Your List of 10 People

While teaching Perspectives this season, one of the things I’ve been focusing on emphasizing is a Piper concept. I don’t always agree with Piper – in fact, I often don’t – but this is one where I do tend (yes, there’s nuance) to agree with him: “You’re either a goer, a sender, or disobedient.”

So here’s the suggestion I’ve been making at Perspectives:

  1. Get out a sheet of paper. Write the numbers 1 to 10 down the left hand side of the sheet.
  2. Put the sheet before God in prayer. Ask him to put names on the page: if you are a goer, they are the people you should approach about supporting you in prayer and encouragement (and some of them, obviously, finances). But less thought of: if you are a sender, these are the people you think you should be encouraging.

You could do worse than simply putting those names down on a piece of paper and praying for them daily, and asking God to reveal how you can encourage them. Then, just listen for conversations where people have a heart for the world, for the people “out there,” for the unreached. Offer to take them to coffee and hear their story. Unpack what might be a calling on their life. Encourage them and pray for them. Circle around and follow up.

Over time, your list of 10 will no doubt change. It might grow or it might shrink. That’s okay. Just keep laying that list before the Father and praying for them, and asking for opportunities to encourage people in a calling to the nations. Even 1 person could be used by God to start a movement that reaches 1,000, 100,000 or even millions of people.

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World Population throughout time

World population growth is one of the primary factors driving the development of missionary strategy. The annual growth rate of the world’s total population grew markedly during the 1900s, so that strategies developed today have to engage with a very different reality from any previous century.

The chart below lays out the world’s population from AD 30 through AD 2050.

In AD 30, the world’s total population was estimated to be about 170 million – something like half the total population of the United States today, or a little less than the current population of India’s Uttar Pradesh. Global population totals remained at about this level through AD 1000.

Around 1100 AD, the world crossed the 300 million population line for the first time. It took another 500 years to cross the 500 million line. When William Carey was born, global population was estimated in the 600 millions; when he died in 1834, the first billion had been reached. Thereafter, population growth became increasingly rapid. By 1900, the world had more than 1.5 billion people. A century later, in 2000, it had 6 billion. In a single hundred years, the world added more than 6 times as many people as all those who had been born between the time of Christ and the year 1900. It is no wonder to me that people were talking about ‘The Population Bomb.’ 

Looking at this chart, I see two different kinds of ‘closure challenge’.

  • The period from AD 30 to 1900 is a period of slow population growth, with widely dispersed populations–and in all those long centuries, the world was rarely more than 20% Christian.
  • The period from AD 1900 to 2000 is a period of very rapid population growth, in which the world has sustained itself at the 33% Christian mark.

For most of the time up to 1900, the world hovered around the 14 to 15% Christian mark. Although I would resist broad generalizations, those centuries seem to indicate the challenge of ‘finishing the task’ has never been purely about the immensity of the numbers. We can say ‘no one can reach 7 billion people’–but it looks like we had trouble reaching 100 million, too?

There are limits to this analysis–the USA is reached today, for example–but it’s worth exploring why the world hasn’t been reached. These figures seem to say it’s not because there’s too many people.

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Roundup 288

SPARKS TO WATCH

1. We continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. Russia’s made some noises about stopping if Ukraine gave into its demands, but that’s not likely. Refugees are streaming into Europe, where many churches are doing great things to reach out to them; non-Ukrainian migrants are sometimes less well received by Europeans. The war seems to have bogged down but an assault on Kyiv “may” happen within days. Western countries continue to rearm Ukraine. Pray for the many Christians trying to be a blessing to Ukrainians and others, and for the many Ukrainian Christians caught in the middle.

2. Less visible are the many other conflicts that simmer in the background. Last week we mentioned Cameroon with its 1 million displaced; this week, note the ongoing unrest in Mozambique, with nearly a million displaced. Violence and warfare simmers even when it’s not readily visible. Pray for churches in these contexts.

3. One perhaps less seen effect of the war in Ukraine: the knock-on effects of grain not being exported from the country. Egypt this week is an example of a wider trend: without that grain, subsidized bread will be less available. Without that bread, protests and riots will surely unfold (as they always do). Pray for those who work in the context of great poverty.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Egypt’s countdown to a new bread uprising. MEMO
… the world’s largest wheat importer. 86% imported from Russia, Ukraine …
… bans exports of key staples to protect food reserves. Bloomberg
Iraq’s youth bulge threatens its weakened economy. ArabNews
… Protests break out over shortage of Ukrainian grain. National InterestMEMO
Iraq: rebuilding churches as symbols of hope. DW
… “the message is for Christians to return to Mosul”.
… Mosul’s Old City rises from rubble: more on churches rebuilt. Al-Monitor
The widow labor force in Iraq [specifically Mosul]. Rudaw
Israel, Turkey announce plans to rebuild ties. Al Jazeera
Saudi Arabia lifts most Covid restrictions, puts end to social distancing. SCMP
… the hajj is probably back on, then …
Sudan: gunmen wreak havoc in North, Central Darfur. Dabanga
Turkey drops mask rules as it heads for normality ahead of tourist season. Al-Monitor

East Africa (520m) 

UN: 7 million people in northern Ethiopia need urgent help. Garowe
Opinion: There is a path to peace in Tigray. FP $
Military intervention hasn’t stopped Mozambique’s jihadist conflict. NewHum
… “the conflict has depopulated northern Cabo Delgado, about size of Rwanda”
… “at least 730,000 people fleeing to safer southern districts”
Uganda’s preachers who take religion to the streets of Kampala. BBC

West + Middle Africa (600m)

As conflict spreads to South Burkina Faso, so do human rights abuses. VOA
Guinea: dozens of parties threaten to demonstrate against the junta. Africa News
Why children in NW Nigeria are ending up on the streets. HumAngle
… at least 10.5m children are out of school in Nigeria, highest in the world

South + Central Asia (2b)

Nearly 400 civilians killed in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, 80% by ISIS-K. Al Jazeera
Long Read: Why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. History
‘We are desperate’: War in Ukraine diverts attention from Afghan humanitarian crisis. RFE
Dry Wells: portents of a looming water disaster in Afghanistan. Fair Planet

Bangladesh’s “Youtube Village”: watching elderly villagers cook extravagant feasts. Link
… 4 million subscribers? …
Bangladesh sets target to send 1 million workers abroad in 2022. Arab News
… over 10 million Bangladeshis live and work abroad, mainly in the Middle East.
Languages of Bangladesh: mapped and profiled. Link
… I’m not a linguist & I haven’t explored this very much. Would be curious if someone who’s more expert can weigh in on the accuracy.

