Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Cool New Song About Missions from Sonic Flood

by Melissa Chang |

Mission Songs

Recently, Sonic Flood has come out with a new song about missions that is totally cutting edge. It addresses unreached people groups, the Great Comission, and asks if it can be fulfilled in our generation. The song is called:

Are We There Yet?

In addition to the song itself, Sonic Flood traveled to Lebanon and Syria to meet people there and film the music video for the song. While there they visited a mosque and met many people from the area including a Bedouin family that made a great impact on them. Sonic Flood also has a video of the behind the scenes of their trip as they filmed their music video.

 

Saudi Arabia: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Melissa Chang |

Middle East, Saudi Arabia

FACTS & STATS

economic city

Location: Middle East, with Jordan on its Northwest, Iraq and Kuwait to the North, Red Sea to the West, Qatar, UAE, and Oman to the East, and Yemen to the South.

saudi mapCapital: Riyadh.

Climate: Dry desert climate with extreme temperatures.

Population: 28,686,633 as per July 2009 estimates. Of this, about 5,576,076 are expatriates. No Saudi citizen lives below the poverty line, but there is an unemployment rate of 8.8%. The Saudi economy is driven by crude oil production and the petroleum and natural gas industry. Other resources include cement, plastics, fertilizer, commercial aircraft and ship repairs.

Ethnic Make-up: Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%.

saudi ladyReligions: Islam 100%. All Saudi citizens are Muslims and they are governed by the Shari’a Law. Islam is the official religion, and there is not recognition of any other religion. There is a small minority of Christians and Jews who are non-nationals. The Saudi government does guarantee the right to practice other religions, but this is based on the generosity of the ruling class and not defined by law. Proselytising, public practice, and preaching of all faiths other than Islam is however, prohibited. Non-Muslims also come under the Shari’a law.

Language: Arabic

Government: Islamic Monarch 

camelTravel Issues: Saudi Arabia permits travelers to visit for religious, work, and business purposes and, to a much smaller extent, for tourism. Those visiting for religious purposes should have Pilgrim Passes and proof of Muslim faith in the form of an authenticated certificate. Passports should have a minimum validity of 6 months beyond period of stay. Other necessary documents include a valid visa, tickets or travel documents showing return or onward journey, and a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate if arriving from an infected region within the last five days.

Health & Safety: Saudi society is governed by strict religious laws and visitors need to be cognizant of these. All people, including non-Muslims and expatriates, will be tried under the stringent Shari’a Law in a Muslim court. This makes it highly advisable to steer clear of all trouble while there. Saudi is a fairly safe destination for all who abide by the laws of the land. As for health, no vaccinations are mandatory, but Tetanus and Hepatitis A immunization may be considered. 

SOCIETY & CULTURE

prayers

The People

shopping in saudiSaudi society is highly patriarchal, and women traditionally follow a subservient role in both home and society. About 80% of Saudi women have a University education, but only about 5% consider it necessary to enter the workforce. Female doctors and teachers tend only to women and not men. Social segregation goes to great lengths in public life. Women are expected to take care of children and run homes rather than be seen outside. Foreign women are allowed some leeway in this regard but are almost never taken seriously if they were to voice an opinion or make a demand. They are advised as far as possible to follow the norms for Saudi women.

The Religion

saudi boyAll Saudi citizens are Muslim. Saudi is the land of the Prophet Mohammad and hence may be considered the headquarters of the Muslim faith. The land upholds this status vigorously, and non-Muslims are denied entry into their holy cities: Jeddah, Mecca and Medina.

Role of Family

Families uphold traditional values that go back hundreds of years. The eldest male is the sole authority when it comes to decision making, and his word is law in the household. Women have no equal rights as men but have to be subservient to them in all matters. Men take care of business and all matters outside of home, while women run the household affairs and bring up children.

Ancestors

pepsi in saudi arabiaAncestors are accorded the greatest respect. Lineage is a matter of great pride and honor to be upheld at all costs.

Recreational Activities

Major cities such as Riyadh have enormous shopping malls and entertainment centers. The Obhir Creek in Jeddah has great water sports facilities such as snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing, and swimming. Other recreation options are desert safaris and sightseeing tours.

Anything else important for this culture

It is important to remember that the month of Ramadan is when all Muslims fast all day long. It would be frowned upon to eat or even drink water in their presence. Remember to respect their prayer schedules which occur many times during the day. Always show respect for elders and seniors and reflect this in your body language. Never make direct eye contact with the opposite gender.

