Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Knowing the Migrant Savior

("Turn to Clear Vision", by C. Lorance)

I'm thinking about what it means to "know Christ".  

I think we (Western, evangelical types) tend to mean by this a kind of emotional and intellectual adherence to certain theological positions/statements.  Maybe even really loving those truths and singing songs about them and stuff like that.  But, the Incarnation and Crucifixion were more than mere theological realities ... they were lived experiences of Lord Jesus.  The migrations and the sufferings of the Savior are a part of who He is (kind of a big part) and I am wondering if "knowing" Him in these things is even possible for the perennially comfortable, albeit theologically orthodox crowd who has never known the loss of displacement, the pain of culture loss, and the agony of physical torment.  Is there a sense in which one who knows nothing of orthodox confessions of faith or acceptable theological systems may nevertheless "know" something of Jesus, and that quite intimately, because they too were a migrant and they too suffered?  

Look at the Crucified Foreigner, pierced and bleeding impossibly far from home.  Does he look more like a suburban evangelical shopping at the local Lifeway for just the right Jesus fish to stick on his late model Camry or rather like the Syrian Muslim woman who was survived rape, torture and an impossible trek through the desert to bring her children to the relative safety of a refugee camp in Jordan?  I'm not saying that she knows enough about the Savior.  I'm just saying that maybe we don't either.  I'm just saying that perhaps there needs to be a bit more give and take in mission than we tend to allow for -- that the objects of our proclamation may themselves have something important to proclaim about Christ which we ignore to our own peril.

[Oh yeah, I'm blogging again.]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Help Fund South Korea Trip for the Global Diaspora Network


Last night, Katherine and I booked our tickets for our upcoming trip to South Korea to attend the annual advisory board meeting of the Global Diaspora Network.  Of course, we booked out tickets in faith that the Lord will provide the money we need to pay for the trip. Indeed, already, we have gotten a sponsor from Korea who is totally sponsoring Katherine's ticket.  Praise the Lord!  Another $2000 will be enough to cover my ticket and to cover additional in country expenses for our week-long trip.

Ready to give?  Give now by clicking here!

Here are some details of our trip:

I have been serving with the GDN since 2011 when I was appointed as a Diaspora Mission Catalyst at the very first board meeting in Paris, France.  In that capacity, I have been seeking to catalyze mission to, through and beyond people scattered from everywhere to everywhere.  I teach, train, write, speak, mobilize, provide consulting, write and edit, and do a number of other things.

As we move into this year's board meeting, there are a number of purposes that Katherine and I have in mind.

1. Katherine is serving as a the prayer coordinator for the movement and has been for the past year.  In that capacity, she has been seeking to mobilize and inform lots of prayer around the world for the work we are doing.  The entire board is eager for her to attend her first meeting so that she can encourage us all and be encouraged by us.  We also believe that personally sitting in on our deliberations will help her tremendously in crafting prayer requests and mobilizing prayer in 2014-15.

2. I am serving on the editorial team which is working to produce a comprehensive compendium (big book) on diaspora missions and missiology that we hope will fill an enormous gap in the Church.  We anticipate this book becoming a prominent resource in most Christian graduate schools and seminaries in the years to come as well as being utilized widely by mission agencies and local churches who are working among diasporas.  The editorial team is meeting during this board meeting for a progress check and to make key decisions in route to releasing the book in 2015.

3. In 2015 in Manila, Philippines, the GDN will host a major international forum on diaspora missions which
will bring together 400 selected leaders from around the world to collaborate on what God is doing in the migration of peoples from everywhere to everywhere.  In addition to presenting and providing general leadership at the Forum, I am in charge of the team which will plan the three evening sessions.  The content of these sessions in particular and the evening sessions in particular will be major points of discussion during our Korea meeting.

4. Katherine and I will be meeting with our friend, Wilbur Sargunaraj to discuss several upcoming projects and to make a couple short films on cultural intelligence and South Korea.  The $2500 goal for fundraising includes some money to offset his expenses in coming to Korea.

I also should just add that Katherine and I haven't gotten a chance to travel alone together in forever.  I think the last time we did a trip like this was before we got married.  So, the timing is right for us to get away and have a totally new cross-cultural experience together.

In light of this, I hope you will consider this trip a worthy investment in the Kingdom of God.  Many of my readers have supported me through the years on various trips.  I hope you will do so again this time.  As always, the gifts are 100% tax deductible and you can give quickly and securely right now using our online giving center.  While you are there, you may want to also support the next East Africa trip which is scheduled for the summer.  It is a major event.


Many blessings!!!

Mail your support to:
Trinity International Baptist Mission
112 Horizon Circle
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bhutanese Take On Technology Abuse and Relationships in the Short Film "One Day"

Today I want to commend a group of young Bhutanese creatives who are seeking to make a positive difference among the Bhutanese refugee global community through film-making.  The short film entitled "One Day" is clearly a beginning effort by a group that is just becoming acquainted with the medium.  However, they take on a very important issue (i.e. how social media and technology impact personal relationships) and they do so with clarity.

