Today several hundred leaders gathered for Movement Day Greater Dallas (MDGD). Leaders met from every corner of Greater Dallas to wrestle with the question of how the gospel transcends racial differences, economic disparity, and generational realities.
Korean Christianity is one of the great stories of church history. The church grew from the soil of martyrdom, persecution, and civil war into a globally vibrant movement. Seoul has some of the largest churches in the world and Korea has the highest number of missionaries per capita of any country in the world.
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC) 2016 would not have been possible without the prayerful support of thousands around the world. Some of you used our prayer guide, others engaged in corporate congregational prayer, and countless members of the MDGC family made us a part of their daily prayer time.
Gathering 3,000 leaders from around the world makes for a beautiful time of shared fellowship and perspective. Different aspects of the experience will stick out to specific participants in unique ways. Since the purpose of this gathering was to bring together leaders from diverse countries and areas of ministry together, we wanted to capture the diversity of their experiences. Through our attendee survey and Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC) app, this is what you told us.
This past October, leaders from across the globe gathered for three powerful days of connection, celebration, education, and inspiration in the Jacob Javits Convention Center right here in New York City. Day after day powerful stories of God’s faithfulness and His people’s commitment to spreading the gospel were shared. Our team watched you pray, cry, laugh, and challenge one another. We came away humbled, energized, and inspired.
Known as “the capital of the south” and said to be “the keeper of South Indian artistic and religious traditions”, the city of Chennai is one of MDGC’s vibrant Global City Partners. With a population of 10 million, Chennai is thought to be the place to which the Apostle Thomas brought the gospel to over 2000 years ago and in which he was martyred. States Jeyakaran Emmanuel, Partnership and Faith Development Leader for World Vision in Chennai, the city “stands on the foundation of blood, sweat & tears – the blood of the martyr (Thomas), sweat of the missionaries and tears of Intercessors.” Indeed, Emmanuel reports that the city of Chennai remains central to the advancement of gospel movement in India – a nation of 1.2 billion in which only 2.8% of the population officially claim Christianity as their religion. He notes, “Chennai has been the birthplace for several national missions movements and is regarded as the “Antioch of India” having sent out thousands of missionaries to unreached Northern India over the past few decades.”
The vibrancy of a city like Chennai cannot be understated in relation to the broader gospel movement within the nation of India where the majority of citizens ascribe to Hinduism (75%), under the rule of a fundamentalist Hindu government, and large parts of Northern India remaining unevangelized with an increasing number of Christians facing persecution steadily increasing. Despite these realities, Chennai is reported to have “vibrant city wide prayer & unity movements” – among them Blessed Chennai, Light up Chennai, the National Day of Prayer, and a growing city transformation movement called Chennai Transformation Network (CTN). CTN in particular has given a structure to allow Christians to begin influencing the city, primarily through the following 11 tracks or “spheres” in areas such as Prayer, Arts, Media, Business, Church Planting, Social Action, Children, Youth, Family, Sports, Education, Students, Women, etc.
Movements like the Chennai Corporate Fellowship who assist in the networking of workplace fellowships, and the existence of 140 pastoral fellowships also give formation to the continued growth and collaboration of Christians within the city. In addition, reports Emmanuel, local churches continue to engage in an ever increasing amount of “social action and justice work through Christian NGOs such as Compassion, Intermission, World Vision, and International Justice Mission that have their Indian headquarters in Chennai.” Emmanuel classifies the aforementioned spheres in which gospel movement has gained “traction” under the following headings:
- CHURCH ENGAGEMENT: Prayer & unity movements in the body of Christ.
- MARKETPLACE ENGAGEMENT: Workplace movements in the corporate sector.
- NGO ENGAGEMENT: Social Justice initiatives led by several Christian NGOs, which has mobilized local churches into social action.
Like any other city, Chennai faces its share of urban challenges. Emmanuel has distilled these urban challenges as falling under three main categories: education, employment, and the environment. While the young urban poor struggle to gain access to quality education, unemployment remains on the rise while the overall state of pollution and contamination abounds. Emmanuel also reports that corruption, discrimination according to “gender, caste, religion, color etc.”, and intolerance leading to “the persecution of minorities” as a result of what he describes as the “rise of the “Hindutva” – the nationalist Hindu fundamentalist movement that is intolerant of other religions” – also serve as significant challenges facing the city of Chennai today.
