|4th Quarter 1999||Newsletter of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement Women's Track|
In this issue of Women of Vision 2000 we have circled the globe from South Africa to Burma. The prayer requests this month grow out of the stories in this issue, so make sure you read them first.
AFRICA The AIDS epidemic is decimating the population of it's youth and young adults. Thousands of children are orphans who themselves are often infected with the HIV virus. Pray that Christians will be able to teach and counsel young people about the cause of AIDS. (Some misguided victims even believe that sex with a virgin can cure them!) Pray for wives whose husbands are infected. Pray for the thousands of care givers who are responsible for orphas left behind.
MIDDLE EAST Witnessing to Muslims may be against the law and even dangerous. Pray for courage for Christians to live out their faith, sharing Christ with their neighbors and people in the workplace. Pray that God will intervene miraculously through dreams and visions, so that there will be a breakthrough in these countries.
Praise God for the realization on the part of Arab pastors that women need training and leadership opportunities. Pray that women would recognize their gifts and put them to use in the church.
MYANMAR (Burma) The majority of Burmese Buddhists have been resistant to the Gospel even though missionaries brought the Truth to this country in the early nineteenth century. Pray for Christians to know how to share their faith with their Buddhist neighbors. Praise God for the burden on the hearts of women to meet regularly for prayer in Yangon.
COTE D'IVOIRE Pray for the four unreached people groups adopted by the women in Abidjan -- the Nafara, Toura, Tagbana and Touaregs. Pray the the women will be able to faithfully continue to provide support for church planters who have gone into villages in these groups. Pray that sound Bible-centered churches will soon emerge.
NORTH AFRICA Mysoon (not her real name) and her family feel isolated in their country which does not allow freedom of worship. Pray for children of believers who are exposed to non-Christian teaching and practice with very little Christian influence to counteract them.
ADVOCACY PROGRAM Pray that many more advocates will offer to pray for and become acquainted with an unreached people; that they will learn about the special needs of women in those people groups; and that they will develop a good relationship with their advocate partners.
African Women Focus Beyond AIDS
There's something about visiting Africa these days. The continent continues to experience upheavals and tragedies. On the one hand, there's good news like the election of a Christian president in Nigeria. On the other hand warfare continues in Sierra Leone (where guerillas chop off the hands of innocent victims) and in Angola which has been in civil war for over 30 years.
Yet you have to meet the African women. Full of energy and exuberance, they seem to be almost resilient to the pain and deprivation they suffer because of where they've been born. Their faith in the power of God is strong and they know how to have a good time in simple pleasures.
Today many are well educated. At our recent consultation in Cape Town with about 30 leaders from six African countries, there were two Ph.D.'s and a former judge, now practicing law.
The deepest pain for these women seems to be the growing scourge of AIDS. Botswana has the highest HIV rate in the world -- they claim it's 64 percent of the population. A teacher expressed sorrow over the many deaths in her school. "Almost every week we close down classes for a funeral."
Theo from Swaziland complained that churches are also suffering. The traditional all-night wake keeps people up sometimes two nights in a row, and they are too tired to come to church. In our prayer times you could hear the anguish as women broke down and wept over the loss of a brother, husband or sister. Some are caring for children left as orphans, adding to their already heavy financial burdens.
But rejoice with me in the positive outlook and concern these women had for those who need to hear the Gospel. Here are just a few "ideas" they want to implement in the next three years:
The women felt a new sense of identity, meeting sisters from other African countries
they had not met before. Their desire to work together is a positive step in this
Arab Pastors Hold a Conference for Women Leaders
Dressed in her colorful African garb a young Sudanese woman stood to testify, "This is the first time in our lives we have attended a women's conference. In Sudan we cook, clean, do everything but not to sit and learn. I needed this."
She was one of the six Sudanese women attending the Women's Leadership Conference co-sponsored by the Arab World Evangelical Minister's Assoc. (AWEMA) and the AD2000 Women's Track. About 115 women from eight Arab countries gathered in Amman Jordan in October. Arab pastors had invited key women from churches across North Africa and the Middle East to attend an impressive new development in a generally male-oriented society.
"We want women to learn so they can start women's programs in their churches," states the general secretary of AWEMA.
