Young people call for flight-free mission trips

Global Connections’ CEO John Baxter-Brown recently spoke to Premier Christian Radio. Here is what they reported:

A group of young people is urging mission organisations to consider a ‘greener’ approach to overseas trips in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

12 year old Jamie Hawker has written a letter to the Global Connections Short-Term Mission Forum to request project organisers provide flight-free options for volunteers wishing to serve on international short-term projects. His letter, which has been signed by a further 20 people under the age of 30, highlights the impact climate change has on the poor communities that mission trips seek to serve and suggests there are alternative ways to help whilst reducing damage to the environment.

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The Culture Gap

This past weekend I just happened to watch two movies which were about the Pacific conflicts in the second world war.  Both movies brought out the point that there was extensive difference between the Japanese and the British/American culture. For example, the Japanese thought their opponents were cowards because they surrendered rather than fighting to the death.  The Allies thought the Japanese were fanatics because they preferred death to surrender.  These assumptions coloured their treatment of each other on the battlefield and in the POW camp. But this misunderstanding arose due to a lack of appreciation of culture.  The Allies weren’t cowards, but they valued life and preferred to live to fight another day.  The Japanese on the other hand, valued honour, and would prefer to die honourably in battle than live with defeat.

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Integrating international students into local church ministries

These were some of the perspectives (misattributions?) I encountered when I asked students why they joined mono-ethnic Christian groups:

“Why did you form a Hong Kong small group? Why not join your church’s student group?”

“We found the bible studies superficial.”

“What do you mean?”, I asked, thinking of the church’s in-depth inductive bible studies.

“It’s all text book answers – what does the passage say. But people don’t share how they feel, or how they struggle to live it out.”

and…

“Why did you join the Afro-Caribbean Choir instead of the Christian Union?”

“The Christian Union isn’t passionate about Jesus.”

“How so?” Thinking, “yes they are!”

“They don’t worship at their meetings. How can God’s people come together and not want to sing his praises?”

Apart from the fact that students feel more comfortable in such groups, they are often effective at reaching non-Christians from a similar cultural background, and in a way, more efficient at discipleship because methods and messages are tailored to the audience.

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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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Millennials

MILLENNIALS, LEADERSHIP AND FRIENDS INTERNATIONAL

Ancestor worship, honour and shame, varying views on timekeeping: these are just a few of the many areas of cultural difference to which Friends International staff and volunteers, and others involved in international student ministry (ISM), are sensitive. We deal with them well, with the view that cultural difference is just that – different, but not necessarily always wrong or right. We have learnt to recognise our cultural bias and do our best to view other cultures neutrally, working to build healthy cross-cultural friendships.

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Mission Agency Futures: The Present

Over the last few years, I’ve written a good deal about mission agencies, you can find the majority of those posts here. I plan to write a few posts which suggest possible ways forward for agencies in a changing world, but before I get to the future, I’d like to lay a foundation by considering what it is that mission agencies actually do. Then I’ll consider some of the issues which are driving the need for change.

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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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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 ‘Red Lines’ of the Kingdom

In Acts we find a story of The Jewish diaspora, in which Jews, allowed to legally hold to their faith, were nonetheless subject to the vagaries of Empire. The Jews were scattered through the Mediterranean world, particularly the eastern end, and like all diaspora peoples, they gathered together for mutual support and protection. They formed insular communities so that their religious and cultural lives could be built up. Whilst there was trade (and other) engagements with the wider, imperial community, this was limited. Integration was not part of their agenda.

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Excellent Extraverts!

Last week we looked at introverts, thought about the environment they function best in, and how we can help them thrive. This week I want to look at extraverts, and consider how we can help them thrive too.

Extraverts primarily gain their energy from the world outside them, so need to engage with it. Unlike introverts, being alone and reflecting will make them uncomfortable and they are much happier being involved with people, often in large groups. Being naturally gregarious, they are confident at meeting strangers, building bridges and enjoying diversity, and they can quickly make connections in a new culture and engage effectively with people.

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