It is against this backdrop of urban struggle that Jeyakaran Emmanuel and his wife Kavitha Israel actively work to simultaneously advance gospel movement and social change. Jeyakaran, is engaged through his work with World Vision and the Chennai Transformation Network. Kavitha’s organization Women of Worth (WOW), “leads a movement that seeks to empower women to stand up for justice, equality and change in all facets of life and society in both local and global contexts” through “advocacy, training, and rehabilitation.” In connection with WOW, Kavitha also campaigns for women’s safety while challenging traditional standards of beauty, launching the Girl Arise and Dark Is Beautiful Campaigns, each of which serves to address different areas of need within the sphere of gender equality, safety, and empowerment. In addition, the couple continues to support and provide leadership to Powerhouse Church, a congregation they planted over 20 years ago, with the desire to build “a contemporary church that would reach out with the gospel particularly to young English-speaking students and working professionals” and advance the notion of “the priesthood of all believers, gender equality & justice for all.”
States Emmanuel, “With its vibrant prayer, evangelism and city transformation movements, Chennai we believe has an ‘apostolic’ calling as a city to be a resource and catalyst for newer gospel movements in other Indian cities.” He notes, “As every city has its own unique character and story, Chennai’s unfolding story of gospel movements impacting the city can be an inspiration to the larger Movement Day community. We (Chennai Transformation Network) plan to host the first Chennai Movement Day in August 2017.”
Will you join us in lifting up in prayer the city of Chennai and all those working to advance their gospel movement?
A fundamental component of the Movement Day Global Cities experience is the opportunity to hear from and dialogue with one another in the afternoons. Join us for our Interactive Learning Tracks and participate in the sharing of best practices and the fostering of collaboration between leaders, organizations, and cities. Topics covered within the tracks are focused on current urban issues or population groups, and led by topic experts and practitioners.
While the topics covered in our Interactive Learning Tracks are diverse, many of the sessions seek to address questions or needs connected with general themes of City Impact & Transformation, Everyday Impact, Youth Mentorship & Discipleship, and Church Growth.
This week we are highlighting several Interactive Learning Tracks that may interest those who are seeking to explore questions, needs, or challenges connected to the theme of Church Growth.
If you are interested in learning about large scale, city-wide, evangelistic events that can serve as rallying or unifying gatherings to advance gospel movement in your city, check out the interactive learning track entitled The Catalytic Impact of Large Proclamation Events On City Gospel Movements.
Do you have a heart to tell people about Jesus and see the urban church extended? If so, our informative interactive learning tracks Church Planting & Kingdom Multiplication or Urban Apologetics: The Wineskin Of the Kingdom are designed specifically for you. Each of these tracks seeks to equip and empower church and marketplace leaders with strategies and collaborative techniques to reach beyond themselves and impact the culture and cities with the Gospel.
Our Interactive Learning Tracks also address specific topics that are of great importance such as spiritual warfare and the importance of engaging in innovative models for funding ministries. Attend our Exposing & Overcoming Supernatural Darkness In Your Community interactive learning session to be equipped and empowered to address this in your city. Our session entitled, Philanthropy & The Urban Poor: Innovative Models For Ministry Funding, will help you learn more about how to fund your initiatives to marginalized communities in a sustainable way.
Movement Day Global Cities attendees may choose as many as four different Interactive Learning Track sessions to attend. Details regarding time and location will be provided upon registration. It has been encouraging to note that over the years, several Interactive Learning Tracks have resulted in the establishment of ongoing working groups to accelerate impact within cities. Will you join us?
Movement Day Global Cities 2016 will feature speakers who come to educate, inspire, challenge, and encourage city leaders. This month, we caught up with Sona Kazanjian, Director of Dubai Ministries who also is on staff with Fellowship of the Emirates. Currently residing in Dubai, Sona works to advance gospel movements by assisting churches and ministries around the Gulf States region.
