Touch me

Jesus presented himself to the disciples. To Thomas he even said touch me – trust your senses and feel my wounds. 

There is a tangibility about how the evangelists talk about the resurrection. It is weird and wonderful. Jesus can apparently walk through walls, and like Bilbo Baggins, appear and disappear at will. And yet, unlike Bilbo Jesus is not confined only to the written page. There is more to Him than that. He is a real presence, not only a mythical being: he is that but much more – a genuine physical being, with his hands and feet and head and side marked with wounds, where ‘sorrow and love flow mingled down.’

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European Students in a Brexit World – Part 1

“Europe is very different from Britain. For instance, their windows open inwards rather than outwards, and it is almost impossible to buy Monster Munch in Bulgaria. No wonder we could not get along.”

I found this quote while strolling through a bookshop in Cambridge. There is some truth in it. Even neighbouring European countries are surprisingly different. Though we consider each other as Westerners, and even more, as young Europeans who have a sense of being a European first before anything else, we do currently face challenges. It is not only Brexit; there seems to be something changing in Europe, but it hasn’t yet been decided which direction will prevail – separation or stronger connection. For now, many Europeans are still using their chance to study or work abroad. They come to Britain, to study the language or to make use of the great educational system, with some hoping to stay for good and start a successful career[1].

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Let the nations be glad!


May God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine on us. So that Your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for you will judge the peoples with uprightness, and guide the nations on the earth. Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. God blesses us, so that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.

Psalm 67
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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 5

Church outside of China

Finally, how can the global church outside of China be part of this ISM vision in China? First and foremost, brothers and sisters could commit to praying for this.

Experienced ISM workers could be sent to China to support international churches or to come alongside local Chinese fellowships and campus ministries. Networking could be established between healthy national ISMs, pioneering ISMs outside of China, international churches within China, global sending organizations, and the nascent Chinese ISM movement.

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The Surprise of People Finding Faith

It should come as no surprise, but perhaps for many of us, it is. Certainly our behaviour suggests so. Consider the extraordinary events of Acts 8-11.

The Samaritans find faith in Jesus (resulting in an apostolic visit); then an Ethiopian finds faith (as a result of a Spirit-inspired diaconal encounter with Philip); then Cornelius, a roman solider, finds faith along with his household (during a Spirit-inspired apostolic visit); then the Greeks start to find faith in Antioch as the new diaspora of persecuted followers of The Way tell the story of Jesus.

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Notre-Dame and Sri Lanka

A French nun stood in front of the burning Cathedral and said that it was only a building; the church of God is people. In Sri Lanka a few days later over two hundred of those people died. As words came from politicians that Notre-Dame must be restored, millionaires rushed forward with offers of large sums of money. No millionaires rushed forward to support the suffering families of Sri Lankans or to rebuild their churches. From Sri Lanka there were only pictures of coffins being carried to graves and even the number of the dead was uncertain. The Western press had pictures and stories of tourists who had died, but the Sri Lanka Christians remained anonymous. Notre-Dame survived the fire. No lives were lost. Sentiment was high that this symbol of France, the testament to a nation’s lost faith, must be a continuing part of Paris life. In Sri Lanka perpetrators were pursued, security chiefs resigned, churches were closed and tourists warned away. Paris resumed normal life and the causes of the accident were sought. The Sri Lanka victims are still dead.

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 4

Diaspora missiology

In the last fifteen years, there has been significant development in diaspora missiology, which offers a biblical rationale and strategy for ISM, and gives us a framework for missions to, through, and beyond the diaspora.[i] Leiton Chinn writes compellingly about the biblical basis and strategic value of ISM as part of diaspora missions.[ii] Elsewhere he describes his own journey and that of some churches in the USA from not seeing or caring about international students to now noticing and actively reaching out to them.[iii] With the same zeal, he points to ISM in Asia as “a most strategic yet least expensive global mission opportunity.”[iv] Is this a journey on which the church in China has now embarked?

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A Calling to Betrayal

Following Jesus is a call to betrayal. There can be no fudging this. As soon as we affirm that ‘Jesus is Lord!’ we have committed an act of betrayal. We are announcing that all other allegiances and narratives must now be forfeit to a greater and deeper vocation. 

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The Main Thing Is The Main Thing

Mission can be a complicated business; I’ve just spent four years researching and writing a thesis discussing some of the complexities. What exactly is the relationship between proclamation and social action? How do you define unreached peoples (and should you be defining them anyway)? What is the best strategy for short-term mission? The questions go on and on. Books are written, sermons are preached and strategy papers are carefully developed then filed away and forgotten.

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The B-word

As I write the U.K. is in a state of confusion and flux. There have been and are arguments that float terms such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘taking back control.’ People on all sides have strong views which have sometimes led to violence and even bloodshed on English streets. Emotions flow freely, in a torrent that divides nations, families and tribes.

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