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MDGC SPEAKER FEATURE: SONA KAZANJIAN

October 6, 2016

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.

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MDGC Speaker Feature: Mutua Mahiaini

October 6, 2016

Each year, Movement Day features speakers who come to educate, inspire, challenge, and encourage city leaders. Learn more about the world-renowned speakers, topic experts and practitioners scheduled to share about global issues and key urban population groups at Movement Day Global Cities 2016.

This month, we caught up with Mutua Mahiani, International President of The Navigators, a ministry whose mission is “To Know Christ and To Make Him Known.” Mutua currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO where he works to extend and enrich the work of The Navigators around the world.

Q: You are the International President of The Navigators, a global Christian outreach ministry to college campuses, military bases, cities, prisons, and youth camps. Would you share a little bit about what led you to serve with The Navigators?
Having come to Christ at the age of 10, I went through a number of years during which I experienced discouragement in my walk with God and was ready to throw in the towel. Then I met The Navigators when I was finishing high school and the help they gave me was so deeply meaningful that I wanted to help people in practical ways in their walk with Christ. I ended up serving full time with The Navigators. My involvement as a Navigator staff person over the years has been a series of steps as God has clearly led me and opened doors for ministry and leadership.

Q: The Navigators has ministries in 107 countries on six continents. Do you see any themes of gospel movement or urban challenge that are similar within these diverse locations of ministry?
The main characteristic of every place where we are working, and especially in urban areas, is captured in a phrase within our vision statement: workers for the Kingdom next door to everywhere. The idea of each person being able to reach others in their sphere of life without having to join anything, go anywhere or subscribe to anything opens up all kinds of opportunities for the gospel; and this is true in all the 107 countries that Navigator staff serve in.

Q: You have served for over 30 years with The Navigators, in many posts throughout Africa. Please share a little about what you learned about gospel movements throughout the African continent during that time?
It would be hard to summarize all the lessons we continue to learn about the movement of the gospel, but one significant lesson is that when people connect with others who share similar values and the same vision, they are able to act more courageously and live more attractively before a watching world. This often takes intentionality and the right kind of leadership.

Q: How can the broader Movement Day community support those working to bring about gospel movement within The Navigator community?
Since this will be my first time to participate in Movement Day, I am not sure what to expect in this area, but clearly God never expected us to have silos or to establish empires around our own organizations and our own structures. It pleases him to see us work together. I am glad that The Navigators have been part of Movement Day and we plan to continue to play our part in what God is doing.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at Movement Day Global Cities 2016?
Again, since this is my first Movement Day experience, I am primarily looking forward to learning and to watching God lead us together as we seek him for the future.

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Four Compelling Tracks on Making Disciples and Empowering The Youth

September 28, 2016

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 are 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 Youth Mentorship & Discipleship. Do you have a particular passion surrounding the process of making disciples? If so, we recommend you take time to check out our track, Disciple Making Through the Church For Kingdom Impact. This track, featuring speakers from around the globe, will seek to explore opportunities, principles and sustainable methods for fulfilling the Great Commission.

Perhaps you are someone who has a heart to identify, highlight, and proactively engage in combatting injustice affecting young people around the world. The track, Ministering to Young People In the Face of Injustice, provides an opportunity to learn from leaders doing just this in the diverse nations of Lebanon, Rwanda and the United Kingdom.

Did you know that there are 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, nine-tenths of whom live in less developed countries? Find out how to effectively engage, communicate, and empower local leaders in this demographic in our Reaching the Next Generation track or the Transforming the Next Generation: Disciples of Jesus Changing the World track.

Movement Day Global Cities attendees may choose as many as four different track sessions to attend over the course of two days. 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?

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#FridayReads: “A Disruptive Gospel: Stories & Strategies for Transforming Your City” By Dr. Mac Pier

September 27, 2016

Mac Pier, Founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center, began to have a passion for united prayer after a trip to Bihar, India in 1983. It was that trip which ignitedin him a desire to build bridges between pastors and leaders of various races and denominations. Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, which he founded in 1998, continues in this tradition.  The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) was launched by Pier in 2008 as a model of Christian leaders impacting the spiritual and social climate of an urban center.  The NYCLC also is the inspiration of Movement Day events across the world, including Movement Day Global Cities. Pier has also authored three books including the latest, A Disruptive Gospel: Stories & Strategies for Transforming Your City (published by Baker Books).