India election: BJP won or leading in 251 of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh. ReutersNPR
… claims victory in four state elections. Guardian
Why India’s election results may worry the country’s 200 million Muslims. CBS
Hardline Hindu monk’s stock rises as BJP wins key Indian state. Al Jazeera

Ukraine could remake Kazakhstan’s relationship with Russia. Diplomat
… “not just the global order but the regional order has been dramatically changed.”
Russia sanctions prompt Kazakhstan to increase exports via Caspian. Eurasianet
Kazakhstan donated $2m worth of medicines to Ukraine. Astana Times

China, India, and Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis. Diplomat $
… lost $4 billion of annual foreign currency inflows earned from tourism …
… unable to make foreign debt repayments, foreign currency reserves below $1 billion …

Turkmenistan will get a new president in March. Will it matter? Diplomat $

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

ChinaSource March 2022 Quarterly – “Reaching Migrant Workers in China.” Link
Xi Jinping calls for ethnic groups to ‘stick together like pomegranate seeds.’ SCMP
Putin’s war has killed China’s Eurasian railway dreams. FP
How China’s ambitious Belt and Road plans for East Africa came apart. Diplomat

N Korea accused of testing ICBM systems, restoring nuclear test site. Reuters
… paving way to resumption of long-range tests …

Japan’s little-known seafaring past: the Geiyo Island pirates. BBC
Foreign students waiting (Covid) to enter Japan should be able to by May. Kyodo News
Japan’s cap on foreigners who can enter to raise to 7,000 from March 14. TimeOut

Southeast Asia (700m)

Quarantine free Bali puts Indonesia on track for broad reopening. Bloomberg
Bali scraps quarantine requirement for foreign visitors. WaPo $
Indonesia, Malaysia to further ease curbs on foreign visitors. Reuters
Christian YouTuber from Bali facing 10-year sentence for criticizing Islam. Persecution

Myanmar: What the first year was like. Guardian
… After a year of reporting on the military coup, I knew my luck would finally run out.

Americas+Europe+Pacific


Russia’s ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarize’ (but not occupy) Ukraine.
Events, markers
Russian forces concentrating northwest of Kyiv, possible assault next week. Reuters
Ukraine war at the 2-week mark: Russians slowed but not stopped. AP
Putin thought Ukraine would fall quickly. An airport battle proved him wrong. WSJ $
Proud band of Ukrainian troops holds Russian assault at bay–for now. NYT $
… “Few expected such strength from our people.”
As fighting gets closer, a Kyiv hospital treats the war’s atrocities. NYT $
Attacks on Ukrainian hospitals, ambulances increasing rapidly, WHO warns. Reuters

The potential for Escalation
How the war in Ukraine could get much worse: risk of a deadly spiral. FP
Russia could use chemical or biological weapons, White House warns. Sky
Russia greenlights up to 16,000 volunteer fighters from the Middle East. Reuters
They used a very similar pattern in Syria. Guardian
US spy chiefs say Putin is likely to escalate with no concern for civilian casualties. CNN

Economic ripples, measures
EU seeks independence from Russian oil and gas “well before 2030.” NYT $
US bans all imports of oil and natural gas from Russia. WaPo
… Gas, travel, other prices are rising as a result.
Ukraine’s farmers stalled, fueling fears of global food shortages. Reuters
War in Europe’s breadbasket reverberates among USA chickens. Forbes
… similar articles are in various regions above
Evading sanctions: a how-to guide for Russian billionaires. Forbes
More companies suspend operations in Russia:
… AirbnbMicrosoftNetflixTikTokSony, NintendoRFENYT.
Putin talks of nationalizing Western businesses. NYT $
War in Ukraine is making Americans rethink trip to Europe. Forbes
… perceptions of risk and actual risks are always hard to bring in line

Aid & Refugees
“More than 2.3 million people have now fled the country” Reuters
Turkish humanitarian aid planes stranded in Ukraine. Hurriyet
Eastern Europe’s aid effort under strain, running out of housing. Reuters
Why so many African and Indian students were in Ukraine. BBC
… home to 76,000 foreign students, 25% Africa, 20k Indian. Thousands have fled…

Re-arming
Arming Ukraine: 17,000 anti-tank weapons in 6 days. NYT $
… USA walks to edge of direct conflict in operation reminiscent of Berlin airlift of 1948-49
How useful are Turkish-made drones fighting in Ukraine? DW

Russian censorship:
Russia takes censorship to new extremes, stifling war coverage. NYT $
… new law criminalizes any public opposition to, independent news reporting about war.
Russia strengthens its censorship regime by blocking Facebook. Vox
Russian police arrest more than 3,000 as protests expand across Russia. NYT $
News outlets scramble to set up technical workarounds in response to censorship. WaPo $
WaPo removes bylines to protect reporters amid Russia’s new media law. The Hill

International leaders:
Erdogan urges Putin to declare Ukraine ceasefire, make peace. Reuters
China’s Xi calls for ‘maximum restraint in Ukraine.’ Reuters

Inevitable eschatology:
Russia’s war has some Christians wondering: is this the end of the world? WaPo
Devout Jews in Ukraine stay to pray and await ‘apocalypse.’ France24

New Data

Covid global case data

… 3/04: 442.0m (+10.7m/wk) cases, 5.98m deaths
… 2/26: 431.3m (+11.7m/wk) cases, 5.92m deaths
… 2/18: 419.6m (+13.7m/wk) cases, 5.86m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

Omicron continues to spike in parts of Asia. NYT $

Longer Articles

The latest issue of Mission Frontiers has a host of great DMM-related articles. Link

Progress to eradicate global hunger is stalling. Economist $

Subsaharan Africa emerges as global epicenter of terrorism: half of all annual deaths. Link

Beyond Ukraine: 8 more humanitarian disasters that demand your attention. NewHum

Africa’s Great Green Wall begins to rise. Link
… planting millions of trees across the continent from Senegal to Djibouti. H/T DH.

Book Notes

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Google rolls out Air Raid Alerts to Android phones in Ukraine. Link

Facebook temporarily allows war posts urging violence against Russian invaders. Reuters
… a temporary change to its hate speech policy …

Quotable

“If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” GK Chesterton (h/t Shane Bennett, check out his interviews with Greg Livingstone)

“Live in the future, then build what’s missing.” ~Paul Graham

“If service is below you, leading is beyond you.” ~Tanmay Vora

“Some men die by shrapnel. Some by flames. Some die inch by inch and play at little games.” Winston Churchill 

“If you’re not ready to face opposition for your obedience to God, you’re not ready to be used by God.” ~@Craiggroeschel

“You’re not called and commissioned to attend a service once a week. You’re called to make disciples.” ~@ToddAdkins

“It is not good enough to do God’s work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~Erwin Lutzer

“It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.” ~Napoleon

“There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.” ~Billy Graham

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us” ~St. Augustine

“Those who grow deep without growing wide are probably not as deep as they think.” ~J. D. Greear

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Roundup 287

Sparks to Watch

1. We continue to pray for an end to the war in Ukraine. There are no obvious exits for any of the sides. Scenes of violence are rampant. The war in some ways seems to have bogged down, although Russia is making some advances and both Russia and Ukraine both publicly say they will fight ‘to the end,’ although talks are happening. Pray especially for the many Christians who are opening their homes to the more than 1 million refugees who have fled Ukraine.

2. Less visible are the many other conflicts that simmer in the background. One notable example is Cameroon, which also features 1 million displaced as a result of a five-year-old conflict. Pray for the various churches, missions, and movements active in these regions to be a blessing to those in the midst of suffering.

