHARD HANEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
For the first time since the first millennium, the greatest number of Christians live in the Global South, making up more than 65% of the world’s Christian population. The implications of this demographic shift are just being realized. Leaders, theologians, theologies, scholarship and institutions—all are growing in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Oceania. We welcome the reality of global Christianity and what it means for our understanding and experience of God’s Kingdom. We rejoice that God is working all over the world through indigenous ministries and cross-cultural workers. The Church is growing in what might seem unlikely places—even the heartlands of Islam and Hinduism. And two of the fastestgrowing church planting movements are found in Iran and Nepal. How is the Church flourishing in places like these? God’s Spirit is bringing together people and gifts from across the earth to take the Gospel to those still waiting to hear it. Over the last several centuries, much of the Church’s global mission efforts originated from Europe and North America. This led to unprecedented Gospel access for many of the world’s people groups through significant advances in Bible translation, medicine, literacy, education and community development. Yet an honest view of history shows that Western-led missions have also failed at times to honor the unique needs and values of those they’ve served or thoughtfully navigate cultural nuances. Yes, those of us in the West have resources to share and workers to send. But we also have much to learn. Our efforts to reach those without any knowledge of Jesus require the comprehensive Body of Christ. Our brothers and sisters throughout the world apprehend and reflect God’s image in distinct and glorifying ways. He invites His children to join hands across nations and cultures to labor with Him as He builds His Kingdom. Partnerships are critical to bring together people and ministries for frontier mission. But practical questions loom large for those working to develop effective cross-cultural partnerships. How do you go about forging a fruitful relationship? And how do you sustain it? My understanding of partnership has benefited greatly from the insight of Sherron George, who lived and served for many years in Brazil as a crosscultural worker. In her book Called as Partners in God’s Service: The Practice of God’s Mission, she identifies attitudes and practices that belong in missional partnerships. These attitudes include respect, compassion and humility. These attitudes are decidedly other-oriented. A collaborative partner shows respect for the other, exhibits compassion and relates from a position of humility. I like to think of these three sequentially. Humility prepares us to respect and learn from those around us. Coupled with care or compassion, this combination of characteristics sets the stage for us to collaborate effectively with others. The apostle Paul speaks of these attitudes in his letter to the Philippians, pointing to the example of Jesus who stooped low to serve: CONTINUED ON PAGE 6
PRACTICING PARTNERSHIP (continued) “DO NOTHING OUT OF SELFISH AMBITION OR VAIN CONCEIT, BUT IN HUMILITY CONSIDER OTHERS BETTER THAN YOURSELVES. EACH OF YOU SHOULD LOOK NOT ONLY TO YOUR OWN INTERESTS, BUT ALSO TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS. YOUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THAT OF CHRIST JESUS...” (PHILIPPIANS 2:3–5). Sherron George also offers key missional practices: first, observing and participating and second, receiving and giving. In cross-cultural settings, we always have more to learn about the opposite culture’s customs, languages, sensibilities, rituals and other societal features. Observing and participating is the way into vibrant cross-cultural relationships. This means listening, noticing and sharing in the sufferings, joys and rhythms of daily life. The second pair of essential practices is receiving and giving. As Christians, we give out of the overflow of all we’ve first received from Christ—we accept God’s grace which then propels us to love others. Humility also allows us to recognize that those we serve have gifts to offer. Receiving God’s grace and the kindness of those we minister to and alongside prepares us to be good givers ourselves. Cross-cultural partnership is no simple enterprise, however, and there’s no formula for entering into it. Even when we embrace humility and healthy practices, relationships are complex and often challenging. As theologian Cathy Ross describes, partnership requires mutual trust, the willingness to give up control and a readiness to share the responsibility of collaboration, including the possibility of failure. Even the ability to communicate clearly can become frustrated by language and cultural barriers despite diligent effort. In Frontier Fellowship’s work, we’re continually learning about what it takes to cultivate partnerships that are mutually respectful and beneficial. We’ve certainly missed the mark at different points along the way. But we and our partners depend on God’s faithfulness to guide, correct and transform us in our journeys together. In 1 Corinthians 3:7–9, Paul illustrated partnership this way:
“SO NEITHER THE ONE WHO PLANTS NOR THE ONE WHO WATERS IS ANYTHING, BUT ONLY GOD WHO GIVES THE GROWTH. THE ONE WHO PLANTS AND THE ONE WHO WATERS HAVE A COMMON PURPOSE, AND EACH WILL RECEIVE WAGES ACCORDING TO THE LABOR OF EACH. FOR WE ARE GOD’S SERVANTS, WORKING TOGETHER; YOU ARE GOD’S FIELD, GOD’S BUILDING.” The word “servants” in verse nine is rendered “co-workers” in the NIV translation. The Greek term is sunergoi, literally “fellow-workers.” The connotation is that these laborers are God’s helpers, subordinate to Him. Looking to Him as our head, we work alongside one another on equal footing, no worker more important than another.
