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Blessed are the Peacekeepers?

I recently stayed overnight in a typical British guesthouse where breakfast was an interesting experience.  Not because of the food, service or facilities, but due to the interesting social interaction – or lack thereof.

In a small dining room where guests sat at separate but adjacent tables, conversation was curiously stilted, as people were aware that their private discussions were being overheard.  A men’s football team tried to joke with each other about the previous night’s escapades without incurring the scorn of other guests.  A harassed father tried hard to keep his disobedient toddler under control without losing his temper.  A browbeaten woman took the opportunity to chide her husband at a time when he couldn’t answer her back.

It occurred to me that often conversations between mission partners can be similar.  We often refrain from saying the things that we’d really like to because we are aware that others are listening.  We don’t like to disagree in case we sow the seeds of dissent, or act as a bad witness in front of others.  So we bottle up the things we’d really like to say, and if we don’t blurt them out in a fit of self-indulgence they can build up inside us to such a point of frustration that they contribute significantly to our levels of stress.

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Let’s just carry on as we are

Some people are a bit strange – and I confess to being one of them. I enjoy serving on Charity Boards. Though often having to turn up after a long day at work, or take unpaid leave, when there are good meetings I come out energised and grateful to God. When the charity has clear direction and purpose, even more so.

But what makes a good Board of trustees? The Charity Commission seems to be putting increasing burdens on trustees in the areas of compliance, financial accounting, risk assessment, policies of an ever expanding nature – and I could go on. Sadly it means that this can often dominate meetings and take up disproportionate amounts of time. Who wants to be a trustee just to do this sort of stuff?

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Jesus and our culture

Culture – I love it! I spend a lot of time hanging out with people from different countries and cultures.  I enjoy hearing about different cultural faux pas that we all do (me included!).  A great example of this is the footballer, Lionel Messi, giving a pair of his boots as a gift on TV in Egypt – shoes can be used as a sign of offence throughout the region.  And I love the desire of people who want to cross over cultures in order to engage with people to make the Gospel understandable, relevant and real.

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Minority Church – Effective Voice

In many places across Asia the church is a marginalised minority, with restrictions aimed at curtailing its witness. But it can still have an effective voice if it pays attention to its identity, vision and character.

Recovering the forgotten heritage of Asian Christian IDENTITY

It’s difficult to have an effective voice if you’re perceived to be speaking with a foreign accent.

Unfortunately the idea that Christianity is a Western religion is so pervasive that many East Asian Christians seem to believe it, with most unaware of their Asian Christian heritage. The development of a Christian identity that celebrates the gospel’s deep roots in Asia’s rich soil is a discipleship imperative. Across East Asia, minority churches can strengthen their witness by recovering their forgotten heritage. The Princeton historian, Samuel Hugh Moffett, reminds us of Christianity’s Asian roots:

It is too often forgotten that the faith moved east across Asia as early as it moved west into Europe… Asia produced the first known church building, the first New Testament translation, perhaps the first Christian king, the first Christian poets, and even arguably the first Christian state. [A History of Christianity in Asia, Maryknoll: Orbis]

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The minister sat in his study

He was praying through the church roll. He was asking the Lord what his purposes were for the church members. He knew his own temptation to think only about how the work of the local congregation might grow. But he had been preaching through the book of Acts, rejoicing in the growth of the Gospel throughout the world and encouraging his members to have a part in that. Their local outreach was bringing the Gospel to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. But in terms of reaching the world without Christ it was such a small part. His prayers included Jim and Jane who had been sent out as missionaries in the 1970s. The church had supported and followed their work, but had not seen anyone follow them into world mission. Why hadn’t anyone else moved in that direction? And then he reflected on his passage for the coming Sunday – Acts 13. The Holy Spirit told the church in Antioch to separate Saul and Barnabas for missionary work.

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Heroes in mission: William Carey

William Carey was a poor Northamptonshire shoemaker who is better known today as the ‘father of modern missions’.  Despite his humble origins he was an intelligent though uneducated man, who taught himself several languages, acquired skills as a craftsman, and became a schoolmaster and a Baptist minister by the time he was 25.

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Issues Facing Mission Today: Finance

This is a follow on from two recent posts and is part of a hard hitting segment from a much longer blog post on the Bible and Mission blog by Rollin Grams – go here for the full blog.

“The approach to financing missions is disconnected to the mission of the Church.  When missionaries are asked to articulate their own sense of calling to a particular ministry in order to raise support from a host of churches in the west, there is a ‘hole’ in the ‘system’ for financing.

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Get to Work – Get to Mission

Millennials, we’re told, expect to remain in a job for just under three years. That could mean 15-20 jobs in a working life. For many, job-hopping is a strategy to gain more experience, and part of the search for greater job fulfillment.

In the book, Work Matters, Paul Stevens says we need to consider the purpose of God for our lives right where we are, in the job that we’re doing, rather than view life as haphazard chance. With an Esther-like perspective, we’re to recognise that we’ve been placed in ‘such a place and time as this’.

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Shall I?

Shall I leave the prints of my knees upon the sandy beach,

A record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?

Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?

King of the glorious heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ will you help me on the wild waves?

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The African Village Mission – Episode 2

A few months later.

‘ Hi John. Long time no see,’ said George as he saw John coming into the pub.

‘Yes,’ said John, ‘ I haven’t had much time to come here since we started the African Village Mission.’

‘What has been happening then?’

‘Well it hasn’t gone as smoothly as I had hoped. There are times when I think you may have been right to be cautious…’Read more