The Future of Mission?

This week I spent 24 hours at a Global Connections’ conference on the future of mission. The keynote speaker was Michael Stroope, author of Transcending Mission – one of the most important books on mission to emerge in the past decade (read my review here). It was a stimulating couple of days and it’s always good to catch up with old friends and to talk about important things. That being said, I’m not sure that I heard anything new or surprising, apart from a couple of very challenging personal stories. There is an ongoing problem with these sorts of meetings in that the people who are essential to push for change; church leaders and agency board members, rarely attend them. Meanwhile, the “mission nerds”, as someone described those attending the meeting, talk about the importance of change and new models of mission, but little actually changes in the Western mission movement.

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Why Bother?

There are many variations on the same question, but essentially they boil down to one central idea; why should we bother with global mission, when the needs here in the UK are so great? Everyone who is involved in promoting world mission in Britain will have run up against this question in one form or another. There is no single killer answer that will satisfy everyone who asks this question, but there are many ways in which the question itself is flawed.

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No Christians

“Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice before everyone has
heard it once?”—Oswald J. Smith.

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” — John Keith Falconer

The Punjab is the province known as the breadbas­ket of Pakistan. The word itself comes from two words, punj, meaning five and ab, meaning water or river. Therefore, we are talking about the land of the five rivers. Chiniot is on the eastern bank of the middle river, the Chenab.
This town was famous for its fish. Pakistani families by the carload would often come to Chiniot for the most delicious fish kabobs in the Punjab.

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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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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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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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Facing the Unknown

“Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”

1 Peter 1:3-4

Like it or not, every day we face the unknown. Some changes we greet with joy, some with despair. We may see change coming from a long way off or it might come when least expected.

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 2

Destinations in China

Though Beijing (17%) and Shanghai (14%) attracted the lion’s share of international students in 2016, there was a notable spread throughout the country.[i]

Reasons for coming

Due to a combination of diverse factors, China will continue to grow as a destination for international students. It has some of the world’s top universities,[ii] boasts a great diversity of institutions and programs, and is much cheaper than western destinations.[iii] Well over 800 colleges and universities in China accept international students,[iv] with many offering accessible undergraduate and postgraduate courses entirely in English.

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Mourning

Mourning is something that many western cultures don’t do well.  Unlike our Mediterranean neighbours, or more expressive people from tropical climes, we think holding our feelings in check is a Good Thing.  “Stiff upper lip, old boy.”

Christians are often even less inclined to mourn than others, because we have a sure and certain hope that our departed have gone to be with Jesus.  We use terms like “promoted” to express our positivity.  I was even once told by a family member at a funeral that we were not going to cry, because it was a happy day of celebration for our friend who had gone to a better place.  Which left me with a lot of grief and no outlet for it. Sometimes we need to express our emotion and have a good wail.

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