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

palace

Meetings & Greetings

Members of the opposite gender do not greet or even make eye contact with each other. Women are expected to keep their eyes lowered on meeting men who are not family. Men and women greet each other of the same gender effusively with embraces and alternate kisses on the cheeks depending on the level of closeness. Otherwise they may just shake hands with each other. Foreigners may limit their greeting to a handshake. When in a group, always greet the elders before others.

saudi kingCourtesy

When greeting an elder or superior, it is customary among Saudis to kiss their shoulders to show respect. An elder of the family may be kissed on the forehead. Saudis consider it rude to go straight to business without making time for pleasantries first. Elders are never interrupted or spoken to first; always wait for them to begin the conversation.

Gift Giving

Gifts are not given or expected between acquaintances but rather between old friends and between those who share a strong relationship.Therefore, do not offer anyone a gift unless you’ve established a strong bond with them first. Avoid presenting perfumes, alcohol, or flowers to your Saudi hosts or friends. Chocolates, pastries, well-packaged fruits and nuts would be better options. Gifts are not opened as soon as they are received.

Dress Code

Formal occasions demand a suit and tie for men. Business casual is also acceptable. Women need to keep their arms, shoulders, knees and preferably ankles covered in male presence. A head scarf will make a suitable impression. Avoid heavy accessorising. Jeans, tight t-shirts, and shorts are not acceptable whatever the weather.

Dining Etiquette

skyscraper in saudi arabiaWait to be seated as there is a hierarchy based on seniority and superiority. If seated on the floor, keep your legs crossed under you. Make sure you do not eat before your appointment for there will be a huge amount of food served at the meal. You are expected to try a bit of everything and refuse nothing. Eat with your right hand only and never with the left.

Visiting a home

If you are invited into a Saudi home, it is because you have their respect. Show appropriate appreciation of this fact when you accept the invitation. Bring along a token gift for the children or the home, and never for the lady of the house. So avoid flowers and perfumes if you’re male. Always take off footwear before entering a carpeted room. Dress appropriately to show respect for the host. Greet elders first. Present your gift discreetly or leave it behind unseen.

Communication Style

Social segregation ensures that men and women only mingle with those of their own gender outside family and even during family occasions. Men tend to indulge in long conversations regarding businesses and world matters. As an outsider, you’re not expected to give strong opinions or contradict the opinions of an elder. Saudis tend to gesticulate a lot when they communicate, but this is not an indication of any temper.

Dos and Don’ts

While visiting a Saudi home, do not praise or admire any object in the house, for it will be wrapped up and given to you. Your refusal to accept it would be considered rude. Do not crack vulgar jokes or put down women, for although highly patriarchal, Saudi men consider the honor of their womenfolk sacrosanct. Do not engage in merry making during the holy month of Ramadan.

jewelryshop

Map by Image Editor
Boy by André Gustavo
Shop by Alan Light
City, skyscraper by uniquebuildings
Camel by Alan Light
Palace by desrunyan
Prayers by cmonville
King by m_bahareth
Saudi lady by retlaw snellac
Jewelry by Nouf Kinani
Pepsi by Francesco Crippa

What is an Unreached People Group?

by Carol Grace |

Missions Training

unreached
Photo by Cameron Russell

That is a great question. First let me tell you what it is NOT. It is NOT groups of people in your neighborhood who aren’t Christians. Unreached is much more than that. Unreached not only are not Christians, but they have almost no way at all to EVER hear the gospel because of their language and location and history. Also, unreached people groups are specific ethnic groups with their own languages and culture. For example, Iraq might be considered an unreached country, but it is not an unreached people group. Instead you would say that the Kurdish people within Iraq are the unreached people group.

Unreached groups don’t have any significant numbers of Christians that can tell the others in the group about Jesus. Unengaged groups don’t even have any outside missionaries working there or planting any churches. Basically, if you are in an unreached people group, you are unreached with the words of the gospel and have almost no Christians to ever tell you those words. Your odds of ever hearing the gospel or meeting even one Christian in your entire life are slim to none.

I once was talking to a friend about an outreach program to an unreached people group in a closed country (where there are almost zero Christians.) He asked if we were partnering with any local churches. Clearly, his question shows that he hadn’t understood what “unreached” meant. In an unreached area, there are no local churches. Therefore, someone has to be the first to go there to tell them even who Jesus is. In some locations, it might be even necessary to explain who God Himself is.