Perhaps the greatest impact was the realization that they were part of a larger Body of Christ, sisters who have needs and concerns just as they do. A woman from Egypt confessed, "I didn't know what the Lord was doing in other countries. He opened my eyes to pray for them."
Another stated "I never thought of praying for other countries like Iraq. Now I will pray for the 10/40 Window." Though these women live IN the 10/40 Window, it took the fellowship and sharing of other's prayer requests to make them realize the responsibility and opportunity they have to pray for others.
The team of four American and British intercessors had come simply to pray for the conference. A Syrian woman expressed her sense of appreciation, "This is the first time I attended a conference where a team what praying for us." She went on to praise the Lord for the people around the world who are praying for her country, especially during the October Praying Through the Window IV.
Prayer requests from the women indicated a deep concern about the political instability of the region, the fear of war, the isolation of believers and the need for coming together in unity and love between Christians. A woman from the United Arab Emirates pled, "Pray for us; we feel so abandoned and isolated."
After the conference the planning committee drafted a report which said in part:
The unity of the women's planning committee which was composed of leaders from all of the five evangelical church groups in Jordan, was enhanced through working and praying together in preparation for the conference... Participants said they were revived spiritually and that they learned new things. The prayer program blessed them and they want to try prayer triplets in local groups. Many felt great unity and oneness of spirit... We thank the AD2000 Women's Track for their participation and their prayer and financial support which made this conference possible.
As the AD2000 Women's Track we felt deeply privileged to co-sponsor this valuable
conference. AWEMA has requested that we consider continue participating in training,
providing resources, qualified teachers, and encouragement for a time. As God provides
we will be privileged to do so.
Advocacy Project Reaches Goal for 1999
Our new Advocacy project, launched early this year, reached its goal with three months to spare. We prayed that 100 women advocate and advocate partners (women working in least reached areas) would be involved. As of October 31, they totaled 103.
Some interesting partnerships are developing. For example, a women's ministry leader in the mid-west of the United States is advocating for a woman from Tajikistan who is evangelizing on the streets of Moscow. They are able to communicate and share prayer requests by e-mail. The Tajik woman is deeply greatful for this friendship in the midst of her often lonely and sometimes dangerous ministry. On the other hand, the woman from the mid-west is sharing her excitement about advocacy with her church, encouraging them to pray and adopt women in the 10/40 Window.
We continue to receive inquiries from advocates through the AD2000 web site (www.ad2000.org/tracks/women) and in response to our brochure<> and information made available at conferences. If you'd like information about how to be an advocate or an advocate partner, please write us at one of the addresses below.
|Model in Ministry|
The Price of Belief
"I would prefer that you were a prostitute rather than a Christian!" Mysoon's (not her real name) mother screamed when she found her daughter kneeling beside her bed reading her Bible. Her parents called in their whole extended family to argue, accuse and denounce her for her conversion to Christianity.
It had all started rather innocently. Two of Mysoon's favorite teachers at the university were accused of trying to convert Muslims. Wanting to find out the truth, Mysoon asked if she could join their group. They did not talk to her about Christ, but they asked if she'd like to study the Bible with them.
After the meeting she vowed never to attend again. "Who would ever believe in a stupid book like that?" she thought.
But the next week she was back, deeply interested in the Christian teaching on forgiveness, not holding a grudge. It was not what she had seen of Christianity on TV.
Her teachers offered her a Bible so she could follow along with what they were studying, but she found herself going far beyond the week's assignment. The teachings of Jesus attracted her, and she realized that "teaching doesn't go without the Teacher."
Every week she questioned what she was doing. "You're an Arab, a Muslim," she reminded herself. But gradually she found herself convinced that Jesus was indeed who He said He was.
One night the Christian group, all forigners, invited her to the beach for a communion service. They asked her to read 1 Corinthians 11 for them. "I was transported in the Spirit to the upper room. I understood for the first time what it meant 'Let each one examine himself.' I saw Jesus in all His holiness. I couldn't stand myself in the light of His holiness."
After that experience all the questions that had bothered her -- the Trinity, Jesus as the Son of God, the truth of the Bible -- disappeared. But the trouble with her family was still ahead. Eventually her family and neighbors discovered her newfound faith.