3. As many emergency measures surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic are being reduced or eliminated altogether, many countries are opening, and that means many migratory workers will be headed back out. One example this week is Bangladesh’s goal of sending 1 million workers abroad. Pray for the ministries that will be reaching out to migrant workers and students.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

“Axis of Abraham”: Arab-Israeli normalization could remake the Middle East. FA
… led to Israeli-UAE trade, over $1 billion in 2021, up from $180 million in 2020
Kurdish GenZ in Turkey is apolitical, wants to live abroad: survey. Link
… 63.2% don’t think Turkey is a safe place to live.
Libya parliament approves new government as crisis escalates. Al Jazeera
… but the current PM has rejected Parliament’s decision, leading to two rival govts. NYT $
Sudanese pound plunges: ‘basic daily needs unaffordable.’ Dabanga
… ‘fear of famine… hunger already prevalent… encroaching on Khartoum…’

East Africa (520m) 

War in Tigray is quieting down, but proxy war in Afar province is heating up. Link
‘Unprecedented attacks’ hound Eritrean refugees in war-hit Ethiopia. AFP

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Burkina Faso has named a new prime minister, president during transition. Link
Africa’s Sahel region facing ‘horrendous food crisis.’ UN
Cameroon’s forgotten war leaves refugees in limbo. AFP
… over a million are uprooted in a 5-year-old conflict nearly forgotten in the rest of world
… (as many Cameroonian refugees as Ukrainian…)

South + Central Asia (2b)

In Afghanistan, Taliban launched sweeping house-to-house raids. WPost
… searching across Kabul for weapons: “We know you had relations with former regime”
Where 67,000 Afghan refugees have resettled in the USA, mapped. CBS
Bangladesh sets target to send 1 million workers abroad in 2022. Arab News
… over 10 million Bangladeshis live and work abroad, mainly in the Middle East.
Iran Story update: nine converts officially acquitted. CT
Photos: Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri celebrated in Nepal, India. Al Jazeera
… a million people expected to visit temple in Nepal’s capital.
Pakistan: suicide bomber attacks Shiite mosque in Peshawar: 56 dead. Link
Sri Lanka ‘runs out of fuel’ as dollar crisis worsens, public transport crippled. AFP
In Tajikistan’s Pamir mountains, tensions simmer dangerously. Diplomat
… in the Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous region, no contact w/outside for 3 months
… “local leaders often part of an anti-systemic grey zone”
ILO declares Uzbek cotton is free from systemic child, forced labor. Link
Kyrgyzstan: More than just grains of rice… Diplomat
… shedding light on community & precarious nature of life in Batken
… dependency on remittances from abroad… and severe poverty widespread…

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Two Sessions 2022: calls for family planning restrictions to be abolished. SCMP
… eventually, might inverse penalties (‘too few children’) be implemented?
It costs $76k to raise a child in China (7x per capita GDP). Sixth Tone

Southeast Asia (700m)

Almost 500 couples in Singapore married on 2/22/22. Link
Laos: in rural areas, Christian families routinely victimized for their faith. UCA

Americas+Europe+Pacific

Russia’s ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarize’ (but not occupy) Ukraine.
Mapping and tracking Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: USA TodayReuters
In photos: destruction, death in Ukraine under bombardment. AP
Lot of chatter about Russians attacking Ukrainian nuclear plant. AP
… in the end, Russian troops took control, no radiation released.
Analysis: Despite early tactical failures, Russia has made gains in last 3 days. @johnstanly
… Russian FM Lavrov says its military operation will press on till ‘the end.’ Reuters
… The coming Ukrainian insurgency: sovereign Ukrainian govt will not stop. FA
… Kyiv prepares for a grueling siege. Economist $
More international political maneuvers, threats:
… Russia threatens consequences if Finland, Sweden try joining NATO. The Hill
… War is a severe test for China’s new axis with Russia. Guardian
… Central Asian nations are silent on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. WPostVOA
… worried they might be next? but also interdependent on Russia.
… and hard hit by Western sanctions on Russia and the falling ruble.
Some countries looking to resupply Ukraine’s military forces
… Turkish drones are on the way. Ahval
… Turkey says war exists in Black Sea, will block the Russian Navy. WSJ $
… NATO countries pour weapons into Ukraine, risking conflict with Russia. NYT $
Global finance turns against Russia:
… EU air space closed to Russian flights. [US airspace closed, too.] @EU
… Numbers of companies pulling out of Russia, increasing its isolation. Reuters
… US, 30 countries to release 60 million barrels of oil to stabilize energy markets. Link
… China’s state-owned finance institutions quietly distancing themselves. Al Jazeera
… Central Bank assets frozen, directly impacts Russian oligarchs and ‘war chest’. NYT $
… How Putin prepared for sanctions with tonnes of African gold. Telegraph
… Russian billionaires see fortunes tumble amid sanctions against them. Forbes
… Oligarch yachts are being seized where possible. Link
… One conversation I had: missionaries may have to leave region due to funds cut off
What are the motivations behind Russia’s campaign?
… The Man behind Putin’s Military looks at the military’s role in the ramp up. FA
… BBC 3-minute video tracks origins of conflict from 1990s. @BBC
Is this the beginning of the end for Putin? Foreign Affairs
… ‘prevailing wisdom: Putin will survive any domestic backlash. Probably true.’
… ‘But authoritarian regimes look stable right up to the point where they are not.’
… Putin’s rage: the Russian President won’t be easy to topple. Spectator
… How might the war end? Five scenarios: short war, long war, European war… BBC
Over a million Ukrainian refugees have fled the country. UNHCR Situation Report
… also, non-Ukrainians, but these less desired in Europe?
… Mass exodus & disbelief: how invasion caught civilians, aid response off guard. NewHum
… 100k refugees went to Moldova, where evangelicals are opening their doors. CT
… First day as a Ukrainian refugee: warm bed, guilt and cursing Putin (Moldova). WPost
… if current rates continue, there could be 4-7 million refugees. TimesEconomist $
Expat communities at somewhat more risk.
… 20% of Ukraine’s foreign students are Africans: 8k Moroccans, 4k Nigerian, 4k Egyptian
… 8K Indian students : why student’s death complicates Indian diplomacy. Indian Express
How travel is being impacted by the Ukraine invasion. CNN
… all US citizens urged to leave Russia. Link
… Airlines reroute flight paths to avoid Russia, Ukraine. WSJ
… Closure of Russian airspace means United can’t fly from US to India. Link
The Ukrainian Church: ‘We need more Bibles.’ CT
… As Eastern Europe goes to war, Scripture is in higher demand, say some.
… From 2008: the development of Ukraine as Eastern Europe’s Evangelical hub. CT

New Data

Covid global case data

… 3/04: 442.0m (+10.7m/wk) cases, 5.98m deaths
… 2/26: 431.3m (+11.7m/wk) cases, 5.92m deaths
… 2/18: 419.6m (+13.7m/wk) cases, 5.86m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

EU lifts non-essential travel ban for vaccinated, recovered travelers from 3rd ctrys. Link
Kazakhstan cancels mandatory PCR testing of vaccinated entering the country.
… but a certificate of a test is still required.
About 5 million children worldwide lost a parent or guardian to Covid. SCMP

New Longreads

Book Notes

I read “Making Numbers Count” by Chris Heath & Karla Starr. It’s a useful and interesting read, but I’m glad I got it on sale. At 180 pages (most of them feel quite short), it’s not worth $15. Pick it up at a library or at a used book sale.

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Trapped in Silicon Valley’s Hidden Caste System. Wired
… born in a cowshed in India, works for Meta in California, hides his background as a Dalit

10 breakthrough technologies in 2022? MIT Tech Review

Lots of Russian state media are being banned from global social media.
… YoutubeSpotifyReddit are the latest examples.

SpaceX sent Starlink internet terminals to Ukraine, but they could paint a giant ‘target’ on users backs, experts say. CNN

A new method for securing digital currency, called “proof of stake,” apparently could cut the energy requirements for cryptocurrencies by more than 99%. This could bring a sea change in the use of blockchain and crypto apps. MIT Tech Review

Quotable

“The enthusiasm of (and for) the kingdom is missing because there is so little enthusiasm for the King.” Andrew Murray

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Roundup 286

SPARKS TO WATCH

1. We pray for peace in Ukraine, although right now there is no peace. Casualties reportedly number in the millions hundreds. Thousands of refugees are now arriving in Poland and other bordering countries. If it was difficult to imagine actually coming to this point, it is equally difficult to imagine where events will take us. Ukraine is roughly the size of Texas, with twice its population, and would be difficult to occupy. Russia’s end game is unclear. Pray for the church to be a blessing to Ukrainians in the midst of these trials.