This is a great video from New Tribes Mission that explains a bit more…

Statistics – Think Missions from Grant Wright on Vimeo.

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

by Carol Grace |

Should I Go?, Spiritual Issues, Theology

shhhh
Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

For those of us interested in missions, the answer to this question is of utmost importance.  After all, missionaries are usually motivated by 2 main factors, obeying the commands of Christ and concern for the lost.  So, if the lost are just fine never hearing about Jesus, then 1 of our top motivating factors would be removed. Of course, since Jesus commands it, some would still go, but it would definitely be less motivating if the lost can get to heaven while we stay home.  

On the other hand, as Christians we certainly can wish that there was some other way for people to be saved besides someone telling them. After all, there are 2 billion people still who haven’t heard, and it sure doesn’t seem like there are enough missionaries right now to reach them all. It is horrifying to think of all those people who don’t have the same chance that we have, who don’t have the good news.

Also, there are some interesting stories out there of God reaching out to the unreached Himself. In many unreached countries and Muslim areas there are many many documented cases of people seeing or hearing of Jesus first in a dream. It does seem like those people are then led to find Christians to speak with or literature and films about Jesus that help them understand, but it also seems like there are some who come to faith only through their dream.

But still, the question remains…

What happens to those who have never heard?

There are some great articles out there that shed insight and give biblical foundations on this question.  

There is one point, however, that several authors, including John Piper and David Platt, point out – no one is innocent. People aren’t going to hell for rejecting Jesus. People are going to hell for their sins. Jesus is the only way to save them from their sins.

Also, it is important to remember that God desires for none to perish.

With these 2 points in mind, here are some interesting articles on the topic that include some slightly differing viewpoints.

Bible.org

bologo

This article lays out a very simple biblical foundation of verses on the topic.

 

Desiring God

dglogo
This is a John Piper article that comes to this conclusion: “Missions is what the truth demands.”

 

Small Town Pastor

tplogo

This blog lists 5 different views on the subject with a list of famous Christians who adhere to each view.

                     

Shoreline Church

shoreline

This article by Steven Binos addresses people coming to faith without missionaries.

 

What do you think?

Please tell us what you think. What motivates you to go? What do you think happens to those who have never heard? Please send us a comment, and we will post it to the article.

South Africa: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Lizbeth Pereira |

South Africa

 ocean1

FACTS & STATS

map1Location: Southern tip of African continent.

Capital: Pretoria.

Climate: Semi-arid, Sub-tropical.

Population: 48,782,756 according to July 2008 estimates. Nearly half the population, 50%, live under the poverty line with an unemployment rate of 24.3%. The presence of a considerable percentage of disadvantaged sections left over from the apartheid period, aging infrastructure, lack of investments, and other related issues have kept the South African economy from soaring in spite of abundant natural resources such as gold and diamonds. Steady growth has been recorded in recent times since 2004, but it is still an uphill task against considerable odds.

Ethnic Make-up: Black 79%, White 9.6%, Indian 2.5%, Others 8.9%.

boyReligions: Christianity (various denominations) 80%, Muslim 1.5%, Others 3.3%, Non-believers 15%. The government actively encourages Christianity, as a result of which much evangelization is carried out by various Christian denominations such as Protestants, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and the Dutch Reformed Church.

Language: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, Others 7.2%.

Government: Republic.

cityTravel Issues: Travel to South Africa requires a valid passport with at least two blank pages, a valid visa, proof of adequate funds, and documents proving onward or return journey. If passing through regions affected by yellow fever, you need to produce a certificate stating you have been immunised. Some countries are exempt from the need for a visa and you’ll have to inquire at your nearest embassy to ascertain your specific requirements.

Health & Safety: No vaccinations are mandatory unless arriving from a yellow fever zone, in which case you need to provide certification of vaccination. Immunization against hepatitis B, tetanus, and measles may be considered. Sun protection may be required and it advised to bring along sunglasses, sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. If traveling to National Parks, malaria prophylaxis is recommended.

soccer

SOCIETY & CULTURE

girls1The People

The South African population is predominantly black followed by a small minority of white and Asian people. The concept of Apartheid or Apartness was practiced to keep the racial divide intact in favor of the white minority. Though the practice has been abandoned, racial inequality is very pronounced in society.

