This is a question I’ve asked myself for years and I imagine one that plagues the minds of many. In the past I would have answered it with something like “to help people” or “to tell people about Jesus” or perhaps a more vague “to serve God”. Those are great aims in life, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think they’re quite there. As a church worker, I’ve tried to do those things. I’ve worked very hard at helping people. I’ve told lots of people about Jesus. I’ve tried to serve God through giving talks, writing studies, organising events, hosting parties, driving people round, baking cakes, brewing tea, mopping floors and being a shoulder to cry on. But somewhere in the midst of all that, I forgot that my primary purpose in life is to glorify God, and that starts with simply knowing Him (John 17:3).Read more
Being helpful is a notable Christian trait, though something we often carry to excess. Even more so for mission workers. We care, and we hope to change things. We see people hurting and our compassion drives us to improve things for them. We want to solve problems. We want to make things better. We need to see healing. It’s a trap we can easily fall into. One of the hardest things for compassionate people to do is sit and watch someone struggle with pain, confusion and need.Read more
Like many runners, I was transfixed recently when Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon distance in under two hours. I know it wasn’t a race and it doesn’t count as a world record, but it was still impressive. When he broke away from his pace makers and sprinted to the line, I was in bits. Frankly, I could run half a mile at the pace he managed, much less a marathon.
Of course, this was his second attempt at a sub-two hour marathon. His first try at the target was on Monza race course and he missed his goal by a very narrow margin. One of the things that he identified as a problem at Monza was that he was too far from the cheering crowd, so in Vienna the route was chosen so that people could be close to him and cheer him on his way. Crowds do help. Even running in a small, local half-marathon, it gives you a little spring in your step when kids hold up their hands for a high-five as you go past.Read more
The Evangelical Alliance has called the UK to believe for a hopeful future following the outcome of the General Election which returned a majority Conservative government.
In a statement responding to the election outcome, Gavin Calver, CEO, said: “I am hopeful for the future of the United Kingdom as we head into 2020.
“Not because one party has won and another has lost, but because we believe in a God who is powerful.Read more
I found it hard to fully relax the first time that I travelled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The streets of Bukavu were full of brightly dressed women buying and selling but every time I looked at the surrounding hills I felt unsafe. Rebel militias could strike at any time. One warlord in particular stood out. General Nkunda had an eagle-topped cane and a brutal reputation. His militia were highly effective fighters and so when he threatened to march on the capital Kinshasa and take over the government it was no idle threat.
But, in his pride, he had forgotten that ‘the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to whoever he wishes’ (Daniel 4v17).
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.Read more
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.Read more
My husband and I live in Guatemala and host short-term mission teams throughout the year. I am originally from California and he was born and raised in Guatemala. For me, short-term mission trips were kind of like camp. Every summer I had the chance to go somewhere new and ‘help people’. For my husband, hosting short-term mission teams in Guatemala was part of what he and his family did. There were blessings that came from it, but it was mostly a lot of work.
We have both seen the good, the bad and the ugly of short-term missions. And we continue to feel this tension with the short-term mission teams that we host. Do they do more harm than good? Do they perpetuate the cycle of poverty? Do they contribute to feelings of superiority? Or inferiority? Our work with families and communities in Guatemala, as well as churches and schools from the USA has forced us to ask these questions daily.
We have learned that perhaps how we go might matter more than what we do. Here are a few things you may not have heard about being more effective on short-term mission trips:Read more
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.”
“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.Read more
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.Read more