9Marks Reviews “Dispatches from the Front” book by Tim Keesee

Book Review by Alex Duke, Editorial Manager of 9Marks. “All around us, it seems, the sky is falling. America. Australia. The UK. Church attendance is down, cultural compasses are pointing east of Eden, and many so-called “Christian” veneers are vanishing. Once-nominal Christians are now comfortably non-Christian, while many once-amicable non-Christians are now comfortably anti-Christian. There are many ways we can respond to this. First, we can (and should) understand this news rightly, realizing that in every yarn of destruction there are threads of promise. Lord willing, the articles linked above and below are exercises in that. The sky isn’t falling, and as Christians we know it never will. Instead, we wait for the sky to open, our eyes straining for that white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. Second, we can (and should) look to history for encouragement, understanding that the church has seen such presumably dire straits before—and carried on with…

Persecution Update November 2014: Syria

The persecution of Christians has a long history in Syria. In the first century, Saul of Tarsus set out to crush the small Christian community in Damascus, but he was arrested by Heaven and converted to Christ. More recently, Syria was ranked #11 on the list of countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith. However, as a result of a three-year civil war in which Christians have been caught in the cross-hairs, Syria has now jumped to #3 on that list. The situation there is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, as hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled the country due to the violence perpetrated against them in the complex political environment of warring Islamic factions.  The caliphate of ISIS calls Christians “crusaders,” and considers them to be enemy #1. Believers caught by ISIS are given three options: convert to Islam, abandon their homes, or face execution. Please pray for…

Frontline Announces NEXT Program

What’s NEXT? NEXT is the short-term, cross-cultural missions program of Frontline Missions International. These field opportunities range from two months to two years and are designed to provide a realistic “next step” for those exploring long-term Gospel ministry in restricted-access countries. Because of the demands of the ministry and the sensitive nature of Gospel work in these settings, there are a limited number of positions, and the evaluation process is serious. Experienced field personnel will mentor and guide participants to a greater self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses. Immersion in practical missionary experiences is important to replace romanticism with the realism involved in working in an environment often hostile to the Gospel. NEXT will nurture Gospel-centered humility, a deep respect for indigenous brothers and sisters, and encourage bold, Spirit-enabled audacity in the Kingdom’s advance. 2015 Opportunities: NEXT: Africa is a 2-month field experience in North Africa and Ethiopia, taking place between mid-June…

Persecution Update October 2014: Ukraine

Ukraine has long been the freest of the former Soviet republics and has welcomed Western missions activity, but with the Moscow-sponsored fighting in that country, the situation is changing.  The pro-Russian separatists who have invaded eastern and southern Ukraine have demonstrated their loyalty to the Russian Orthodox Church, which views Protestants as a threat to the political order.  Last June in the Donetsk region, rebels tortured and murdered four Christians.  The militants also killed a pastor in Mariupol.  In the eastern region of Lughansk, two Orthodox priests along with armed rebels invaded an evangelical church and ordered everyone to leave so they could take possession of the building.  Increasingly, the rebels have targeted Christians in these two regions for beatings, threats of execution, and seizure of personal and church properties.  Yet, Ukrainian believers have demonstrated acts of mercy by welcoming refugees who have been displaced by the fighting into their…

Persecution Update September 2014: Yemen

Yemen—the size of the state of Texas—is one of the world’s least evangelized countries. This small country in the Arabian Peninsula is also the poorest country in the Middle East. Though Yemen has been beset by wars, civil conflict, and conquest for most of the last century, the one constant factor has been its radical Muslim legal system. The state religion is constitutionally mandated to be Islam. The population is 99.92% Muslim, and evangelizing Muslims is against the law. As a result, there are only about 4,000 evangelical Christians in Yemen—and virtually no indigenous church there. Most of the believers are first generation Christians, who find themselves under constant surveillance. Those who do convert to Christ—which is legally punishable by death—also face the powerful wrath of their “clans.” It is not uncommon for new believers to be kidnapped and killed. There is a great need for healthy fellowship among the…