A Disruptive Gospel is Pier’s journey of seeing firsthand the impact the Gospel has when it invades a city. For 30 years he participated in what God was doing in New York City and now he shares his stories to inspire others. By interviewing catalytic leaders in urban centers worldwide, Pier uncovers some of the greatest barriers to the Gospel in major cities all over the world, shares hopeful stories of reconciliation, highlights the passion and leadership of young people advancing the Gospel, and offers insight into how to start or join a gospel movement. This book is sure to inspire you- wherever you find yourself! Purchase your copy today.

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#FridayReads: "A Disruptive Gospel: Stories & Strategies for Transforming Your City" By Dr. Mac Pier

September 27, 2016

Mac Pier, Founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center, began to have a passion for united prayer after a trip to Bihar, India in 1983. It was that trip which ignitedin him a desire to build bridges between pastors and leaders of various races and denominations. Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, which he founded in 1998, continues in this tradition.  The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) was launched by Pier in 2008 as a model of Christian leaders impacting the spiritual and social climate of an urban center.  The NYCLC also is the inspiration of Movement Day events across the world, including Movement Day Global Cities. Pier has also authored three books including the latest, A Disruptive Gospel: Stories & Strategies for Transforming Your City (published by Baker Books).

A Disruptive Gospel is Pier’s journey of seeing firsthand the impact the Gospel has when it invades a city. For 30 years he participated in what God was doing in New York City and now he shares his stories to inspire others. By interviewing catalytic leaders in urban centers worldwide, Pier uncovers some of the greatest barriers to the Gospel in major cities all over the world, shares hopeful stories of reconciliation, highlights the passion and leadership of young people advancing the Gospel, and offers insight into how to start or join a gospel movement. This book is sure to inspire you- wherever you find yourself! Purchase your copy today.

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Everyday Impact and Five Compelling Interactive Learning Tracks

September 21, 2016

A fundamental component of the Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC) experience is the opportunity to hear from and dialogue with one another Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. 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 are 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 seeking to explore questions, needs, or challenges connected to the theme of Everyday Impact. For those wanting to lead from a place of spiritual and emotional wholeness, check out our Afternoon Track entitled Emotionally Healthy Leaders: Change People, Change the World. This session, led by Pete Scazzero, Founder of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and Teaching Pastor of New Life Fellowship Church; Bishop Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor of The Park Church; Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC); and Nicole Massie Martin, Executive Minister at The Park Church.

For those who have a heart for the urban poor and feel called to respond to the pressing demands presented by extreme urban poverty, our Fragile States and the Future of Extreme Poverty track is the one for you. A special emphasis will be placed upon the nation of Haiti as a case study, with John Hasse, National Director for World Vision Haiti and Raineer Chu, Head & Co-Founder of Companion With the Poor Inc. Manila, on hand to lead the session, along with Adam Durso, President of Faith Breathes, LLC and Rev. Mullery Jean-Pierre, Pastor of Beraca Baptist Church.

Are you a thriving or aspiring entrepreneur? If so, come to our track, Entrepreneurs On the Front Lines of City Impact and learn from four Christ-following entrepreneurs operating at scale and making a significant impact in the places they work — from New Jersey to India, Honduras, and beyond.

For those passionate about helping others find God and advancing gospel movement in the midst of daily life and ordinary work, two track sessions — Every Day Work and God’s Plan For Your City and Women Building the Kingdom At Work — are the ones for you! Are you a pastor seeking to equip individuals for their lives at work? Attend The Power of Workplace Facing Pastors to be empowered with best practices for this ministry.

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 their impact within cities. Will you join us?

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Fostering Unity Across Berlin

September 20, 2016

 
Berlin, a city still divided – between East and West, State and Free Church, Christian and non-Christian – serves as one of Movement Day Global Cities’ (MDGC) inspiring global-city partners. This month, we spoke with Pastor Axel Nehlsen, former director of Berlin’s city-wide network Gemeinsam für Berlin (Together for Berlin) to learn more about this urban center’s gospel landscape and some of the challenges facing German society today.

