|3rd Quarter 1999||Newsletter of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement Women's Track|
Prayer for Women
For a number of years the Pan African Christian Women's Association (PACWA) has planned a continant wide day of prayer for women the first weekend of September. Two years ago the AD2000 Women's Track joined in this special day of prayer. Reports have come from various countries telling how women from different churches have gathered together for a day or part thereof, to pray for the needs of their sisters around the world.
Following are the major concerns for this year's International Prayer Day. An enlarged list of requests is available through our E-mail: email@example.com. Because we're getting the<> information to you a little late feel free to set your own date to pray.
Christ -- the Prince of Peace
The Next Step in Kosovo
Brazilian missionary, Najua Diva, looks ahead
"Most of the Kosovars have gone," writes Najua Diva, Brazilian missionary in Albania, "but the work among them has just started. The Lord is speaking with us as the Albanian Church for the continuation of this work in Kosovo. We don't know yet when we are going there, but I think it will be soon."
In the early 80s Najua was training candidates at a Brazilian mission agency, the Antioch Mission. While teaching the students about God's call, He burdened her own heart for the Albanian people. But Albania was a closed country!
The Antioch Mission finally agreed to send her to the province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia to work with the Albanians there. Under tight security she spent several years learning the difficult Albanian language.
As Najua traveled around the province she saw gun-carrying Serbian patrols. Despite the pressure to conform to Serbian culture, many Albanians refused to keep silent about their belief that they should be in control of this formerly self-governed province, and tensions were mounting.
As a result, many Kosovars lost their jobs, sometimes even their homes, and lived on the streets. Many times during those difficult years Najua walked the borders of Albania praying for freedom for the people. "Lord, don't let those people die without knowing you."
When the communist government of Albania collapsed, Najua was finally able to get inside the country. She began working in the city of Tirana. She saw even more agonizing poverty here than she had observed in Kosovo.
As Najua shared the love of God with the people, she recognized several spiritual strongholds. One was the Albanian's adherence to Islam despite decades of harsh communist persecution. Another was a growing materialism as Albanians began watching the once-banned Italian television. The people hungered for what they considered the good things of life. But Najua knew that what they needed was much more valuable than material things. Najua began working with a newly planted church in Tirana, which in six months grew to more than 200 members, many of them the result of her loving witness. Najua infectious spirit "hugged them to Jesus", as she likes to say.
Little did she know that God was preparing them for a monumental challenge with the outbreak of the war in Kosovo. As the refugees streamed across the border, the Christians opened their homes and hearts, demonstrating a new kind of Christian love to the embittered Kosovars.
At one point the Tirana church was responsible for feeding 20,000 refugees a day. It has been a backbreaking, exhausting experience, yet through it they have seen the impact of Christ's love on the suffering Kosovars. Several accepted Christ, attending church and Bible studies while they were in the camp.
When the opportunity for the Kosovars to return to their homes arose, the church planned a social evening to say good-bye. Najua writes, "It was beautiful and they were very touched by it. The ladies of our church sang many songs to them; a boy played an instrument that we call in Brazil an accordian; a man recited a poem from Gjergi Fishta, a well-known Albanian poet. In the end we offered nice things to eat and drink. In the middle of pain and tears we could see how things like that can bring comfort from God ... Many believers from our church have worked very hard indeed."
Though most Kosovars have left, there is now an open door for Albanian Christians to continue to demonstrate the love of Christ. Christians around the world have sent tons of staple food and clothing that need to be packaged for distribution to families. The weary believers are grateful for any help that can be given in this monumental task.
Najua is already planning how to meet the new challenge before her. "May the Lord give us His grace for this -- praying, supporting and going."
Sisters in service, and arm of Partners International, assists Najua's ministry in Albania. For more information on how you can help call 1-800-966-5515.
Praying Through the Window IV
"The highest motivation for preaching the gospel is not what lost or needy people receive from our efforts, but what God receives from them. Missions is first and foremost about God. He created the nations to seek after Him and find Him. (Acts 17:24:26) He brought them into existance so they might find their satisfaction in their Creator..." writes Floyd McClung, author of Light the Window, Praying for the Nations of the 10/40 Window.
"Above all things, we must go and we must pray, because the Father is waiting. He longs for the worship and obiedience of His creation. He made the nations. He made them for a purpose. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God is yearning for the peoples of earth to come home to Him, so that the earth will be filled with His glory."
You can be a part of His global plan as you pray through the window this October --
praying for the 62 least evangelized countries in the world. Join the 50 million
anticipated believers worldwide who will be praying for the liberation of those bound
in spiritual darkness. A prayer calendar, which can be duplicated, is available from
your regional representative or national coordinator.