Another Greek word, koinonia, usually translated into English as “fellowship,” may be the closest word to our modern understanding of partnership. It appears in the New Testament 19 times to describe the sharing of time, gifts, material resources, food and even suffering. In 2 Corinthians 8:4 and 9:13, Paul uses this term when referring to the contribution of the Macedonian churches in spite of their poverty and persecution. More than a transaction of goods or expertise, it’s the sacrificial offering of both presence and provision for each others’ needs. Yet healthy cross-cultural partnerships can’t exist without recognizing asymmetries and imbalances of resources or power. When we raise funds or develop tools to share with indigenous partners, it can look like missions “from the West to the rest,” as the saying goes. The resource imbalance throughout the global Church can establish or appear as asymmetrical power structures that marginalize the agency of certain groups. We must pay attention to the linguistic, cultural and power issues that cry out for humility and wise translation. The Edinburgh 2010 mission conference’s Common Call includes this admonition for those in positions of privilege:
“WE’RE CALLED TO REPENTANCE, TO CRITICAL REFLECTION ON SYSTEMS OF POWER AND TO ACCOUNTABLE USE OF POWER STRUCTURES. WE’RE CALLED TO FIND PRACTICAL WAYS TO LIVE AS MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IN FULL AWARENESS THAT GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, CHRIST WELCOMES AND EMPOWERS THE POOR AND AFFLICTED AND THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS MANIFESTED IN OUR VULNERABILITY.” Several times in the New Testament epistles, we find Paul celebrating unity and diversity in the same paragraph. The Church is called to unity in the Body of Christ that doesn’t require uniformity. People and cultures are distinct in ways that evince God’s love for diversity. Faithfulness to Jesus doesn’t erase differences but breathes new life into them.
FAITHFULNESS TO JESUS DOESN’T ERASE DIFFERENCES BUT BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO THEM.
Strong partnerships, like all healthy relationships, require commitment and perseverance. We celebrate our friends in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and diaspora settings who continually teach us lessons in collaboration and allow us to glimpse God’s Kingdom through their eyes. We pray God will give us grace to embody humility, respect and compassion and renew our efforts to listen and learn, to give and receive.
In John 15, we find a striking image of the relationship between Jesus and His followers. Jesus the vine supplies life to the branches. Branches depend on the vine and are connected to each other. There are no solitary living branches. Like living branches, disciples are joined as partners in Christ’s communion. As we develop and deepen our relationships with fellow believers, may we rely on Jesus to nurture and establish us in Him so together we can take the Good News of His Kingdom to the world’s frontiers.
