Roundup #176
September 27, 2019

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New Events

Egypt / Sudan

Will women ever be ordained as pastors in Egypt? Link

Two days of protests in Egypt due to corruption allegations against the government - Link
… over 1,900 arrested, government threatens to ‘decisively confront’ protesters - Link

Western Africa / Lake Chad

The biggest mosque in West Africa is set to open in Dakar, Senegal - Link
… can hold 30,000 worshippers, cost $33 million.
… other large mosques: in Casablanca and Algiers can each hold over 100,000.

Nigeria

Lots of aid agencies closing offices in northeast Nigeria due to Boko Haram violence - Link

Ethiopia / Horn / East Africa

Burundi Catholic bishops express alarm over efforts to “suffocate and assault” some political parties before 2020 election; presidential spokesmen calls their efforts “spewing venomous hatred.” UN warns of “climate of fear” and of atrocities before polls. - Link

“The artistic paradox of Ethiopia’s water woes” - “a series of striking images to depict the harsh life of many women in rural areas, especially their daily efforts to obtain clean water for their families” - Link

Somalia & Kenya have agreed to work toward normalizing relations - Link

Middle Africa / Lakes

Chinese ‘vloggers' are changing how China’s rising middle class views Africa - Link
… the influence of social media on attitudes between cultures ...

Central Asia / Caucasus

Demography in Turkmenistan is facing severe challenges - Link
… almost 1.9 million have fled the country and gone abroad ...

Dozens detained as Kazakhs protest former president, China - Link
… the protests are small but are being violently contained.

Saudi / Israel / Lebanon / Syria / Gulf

“How Iran precisely targeted Saudi oil facilities” (allegedly) - Link

Iran says Yemenis attacked Saudi oil sites as ‘warning’ - Link

Yemen’s Houthi rebels “overturned the chessboard” - Link
… basically, whoever did this attack (and it’s still not clear who) demonstrated a significant increase in the ability to effectively use drones as weapons, and also showed a number of holes in Saudi defensive capability.

Gaza’s woman cellphone technician: very popular with women customers who “wish to protect their privacy” - Link
… I wonder if this points to potential ministry options?

Syrians from all walks of life are signing up for Russian language courses in regime-controlled parts of the country - Link

West Asia / Turkey

5.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey - It’s a comparatively little thing but reminds us Turkey is on a significant fault line, and the chance of a “major" earthquake in the region in the next 20, 50, 100 years is very large. Every agency should have some sort of thinking and plans for how they might respond to a devastating event. Link

Iran/Iraq

The violence that followed Iraq’s post-invasion spiral: a book review about the battle for Mosul - Link

Afghanistan / Pakistan / Pashto

3,300 civilians have been killed in the Afghan conflict in the last twelve months - Link

Afghans prepare for election amid fears of attacks, fraud, chaos - Link
… the violence simply will not end in Afghanistan any time soon, and any thoughts to the contrary are purely wishful thinking.

For the first time, Afghani Taliban successfully mediate a Baluch tribal feud in Balochistan, Pakistan - Link

Pakistanis are split over the idea of mandatory burqas for women - Link
… a directive in Peshawar that female students wear the abaya met with a storm of protest, and was withdrawn. But many conservative Pakistanis had favored the directive and criticized its withdrawal.

In Pakistan-held Kashmir, growing calls for independence - Link

“Working for the wealthy, Islamabad’s poor struggle to live” - Link

India

Mumbai fears for homes and lives amid rising seas - Link
… “Huge swathes of Mumbai’s beaches have already been lost… now shanty dwellers fear for their homes… ‘our homes knee-deep in water.’"

Maldives / Sri Lanka

Maldives targets 1 million Chinese tourists - Link
… seeks more direct flights, boosts in visitors

China

China wants the world to stay silent on Muslim camps. Link

A crackdown on Islam is spreading across China: now impacting Inner Mongolia, Henan and Ningxia, homeland of the Hui - Link

Xinjiang broadening to encompass Christians: “Incarceration of Christians and Han Chinese in Xinjiang shows broad reach of forced indoctrination campaign” - Link
… "Chinese authorities are sending Christian Uyghurs and even members of the Han Chinese majority to internment camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, an indication that the regime’s indoctrination strategy is broader than previously understood.”
… "In Xinjiang, “any ideology which really captures someone’s conscience that is other than the [Communist] Party is a threat,” Mr. Paix said. “So in essence, it doesn’t matter what religion it is – or even if it was a non-religious ideology.”"