At present, 28% of Germany’s population identifies as traditionally Protestant and 29% identifies as Catholic. It is interesting to note that the nation’s history of being separated into ‘East’ and ‘West’ during the late twentieth century has impacted the way in which the Christian demographic within Germany is geographically located. Those aspects of the population that identify as Protestant or Catholic reside predominantly within the western and southern regions of the country, while the easternmost part of the nation cites church membership in general as being below 10%. Indeed, Pastor Nehlsen reports that East Germany is credited as being the most atheistic part of the world despite nationwide evangelistic campaigns and prayer initiatives that hope to see this reality change.

Described by Pastor Nehlsen as “an emerging European capital, a world city of culture, politics, media, and science, the bridge between Western and Eastern Europe, and a leader in societal developments and innovation,” the city of Berlin plays a leading role in Germany’s journey towards gospel movement. He notes, “If and where Berlin’s churches and Christians are taking responsibility for the spheres of arts and culture, education and law, business and economy, immigration and integration, they are impacting other German and European cities.”

According to Pastor Nehlsen, 60% of Berlin´s 3.5 million inhabitants are non-religious, with 33% of the city’s inhabitants identifying as nominal attendees of a Christian church and only 3.5% (approximately 40,000 city inhabitants) identifying themselves as born-again Christians. He notes however, that while “committed Jesus followers are a small minority in the city” the last 15 years have seen, “a movement of prayer, unity and transformation growing among churches.”

This change in perspective gave rise to the establishment of a city-wide interdenominational network “Gemeinsam für Berlin” (Together for Berlin, TfB) in 2002. Observes Pastor Nehlsen, “Fostering unity across the city was crucial and strategic. There needed to be a network of networks. TfB would identify and connect initiatives around the city that were impacting local communities. Far more than 100 missional initiatives were founded over the last 10 years; most of them are neighborhood-oriented, grassroots movements.” This emphasis on collaboration has also given rise to a perspective shift within the broader Christian community in Berlin. Observes Pastor Nehlsen, “More and more individual Christians, ministries and local churches are seeing the city from a broader Kingdom perspective – it’s not just “me and my church”, but “God´s Kingdom and the city.”

This spirit of collaboration and emphasis on “neighborhood-oriented, grassroots movements” has formed the foundation for an effective response to a significant challenge – the mass migration of refugees within Europe. Indeed, in 2015 alone, one million refugees – predominantly from the Middle East – arrived in Germany, a country with a population of 82 million. Observes Pastor Nehlsen, “What started as an exceptional humanitarian decision of Chancellor Merkel in September 2015 has now evolved into a serious discussion and caused a significant split in politics and society.”

Fear of terror attacks similar to those occurring in other European nations, the growing affiliation to right-wing populist parties, and the sheer challenge of attempting to integrate such large numbers of refugees into German society are the largest urban challenges facing both the city of Berlin and the nation of Germany as a whole. The mass migration of refugees has also impacted the composition of Germany and the city of Berlin’s faith community. Notes Pastor Nehlsen, “The number of Muslim believers (250,000 in 2014) is growing fast because of the refugee wave. In 2015 more than 70,000 refugees came to Berlin, part of them persecuted Christians, 90% of them Muslims from the Middle East.”

Pastor Nehlsen sees the refugee crisis as an opportunity for evangelism. He notes, “Evangelicals see the situation as an opportunity to tangibly show the love of Christ to Muslim people and demonstrate the gospel through word and action. Maybe this will turn out to be a great chance for missions in the Middle East that would not have been possible without the refugee crisis.”

Pastor Nehlsen sees the addition of these refugees to Berlin and Germany at large as a gift. He notes, “the growing number of lively immigrant churches is a gift to the Body of Christ to increase prayer and evangelization.”

Will you join us in lifting up the gospel movement in Berlin and the nation of Germany in prayer?

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#FridayReads: “Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City is the Greatest News of All” By Jon M. Dennis

September 9, 2016

Jon M. Dennis, founder and senior pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, received his MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is currently working on completing his doctorate of ministry at Westminster Theological Seminary. He and his wife Amy have five children and he is the author of several books including Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City is the Greatest News of All.

Dennis uses this book to explain why God loves cities, how and why we should live in them, and what we can do to reach them for his glory. He touches on practical issues such as sex, ethnicity and raising children in an urban setting. Whether you are an urbanite or non-urbanite, Christian or skeptic, single or married, city-lover or city-hater, this book will give you a vision for collaborating in God’s global movement to bring true and gospel-centered change.

