Thine is the Kingdom?

Few would argue with the view that mission workers are sacrificially serving God.  They move far from their homes, often to work in uncomfortable, unstable or unhealthy places.  They risk health, career, family and wealth to follow their call into world mission.  Thousands of mission workers worldwide work selflessly for the God they love and the people God has sent them to.

Or is it selflessly?

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Making bones about mission

Earlier this week crowds flocked into the centre of Leicester for the triumphant  parade of the city’s victorious football team. Against all the odds, Leicester City had become the Premier league champions. When the news first broke I sent a congratulatory text to a friend in Leicester. His reply was swift, acknowledging the celebrations but reminding me that there is more to Leicester than football. I guess not all cities need to add that reminder… But I knew where he was coming from, having followed his earlier excitement over the discovery of King Richard III’s bones in a car park and their ensuing reburial in Leicester Cathedral. Somehow to me it didn’t match the wonder of the “Foxes” astonishing triumph. I told him as much. His response was that the events were connected, and, as many have noted, success of the football team seemed, along with other positive developments, to have followed the re-interment of a long dead king.

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Three young missionaries – Part 1

Three enthusiastic young missionaries were sitting in a noodle bar in Singapore

The Young American: It was good to hear this morning about John Mott’s giving a call at the 1910 Edinburgh Conference to complete the evangelisation of the world in this generation. I like that ‘can do’ spirit.

The Englishman:  Pity that generation soon plunged into a world war. Rather than saving that generation, it almost wiped it out.

The Singaporean: And the sight of the major missionary nations trying to destroy each other didn’t do much to commend the Gospel to the people of Asia.

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Trade and the Transmission of Faith

What can history teach us about the relationship between trade and the transmission of faith? Quite a lot it would seem. The answers to two further questions will help unpack some key lessons for missional business in 21st Asia.

Q 1: How did Islam arrive in East Asia? Answer: Muslim Traders.

Exactly how Islam came to East Asian communities is not known but scholars agree that a “direct relationship between trade and the spread of Islam is undeniable.” The maritime history of the Indian Ocean suggests that there were Muslim sailors working on ships plying the trade routes around the archipelago as early as the eighth century. As trade increased and connections with ports and peoples were strengthened, so the Muslim presence grew. In their book, Spice Journeys: Taste and Trade in the Islamic World, de Guise and Sutarwala write that “Islam and hospitality go together like coffee and cardamon. Islam and trade have also been inextricably bound since the time of the Prophet Muhammad.” Islam spread to the region, not to begin with by the intentional efforts of Islamic missionaries, but through merchants.

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Should we stay or should we go now?

As with most people in the UK, I am trying to figure out what is best for me to do on June 23rd.  Am I in or out?  Am I pro-Europe or pro-Brexit?  There are plenty of arguments on both sides, some of which are compelling and some of which are not quite so!

The subject is one which is not always mentioned for fear of upsetting, disagreeing or otherwise causing anxiety between friends, colleagues, family or fellow church members.  So it is with trepidation that I bring it up here.  Whilst we’ve heard much from both sides in the area of economics, I believe that missiological implications also need to be considered. What will be the impact on sharing Jesus?

As this is on the GC blog website, I want to major on that which is relevant to the local community here; and please note, I have no axe to grind and no answers.  Just questions!

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Safety in numbers

We all know the idea of safety in numbers, whether it’s herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the Serengeti, or shoals of mackerel avoiding predators like tuna. But we might not have noticed that trees do the same. A few tree species produce winged seeds that catch the wind and fly far away, but most, like the oak, produce heavy ones that don’t fall far from the parent tree, so that they can build up a forest around them for protection.

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village goat

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone

Trends in training for mission (and what happens if all the Bible colleges collapse?)

For a long time, teachers in our seminaries have thought that if they teach students sound theology, Greek exegesis and church history, these students would begin to function like church leaders” (Perry Shaw, Transforming Theological Education, 2014)

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Bricks without straw – Part 2

‘Hi John’, said the Pastor as he made a follow up Skype call to his young missionary,  ‘how are you?’

Not too bad. I’ve apologised to the language supervisor and begun to follow his advice. I have found someone my own age at the local coffee shop and he’s also an Arsenal supporter. So I have increased my football vocabulary.

That is good John. Now I said I would get back to you about the church prayer support. I have spoken with the chair of the Mission Committee and some of the other leaders. They backed my support of your language supervisor and agreed that you should concentrate on getting into the local scene and stop feeling that you have to keep in touch with us every day. An email every month or so should give us some prayer fuel.  We don’t want to always have to make bricks without straw in our prayer times!

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From Pioneers to Partners

Are we on the The Cusp of Destiny in the 21st Century? How do UK mission agencies and the UK church respond to the changing needs of East Asia?

The 20th century was an age of unprecedented barbarism, yet also amazing globalisation of the gospel. Over the past 100 or so years Christianity has experienced an incredible transformation in its ethnic and linguistic make-up. The biggest phenomenon in the history of the church during the 20th century was the growth of non-Western churches. Today Christianity is a global faith, and you and I are privileged to live at a time of tremendous church growth.

This reality must not obscure the fact that there are still many peoples in many contexts who have yet to hear the gospel. But in the years since many of our UK mission agencies were founded, many of the national churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been growing and maturing and are engaging in cross-cultural mission themselves.

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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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