Q: You have played an instrumental role in arranging for priests, pastors and church leaders to pay official visits to the Rulers of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). What benefits have you seen from the unity of the church and the government?
One of our goals in Dubai has been to create a Christian presence that is noticeable, available and can be touched. In other words “you can find it if you are seeking!” In our part of the world Christian faith is almost invisible. From what I understand, it’s becoming more and more that way in other countries.
Our aim is to be part of the fabric which makes Dubai a good place to live and work. That integrates our lives into the lives of people in a nice and soft way, and opens doors for sharing who we are and what we believe.
Also of importance is the great feeling of being united as the body of Christ. Twice a year leaders from all denominations come together to pray for the UAE and to go meet the Rulers. There was a tragic moment in the life of our city when our Ruler’s oldest son died. The church leaders went in one accord to give condolences and show love and respect. Things like this are important and are not forgotten.
Q: Can you share with us more about your work with Fellowship of the Emirates, a non-denominational evangelical church?
As the Director of City Ministries, my role is to be a catalyst for the churches working together. At Fellowship we believe our calling is to do more than just minister to our congregation. We feel we have a role in ministering to the body of Christ in our city. Through my role in the RTN (Regional Transformation Network), we encourage participation in the Global Day of Prayer and in a citywide prayer meeting on our UAE National Day. One of things closest to my heart is the Night of Power prayer gathering which takes place on the 27th day of Ramadan. People from all the churches stay up praying all night for God to reveal Himself through dreams and visions during this most special of nights in the Muslim world.
Additionally, I serve on the Global Leadership Summit Advisory Committee to help bring this great tool to the hands of the local churches. Our church also sponsors a ‘Business by the Book’ ministry to reach out to the business men and women in Dubai. Our vision statement is:
“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
Q: You have been very involved with the recent refugee crisis. Can you share about how you have seen the church meet the pressing needs this crisis has presented?
Fellowship of the Emirates is very passionate about alleviating the suffering caused by the war in Syria and Iraq. Since the early days, we have been sending money to the churches in Syria especially those in the dangerous zones like, Homs and Aleppo. My home town Homs is in ruins now. Life will never be the same again. It’s so devastating to see the tragedy our friends and families go through just to survive another day.
One thing we did recently was to partner with evangelical Arabic churches in Cairo and Dubai to sponsor a Women’s Trauma Conference in Lebanon. A few hundred Syrian women were brought by bus to Beirut where medical, dental, psychological, and spiritual help was offered. The impact on these suffering ladies was so moving I cannot put it into words. Soon we hope to have a similar conference for families inside Syria to address the trauma in the lives of parents and children.
As the war has continued, our church sent short term mission teams to Jordan to help with the refugees in Mafraq. We partnered with full time workers there to help establish a knitting business for Muslim women. We provide the yarn and bring the products back to Dubai to sell.
We also have been deeply saddened by the tragic stories coming out of Iraq about what’s happening to the al Yazidis (an ethnically Kurdish religious community). Our church sent mission teams to Irbil to support the huge work that is going on there.
For several years Fellowship has been involved in training and sending missionaries to reach Muslims in Europe. We have done this through A2A (Arab to Arab) Ministry, Go! Ministry, and others.
Q: Do you have any advice for Christian leaders who also have a heart to serve in seeing greater unity come between the church and the government?
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “It’s amazing what God can do when no one cares who takes the credit.” We at Fellowship of the Emirates believe that very strongly.
Unity among Christians and churches is very difficult, but it is so precious!! It is what makes the world know that God came down to earth and lived among us. The question I’m prompted to ask is: Does the unity and cooperation of Christians in my city cause non-believers to wonder what supernatural thing is going on here?”
Q: How can we empower and catalyze men and women to bring change to their community and become agents to city transformation?
Love your neighbor, hug them and smile at their faces. Be available to drink coffee and to hear their pain, to answer their questions about God. ISIS is terrible, but it has been an amazing shaking in the Muslim world and has resulted in questions that have never been asked before. Let’s answer those questions together.
Q: What do you hope to share with the leaders at MDGC this fall?
A clear picture of who the Arab woman is and how can we be of help to her.