ARE GOD’S SERVANTS,
GOD’S FIELD, GOD’S
BUILDING. 1 Corinthians 3:9
REGIONAL UPDATES (continued) NIGER
Our partner, the Eglise Evangélique de la République du Niger (EERN), recently sent an evangelist to a town in southwestern Niger to plant a new church. This community also needs improved access to clean water and sanitation. Jim McGill, an American mission worker serving in Niger, is a water hygiene and sanitation specialist who’s helping with the water needs in this community. Some of the 60-year-old dormitories for Bible school students in Ghesheme are beyond repair, and our friends are exploring ways to rebuild them. Pray for God to provide what’s needed for this project. EERN President Rev. Maiki Kadade is in the US visiting churches and mission conferences in Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania. As he shares about God’s work in Niger, pray that American Christians will be inspired to engage more deeply in EERN’s ministry to unreached people groups. Pray for Associate Director Donald Marsden as he visits our partners in August. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
SUDAN / SOUTH SUDAN Many people living in difficult places of Sudan (with much violence and little support) have moved into refugee camps in neighboring countries. Here they at least have access to UN food, shelter and relative safety. This displacement is also bringing unreached people groups into contact with followers of Jesus. One camp is near the Bible school with which we partner, and some refugees are asking to take classes. Even though the school isn’t receiving enough tuition or funding for current programs, teachers and administrators voted to add an English track for refugees and are voluntarily working more unpaid hours to facilitate these classes. The Bible school wasn’t able to afford to host its annual June graduation ceremony due to the lack of student tuition and difficulty with international fund transfers. Students received a diploma, but no event was held. Last fall, the US dropped its sanctions against Sudan. The US believes the Sudanese government has made great strides in its work to stop the Darfur genocide, allow aid workers into conflict zones and end funding of rebel groups in South Sudan. Sudan has also agreed to get involved with the fight against terrorism, and there’s now a CIA office in Khartoum. While South Sudan is still not stabilized, certain regions have become relatively stable. More families are planting crops this year, which will be a huge help for the current food scarcity. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT DENISE SCIUTO (DSCIUTO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
CENTRAL ASIA Central Asian believers continue to share the Good News of Jesus with joy and boldness, despite government interference and restricted religious freedom in many places. Local officials are often ignorant of federal laws which safeguard religious liberty and are sometimes influenced by superstition, corruption or social pressure. Thankfully, some pastors and others have become human rights advocates for those wrongfully accused of illegal religious activity. One country has begun to open its doors to other nations, primarily to attract foreign investment. This means obtaining travel visas could become easier in the near future. We hope this will bring new opportunities for cross-cultural workers and local Christians to share the Good News of Jesus. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
MINISTRY PARTNER PROFILE:
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UNITED KINGDOM THIS LONDON-BASED MINISTRY, FOUNDED IN 2010 + A FRONTIER FELLOWSHIP PARTNER SINCE 2017, EQUIPS + MOBILIZES THE EMERGING IRANIAN CHURCH. WHO THE MINISTRY SERVES YOUNG FOLLOWERS OF JESUS IN IRAN + THE IRANIAN DIASPORA
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REGIONAL UPDATES (continued) Business as mission is an open door for Westerners to support Central Asian followers of Jesus. There’s a great need to create sustainable work in these nations’ struggling economies. We’re exploring opportunities to help Central Asians develop businesses that will help their families and ministries thrive. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT HAEMIN LEE (HLEE@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM) OR DONALD MARSDEN (DMARSDEN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
DIASPORA HOUSTON OUTREACH We continue to explore the possibility of an internship program to help guide young adults in their spiritual formation and vocational discernment, while facilitating cross-cultural experiences focused on Houston’s diaspora populations. We’d like to offer young adults both formal and informal learning opportunities, including theological education, partnership with other ministries serving immigrants and refugees and time for spiritual practices and reflection. We hope to help young adults better understand and embrace God’s call to share the Gospel with the nations and find their place in serving His Kingdom—wherever their next steps of life, work and ministry take them. We’re grateful to have a Fuller Seminary MDiv student, April McAllister, working with Associate Director Kristin Huffman this summer to explore cross-cultural opportunities among immigrants and refugees in the Houston area. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT KRISTIN HUFFMAN (KHUFFMAN@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
MUSLIM OUTREACH Building a strong friendship with a Muslim is one of the most important relationships an American Christian can cultivate. Moderate Muslims are especially open to the Good News because of what they’re seeing and experiencing at the hands of radical Muslims. More Muslims have been killed by terrorists than any other religious group. As a result, an increasing number of moderates are questioning whether to engage in efforts to reform Islam or leave it altogether. Many are finding themselves attracted to the teachings and life of Jesus. They’re drawing closer to embracing His divinity. And they often need Christian friends to help them along this sacred path. Churches across the US are beginning to recognize the significant opportunity and blessing of loving their Muslim neighbors. We’re actively engaged in helping these churches (of many denominational backgrounds) take their first steps in this journey. It’s been a joy to serve the Body of Christ for such as time as this in world history. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT DAN MCNERNEY (DMCNERNEY@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
