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Who can go?

It was a joy earlier this year for me (Ben) to be commissioned by my church into the ministry of Mission through Business. The local church has the authority and precedent to do this (eg Acts 13), and it was very significant for us as a family to have the church standing as a commitment to pray, encourage and hold us accountable as we move forwards.

In the run-up, the church took time to understand me and the ministry, testing the purposes against the Lord’s will. This went through various cycles, with the leaders, the deaconate and the membership all involved. The process will differ at each church, but one of the key tests remains the same:

What do we look for in a worker sent by the church?

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Church and agency partnerships

In the next couple of posts, I will be returning to a theme that I’ve touched on before and will undoubtedly touch on again; the partnership between churches and mission agencies. To let you know where I am going, the basic thesis of these two posts is that the way that mission agencies are set up makes it difficult for them to partner seriously with churches in their home countries. I’ll touch on a different aspect of this in each of the posts.

However, before going too far, I’d like to make a couple of statements.

  • I know that many agencies have some good partnerships with churches in the UK.
  • I believe that for the most part, mission agencies and their leaders take the role of the church and partnership with churches seriously.

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Things Home Mission Can Learn: Religion – Part 8

This post is probably the most straightforward one in this series.

If you are trying to reach people from other religions with the gospel, it’s a good idea to learn from people who already have extensive experience in the field. Why go ahead and make lots of mistakes, when you can learn from the mistakes and experience of others?

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International Students in China–The Road Ahead? – Part 3

We’ve explored the great need and strategic opportunity of international student ministry (ISM) in China in my previous posts.[1] But who will reach, disciple, and equip them with the gospel of Jesus Christ? What is the road ahead?

We know that God is calling people from every nation (Psalm 96) and that the nations have come to China! This motivated the pioneers of ISM.[2] What can we learn from them about why and how ISM movements started?

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Churches receive believers of Muslim heritage

In turbulent times, God is working out his agenda to add to his church, people from every nation, tribe, ethnicity and language on earth (Rev.7:9). Iranians of a Muslim family background are finding their way to Christ in unprecedented numbers. What’s more, they are also attaching to local churches. It’s vital that existing congregations respond well – here’s why.

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The church mission committee was meeting

Chair: So the next item on the agenda is Christine’s return on home assignment for nine months.

Ron: I expect she is going to have to go round all her supporting churches raising support for her next term and we won’t see much of her.

Chair: Well actually we will have her exclusively with us for five months.

Carole: That is a long holiday!

Bill: I expect she will want to be active in the church for some of the time.

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Things Home Mission Can Learn From Overseas Mission – Part 1

Missionaries are an odd bunch; they talk about exotic places, they swap stories about suffering from strange diseases, they speak foreign languages and they are often rather out of touch with life in the UK. It’s good to have them around, to listen to their encouraging and heartwarming stories, but all too often, what they say is out of touch with the reality of being a Christian in twenty-first century Britain.

OK; that’s a caricature; I know that and you know that, but like all caricatures, it carries a grain of truth.

However, I believe that the skills and experience of cross-cultural missionaries are crucial to the future of the church in the UK, let me explain.

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Mission begins with “ask”

At a day event for the Interserve supporter-network, Paul Hardingham the minister at St. Peter’s church in Halliwell, Bolton, gave a terrific Bible focus from Matthew 9:35-38. Here’s a shortened rendering of that text:

35 Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, proclaiming the good news and healing. 36 …the crowds [provoked] compassion on him, because they were harassed and helpless. 37…he said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9)

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In praise of prayer groups

A central role for any sending church is prayer for those they send. J.O. Fraser, missionary to China in the early part of the 20th century*, learnt much about prayer while bringing the gospel to the Lisu people. He came to realize the vital part that the prayers of those back in the UK had to play in seeing fruit in his labours. To his main prayer support team he wrote,

I am not asking you just to give ‘help’ in prayer as a sort of side line, but I am trying to roll the main responsibility of this prayer warfare on you. I want you to take the burden of these people upon your shoulders. I want you to wrestle with God for them.

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Invest

A good investment in life?

It may seem obvious to say it – but – we only have one life to live and one chance to invest it.

I have been spectacularly bad at discerning how to do this wisely. For instance, as a son of an economic migrant, my first attempt was to invest myself in my identity as a member of an ethnic minority; my second attempt was into becoming a Counter-tenor in an Oxbridge college choir followed by a choral career; when that idea flopped my third attempt was into education and to become one of Britain’s earliest black head teachers; my fourth and final attempt was in the direction of Anglican ordination as one of the earlier non-Caucasian intake.

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