Editor’s Note: the original publication of Roundup 286 said ‘millions’ of casualties in error (I edited several sentences and ‘millions’ got mistakenly left in). The correct number is currently several hundred, including both Ukrainians and Russians, and is an estimate. I regret the error!

2. War and conflict continue to lead to the movement of peoples. Afghanis, Iranians, Syrians, and now Ukrainians are all struggling to reach places of safety. Many report incredible mental, emotional trauma and spiritual openness amongst these refugees. Pray for the church to be a blessing.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Raqqa: Poverty, fear drive exodus from Syria’s one-time IS capital. AP
Israel opens to all tourists, regardless of vaccination status. NYT $
… you will need both a pre-departure and on-arrival PCR test.
Libya’s parliament says it will vote on new government next week. Link
… however, the incumbent administration says it will not hand over power.
A look inside the Smara refugee camp in Algeria, in photos. Link
… the day to day lives of Sahrawi refugees.
Sudan: ‘battle of the blockades’, protesters plot to choke off military rule. MEE
… “planning to barricade strategic roads… to choke off resources to the government”
… Exports plunge after protesters block main trade artery. Bloomberg $

East Africa (520m) 

Dam crisis returns: Ethiopia turns on the turbines at giant Nile hydropower plant. Reuters
… Sudan slams Ethiopia move at controversial Nile dam. AFP
… Egypt calls for urgent negotiations with Ethiopia, Sudan. Middle East Monitor
Ethiopia says its open to talks with Tigray rebels. WPost $
UNCHR fact finding mission says political violence on the rise in S Sudan. Link

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Analysis: Why France failed in Mali. War on the Rocks
… How will the French pullout from Mali affect security in the Sahel? MEE
… Timeline: Nine years of French troops in Mali. Al Jazeera
… Longer look at Wagner in Africa, but it costs $. I haven’t read it. Africa Report $
Disturbing: Russian mercenaries arrest aid workers on suspicion of arms ownership. Link
… Three staff of French NGO arrested by Wagner mercenaries 
… “the reasons given for the action were searching for arms delivered by a truck”
… nothing found, but three of the staff arrested, telephones seized
Airbnb, Fiverr: Gig work is changing life in Nigeria. Rest of World

South + Central Asia (2b)

‘Ordinary Iranians’ (plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers, etc) emigrating from Iran. Link
… ‘women and young people are leaving, and don’t plan to return’

Indian school’s ban on hijabs ignites battle over religious rights. WSJ $
‘Shoot them’: Indian state police accused of murdering Muslims, Dalits. Guardian
“We are digging our own graves”: translators being left behind in streaming boom. Link
… “rising demand for translation services has become a double edged sword”
… “punishing for established professionals as new entrants drive down rates”

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Serving China’s missionary church. Brent Fulton
… “despite travel restrictions, persistent tightening,… China’s missionaries venture forth” 
How China under Xi Jinping is turning away from the world. NYT $
… “the number of passports issued in the first half of 2021 was 2% the same period 2019”
Rust-belt Heilongjiang unveils plan to halt exodus of residents, boost births. SCMP
… population has plummeted 16% from a decade ago
Report: “Hiring 3 million foreign nannies could boost births by 200,000.” SCMP
… “reduce costs for a family by 60%”
… “money saved could motivate Chinese parents to give birth to 200k more…”

About 400 Afghan evacuees look to find a home in South Korea. WSJ

Mongolia has fully reopened air borders to international travel from 2/14. Link

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar: from hopeful spring to scorching summer. Diplomat
… “intensifying conflict between junta and opponents shows few signs of resolution in ’22”
Vietnam eyes full reopening to international tourists in March. CNN
“The outsider’s insider”: a look at Melayu identity in Thailand. Bangkok Post
Thailand to ease rules for fully vaccinated tourists. @ThaiNewsReports
… from 3/1, apply for Pass that requires PCR test on day 1, and one night in SHA+ hotel.
Indonesian migrants brave treacherous seas for Malaysian dream. Al Jazeera
… “there just aren’t the same number of job opportunities in Indonesia as in Malaysia.”

Americas+Europe+Pacific

Russia’s ‘special military operation’ to ‘demilitarize’ (but not occupy) Ukraine.
Russia attacks Ukraine; peace in Europe ‘shattered.’ AP
11 ways to pray during the crisis in Ukraine. SEND Intl (h/t Mission Catalyst)
Live updates: NYTWPostBBC
Infographics, maps of invasion: NYTBBCVisualCap
2/25 am, Russian units enter Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. SCMP
… pressing into “outskirts” of Ukraine. AP
… the city was not far from the Belarus border, and US govt warns it could fall soon
Ukrainians ready for resistance: “the whole country will be fighting back.” Guardian
Biden vows ‘severe sanctions’ on Russia by US, allies. Reuters
Opinion: What we can expect after Putin’s conquest of Ukraine. WPost $
… forces stationed in western Ukraine along Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
… geopolitical pressure and threats to the Baltic states
… absorption of Belarus and Ukraine into Russia
Amid war and rumors of war, Ukraine pastors preach and prepare. CT
Poland readies for possible refugee influx from Ukraine. DW

US houses of worship face clergy shortage as many resign during pandemic. WSJ

Covid global case data

… 2/26: 431.3m (+11.7m/wk) cases, 5.92m deaths
… 2/18: 419.6m (+13.7m/wk) cases, 5.86m deaths
… 2/11: 405.9m (+21.1m/wk) cases, 5.78m deaths
… 2/03: 384.8m (+26.0m/wk) cases, 5.69m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

People in the US may feel like Covid ‘is over’, and in many ways for them it is. But in other regions, Covid continues to be felt. Each region is different.
Asia’s cautious approach to Omicron. East Asia Forum
… countries in the Asia-Pacific region have maintained or strengthened their restrictions.

Longer Articles

Borders and Conflicts in North and West Africa. Examines the role of border regions in shaping patterns of violence since the end of the 1990s in North and West Africa. OECD, PDF, $28. Link

“hacker-laws,” great GitHub collection of laws, theories, principles and patterns. Link
… Dunbar’s number, Fitt’s law, Gall’s law, Hutber’s law, many many more. Just a fun read.

Book Notes

I am starting “Making Numbers Count” by Chris Heath & Karla Starr. It’s about translating numbers into descriptive forms that make them easier for people to assimilate.

Short book review of “The Horde,” about the Mongol empire. Foreign Affairs
The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Building corporate culture in a remote work world. Some of the struggles companies are facing are challenges mission agencies have faced for years. Some of the lessons companies are learning may be useful to agencies. The Wired piece below notes “those who don’t know their coworkers, who don’t interact with people beyond their team, and don’t have strong ties are far less likely to stay on the job.” My idle observation is that this could apply to field worker tenure. Then we read, “The single greatest indicator of retention and engagement is whether you have a best friend at work.”
… “for millions of knowledge workers, the office is never coming all the way back.” Atlantic
… It’s tough to build a corporate culture in a remote-work world. Wired

An AI aims to be the first Christian celebrity of the Metaverse. CT

Nearly a quarter of Americans get news from podcasts. Pew
… I’m not one of them, and I’m not starting a podcast any time soon.