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#FridayReads: "Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City is the Greatest News of All" By Jon M. Dennis

September 9, 2016

Jon M. Dennis, founder and senior pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, received his MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is currently working on completing his doctorate of ministry at Westminster Theological Seminary. He and his wife Amy have five children and he is the author of several books including Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City is the Greatest News of All.

Dennis uses this book to explain why God loves cities, how and why we should live in them, and what we can do to reach them for his glory. He touches on practical issues such as sex, ethnicity and raising children in an urban setting. Whether you are an urbanite or non-urbanite, Christian or skeptic, single or married, city-lover or city-hater, this book will give you a vision for collaborating in God’s global movement to bring true and gospel-centered change.

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From Loneliness to Unity – Oslo On the Move

August 25, 2016

 
Oslo, a Norwegian city known for its beautiful beaches and 19th century architecture, also serves as home to MDGC 2016 champions like Joakim Magnus, a dynamic Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base leader currently working to advance gospel movement in this Scandinavian capital. This month, we took some time to connect with Joakim to learn more about Oslo’s journey towards gospel movement.

The gospel landscape in Oslo is at a unique juncture, with the city containing a relatively low number of church goers as compared to the rest of Norway, a statistic which stands in contrast to a growing number of churches in the city. States Joakim, compared to the rest of Norway, especially the South and West, the numbers of churchgoers are low in Oslo. On the other hand, we are now experiencing a unity among churches and Christian organizations that was unthinkable only 20 years ago. New churches keep emerging and we currently have more than 90 immigrant churches in Oslo.” Gospel movement in Oslo remains slow and steady, the work of transformation ongoing. Observes Joakim, “A lot of good things are happening and people are coming to faith, but not in large numbers. We still have a long way to go to see our city transformed.”

Oslo’s movement towards greater unity can be, in part, attributed to the inception of “Prayer for Oslo” – a week of city-wide prayer initiated in 2001. Affirms Joakim, “‘Prayer for Oslo’ has been important on many different levels. First of all, it has created stronger unity amongst the churches, and brought the churches closer to the needs and challenges of the city. Through ‘Prayer for Oslo’ the city’s inhabitants, institutions, and government have received intercession.” City leaders are known to join alongside church leaders for the purpose of considering how greater unity and collaboration can take place in the city. Observes Joakim, “The Mayor of Oslo and other leaders of the city have participated in the event to tell about the needs of the city. This has resulted in greater trust and understanding between the Church and society.” Indeed, at one of the sessions during a recent ‘Prayer for Oslo’ the city’s Mayor apprised participants of Oslo’s greatest and most surprising area of need – loneliness. Indeed, Joakim reports, “A huge part of Oslo’s population struggles with loneliness, and are longing for real friendship. The challenge from the governing Mayor is something we as a church need to take to heart and do something about it.”

As leaders of a YWAM base, Joakim and his wife’s daily work intimately connects them to this challenge of loving the population of Oslo. States Joakim, When my wife and I started YWAM in Oslo 4 years ago, we felt God gave us a simple vision – to make everyday disciples. Our goal has never been to make a big YWAM work or YWAM base but to see a wave of young disciples transforming the capital of Norway.” At the heart of this mission was a desire to see collaboration and a greater sense of unity take root. Joakim shares, “to be able to see a city like Oslo truly being impacted by the gospel we need unity in the Body of Christ and to think bigger than our own church or organization. We need to take responsibility for our city.”

Movement Day it seems, has played a pivotal role in shaping Joakim’s vision for gospel movement within the city of Oslo. Exclaims Joakim, “Especially after being connected with Movement Day it’s been a dream in my heart to see leaders from the business world, and from organizations and churches, unite in prayer and work together to see change in Oslo.” Joakim and a delegation of leaders from Oslo will be joining us for MDGC 2016 in New York City this October. This group of leaders includes delegates from the church, business, and broader nonprofit organizational sector of Oslo, connected in their common desire “to see greater unity and gospel initiatives take place” in their city. Enthuses Joakim, “We hope our participation in Movement Day will bear fruit for the future and that Oslo can be a catalyst and inspiration for other cities in Europe. Already many churches and organizations in Oslo are working and experiencing God’s Kingdom expanding in Europe.”

Will you join us in lifting up the city of Oslo and all those working to advance gospel movement in prayer? Affirms Joakim, “You can pray for us and with us. We are aware that nothing happens without prayer. And if you have Oslo on your heart we would love to connect with you.”

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