Thousands of reporters and editors in Chinese state media will have to sit a nationwide exam to test their loyalty to President Xi Jinping; only those who pass will be issued press cards - Link

"As church growth slows” is an informative read exploring periods of high speed change as well as stagnation in church growth in China - Link

A long read explainer on “how Hong Kong got to this point” - Link

China has a lot at stake as attacks in the Persian Gulf rise: China imports a lot of oil, so it’s important to remember its interest in the Middle East. It’s not just the USA vs Iran. Link

Japan / Koreas / Mongolia

Economists estimate 25% of North Koreans have mobile phones, participate in informal market - Link

A top South Korean presidential adviser thinks there’s a good chance of a US-North Korea deal by end of 2019 - Link
… personally, I’m not as optimistic

“Materialism will bring change”: why a senior NK defector believes the regime’s days are numbered - Link
… they’ve survived this long, and there are no cracks despite the article above re cell phones

“There’s more to the inner workings of N Korea than just Kim Jong Un” - Link
… people need to understand N Korea isn’t dependent on just Kim: if he were gone, the system would perpetuate. To overturn N Korea’s current form of government requires that system to be removed, not just the leader.

Southeast Asia

Over 2 dozen killed in fresh Papua unrest, riots - Link

6.5 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia - it, like Turkey, also lies on fault lines - Link

Lots of protests, politicking over law in Indonesia that would outlaw extramarital sex - Link
… “Thousands of student protesters took to the streets…”
… “18,000 police to guard Parliament building"

Notable Europe / Americas

As churches shrink in the USA, the circuit preacher of the frontier past becomes a fixture again - Link

US views of China turn sharply negative amid trade tensions - Link
… how will these kinds of things affect motives for mission?

 

New Data

The “8 major forces shaping the future of the global economy” (impact on everything from BAM/tentmaking to drivers of access) - Link
… world has now amassed $247 trillion in debt
… cryptocurrencies now worth $200 billion
… China has over 100 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants each
… by 2100, Africa could contain 13 megacities bigger than New York

Why are more people fleeing home than ever before? BBC looks at the issue, with lots of great graphics and insights into the on-the-ground situation - Link

Longer reads

Marti Wade (Missions Catalyst) found this one-page daily summary of the 15-days of prayer for the Hindu world - Link

Here’s the official 15-days prayer campaign page - Link

“Explore or Exploit: The hidden decision that guides your life” is a useful medium-read that summarizes the explore/exploit issue. Movements run into the explore/exploit conundrum around the question of seeking a person of peace: do I spend more of my time in seeking PoPs, or do I spend more of my time with the people I already know? There are several algorithmic answers for this, but they are difficult computationally. This article explores some of the intuitive issues involved - Link
… I’ve also found the book “Algorithms to live by” exceptionally helpful. It takes well known algorithmic challenges in computer science and explores how they apply in “real life” - Link

Remember that article from last Roundup about how “Netflix makes it harder to be a missionary” (e.g. culturally adapt)? Here’s a long read from Glenn Herr that explores their early ministry in China, how they didn’t have such distractions, and what adaptation was like - Link

“The 3 words that changed missions strategy—and why we might be wrong” - Link
… I really argued with myself about linking to this. They make some points about panta ta ethne then say we should reach the unreached anyway. I feel the arguments about "finishing the task" vs "make disciples" is a distinction that most agencies I know don't make; we for example work to "finish the task" by making disciples. They say “reached nations have been abandoned”; but insofar as I can see from stats, there’s still far more work going on in reached nations than in unreached nations, and I don’t see all a lot of people coming into the unreached world after work in the reached one. They take issue with “rapid church multiplication” but in my circles this is in fact the result of making disciples who make disciples, raising up leaders, and organically planting churches that bear fruit both in spiritual and multiplicative terms. In the end, I decided to link it and share my concerns because it's out there anyway. To me it seems to suffer from a straw man bias. As in China, anything you say about missions is true and false depending on which agency and effort you’re looking at.

“Evangelical has lost its meaning: a term that once described a vital tradition within the Christian faith now means something else entirely” - Link

“The new spiritual consumerism in America” - where everything is framed in the context of “self-care = spiritual urgency” - Link

Futuristics/Technology

The “Gig Economy” forms about 25% of Kenya’s total economy - Link

#Surveillance - Amazon’s Ring wanted to use 911 calls to activate its video doorbells - “Would trigger the cameras on the Ring doorbells near the call” - Link
… not the “Ring doorbell” of the person making the call, but use GPS locations to trigger all the cameras near where the call is made.

Benedict Evans has written a long and in-depth essay on the many issues involved in facial recognition and the ethics of AI. If you want to grapple with the nuances and messiness of this topic, this is a very informative read - Link

A video look at Beijing’s massive new international airport - Link

Muslims suspicious that San Diego’s rollout of “smart streetlights” is aimed at mosque surveillance (and it looks like they have good reason to be suspicious) - Link

Infographic: social media use by generation - Link

“The 5 years that changed data” - an Atlantic long read on the impact of dating apps. (Important trend to understand and grapple with because demographics—e.g. marriage, birth, death—are a key element of religious growth & change) - Link

#AI: “The virtual assistant”: a long read on the actual impact of AI today - Link
… “All of these have huge amounts of AI helping you sort through the hopelessly large choices you have to make.”

New AI-enabled 500-megapixel cloud camera can capture thousands of faces at a stadium in perfect detail, generate facial data for the cloud, locate a particular target “in an instant” - Link

Under AI’s watchful eye, China wants to raise smarter students: “artificial intelligence cameras and brain wave trackers.” Link

TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing - Link