The Babelfish & the “No Language Left Behind” AI Model: Meta wants you to understand anyone, from anywhere, no matter which language they speak. Link

An in-depth look at the Chinese companies behind the KJV Bible app. Rest of World

Quotable

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.” Seth Godin

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  Samuel Johnson

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Observation: Putin–Will he? Won’t he?

A think-out-loud thread on what I’ve been thinking while watching the unfolding situation in Ukraine, which could have massive repercussions both in Europe and the rest of the world.

I’ve seen several attempts to analyze what Putin is thinking and what he wants, and while all of these are interesting and perhaps even some of them are correct, I am reminded of something I read in “Against the Gods” (a book about risk management):

“We are never certain. We are always ignorant to some degree. Much of the information we have is incorrect or incomplete. Under conditions of uncertainty, the choice is not between rejecting & accepting a hypothesis, but between reject or not-reject.” (p. 207)

Here’s one such analysis: warontherocks.com
Putin’s Wager in Russia’s Standoff with the West

Here’s another, arguing Russia won’t invade: time.com
The Untold Story of the Ukraine Crisis

What we know right now can be fit on a quad grid. Essentially, Putin has moved forces near to Ukraine, in a bid for something we know not entirely what. He has the choice to ‘invade’ or ‘withdraw’; and in doing so he can either ‘win’ or ‘lose.’

This framework is helpful to me for thinking through some of the scenarios and possibilities. Some of the scenarios are solidly within one specific quadrant (for example, win-invade might lead to regime change that benefits Russia/Putin in some way).

On the other hand, some scenarios “bridge” one or both of the win/lose and invade/withdraw lines (for example, one can imagine a scenario where Putin withdraws and in some senses ‘wins’–perhaps in the court of world opinion–yet loses at home).

But the million dollar question is, of course, which of these boxes are most likely? We can begin by considering the major sides on either side of one specific line.

For example, on the invade side: Many analysts think it’s likely he will, but there are some significant minority opinions that think this is all a ploy. One thing we do know is that the forces are there, and it’s expensive to maintain them. They can’t stay forever.

Here’s a look at the forces arrayed against Ukraine: Economist.com

The best world for Putin is a ‘win’–one generally doesn’t play this kind of game if one expects to lose. He seems willing to invade. So if he is to withdraw, then there must be some way that he can be seen to ‘win’ that justifies the expense of the play.

I think it far more likely he would roll the dice and go for the ‘invade-and-win’ than withdraw without a firm ‘win-and-withdraw’ in hand. Withdrawing seems far more likely to be–or be seen to be (which may be equally important)–a loss.

Given the choice between a certain loss and a chance of win, I suspect the chance of win will be taken. That means invasion.

One other question for scenario building is how deep into one side he gets. For example, there are some analyses that suggest Putin will go for a “limited invasion” (just a little over the invasion side, not deep into the “invade” quadrant). He may get away with that.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, right now, most of the repercussions to Putin if he takes the invasion route appear to be economic. I’m not sure that’s enough to keep him from pulling the trigger. I think they think they can endure.

The upshot of all of this is that, thinking out loud, the invade side seems the more probable option to me, although I wish for the withdrawal side.

Given all that, I have been trying to imagine what the consequences of this will be. One is the withdrawal of Americans — and probably most Westerners — from the region. Many are actively pulling people out and suggesting dire consequences for those who don’t leave.

Another potential impact was highlighted in the Roundup this week: a scenario of tens of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees.

Then there are the knock-on effects of the war – with Russia invading one country, what about the others in the region? It was a piece of fiction, but remember Red Storm Rising: Russia invading Europe to remove NATO to set the stage for invasion of the Middle East.

In fact, in many ways, the whole current series of events reminds me of RSR – Russia making demands that no one will accede to, just to say no one met the demands and so it will invade.

I’m not saying that’s the game plan here, but it would be good to keep in mind that Ukraine may or may not be the ‘end goal’ of this entire strategy. I’m not sure anyone knows precisely what Putin’s motivations are, or what the ‘win state’ of this game is.

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Roundup 285

SPARKS TO WATCH

1. We’re still praying for peace in Ukraine. I am pleasantly surprised fighting didn’t begin this week. Yet tensions and threats continue, and the possibility of war remains.

2. Two stories this week highlight how much China has closed to outsiders.Pray for the many who are still trying to work there, and for the believers who live in the context of restrictions, challenges and often persecution.

3. Reports in the press and and things I’ve been told suggest the situation in Ethiopia is improving, with most of the instability limited to the northern states. The lifting of the state of emergency is a very good sign; peace talks of some kind may be forthcoming. Let’s pray for and support ministries in the area as they work in these less-accessible provinces.

4. Pray for Libya. Some weeks ago people wrote hopefully about potential peace and elections. Those appear to be indefinitely on hold, and the mercenaries, fighting, and death continue. Once upon a time, a wave of spiritual openness was found in this land. Pray that in spite of the situation on the ground, opportunities for blessing to spread will be found.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

International engagement in Libya is worsening the prospects for peace. NewHum
… “a testing ground for foreign military equipment” …
… “tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries” …
Tunisia’s Pres. Saied seized power over the judiciary. Al Jazeera
… shows no sign of giving up control any time soon. Deep dive – Middle East Eye

East Africa (520m) 

How South Sudan’s peace deal sparked conflict in a town spared by the war. NewHum
Ethiopian parliament votes to lift state of emergency early. Al Jazeera
‘Afar has been raided’: Suffering stalks Ethiopia’s forgotten front. AFP
… fresh rebel offensive yields massive destruction, displacement …
WHO is able to get supplies into Tigray, though distribution hampered by fuel issues. ABC
Severe drought = hunger crisis threatening half of Somalia’s under-5s. Al Jazeera

West + Middle Africa (600m)

France announces a total withdrawal of troops from Mali. WPost
… After nine years of grinding warfare, 3.5m displaced & militant gains in the region
… French forces will ‘re-center’ in Niger.
Sahel region facing “horrendous food crisis.” UN
Jihadism & coups in the Sahel: a complex relationship. Conversation

South + Central Asia (2b)

After six months of the Taliban, Afghanis are safer, poorer, less hopeful. AP

India: Hindu nationalism a “threat to Muslims & India’s status as largest democracy.” LAT
A test for Hindu nationalism as [Uttar Pradesh] goes to the polls. The World
What’s behind the escalating row over hijabs in India? Al Jazeera
In India, head coverings are worn by most women. Pew
… including 60% of Hindu, 89% of Muslim, and 86% of Sikh women.
In Photos: glimpses of northern India’s vanishing nomads. NYT
… the Kharnak of Ladakh. Beautiful photography.
… We could all learn lessons in writing people group profiles from pieces like this. …

Azerbaijan set to expand state control of religion. Eurasianet
… new amendment gives state right to appoint imams, register new religious communities
Pakistan: Yet another sad case of a mob killing someone accused of blasphemy. BBC

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Keeping the Flies Out. ChinaFile
… ZGBriefs was absolutely right to share this as a featured article.
… Enormously valuable historical context for the current trend of China’s closing.
The Party that Failed: an insider breaks with Beijing. Foreign Policy
… also instructive, the chronology of a professor for the Central Party School.
China not granting passport renewals for non-essential travel. Reuters
Islam with Chinese characteristics: a look at the Hui and others. ChinaSource
China’s social credit score: untangling myth from reality. Merics
… “more bogeyman than reality” … should be worrying about other forms of surveillance
Guangdong likely to face severe water shortages. Sixth Tone
“The mystery of the chained woman in China.” NPRSCMP
… so many elements to this story – censorship, anti-trafficking, China’s demography …