OROMO OUTREACH Associate Director Telile Badecha continues her work connecting with the Ethiopian Oromo diaspora in Portland, Oregon, and beyond. She’s leading three weekly Bible study groups, meeting with ministry leaders and mobilizing churches to reach out to other Oromo people in the area. We celebrate the news of a woman from one of Telile’s Bible study groups who recently stopped hiding her belief in Jesus and is now sharing about Him with her Muslim family and friends. Pray for her as she proclaims the Good News to others and grows in her faith. (Read more of her story at frontierfellowship.com/ blog.) TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT TELILE BADECHA (TBADECHA@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
MIDDLE EAST + ARABIAN PENINSULA EGYPT The 22 Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East often look up to Egypt as their intellectual leader. Egypt is frequently the most progressive in religion, politics, commerce and entertainment. This dynamic between Egypt and other Arab nations holds true in the context of the Church as Middle Eastern Christians look to the Egyptian Church for guidance and leadership. Egypt has over 12 million Christians as well as a large number of new Muslim background followers of Jesus in the underground church, which ministry partners tell us could total between 3–4 million people. We’ve been committed for over 15 years to supporting the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo’s mission department through funding and curriculum. By doing so, we’re encouraging the growth of the Church throughout the Arabic-speaking world. The entire Perspectives curriculum has recently been translated into Arabic and is now part of the missions education for every student. We’re thrilled that the seminary is cultivating a passion for unreached peoples and frontier mission among its students. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
ARABIAN PENINSULA The complexity of Iran presents two realities. The first is represented in the news: the Ayatollah’s theocratic government, bolstered by the might of the Revolutionary Guard; the radical ideology spreading throughout the Middle East and the restrictive environment imposed on the country’s people. The second reality for Iran is the large number of its citizens who are beginning to resist the regime. Among them is a vibrant underground church, one of the CONTINUED ON PAGE 15
REGIONAL UPDATES (continued) fastest-growing churches in the world. Pray for its continued growth and fruitfulness as well as for the majority of Iranians who are experiencing economic, political, social and religious hardship. We continue to help churches and denominations engage with ministry partners serving throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Frontier Fellowship board member Amy Delgado is co-leading a trip with Jen Haddox, Director of Global Engagement for ECO, to visit friends in the region this fall. If you or your church would like to learn more about becoming involved in this area of the world, we’d love to help you explore the exciting growth of God’s Kingdom. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM OR CONTACT INFO@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM.
SOUTH ASIA INDIA In May, Christian leaders from 17 Indian states met in Bihar for training and encouragement, an event that was the fruit of years of work and partnership. These leaders have developed and implemented a strategy for reaching India’s 600,000+ villages with the Good News of Jesus. One of our partners just completed Community Health Evangelism (CHE) trainings in several new areas. CHE covers topics such as biblical principles, good health practices, preventive care and community development. The RSS, a radical Hindu organization, wants India to become a completely Hindu nation. These views have led to increased persecution of Christians across the country. Three people connected with one of our partners were arrested in April after Hindu extremists incited a member of the community to bring false charges against them. All three were imprisoned for several weeks and have since been released on bail, but hearings continue. Pray that this difficult situation would result in God’s glory and strengthen the faith of many. As the annual July-September monsoon season begins, pray especially for rural communities. Last year’s devastating floods claimed many lives and caused widespread damage to homes and farms. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT CODY WATSON (CWATSON@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
PAKISTAN We’re grateful for our partner CJ’s work serving marginalized people groups in rural Pakistan. Through the educational opportunities of his ministry, Schools in the Sand, many have begun to follow Jesus over the last decade. We pray God will raise up a successor who can take CJ’s meaningful Kingdom work to the next level in the coming years. Pakistani banks have recently enforced tougher restrictions on foreign funds. We initially had difficulty transferring our financial support for Schools in the Sand, but we’re thankful the funds eventually went through after a short delay. While Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, its population includes nearly four million Christians. They encounter many challenges and prejudices, and in western Pakistan (especially the area of Quetta), they’ve lately been under attack. We stand with our persecuted Pakistani brothers and sisters and pray for their safety and encouragement. TO LEARN MORE, CONTACT HAEMIN LEE (HLEE@FRONTIERFELLOWSHIP.COM).
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