Friday, September 30, 2011

Timi Mero Sathi

Here's a nice video of my friend, Peter, singing a lovely and touching Nepali song "Timi Mero Sathi" (You are my friend).  If you like Peter's singing -- or the novelty of an American singing Nepali songs -- check out his YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/copperhead165

Dashain Daily Prayer (दशैं दैनिका प्रार्थना): Patience Day


Friday, 9/30/2011
चतुर्थी (Fourth Day)
Patience Day



पवित्र आत्माको फल धैर्य हो ।
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is patience.

परमप्रभुको सामुन्ने मौन बस र धैर्यपूर्वक उहाँको प्रतिक्षा गर । (भजनसंग्रह ३७:७, Psalms 37:7)

Sometimes it is difficult to be patient. Pray for God to give you patience at work and school and with other people.

आज, प्रार्थना गर्नुहोस्-

“पिता परमेश्वर, कहिले कहिं मेरो धैर्य छैन । सबै समयमा र सबै मानिसअहरुसंग मलाई धैर्य दिनुहोसा । “

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jewelry-making project helps refugee women earn money and adjust to a new culture | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com

We have started a project like the one referenced below in our Nepali church, TriEak Parmeshwar Mandali. The difference for us is that the jewelry is being made by Nepali women in major Indian cities who have become victims of sex trafficking. In an effort to help these women get out of the sex trade and make money for themselves, the Bhutanese-Nepali refugees in our church are buying and selling the jewelry in the community and among coworkers, neighbors, and friends. All the money we collect is being sent back to the women in India who have made the jewelry.

Jewelry-making project helps refugee women earn money and adjust to a new culture | The Courier-Journal | courier-journal.com: "The project is based on the micro-credit, small-loan practices that help create female entrepreneurs in Third World countries like Bangladesh. It advances women supplies — stones and setting materials — that are paid for when the finished jewelry is sold.

The concept was first adapted locally in the spring of 2010 at Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

“We worked with Bhutanese women making jewelry at Kentucky Refugee Ministries and helped them sell to Heine Bros. Coffee,” said Staci Kottkamp, a former volunteer. “That May, I hosted a party at my home that was very well attended. About 50 people came through, and we did about $1,000 in sales.”"

Andrew Jones' C1-C6 "Informality Scale"

I appreciate Andrew's reflections on contextualization and his joining me in answering John McArthur's anti-contextualization rantings.  You can read what he's written yourself here.


Just for fun, you may also find his "Church Informality Scale" humorous.  Which best describes your church? Both churches that I pastor are somewhere between C3 and C4:


OK, a little off topic but still related:
Here is another kind of C1-C6 scale that I created to measure your church's formality or informality. Don't take it too seriously, but how would your church service rank?
THE CHURCH INFORMALITY SCALE
C1 - Courtroom. The most formal. Assigned seating. Silence while being addressed by a robed official sitting higher than everyone.
C2 - Corporate business meeting. No agenda deviation. High dress code but more interactive.
C3 - Classroom. Orderly but interactive within boundaries. Semi-formal dress. Leadership from front.
C4 - Coffee Shop. Interactive but people seated and orderly.
C5 - Club. No seating. All casual dress. Fully interactive.
C6 - Children's birthday party. No dress code. Interactive games and activities. Food. Laughter. Gift-giving.

Violence between Bhutanese-Nepalis & African-Americans in Columbus, Ohio

This kind of story is one of the untold (or at least lesser-told) parts of the refugee resettlement story. Refugees don't immediately lay hold of "the American dream" but are rather initially settled in poverty. Very often, they are resettled into some of the most impoverished and crime-ridden parts of the country. Unfortunately, violence, robberies, and even murders are the result. Refugees are often easy targets for such things.