The Religion

There is no state religion in South Africa, but Christianity in its various denominations is practiced widely. Over 2.5 million are Roman Catholics, followed closely by about 1.8 million Methodists, and 1.2 million Anglicans. Other faiths have a presence with about 350,000 Hindus, 100,000 Jews, and roughly 400,000 Muslims. In remote areas traditional faiths are still practiced by certain tribes.

huts

Role of Family

Family roles differ according to socio-economic status and ethnic background of the people. Families coming under the high class section with ample economic security have more stability when compared to the low income or unemployed sections of society. Traditionally, obedience and respect for parents is inculcated in the culture but a stressed socioeconomic status brings about unwanted pregnancies, desertion, living together, street violence, unemployment and other related ills that throw family life out of kilter. Generally speaking, people of ethnic backgrounds value their extended family members and communal living while the European background South Africans appear content with the nuclear family structure.

mandela1Ancestors

Ancestors are revered more in tribal communities where they are considered conduits with the spirit world.

Recreational Activities

Recreational activities for the Europeandescent South Africans differ slightly from that of the African descent South Africans. The former love their cricket, rugby, and football, while the latter lean towards athletics, boxing, and football in less well maintained facilities. The National Parks are favorite haunts for trekking, hiking, and other outdoor sports.

Anything else important for this culture

Depending on who you are with you have to make adjustments to your social behaviour. Racial prejudice and violence are a fact of life, and travelers have to be on the watch out.

south african elephants

ETIQUETTE & CUSTOMS

Meetings & Greetings

Among South Africans of European descent, normal western conduct is all it takes where greeting and introductions are concerned. This can also be adopted in urban contexts. In rural areas greeting modes differ with the ethnic heritage of the person you’re interacting with and so it is best to seek the advice of local friends.

boys2Courtesy

It shows good form to keep your appointments on time and to be punctual for meetings and formal dinners. A lot depends on the good will you generate among the South African community. Members of the white community in rural areas are said to have Calvinists roots and to hold rather conservative views. It would pay to be extra vigilant with the manner of dressing and conduct when meeting them.

Gift Giving

Generally gifts are exchanged around Christmas time and presented for birthdays. If visiting a home, flowers, chocolates, or a bottle of wine is well received. It is alright to immediately open a gift and show appreciation upon receiving it.

lady2Dress Code

Although dress codes are getting more relaxed these days, it would be a good idea to stick to formal suits on first meetings. Women still face an uphill task when making their presence felt in the world of business, and dressing sensibly might ease the task a bit. Casual clothing is acceptable almost anywhere.

Dining Etiquette

Dining in urban cities follows western etiquette and does not call for any formal moves. When dining with other ethnic groups it is proper to be culture sensitive and follow cues.

Visiting a home

If invited to a home, arrive on time, well dressed, and bearing a token gift for the hostess. Casual clothing is acceptable if you’re not meeting for the first time.

Communication Style

The form of English spoken in South Africa may appear strange at first due to the strong Afrikaans influence. However you soon make sense of it and start using the same sentence constructions quite naturally. If something does not make sense, it is perfectly alright to ask again until you’ve understood.

Dos and Don’ts

The South African community has nuances of racial prejudice perhaps never experienced in other parts of the world. It would be advisable to not rush headlong into unknown territory where social behaviour is concerned but take caution as a watchword. Cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town have their share of daylight robberies and bold pick pockets. Take care to keep your valuables out of sight and keep duplicates of all important documents separately. Always be courteous regardless of the ethnic origin of the person you’re interacting with.

shanty1

Boys, shanty, lady, and boy photos by thomas_sly
Soccer photo by Celso Flores
Elephant photo by exfordy
Girls in pink photo by borderlys
Johannesburg by austinevan
Mandela book photo by maureen lunn

Map of the Unreached

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats

475

Thanks to the amazing folks at the Joshua Project, we have a map of where the gospel is the most and least saturated. If you look at the map you can see the huge area in red that is considered basically unreached with the gospel. You can also see, based on the green, the areas that are already saturated with the gospel.

When planning your next missions trip, or church outreach, this map really shows where the biggest hole is. Hopefully, you can can consider reaching out to where this huge need exists.

