Sunday, April 30, 2006
One missionary blog I added to my blogroll this month is The M Blog by Guy Muse (Ecuador).
And on my Sage feeder, I've added Miscellanies by Tim Bahula (Trinidad).
Pioneers: "PIONEERS mobilizes teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches."
FEBInternational: "FEBInternational was launched in 1963 as the overseas sending agency of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.... We continue our role in facilitiating those called by God to fulfill the mandate to establish reproducing churches among strategic populations."
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism: "The Association of Baptists for World Evangelism is an independent mission agency that exists to serve local churches in the task of sending missionaries around the world."
Global Outreach Mission: "We are an interdenominational foreign missionary organization situated in Buffalo, New York.... We empower missionaries to share the Gospel as determined by their convictions and the focused direction that the Holy Spirit leads. GOM serves our missionaries as an umbrella organization, providing administrative services, training and networking opportunities, and quality representation of the missionary."
Navigators of Canada: "The Navigators of Canada is an evangelical non-profit organization with a long history of working with individuals and churches to fulfil Christ's great commission to 'go and make disciples' (Matthew 28:19) by multiplying labourers for Christ across Canada and overseas."
Wycliffe Bible Translators: "Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada is part of Wycliffe International, an association of 40 member organizations working together to see the Word of God translated into every language that needs it."
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I sat in the upper level of the auditorium at the University of Illinois in Urbana, listening to the heavy-weights of the evangelical community challenge 17,000 college students to a vital and personal commitment to world evangelization. It was InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Mission Conference.
I must admit I had begun daydreaming when all of a sudden there was that statement: "In secular war, for every one person on the battle front, there are nine others backing him up in what is called the ’line of communication.’"
The concept exploded like a mortar shell! The speaker had been drawing a parallel between secular war and the spiritual warfare that accompanies cross-cultural ministry. He continued, "And how can we expect to win with any less than that ratio? God is not looking for Lone Rangers or Superstars; He is commanding an army—soldiers of the Cross."
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
There are myriads of needs on the mission field today. The gospel must go to the 10/40 window so that the Muslim and Hindu worlds can be reached for Christ. Many wars and natural disasters create an environment where there is a great need to provide food and medicine to those in crisis. There is the need for true Christians to unite around Christ and Scripture in order to be a major force against secularism, and the rise of the Muslim religion and the cults. These are just a few of the needs in modern missions.
However, the greatest need, in my opinion and the opinion of most missiologists who are on the cutting edge of world missions, is to train the pastors and Christian leaders in the Third World countries where the gospel is spreading like wildfire. There are millions of people coming to Christ in China, Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe. It is estimated that right now there is a need to train two million pastors to meet the needs of an exploding Church, and by the year 2015 that number will escalate to five million. How can we accomplish this monumental task?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
Going back to an old article (1994) by Ralph Winters, here's a well-known illustration (from Commitment to a Wartime Lifestyle):
The Queen Mary, lying in repose in the harbor at Long Beach, California, is a fascinating museum of the past. Used both as a luxury liner in peacetime and a troop transport during the Second World War, its present status as a museum the length of three football fields affords a stunning contrast between the lifestyles appropriate in peace and war.
Brad Gill, my son in law, tells me that on one side of a partition you see the dining room reconstructed to depict the peacetime table setting that was appropriate to the wealthy patrons of high culture for whom a dazzling array of knives and forks and spoons held no mysteries. On the other side of the partition the evidences of wartime austerities are in sharp contrast. One metal tray with indentations replaces fifteen plates and saucers. Bunks eight tiers high explain how the peacetime capacity of 3,000 gave way to 15,000 on board in wartime.
How repugnant to the peacetime masters this transformation must have been! To do it took a national emergency, of course. The survival of a nation depended on it. The essence of the Great Commission today is that the survival of many millions of people depends on its fulfillment.
[BTW, that September-October 1994 issue of Mission Frontiers has several good articles in it]
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I’m afraid that foreign missions, especially in third-world countries, is viewed by the average American Christian as glamorous. We read biographies of heroic missionaries, drooling over the trophies but ignoring the tears. We sing the praises of the Adoniram Judson’s and the David Brainerd’s and the Jim Elliot’s and convince ourselves that being a missionary means hearing the same praises we’re singing. We’re not sure we want to give up what William Carey gave up, but we’d sure like to see our own biography on other people’s shelves. We suffer from Missionary Hero Syndrome, and we suffer by choice.
Why does this matter? The post goes on to elaborate:
I think that if I understood foreign missions better, I would pray more fervently for our missionaries, give more sacrificially to the cause of Christ both here and abroad, count the cost of true daily discipleship with more accurate calculations, and be more honest with my own sinful and lie-believing desires for Christian heroism.