Japan set to ease restrictions, raising daily foreigner arrival cap to 5,000. SCMP
… but no foreign tourists permitted yet …

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar’s ethnic armies, resistance forces plan to boost operations. VOA
Singapore to waive quarantine for vaccinated travelers post-Omicron. CNBC
Vietnam to fully reopen borders from mid-March. Reuters
Tourists returning to Thailand find closed bars, empty streets. Bloomberg
… small businesses closed during the lockdown, haven’t reopened
… larger biz offering steep discounts to lock in few tourists, squeeze out competition
… many tourists skipping Thailand because they have to quarantine upon return
Over 1.3 million Isaac people keen to ride the Laos-China high-speed train. Link
Thailand may open its doors to Lao workers again, but… RFA
… Covid requirements & high employment fees = many will want to enter illegally
Indonesia: Bali reopens to international tourists, and first flights arrive. SCMP
… but there is a 5 day quarantine, and looks like an expensive e-visa. Link

Americas+Europe+Pacific

The quiet flight of Muslims from France. NYT

Russia v Ukraine continues to rattle around
Putin says partial withdrawal but signals threat not over. Axios
US says Russia didn’t withdraw at all, actually sent more troops. NBC
Russia’s military build up enters more dangerous phase. Economist
Opinion: Why Putin would invade Ukraine: he wants democracy to fail. Atlantic
Risk of a Ukraine war spreading in Europe rests on unknowns. AP
… partly on Putin’s ambitions, partly on Western military response, partly on luck.
… “Wars have begun that way, Mr. Ambassador!”

Covid global case data

… 2/18: 419.6m (+13.7m/wk) cases, 5.86m deaths, case load dropping
… 2/11: 405.9m (+21.1m/wk) cases, 5.78m deaths
… 2/03: 384.8m (+26.0m/wk) cases, 5.69m deaths
… 1/28: 358.8m (+18.5m/wk) cases, 5.64m deaths
… 1/21: 340.3m (+20.1m/wk) cases, 5.57m deaths
Trackers: Johns HopkinsNYT

Longer Articles

Autocrats, not terrorists, increasingly taking Americans hostage. New Yorker
… the effort to free a journalist imprisoned in Myanmar and its implications …
Swahili’s bid to become a language for all of Africa. BBC
… 200 million speakers, one of the world’s 10 most widely-spoken languages …
Putting ideas into words. Paul Graham
… “If writing down your ideas always makes them more precise and more complete, then no one who hasn’t written about a topic has fully formed ideas about it.”

Book Notes

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Clearview AI tells investors it is pushing toward an index of 100 billion faces. Link

US houses of worship grapple with the future of their online services: some are going so far as to sell their buildings, run virtual services + local community outreach. Link

A look at security issues involved in using transcription services. Link

Twitter launches bot labels to help identify ‘good bots.’ Link
… I’ve created bots in the past. There are good bots. This would be very helpful.

AI-generated faces are deemed slightly more trustworthy than real faces. Link
… and, here’s a guy using AI to create photorealistic images of cartoon characters. Link

Humans are still better than robots at picking strawberries. Wired
… and it’s not likely to change any time soon, but people keep working the problem.

Nissan, like Hyundai, is ending development of gasoline engines. Link

Quotable

“God never gives anyone too much to do. We do that to ourselves or allow others to do it to us.” ~Dallas Willard

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” ~W. Edwards Deming

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Roundup 284

SPARKS AND TRENDS TO WATCH

1. Pray for peace in Ukraine. A new analysis suggests that a “full invasion” (and that’s only one scenario) could result in 50,000 deaths and 5 million refugees in Europe. The level of disruption and the knock-on effects of a war are staggering to contemplate.

2. Several stories of accelerating nationalistic anger in India this week are highlighting the tensions between ethnicities and religious groups–most markedly between Hindus and Muslims, but some effects are being felt by Christians. Pray for the continued ability of believers and movements to grow in the midst of suffering.

3. While some countries are opening their borders, many of these openings are to short-term entrants only. Widely, many countries have been using Covid to tighten their borders. Some are closing borders altogether; others are simply allowing tourists while disallowing longer-term access. Pray for workers having to develop new and innovative ways to see the Gospel enter less-open areas.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Egypt names first-ever Christian head of country’s top court. AP
Turkey’s doctors are leaving, the latest casualty of spiraling inflation. NYT
… over 1,400 last year, and 4,000 over the past 10 years …
Sudan: ‘Democracy if Life’: the grass-roots movement taking on the generals. NYT

East Africa (520m) 

Covid+War spell trouble for tourism in Ethiopia’s holy town of Laibela. Independent
Fighting in Ethiopia’s Afar region has displaced 300,000. Reuters
Cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, 80 killed. @Reuters

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Burkina Faso: insecurity, violence spur refugee exodus: 34k in exile in region. VOA
Contagious coups: what is fueling military takeovers across W Africa? Guardian

South + Central Asia (2b)

Afghanistan’s Emerald Mountains. RFE
… In Panjshir, former police, soldiers scrape by digging emeralds out of the Hindu Kush …
Afghan children starving to death as hunger ‘rapidly spreading.’ RFE
… 14 million at risk of starvation, dozens dying weekly …
… health system is collapsing under stress. NYT
… some frozen funds may be released for relief work? AP
Disappearances, beatings, intimidation: women’s rights activists go quiet. WPost$
… The Taliban has ‘embarked on a violent crackdown on dissent’
Why around 4,000 Afghan evacuees are still in US bases six months on. NewHum

India’s democracy is not as healthy as this month’s elections make it seem. Economist$
Hindu nationalism pushed in voting test for Modi’s politics. AP
… 5 states will vote in Feb, March ‘The BJP is fighting to retain power in all but one.’
India’s anti-Muslim firebrand is a possible future Prime Minister. France24
… a strong win for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh could put him in position to succeed Modi
Wearing hijab bars some Muslim students from class. AP
… Karnataka: ‘don’t wear clothes that disturb law & order.’ Indian Express
… Hijab protests explode, province shuts colleges, high schools for 3 days. Indian Express
As officials look away, hate speech in India nears dangerous levels. NYT$
… ‘once fringe, extremist elements taking militant message into the mainstream’
Suicides among unemployed crossed 3,000 in 2020 Covid year. Indian Express
Dalit or Christian? Caught between two identities in Punjab. Indian Express$

Escalating violence in restive Balochistan, Pakistan resurrects forgotten conflict. RFE
… long read exploring some of the causes of the insurgency …

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China media freedom declining at ‘breakneck speed.’ Al Jazeera
… annual report from Foreign Correspondents Club. Impacts ability to gather info …
Can China ever reopen? Atlantic
… ‘Xi Jinping’s first, only priority is political security: quick reopening almost untenable’
Hong Kong’s Covid misery deepens: new social restrictions, vegetable shortage. Reuters
… public gatherings limited to 2 people, churches and other stores to close
… no produce from mainland China able to come in
5 lessons from persecuted Christians in China. TGC
… ‘We should not put our faith in a Chr. government, expectation to ease our suffering’
… ‘church has often grown in the presence, not the absence, of suffering’ …
China’s family planning body to ‘intervene’ in abortions. Sixth Tone
… reading this, I think it means China plans to reduce the number of abortions …