Kindling the Flame of Hope in Europe
|Nearly ten thousand women gathered in the Festehalle
on the Frankfurt Exhibition grounds for a Hope for Europe -- European Women's Congress on
April 24, 1999. This was the first time in the history of the German church that such a
large group of women from all denominations and backgrounds met together as women to
praise and worship the Lord.
Elizabeth Mittelstaedt, the European regional representative of the AD2000 Women's Track serves as chairperson for Hope for Europe -- Women in Leadership, which grew out of a joint initiative of the AD2000 Women's Track, the Lausanne Women's Network and the Commission on Women's Concerns of the World Evangelical Fellowship.
In the midst of the pain and anguish which hung like a brooding cloud over Europe last April nearly 170 women from 32 nations gathered to demonstrate their oneness in Christ and their commitment to His church. Compassion and pain mingled as Croats and Serbs hugged one another, Germans and Poles chatted over cups of tea and Finns and Russians exchanged stories.
The conference in a retreat center near Frankfurt was a gathering of Hope for Europe: Women in Leadership.
During the daily "Windows to Europe" presentations representatives from each country reported on what was happening in their land. Speaker Reona Joly brought the situation in Albania to life for the delegates. She reported that the country's fledgling new churches are coordinating outreach to the Kosovar refugees.
"The response is fantastic," said Reona. "In every town the churches are joining force to work together. The need is overwhelming. In one instance, a single church oversees a camp of 20,000 people.
"Unquenchable hatred is doing its best to sink its claws into Kosovar hearts," Reona warned. "But in the midst of this Christians are faithfully witnessing."
The stage was set for reconcilliation. The following day when an Albanian delegate completed her report the delegate from Yugoslavia rushed to her to beg forgiveness before the entire group for what her countrymen were doing to the Albanians.
The gathering was the fourth and largest meeting of Hope for Europe: Women in Leadership, a movement whose primary focus is to encourage and mobilize women to work together to evangelize their world. In 1992 just 40 women gathered in Linz, Austria under the auspices of the AD2000 Women's Track, the Lausanne Women's Network and the Women's Commission of WEF. In 1994 a second conference was held in Ustron, Poland. Women in Budapest, Hungary hosted the third gathering in 1997. Elizabeth Mittlestaedt, editor of LYDIA magazine, gives leadership to the movement.
The international version of the booklet, Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Mary Lance Sisk is now in production. The original edition is being used across North America to help women reach out to their neighbors. The AD2000 Women's Track has recognized the need to encourage and help women all over the world find ways to share the gospel with neighbors. The book relates stories of evangelism from many nations to replace the American illustrations in the original edition.
You'll read about Christmas tea parties in Muslim countries, sharing the gospel on the bus with a prostitute in India, starting a neighborhood Bible study in Brazil, finding representatives of an unreached tribe in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The booklets should be in the hands of regional representatives and national coordinators before the end of the year.
Who is my Neighbor?
The lawyer posed such a simple question to Jesus. But Jesus seldom gave simple answers. He knew the lawyer who asked this question was looking for a politically correct reply. He wanted to hear that his neighbor was someone just like himself, someone he liked and who liked him. Certainly not an enemy or a stranger.
Jesus responded by telling a story about a Samaritan who risked his life to travel through Israel (enemy territory) and stopped to help a Jew, a victim of a robbery. There was no love lost betwen Samaritans and Jews. In fact, Jews opten traveled out of their way to avoid going through Samaria. The Samaritans and Jews worshipped differently and they didn't use the same Bible translation. They wouldn't even talk to each other (except Jesus did to the woman at the well, remember?).
Jesus implied that a neighbor could be someone you dislike or even hate; someone you didn't want anything to do with.
In fact, your neighbor may be a forigner, unable to speak your language well, with strange customs and eating habits. Perhaps just like the family that has moved into your neighborhood!
The Samaritan had stumbled upon a badly injured Jew, covered in blood, his personal articles stolen. Not even thinking of the robbers who might still be lurking in the area, he stopped to tenderly care for his wounds and carry him to safety on his own donkey.
Jesus demonstrated that your neighbor may be someone physically or emotionally abused. You can't just put a Band-Aid on the wounds and move on. Your neighbor may need care, love, counseling, time and even your resources.
The true neighbor proved to be a foreigner, despised and scorned, while those who should have stopped to help -- the religious leaders -- move to the other side of the road. They didn't want to be contaminated by possibly touching a dead body. That would have meant tearing their fine clothes in mourning, purchasing ashes at the temple, and being unclean for a whole week!