Friday, April 21, 2006
We are guilty of marginalizing most of Jesus’ followers. We have done this by making evangelical foreign missions the dominant expression of the Great Commission. Cross cultural missionaries are our heroes and the exalted saints in our congregations. The rest of us tend to be viewed as "just senders." This has contributed to the evangelical church slipping into some sad patterns over the last 50 years.
Hammond goes on to outline some of the problems that have arisen because of this focus of the "western missionary enterprise." One that touches close to my heart:
Having paid missionaries at the center of world evangelization has hindered the church from grasping the power of its traveling laity into cultures and nations where believers are few and struggling or severely oppressed. International laity abound in the western industrialized world, but they are seldom supported as agents of the kingdom of God. Over two million Americans work internationally. If ten percent of them were confident, affirmed and prayed for as Christians on the job, we would double the western mission force without the need for special finances, visas, furloughs and the awkwardness of being on a Christian salary among non-believers in hostile cultures.
I don't mean to denigrate missionaries and their commitment to the spread of the gospel. I have high regard for them and desire to support them generously. But I do want to emphasize two things out of Hammond's article:
1. We have to stop glamorizing missions and start seeing missionaries in more realistic terms. I think there are missionaries who feel that they can't share with their sending churches what they are struggling with because nobody wants to hear that side of missions. If we stop glamorizing missions, maybe then we will pray more honestly and empathize more deeply with those on the field.
2. As Hammond points out, we have made missions work a profession. How much more effective could the spread of the gospel if we made our professions a missions work? We will still need to send missionaries. But what a great impact if we put more emphasis on equipping and unleashing Christians working around the world, so that they can proclaim Christ and start churches.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
A year ago we got some nice pens engraved with the following: "Pray that the Word may spread and be honored" (2 Thess. 3:1). Paul actually said, "Pray for me that the Word may spread..." but there was a limit on how many letters we could use.
We have about 25 of these pens left. I will send you one (Canada or U.S.) if you will pray what is on the pen (2 Thessalonians 3:1) for the next month with regards to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Just send me an email (see my profile page) with your name and address including postal/zip code. I don't have any mailing list to add you to, so I can tell you that I won't put you on anything like that. I'm just wanting to get some prayer for Windsor and give out some pens.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Missionaries: There are 410,000 Missionaries from all branches of Christendom. Only between 2 and 3% of these missionaries work among unreached peoples. 140,000 Protestant Missionaries. 64,000 Protestant Missionaries from the US.
Distribution of Protestant Missionaries among cultural blocks:
74% Among Nominal Christians
3% Among Buddhists
8% Among Tribal Peoples
2% Among Hindus
6% Among Muslims
2% Among Chinese Folk Religions
4% Among Non-Religious/Atheists
1% Among Jewish Peoples
Global Church Member Finance (in US Dollars):
12.3 Trillion - Total Annual Income
213 Billion - Giving to Christian Causes (1.73% of total income)
11.4 Billion - To Foreign Missions (5.4% of giving to Christian causes)
87% of foreign mission money goes for work among those already Christian
12% for work among evangelized non-Christians
1% for work among the unevangelized.
The church of Christ has over 100 times the resources needed to plant native churches in these people groups.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Acts 1:8 doesn't come to us as a command or a priority principle. It simply states how God's purposes will be accomplished down through history, we can find ourselves in this verse, but we aren't in Jerusalem and we aren't in the first century. That special place and time in God's plan is long past. We are now in the "ends of the earth." The "ends of the earth" aren't found at the farthest distance from Wheaton, IL. or Atlanta, GA. Jesus is speaking of places far away from Jerusalem. (By the way, all points in the United States are farther from Jerusalem than any place in Africa or Asia.)Then he addresses two extremes that often infect our relation to missions:
If someone is caught up in meeting the homeside needs when he ought to be exploring ways to serve overseas, he faces what I call the "tyranny of the immediate." Here's how it works: Close-up needs such as those in our family or home church, press in so demandingly that immediate needs begin molding life-shaping priorities. Certainly, the immediate needs are real and working to meet them is entirely legitimate. But too often, the close-up hurts and needs eclipse even greater ones an ocean away.
The other paralyzing extreme is what I call "global guilt." It's a vague but debilitating anxiety that makes you fear you really aren't doing enough or that you should be living in some dangerous, dreadful place overseas. World Christians sometimes fall prey to "global guilt" because they tend to be aware of the astounding need all over the world. Adrift without specific guidance, people suffering from "global guilt" just can't believe they're enduring enough hardship to please God. It's ridiculous, of course, to consider that a tougher or more strategic role in God's work would make us any more pleasing to God, but Christians have believed stranger things. In any case, "global guilt" is a set-up for burnout at the heart level.