I hope you will watch "One Day" and share it with your friends.  Also, I encourage you to visit the YouTube Channel of Tassie Bhutanese Entertainment and encourage these youth.  Personally, I believe that Bhutanese-Nepali young men have a natural penchant for the creative arts and that this may be a very significant sign of hope for their future.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the unique genre of Nepali cinema, you will find certain things rather shocking.  For example, their is a rather unexpected scene of violence that non-Bhutanese viewers may find laughable or otherwise unappealing.  However, I found that it rather fits very well into what I've come to expect in Nepali films and is actually a kind of powerful symbolism to communicate the destruction that social media sites can wreak on family relationships.


Monday, January 20, 2014

On Muslims Coming to Christ

I've recently read through a wonderful series of posts over on the Circumpolar blog (one of my absolute favorites).  In the series, Warrick Farah, one of the brightest missiological minds hiding out with me in cyberspace*, explores the phenomenon of Muslims coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  His series is super insightful and a true must-read for those involved in missions among Muslim peoples.  Rest-assured, I will be passing it around to my teammates.

Here are few of my favorite insights from the Circumpolar Series:

1. "Conversion" to Christ tends to be a gradual and incremental process for Muslims.  Here's a quote from part 1 of the series: 

The overall experience of Muslims, however, is that conversion is a gradual process that takes place over many years (Haney 2010, 68Larson 1996a;Teeter 1990, 307-308). Gordon Smith notes that Muslim conversions to Christ “do not tend to rest or pivot on a decision or a particular act of acceptance. Rather, it has been well documented that these conversions are slow and incremental” (2010, 84). Qaasid cannot point to the moment of his conversion, but he knows he is a disciple of the Messiah. Thus, conversion is a process that transpires over months or years. The sometimes apparently sudden decision to “follow Christ” is only one essential step in this process.

I hope that this insight will be an encouragement to those who have become discouraged because they haven't seen "fruit" in their ministry among Muslims.

2. Farah points out in part 5 of the series that identity is a much more complicated issue that the typical debate surrounding "insider movements" and contextualization.  I think there is a lot of room to develop this idea further, but the fact that the series at least raises the issue is very helpful.  Here's a potent quote:

Identity is far more complex and dynamic than is unfortunately portrayed by many evangelicals on all sides of the issues. Layers of identity abound for people in every culture, and belonging to multiple traditions is a reality in today’s globalized world.

I would hesitate more than Farah does in quoting Rebecca Lewis and Georges Houssney in a way that makes them appear to be equal opposites in the debate on insider movements.  Positions aside, the level of argumentation and research simply isn't the same between these two.  I'll leave it at that.

3. I love the insights related to Muslim women coming to Christ.  Farah guesses that 80% of Muslims who come to know Christ are men and calls for much more research and evangelistic emphasis to be directed towards Muslim women.  Wow! That should deeply encourage all kinds of women who have been considering missions.  You are needed!  I should also point out that the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today is the Syrian refugee crisis (expected to total 4 million externally displaced refugees by the end of 2014) and that this has heavily resulted in the displacement of Muslim women.  There is a heavily female human tidal wave of Syrian refugees now flooding the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.

Farah's most compelling insight in part 7 of his series is that Muslim women who come to Christ are greatly influenced by stories of Jesus's affirmation and positive treatment of women.  This clearly calls for missionaries to emphasize such stories in their evangelism of Muslim women.  

[*By the way, if you haven't noticed, there is a tremendous amount of really great missiology that is being done in the non-traditional realms of blogs and other social media outlets.  As traditional missiology publishers struggle to transition from print to digital/online formats to keep up with the times, a solid cadre of excellent missiologists have produced and are producing truly top-notch resources that are being heavily consumed by all manner of missionary practitioners.  Besides ... ah hem ... myself ;-) ... I love reading CircumpolarIndigenous JesusTallSkinnyKiwiThe Long ViewThe World is Our NeighborhoodAcrosscultureFaithful Witness and Missiologically Thinking.  You have any favorites that I've missed?] 

[Photo by Rifqi Dalgren]

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Urgent Need! Help us Replace Gloria's Stolen Laptop!


Gloria Katusiime serves as a part of the Trinity International family as the Exectutive Director of Endiro, a business as mission endeavor based in Kampala, Uganda that is using the vehicle of coffee shops to generate financial support for ministries that are rescuing HIV/AIDS orphans and transforming "child-headed homes" with the hope and wholeness of Jesus Christ.

Support Gloria Now!

In the coming months, you will hear a lot more from me about Endiro and Endiro Coffee as we launch our third coffee shop, re-launch our website and social media sites, develop our newly established board of directors, and explore ways to bring the incredibly delicious Endiro Coffee to North America.  But for now, we need some urgent help:

A couple days ago, Gloria's home was broken into and thieves stole a bunch of stuff.  Most important among these items was her laptop which is vital for managing the business and ministry components of Endiro as well as for staying connected with people through email, Skype, etc.  I was saddened to hear about this and with Gloria's birthday coming up next week (shhh ...), I wanted to make every effort I could to replace her old laptop.

Children perform at Young Achiever's School
So, I have set up chance for you to make a safe and secure, tax-deductible donation online at Trinity's main ministry website.  My goal is to raise $700 for Gloria as quickly as possible and get it to her by the end of the month so that she can purchase a good, new laptop for her work.   Again, since Gloria and Endiro have officially become a part of the growing global Trinity International family, you gift is fully tax-deductible in the United States.  Just follow this link to give now!

Thanks so much for supporting the new and growing work of Endiro.  I think you will be very excited about what it coming in 2014!