Missions Twitter on the Unreached

by Melissa Chang |

Missions Twitter

twitterHere at MissionsLaunch we like to keep track of all the buzz out there surrounding missions. This is what we found this month surrounding the topic of the unreached.
———————————
Josh_Joyner For every 1 unreached people group there are 552 churches.

janalohse The unreached and unengaged? WE are God’s plan. There is no plan B. –David Platt

pathood Amazing day at LifePoint. Commissioned 17 missionaries to take the gospel to unreached people groups in Southeast Asia. It’s bigger than us

timshutes a church shouldn’t call itself missional unless it is seeking to serve locally, plant nationally & engage an unreached people group globally

globalhike Pastors who do not teach and lead their members to engage unreached peoples are not making fully devoted disciples of Jesus

Ben_Schoeman The CAMPUS is where 1,000s of intnl students from unreached nations are studying and very open to being reached for Christ

reddrevolution Unreached people of China on my heart…. If I don’t do something I would be ignoring God’s call

tim7809 40% of the world’s (people groups) are unreached with regards to the Gospel! What are you doing about that?

plattdavid Over 600 mill souls in N. India. Less than .5% Ev Christian. Multitudes of them starving today. What will we do?

NewTribes Village chief of tribe in Bolivia, “I have heard of God but no one has come to tell me who He is.”

Volunteer in Your Pajamas

by Melissa Chang |

Missions at Home, Picking a Trip, Types of Missions

pjs

Not ready to go overseas? Haven’t raised the money yet? Still thinking about it? Never even considered it? Well we have a great idea for you. Virtual Volunteering. With the technical advances in the world today, you can help ministries and reach around the world from your own home computer. You just donate your time from your own home doing such things as:

-Programming

-Tech Support

-Graphic Design

-Public Relations

-Translation

-Prayer

-Evangelism

If you are at all interested in missions or even just realize you have some extra time, you could make an impact that reaches around the world. You can not only help individuals, but entire missions organizations as well. Just visit ChristianVolunteering.org to do a search of their current posted openings.

Kiva: Loans That Change Lives

by Melissa Chang |

Ways to Give

kiva

 

loan

 

The other day I was watching TV, and Bill Clinton came on, talking about Kiva. I had never even heard of it, so I decided to check it out. Turns it, it is pretty cool.

Kiva is like a matchmaking site connecting those who need loans with those who are willing to lend. You don’t have to be part of a big organization. You don’t even have to have a lot of money. The minimum loan is just $25.  The site even allows several people to pool their money until the recepient’s loan is met.

You just go online and search through the profiles of all the people who need a micro-loan. It shows you a picture of them, tells you where they are from, what they need the loan for, and how much they need. You just pick one and click to send them a certain amount of money. It isn’t even really a donation because most loans are eventually paid back.

long

The greatest thing about this site is that it makes microfinancing fun. It makes is personal. Instead of waiting for some other people to do this, anyone can get on the action.  For example, I can go searching throught the profiles and decide I want to give a woman in Kenya 25 dollars to buy a cart so she can sell bread from it.  I get to monitor my giving and see when she starts to repay the loan. I could also decide to give to the couple in Cambodia wanting to sell pigs, or the family in Pakistan looking to start a grocery.

You can even give someone a Kiva gift certificate. Instead of just making a donation in someone’s name, they can actually use the gift certificate to get personally involved.

Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 10

by Melissa Chang |

Islam

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

Here are his …

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

joyLater I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in my own life. Through Him I accepted Jesus Christ as my Personal Saviour and Lord. I felt a free mind at that same moment when i accepted Christ in to my life. Glory to God! Amen!

I continued to read the Holy Bible with care and attention. In it I found treasure such as I had never dreamed of – it has the power to speak to those who really want to find God’s revelation and guidance. It showed me my real self, my sinful and guilty heart, and showed me also that I was spiritually blind. It asked me to bring all my sins and problems to God in the name of Jesus the Messiah. He came to this world searching for me! He died for my sins and rose again; He went up to heaven, and He will come again. I became convinced that the Holy Bible is indeed the Word of God.

The Holy Bible brought the answers to the problems which worried me. Its living word was able to satisfy my soul. What I had never found before in my religious experience, I now discovered. I became sure that the Holy Bible faithfully and accurately recorded the works and teaching of Jesus – this mystery of God’s eternal Word coming into our world as man. Now I became convinced of the truth of His death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming, which before I had not understood and had even hated. The Bible contains the message of God’s power to save and His love for me and all men, and this brings us peace. This love of God focuses sharply on Jesus, His death and resurrection for sinners – as Paul, echoing Jesus and His other apostles, says in the New Testament,

 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3,4

No doubt, many Muslim friends will continue to think that the Holy Bible is corrupt and abrogated by the Qur’an.

Yet let him – especially if he is conscious of God’s holiness and his own sins – give serious thought to its message. Then let him, as I have done, draw his own conclusions.

 To see the full series click here.

Photo by Nolan O’Brien

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