There's a way to balance the two extremes of being caught up in local needs and being compulsively guilty about distant ones. We need to be aware of God's greater purposes and of a broad scope of needs, near and far, while striving to be in prayer so that we can best hear Jesus' specific commands for us "through the Holy Spirit." In light of God's will for the entire world, we can best sense God's will for us.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
While Lewis only addresses those parts of the world where there is a strong Christian presence, George Verwer in his book Out of the Comfort Zone offers a more complete picture. First he talks about regions that have a "strong Christian presence":
There are certain places of the world, South India being a good example, where nationals can do the job.... In these situations, it is appropriate for the work of evangelism to be taken care of by national Christians and for missionary effort from the outside to be concentrated on support rather than on personnel.
Verwer goes on to talk about instances of no or little Christian presence ("unreached" areas):
At the other extreme, however, there are people groups among whom the church barely exists: the Uighers of western China, the Afghans, the Kurds, the Baluchs, and hundreds of others. The argument that the Western church should husband its resources by giving support to local nationals rather than sending missionaries is at its weakest with regard to these groups. In many of these places there are no national Christians to support. The size, strength, and missionary heritage of the traditional sending countries are vital in generating the personnel to go and work in these challenging situations.
Verwer talks about a third category (which most closely matches Lewis' perspective):
Between these two extremes are countries where there is still a significant Christian presence, but where there is still a need for help from outside missionaries from the traditional sending countries, possibly in specialist and training roles (pp. 88-89).
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
- Traditional: Missions involves sending Americans and dollars overseas through denominations and mission agencies
- Contemporary: Missions is a church department organizing overseas trips and funding.
- Emerging: Missions is “glocal” (global and local).
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
By now it should be obvious that all Christians are born again into the Gap between God's world-wide purpose and the fulfillment of it. But there's more than one kind of response to that Gap. Some are asleep, some are on retreat, and some are determined to stand in the Gap particularly at it's widest end where billions await the opportunity to hear of Christ for the first time. Some are heading into the "sunrise of missions" while others huddle in the shadows. Many move along at a sluggish pace, changing little in the Gap because of their own internal gap-of-unbelief. Others run the race before them setting no limits on how, where, or among whom God will use them.
Some are trapped in boxes or pea-sized Christianity full of myths about missions that rob them of incentive to care about the unreached. Others have broken through into cause-Christianity, ready to reach out with God's love to the ends of the earth. They are determined to make Christ's global cause the unifying focus - the context - for all they are and do in the Gap. Yielded to the mediator, they are willing to be broken and remolded to fit in the Gap wherever they can make the most strategic impact. In turn they're growing to know Christ, obey Him, and glorify Him as the mediator.
These latter Christians Bryant calls "World Christians":
… day-to-day disciples for whom Christ’s global cause has become the integrating, overriding priority for all that He is for them. Like disciples should, they actively investigate all that their Master’s Great Commission means. Then they act on what they learn.
World Christians are Christians whose life-directions have been solidly transformed by a world vision…. They see the cause the way God sees it. They see the full scope of the Gap…. They put the cause at the heart of their life in Christ. They put their life at the heart of the Gap…. Together they develop a strategy that makes a lasting impact on the cause, particularly at the widest end of the Gap.
It’s important to keep in mind that being a "World Christian" doesn’t require you to cross into another culture. You can be a mechanic or policeman or high school teacher or student or manager or business owner or hairdresser or salesperson or waitress or unemployed … and have Christ’s global cause as the "integrating, overriding priority" of your life. In fact, most people will not be called to go to another land, but they will stay and send and support those who go. Yet having said that, it still remains that for some, investing your life means going. And more of us need to be open to that possibility. To quote Bryant again, we should be asking God to lead us so that we will "fit in the Gap wherever [we] can make the most strategic impact."
Sunday, April 09, 2006
We discovered that the scarcity of Paul-type missionaries has been obscured by the quantity of Timothy-type missionaries.
I'll explain these terms. There seem to be two kinds of missionaries needed in the world. There is the Timothy-type missionary and the Paul-type missionary. We call Timothy a missionary because he left home (Lystra, Acts 16:1), joined a traveling team of missionaries, crossed cultures, and ended up overseeing the younger church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) far from his homeland. But we have come to distinguish this Timothy-type missionary from the Paul-type missionary because Timothy stayed and ministered on the "mission field" long after there was a church planted there with its own elders (Acts 20:17) and its own outreach (Acts 19:10).