Mysoon was called in to the police and for hours five policemen interrogated her.
Mysoon testifies that she was at perfect peace. It was as if the Lord was standing behind her with His hands on her shoulders. At the end of the questioning the police chief called her into his office to ask her more questions. Gradually his tone of voice and manner changed as he asked, "You mean He forgives any sin?" As she left his office he asked if she would come back and talk more.
In the months ahead a few of her countrymen also became believers, and one became her husband. Together they evangelize whereever they can, and hold a small house church in their home. There are less than 100 believers in a country of more than 10 million. Sometimes the believers go to the park or beach "on a picnic" with their Bibles in their picnic baskets, and while the children romp and play, they study the Bible and pray.
Today Mysoon and her husband are studying in a Bible school in another country. But
they plan to return to their homeland and are praying that God would bring whole families
to Himself. "There is such resistance by the families. It's especially hard on the
girls. The families harass the life out of them, or marry them off," says Mysoon. At the
conference Mysoon reported God is beginning to answer that prayer. In the last few months
26 believers were baptised.
A Widow's Mighty Mite
(Based on Mark 12:41-43)
The woman dropped two tiny coppers into the money box. They were the smallest coins in the Roman currency worth less than an American penny or a British farthing. Probably less than the smallest coin in your currency.
She wasn't ashamed or embarrassed. Others who had come up to the temple treasury had dropped in large gifts, some making sure they lifted them high for all to see.
She came with a deep sense of joy in her heart. God had blessed her so abundantly, though we don't know what the source of her blessing was. She was simply following the teaching of Moses, bringing "a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing the Lord your God has given you." Deut 16:10
She was a widow -- one often exploited by the very religious leaders who would probably benefit from her gift. In fact, Jesus, sitting where He could watch her sacrificial act, had just renounced those authorities who "devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers." Luke 12:40
But He watched her with a smile and a nod of approval as He saw the extent of her offering. He must have filled her heart with an overwhelming sense of peace as she walked past Him, probably unaware of His physical presence.
He called His disciples over to Him. Did you see that? She gave everything! Every last cent she had to live on. Of course, He knew what you and I don't -- the blessing she'd experienced from His Father, and the overwhelming trust and gratitude that filled her heart as she did all she could to show her thankfulness. As far as He was concerned, she had given the best gift of the day.
How grateful are you today for the blessings God has poured into your life? Salvation, purposeful living, strength for the day, promises fulfilled, His care, hope for eternity? We are never too poor to show our gratitude and Jesus just loves it when He sees us give "according to what we have." 2 Cor 8:12
News From Around The World
Myanmar Women Pray For the World
Myanmar (formerly Burma) is one of the 10/40 Window countries. Patrick Johnstone writes, "The spiritual fortress of Buddhism has yet to be breached." A tiny percentage (0.001) of the 31 million Burmese Buddhists are Christians.
Yet in Yangon, the capital, a group of committed women from different churches and denominations meet together monthly for prayer. Last September they fasted and prayed for women around the world, prayer through the requests in our newsletter for the International Day of Prayer for Women.
Each year since 1996 a gifted team of women in Yangon has sponsored a conference for women who come from all over the nation, reaching both tribal and Burmese women.
Madame Jeanne Marie Guiro, our national coordinator for Cote d'Ivoire sent this e-mail to our office:
"The Women's Track in Cote d'Ivoire continues to work. We are supporting in prayer and financially four missionaries for four unreached people (Nafara, Toura, Tagbana, Touareg). Two groups of women who adopted two other unreached people (Lobi, Koyaka) are preparing prayerfully an expedition and are looking for the finances and material they need to realize the expidition. Apart from this we are mobilizing women to pray for the 10/40 Window during October. We have printed 1000 calendars in French that we are distributing. In November we will mobilize the women again to pray for Muslims during Ramadam."
500 Women Turned Away from Prayer Conference
At the first national prayer conference in El Salvador. Mercedes Dalton, regional leader for South America, reported that 500 women had to be turned away. "We packed the largest hotel with 1200 women... next year we will probably go to the stadium."
These are just a few reports of the growing response around the world to the International Day of Prayer for Women. Watch for information for our next day, the first weekend in September.
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