Jesus reminds us that our neighbors are also the people others have passed by. Around the world there are still over 1700 people groups who share the same language or culture but have no one to tell them of Jesus Christ. They have been overlooked by Christ's ambassadors, and are still waiting to hear that He loves them.
You can share Christ's love with you neighbor down the street in practical ways like offering to watch her children while she shops, or picking up her mail while she's on vacation. But beyond that "like-you" neighbor, may be the refugee family down the street, the abused single mother in your office, or the shy Hindu woman in the grocery store. They may be suffering, in pain, and totally blinded to the gospel. According to Jesus they are also your neighbors who need acts of love from you. "Go and do likewise."
than six billion!
In recent months world population has reached six billion. Have you wondered how the Church is doing with its mandate of global evangelization?
In 1900 34.5% of the world's population of 1.6 million claimed to be Christian -- but in the year 2000 that will have dropped to 33.4%. While Christianity is still the fastest growing religion in the world, Islam has increased from 12.4% of the world's population in 1900, to 18.5% in the year 2000.
Most shocking is that the nonreligious -- those who have seen neither truth or value in any religion -- have grown from only two-tenths of one percent in 1900, to 16% of the world's population by the year 2000.
Jesus Christ demonstrated the purest ethics, the highest values, the greatest power and the deepest love -- far outshining the founders of any of the world's religions. As His followers, we number more than two billion people. As His models, we should be doing a much better job.
Statistics taken from Religious Projections for the Next 200 Years, Dr. Todd Johnson
A Former Muslim Challenges
Europe's Women to Take a Stand
Shirinai Dosova from Tajikistan, stood before ten thousand women at the Frankfurt stadium to give her testimony.
"A man who had spent twelve years in campus due to his faith was preaching in the Arbat, one of the most popular shopping streets in Moscow. I was deeply stirred by his message and invited him to my home. He spent eight hours telling me about Jesus.
"Those hours passed in a flash, as if they had been merely eight minutes. I did not even offer him any tea," Shirinai began.
Since her first encounter with the Christian faith, Shirinai, A former Muslim, has been gripped by an ardent love for Jesus Christ. The very day after she listened to the man, she herself was standing in the Arbat to show her distressed countrymen the way out of hopelessness.
"The world cannot give us any answers to the most important questions in our lives. Only Jesus can," she preached.
Two churches of Muslims have sprung from the work of this native Tajik, one in Moscow and one in Uzbekistan. She describes an encounter she had with a Kazak.
"I wanted to give him a Gospel, but he replied, 'I already have one!' 'Where did you get it from?' I asked. He replied, 'One day, I was passing a burning rubbish dump. There was a book lying on this dump. Everything was burning except for the book. Although I am a Muslim, I read it. After all, a book that does not burn in the fire must be holy."
Shirinai was not afraid when she opposed the tanks during the attempted coup in Moscow in 1991. "We went up to the people and handed our 4000 Gospels. We went to the soldiers and pled with them, 'Do not shoot at the people, do not kill them! God forbids us to kill.'"
With a passionate commitment, she called upon the women in Frankfurt to spread the message of Jesus Christ. "Let us preach the Gospel. Let us love people. That alone is what we live for!"
Report from Hope for Tomorrow newsletter Women's Congress in
Germany, April, 1999
Write the representative from your region:
Africa (South of the Sahara; French, Portuguese and Spanish speaking): Madeleine Goutenou, Box 411, Man, Ivory Coast
Africa (English-speaking): Esme Bowers, 3 Wyehill Way, Retreat 79X5, Cape, South Africa
Caribbean: Blossom White, 36 Mottley Ave., Kingston 20, Jamaica, West Indies
Europe: Elizabeth Mittelstaedt, Lydia Magazine, Postfach 1222, D-35608 Asslar, Germany
Latin America: Mercedes Dalton, Calle Los Abetos, PJE No. 1Ð36, Colonia San Francisco, San Salvador, El Salvador
Middle East, N. Africa, CIS countries: Iqbal Massey, 1136 Ginger Lane, Corona, CA 91719-7776, U.S.
N. America: Evelyn Christenson, P.O. Box 29557, Minneapolis, MN 55429, U.S.
N. Asia: Kai-Yum Cheung-Teng , Block A, 3/F., Podium of Tak Bo Garden, 3 Ngau Kok Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Pacific: Robyn Claydon, 12 Cornwall Avenue, Turramurra, NSW 2074, Australia
S. Asia: Contact the International Coordinator
S.E. Asia: Thelma Pantig, 6 Sampaguita St., Roxas Cir. Subd., Sanyo Novalches 1116 Q.C., Philippines