Japan slams the borders shut on Omicron. East Asia Forum
… powerful border control measures … 34 prefectures under quasi-state of emergency …
… ‘essentially closed the country to non-Japanese citizens’
Japan’s Shinto religion is going global, attracting online followers.Conversation

Southeast Asia (700m)

Malaysia set to reopen borders for quarantine free travel from March 1. The Star
Thailand doubles down on authoritarianism.East Asia Forum
… Covid > tourism loss > economic devastation, school closures > protests > crackdown
Indonesia will temporarily ban foreign tourists entering through some airports.Reuters
… in a bid to slow a spike in Covid infections …

Americas+Europe+Pacific

In Ukraine, mission work goes on during Russia standoff.CT
… ‘Where can we go?’ Fear and self-defence near Ukraine’s eastern frontiers.Reuters
… US promises to end Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades.WPost$
… US warns grim toll of full invasion: 50k casualties, 5 million refugees in Europe.NYT$
… US administration warns Americans to leave Ukraine ‘now’.@AFP
… Russia could ‘seize Kyiv in days’; 70% of ‘required forces’ on border.WPost$
Australia will reopen borders to vaccinated travelers.Reuters

New Data

Covid global case data

… 2/11: 405.9m (+21.1m/wk) cases, 5.78m deaths
… 2/03: 384.8m (+26.0m/wk) cases, 5.69m deaths
… 1/28: 358.8m (+18.5m/wk) cases, 5.64m deaths
… 1/21: 340.3m (+20.1m/wk) cases, 5.57m deaths
… 1/14: 320.2m (+22.4m/wk) cases, 5.52m deaths
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT

Longer Articles

Nonstate armed actors and illicit economies in 2022. Series: Brookings
The evolution of global poverty, 1990-2030. Brookings
The war on free speech: censorship’s global rise. Foreign Affairs
5 coups in 3 years, democracy under threat across Africa. HumAngle
 
Book review of Acclerated ExpertiseLink
… the military wanted to accelerate the achievement of high levels of proficiency
… and wanted high retention of knowledge and skill
… this very long review explores a lot of topics in the book
… which seem to me to apply to mission training
Related: How note taking can help you become an expert. Link
… ‘a series on learning in ill-structured, novel domans’ – lots of interesting advice here.

Book Notes

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

AI driving race cars in video games may help develop real self-driving cars. Wired

India government is open to stricter social media rules. Indian Express

Humanitarian organizations keep getting hacked because they can’t spend to secure data: ‘they have the resources of mall caps to protect against the equivalent of Delta Force.’ Link

Meta threatens to shut down FB, Instagram in Europe if EU regulators say it can’t transfer data back to the US. ‘Simple reality is that Meta, and many others, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US to operate global services.’ No one thinks this will happen, but it’s a reminder that FB might not always be available for Internet evangelism in some country. CNBC

New Pew report: Visions of the Internet in 2035: ‘analyzing the insights of hundreds of technology experts who responded to a canvass of their predictions.’ Link

Facebook has a superuser-supremacy problem. Link
… ‘the most abusive people on FB are given the most power to shape what Facebook is’
… a corruption of the ‘those-who-have-get-more’ exponential growth cycle.

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Roundup 283

Prayer Challenges

1. For peace in Ukraine. No analysts seem to truly understand the motivations driving Russia or its leader, but the increasing tension and military buildup are unmistakeable. Invasion and warfare in the region could easily draw in European and American powers at one level or another, and will be destructive both locally, regionally and relationally. This kind of fighting will disrupt Gospel access, although such wars have been used in the past by God to increase spiritual hunger. I am praying the “hearts of kings” will turn to peace.

2. For believers to minister to Afghan refugees. Thousands are attempting to flee to other places in search of a better life, and often suffer badly along the way. Many have suffered severe trauma. They are often unwelcome in the places where they arrive. Pray for believers to extend charity and peace to them.

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Sudan: mass marches continue, some protesters killed by soldiers. Dabanga
Haunted by conflict, Syrian mother tries to heal mental scars. Reuters
… “deep-rooted trauma remains unaddressed… a mental health crisis looms large…”
Turkey’s inflation rate hits nearly 50%, highest in two decades. CNBC
… “lira lost 44% of its value in 2021”

East Africa (520m) 

‘We pray for rain’: Ethiopia faces catastrophic hunger. Guardian
… north plagued with warfare, while drought plagues south/northeast. The cattle die.
Seems a good analysis of the history & current state of the fighting in Ethiopia. Brookings
… other first-hand reports I’ve heard suggest the fighting is mostly limited to the north
… Ethiopia cabinet approved lifting of six-month state of emergency. Reuters

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Burkina Faso coup: new leader gives first speech. BBC
… promises eventual return to constitutional order
… current focus to ‘recapture rural areas’ from militants
In Congo, floating pastors follow mobile flocks along busy river. NYT
… life is based around the river that gives the country it’s name,
… so it’s on the river that many pastors go fishing for souls.
Attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau thwarted. Al Jazeera
… three countries in West Africa have suffered coup in last 18 months.
Nigeria: hunger crisis looms in ‘food basket’ amid conflict. AP
… more than 1 million farmers displaced due to intercommunal violence
… across north, 13 million face funger amid a lean season
… violence has disrupted food sales, roads unsafe for transporting crops

South + Central Asia (2b)

Over a million flee as Afghanistan’s economy collapses. NYT
… thousands trying to sneak into Iran, Pakistan each day
IranWire will be hosting a Youtube event on persecution of Christians, 2/8. Link
How uptick in anti-Christian violence threatens Indian democracy. CSM
… “documented attacks against Christians jumped 81% from 2020 to 2021”
Mixed feelings as Kazakhstan looks back on a bloody January. Diplomat $
… “they fight among themselves for power, and ordinary people suffer.”
Pakistani priests on a fearless mission in Balochistan. UCA
… though obviously told from the perspective of Catholic mission work,
… lots of little bits of insight about the state of this province can be gleaned.
… Balochistan was on my 2019 Top 40 Least Reached provinces list.
The killing of a Christian priest in Peshawar reignites fear. Reuters

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

China’s finely crafted web of digital surveillance for the Olympics. WPost $
Living by the code: in China, Covid-era high-tech controls may outlast the virus. NYT $
… “part of a mostly successful effort to stop the virus, may endure long after.”
Many Chinese are missing their 3rd Spring Festival reunion in a row. Sixth Tone
8 ‘largest lesser-visited Chinese cities’ that should be on your radar. Matador Network
… Many of these ‘smaller’ cities still dwarf Western megacities.
In this part of China, hands—not machines—define the rhythms of life. NatGeo
… scenes from Yunnan remind us that rural life remains in many places.
Another take: awe and solitude in China’s vast, empty West. Radii
… “home to less than 5% of the country’s population, and a diverse spread of ethnicities.”