Paul (the Paul-type missionary), on the other hand, was driven by a passion to make God's name known in all the unreached peoples of the world. He never stayed in a place long, once the church was established. He said in Romans 15:20, "I make my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named" (Romans 15:20). That is what we call "frontier missions" or "pioneer missions." That is a Paul-type missionary.
For me, back in 1983, it proved to be a stunning revelation that perhaps 90% of our missionary force from North America are Timothy-type missionaries working with established churches among reached peoples, and only 10% are Paul-type missionaries, even though hundreds of people groups, some would say several thousand, remain unreached - that is, there is no indigenous evangelizing movement among them at all.
From this discovery I came to feel that one of my callings as a pastor is to pray and preach and write for the mobilizing of more and more Paul-type missionaries, while not hindering the obedience of those, like Timothy, who are called to stay in the mission field of "Ephesus."
Friday, April 07, 2006
Here is their definition of an unreached tribe (cf. yesterday's post on the Joshua Project):
All unreached tribes are not equally unreached. I use a one to ten scale to determine what extent a tribe is still unreached. A one or two on the scale denotes a tribe who has never heard the name of Jesus Christ. Unbelievably, there are still places where the name of Christ has never penetrated. A three or four on the scale represents a tribe where there has been some evangelistic activity and possibly a few believers are scattered throughout the tribe. Five or six indicates a small church has been established and is functioning with national leadership, perhaps still under the oversight of the church planter. Seven on the scale depicts a tribe with a strong fellowship of believers operating under national leadership. However, tribes are still considered unreached until they are significant enough in number and maturity to complete the task of evangelizing their own tribe without external assistance. A tribe ceases to be considered "unreached" when it becomes fully functional without foreign support or oversight.[HT: Best of the GodBlogs]
Thursday, April 06, 2006
According to their website, there are 6,697 unreached people groups, making up 42.2% of all people groups. They define unreached as "a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group."
Now read the following statistics at Nigel Barham's blog (emphasis added):
According to missionfrontiers.org, Christians give about 1.7% ($213B) of their income to Christian causes (like their church). Of that 1.7%, only 5.4% ($11.4B) is given to foreign missions. (Amazing: the *entire* annual global missions budget funding 250,000 missionaries is just 1/4 of Bill Gates' fortune!) Of that 5.4%, 87% goes to missions among Christians, 12% goes for work among already evangelized non-Christians, and only 1% goes for work among the unreached or unevangelized people of the world. That means that just 5.4% of 1.7% (0.0918%) of Christians' money goes to missions, and that just 1% of *that* (0.000918%) goes to missions among the unreached.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
time is short and we should live with a view to eternity rather than for the accumulation of things here on earth the church is not about being American we are far too isolationistic and individualist we need the community of the world-wide church as much as they need us; we have a great deal to learn from the church in the rest of the world in a generation from now, the church in Asia and Africa will be far bigger and more influential than the church in the United States stop putting missionaries on pedestals and start seeing them as ordinary Christians with temptations and struggles like the rest of the church we need to be held accountable and it be wonderful if you would call us on the telephone once in a while and hold our feet to the fire we want to know what's going in back home as much you want to know what's going on in the field of mission
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The bottom line is simply this: the Great Commission was not given to the eleven as individuals, but to them as the church in embryo. We rightly recognize that the Great Commission was not merely a command to the eleven apostles. It was a mandate to the church, of which they were the foundation (Ephesians 2:20). More than this, it is not a command to every Christian to apply independently so much as it is for the church corporately. Discipleship is the corporate responsibility of the church. Although every Christian should give testimony of his faith, some are given the gift, the special, spirit-given ability, to evangelize (Ephesians 4:11, etc.) to teach (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11), to help, to lead (1 Corinthians 12:28), and so on.
The church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). What He began to do and to teach, the church is to continue (Acts 1:lff). No Christian individually and independently can fully represent or reflect the person of Christ. Only the church can do this corporately. Each and every Christian is a valuable member of His body, and each has its unique function (1 Corinthians 12:20-30).
Then what should we do as individuals to carry out our part of this Great Commission? At last, we have come to the heart of the matter. It all boils down to a matter of gifts and calling.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Direct you to a few books I like:
- Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
- Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader by Ralph Winter (ed.)
- Serving as Senders by Neil Pirolo
And then link you to my posts on missions from 2005:
- Sharing the Gospel in Different Paradigms
- Worship: Mission's Flame and Aim
- The World Factbook in Your Left Hand
(Email me any good links you have on this month's topic.)