Prayer group

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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Two curates were talking

Oliver: Do you remember John Apulyo[1].

Rupert: Yes wasn’t he a student of engineering who attended our church a few years ago?  I think I remember that after he had returned to his own country he had problems relating to his church pastor and went off to study at a Bible college in another Western country.

Oliver: Yes that is right. I had a message from him the other day to say that he had now returned to his own country and wants to start church planting.

Rupert: Who is he going to work with? Has he been reconciled with his Pastor?

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General Data Protection Regulations

In the Bible people’s details are recorded a number of times. In the Old Testament we read about censuses, some to establish the number of the people of Israel, others for determining the number of men eligible for military service. Solomon even undertook a census of the number of foreigners in the land for the purpose of allocating labour. This was a very different world – no reference to data protection regulations, there are no ‘opt out’ tick boxes and no record of canvassers harassing people for donations.

Today data is recognised as a very valuable commodity. It is necessary for wise allocation of government resources such as adequate health and education facilities but it can also be misused leading to identity theft or the targeting of particular segments of society who could be termed vulnerable.

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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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Cross-cultural church planting: a plea from a missionary

It has been really exciting to see a surge in church planting happening around the world. I believe that planting churches, or should I say, planting churches well, is probably the most effective strategy for reaching those without Christ that there has ever been. Now that you know I’m pro-church planting, I’d like to share some thoughts and suggestions for those planting churches cross-culturally from the perspective of a missionary who’s seen the good and the bad. I’m particularly thinking of people church planting in the Global South (previously called the ‘developing world’) with their denomination or church network.

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Cross fertilization

  • Does your organisation have a policy of encouraging staff (including senior staff) to take on trusteeships with other Christian organisation?
  • Does your organisation make provision (e.g. paid leave) to facilitate that policy?
  • Does your organisation monitor the benefits?

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What is not held by faith

Much of our world is divided into two. In the majority world, we are told that there are two kinds of NGOs working; faith based, and ‘not-faith-based’. Christians tend to go along with this terminology. ‘We’ are the ones doing faith-based development. Other people are doing the ‘real-thing’, the development that is not just based on faith! Because theirs is the ‘real thing,’ whereas ours is just a faith-based imitation, we look up to ‘them’ as better and setting the pace.

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Pruning

Continuing the horticultural theme we started recently with ‘re-potting‘, today we’re going to think about pruning.  All of us who are mission workers will be no stranger to sudden losses in our ministry.  Whether we are being evacuated, losing a work permit, finding a key supporter withdraws funding, losing a key colleague or having a ministry closed down by our agency, we all know what it is to find our plans thwarted.

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Did you know, ‘super-natural’ is an invention of Western theologians?

I have often been struck, that in Africa we do not have a ‘supernatural’. That is, African people, Christians included, refer to things ‘supernatural’ in the same way as they do to things ‘natural’. (While the term ‘supernatural’ is used in some African Englishes, it does not mean ‘supernatural’. It is used like a euphemism for ‘God’, or ‘amazing’.)

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