North Korea tests Hwasong-12 ballistic missile, biggest since 2017. Reuters

Southeast Asia (700m)

Myanmar’s military turns to Buddhism in a bid for legitimacy. Al Jazeera
… “to try and win respect in an environment where ‘almost everybody hates them.’”
Arakan rebels “cement control over Rakhine state while junta distracted.” SCMP
… residents pay rebel administration taxes, use its courts
Multiple crises spiral in Myanmar one year after the coup. NewHum
… “there is an atmosphere of fear everywhere.”
The Battle for Myanmar. Diplomat $
… “without greater international support, the situation will likely continue to deteriorate.”
A silent strike emptied the streets on the anniversary of the coup. Guardian
Thailand brings back quarantine-free entry for the vaccinated. SCMP
… ‘visitors of any nationality can apply, provided they are fully vaccinated’
Indonesia will open Bali to all foreign travelers on Feb. 4. Diplomat

Americas+Europe+Pacific

Russia vs. Ukraine:
… US threatens sanctions, Russia threatens gas exports to Europe. NBC
… 2,000 US troops moved to Germany. AP
… satellite imagery shows buildup of Russian military around Ukraine. CNN
… Deep look: how Russia has increased its military buildup around Ukraine. NYT $
… and a look at the importance of two rival denominations between Russia, Ukraine. Link
… how people in Kyiv are preparing for the possible war. New Yorker

New Data

Covid global case data

… 2/03: 384.8m (+26.0m/wk) cases, 5.69m deaths
… 1/28: 358.8m (+18.5m/wk) cases, 5.64m deaths
… 1/21: 340.3m (+20.1m/wk) cases, 5.57m deaths
… 1/14: 320.2m (+22.4m/wk) cases, 5.52m deaths
… 1/6: 297.8m (+8.5m/wk) cases, 5.46m deaths
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT

Longer Articles

Global Missiology’s January 2021 issue focuses on Kingdom Movements. Link

Book Notes

I’m reading On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the art of Observation. A journalist takes 12 walks around her city block with 12 different people (representing 12 different perspectives). I was keen on this book because it promises to bring out skills and suggestions for observing better what’s around us.

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

The last Internet dealers of rural Mexico. Rest of World
… fascinating little story that highlights how some are disconnected

For the first time, Facebook lost daily users last quarter. Verge
… and lower-than-expected ad grow sent stock plunging 20%.

We can fly drones from a world away. Now we can drive forklifts, too. Wired
… physical jobs are going remote.

Quotable

“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean is flat again.” John Maynard Keynes

“I’m like a big tree, and I had to move because nothing grows under a big tree. And I wanted things to grow.” Heard from a movement leader at a recent meeting.

“Every dependency creates drag.” in Working Backwards.

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Roundup 282

New Events

North Africa + West Asia = NAME (570m)

Senior humanitarian describes ‘horror scenes’ in Syrian camps. UN
… temperatures well below zero have turned IDP camps into disaster zones.
Yemeni missile/drone attack on UAE stopped by US Patriot missiles. Reuters
… Iran-aligned Houthis targeted base hosting US military + [maybe] int’l airport
… an attempt at escalation, intent seems to be to claim UAE is ‘unsafe’

East Africa (520m) 

World Food Program: 1/3+ of people in Tigray suffer from extreme lack of food. AP
… No aid convoys have entered the region since mid-December.
… All NGOs operating in the area have used up all their fuel.
… 5,000+ deaths in Ethiopia’s Tigray due to blockade. AP
… Ethiopia is deliberately starving its own citizens. Economist $
Tigray rebels say they have been provoked into pushing into Afar. Barron’s
… ‘dampening hopes of a possible ceasefire’
Kenya: Goats, sheep, livelihoods lost to floods, cold. Reuters
Uganda: in Karamoja, rampant rustling and a militarized response. NewHum

West + Middle Africa (600m)

Military takes power in Burkina Faso. NYT $
… soldiers said the people fed up with govt’s inability to stop militant attacks
… 1.4 million were displaced and 2,000+ killed in 2021 alone.
… borders closed.
Hundreds of people marched to show support for the new junta. AP
… Crowds celebrated the latest coup. Reuters
… But, perhaps: The coup will help the jihadists. Economist $
West Africa coups show limits to diplomacy. Reuters
… “opens door to new players”—including Russia.

South + Central Asia (2b)

In freezing Afghanistan, aid workers rush to save millions from starving or freezing. AP
… ‘I’ve already sold my daughters, now I’m forced to sell my kidney.’ Guardian
… Why the effort to help Afghanistan is failing. AP

India: Three days of rioting over jobs spread over a dozen districts in Bihar. BBC

Over 10 million job seekers applied for 35,000 jobs with the railways; frustration over the problematic application process escalated to anger and violence. And India’s employment problems are increasing.

Tensions spill over: Tajik, Kyrgyz in running gun battle over highway closure. Eurasianet

How Kazakhstan became more Kazakh. Economist $
… money for migration changed the face of the nation.
… went from being 40% Kazakh, 37% Russian in 1991 to 70% Kazakh, 18% Russian today.
… Long read: Voices from the streets of Kazakhstan. 1843

Kazakhstan shakes down oligarchs to fund social services. Eurasianet
… “0.001% of the population controls half the nation’s wealth.”

Central Asia struck by major region-wide blackout. Eurasianet
… I haven’t seen a definitive analysis of the cause of the blackout, but
… the interlinkages of the system in the region are interesting.

Eastern Asia (1.6b)

Live-streaming: In rural Sichuan, poverty and profit are just a click apart. Sixth Tone
… but those who video poverty as spectacle are running afoul of the government’s plans.
500k+ foreign students are locked out of China, try to salvage education plans. WSJ $
US-China pandemic rules travel spat accelerates, 44 flights cancelled by US. CNN

Southeast Asia (700m)

A year later, Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement carries on. Irrawaddy

Americas+Europe+Pacific

Russia vs. Ukraine: the tension continues.
… global results: human suffering, economic shock, global realignment. Economist $
… Russia’s military, once creaky, is modern and lethal. NYT $
… Russia has even moved blood supplies (for treating casualties) near the border. Reuters
… US put 8,500 troops on ‘heightened alert,’ says AFP.\
… ‘Biden weighs deploying thousands of troops to E Europe, Baltics.’ NYT $
… says ‘invasion in February is a distinct possibility.’ AP
… or, maybe Russia is willing to avoid war, if ‘demands addressed.’ Reuters

New Data

Covid global case data

… 1/28: 358.8m (+18.5m/wk) cases, 5.64m deaths
… 1/21: 340.3m (+20.1m/wk) cases, 5.57m deaths
… 1/14: 320.2m (+22.4m/wk) cases, 5.52m deaths
… 1/6: 297.8m (+8.5m/wk) cases, 5.46m deaths
… 12/30: (Holiday break)
Trackers: Johns Hopkins, NYT

Other Data

Status of Global Christianity 2022 from the CSGC. Link

Corruption is getting worse in many poor countries. Economist

Longer Articles

Book Notes

While traveling, I’ve been re-reading “Against the Gods” (about the history of probability theory) and “Working Backwards” (a moderately deep dive into how Amazon works, with especially interesting sections on narratives, the OP1/OP2 process, deep dives into metrics, and their Weekly Business Review–as well as fun stories about the launch of the Kindle, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Video). We use a process similar to OP1 in two of the teams I run, and I’m quite interested in the WBR process as well.

The books I’ve read in 2022. The books I read in 2021.

Tech & Futures

Meta is building an AI supercomputer, in part to help with Facebook moderation. CNN

The battle for the world’s most powerful cyber weapon: Pegasus. NYT
… ‘how Israel used sales of Pegasus to advance its interests around the world.’

Drone Wars: Iran, Turkey, China deliver the air power behind Ethiopia’s resurgence. Africa Report

Quotable

“The best way to live above all fear of death is to die every morning before you leave your bedroom. The apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” When you have got into the holy habit of daily dying, it will come easy to you to die for the last time.” Charles Spurgeon

“Order your soul. Reduce your wants.” Augustine

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