I can testify to the fact that there is a growing sense of fear particularly among the Bhutanese refugees of their African-American neighbors. Every story such as the one below is taken as evidence that every black person is to be feared as a threat. The countless counter-examples that can be provided usually prove unable to outweigh even one story of "black-on-Bhutanese" violence. So, while the story below tries hard to claim that race and ethnicity played no role in the situation, such an assertion is impossible to believe.

City wants residents at apartment complex to meet on conflicts | The Columbus Dispatch: "By the time police arrived after an onlooker called 911, the melee had grown. One woman who saw the fight said that as many as 20 Bhutanese Nepali refugees were beating four black men."

Is Licona, NAMB's top apologist, a "Reluctant Inerrantist"?

News is circling around right now regarding Mike Licona, the Southern Baptist's Apologetics Coordinator for the North American Mission Board (note: Mohler seems to indicate that Licona is not longer with NAMB.  I have no confirmation of this.  As of this post, he is still listed on the staff page).  The controversy surrounds some things Licona has written in his massive, 700+ page book entitled The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.  Therein, Licona casts doubt on the historicity of the events described in Matthew 27:51-54.  Licona instead seems to prefer an "apocalyptic" or poetic reading of that passage.  This, of course, has created some discussion as to whether or not Licona really holds to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy or, rather, if he holds on to it firmly enough.  Apologist James White has dubbed Licona a "reluctant inerrantist" citing not only the book but also his recent appearance on the Unbelievable radio broadcast opposite noted atheist Bart Ehrman.  On that program, Licona is clear in stating that he didn't consider Biblical inerrancy to be a "cardinal doctrine".

Well, if you find this conversation interesting and important, as I do, you can get caught up here:

Listen to James White's analysis of the entire controversy here.  And also here.
Read Albert Mohler's review of the situation here on his blog.
Read Norman Geisler's "Open Letter" to Licona here.

I've read some responses that are supposedly from Mike Licona to Mohler and Geisler, however, I have not found solid confirmation that they really come from him.  Licona's "Risen Jesus" website seems to be kind of dysfunctional right now.  There is an incomplete Facebook page in his name that has a few interesting pieces on it -- thanks to Sam Shamoun.  You can check it out here.

Okay, have fun!

Dashain Daily Prayer (दशैं दैनिका प्रार्थना): Peace Day

Thursday, 9/29/2011
तृतिया (Third Day)
Peace Day



पवित्र आत्माको फल शान्ती हो ।
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace.

अब शान्तिका प्रभु आफैले सब समय, हरतरहले तिमीहरुलाई शान्ती दिऊन् । प्रभु तिमीहरु सबैसँग रहुन् । (२ थेसलोनिकी ३:१६, 2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Today, pray that all refugee peoples everywhere will know the peace of the Lord Sri Jesus Christ in difficult times.

आज, प्रार्थना गर्नुहोस्-

“पिता परमेश्वर, सबै रेफ्युजिहरुलाई तिनिहरुका पिडाहरु र कष्टहरुमा तपाईंको शान्ती दिनुहोस ।“

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beyond the dzong -- Bhutan's Failing National Language

Here's a fascinating article about the Bhutanese government's attempts to make Dzongkha, the national language, more widely used in the country. Some real insights here for those interesting in knowing more about the background to the Bhutanese-Nepali Refugee situation.

Beyond the dzong: "Inevitably, such a relatively recent induction of a national language has thrown up challenges to the full gamut of Bhutanese society. After all, Dzongkha is the mother tongue for only one ethnic group – the Ngalong, the traditional ruling group, which makes up around a fifth of the population – and is one of nearly two dozen languages spoken in the country, with Nepali and English being by far the most widely understood. The law, however, has little room for such nuances. According to official discussion that took place in the National Assembly in mid-June, potentially embarrassing inconsistencies have been arising during the simple process of naming new official institutions, due to the fact that these bodies are typically named in English before being translated into Dzongkha. Recently, for instance, the president of a new medical institute was being officially referred to by a word (sidzin) that in fact means the president of a country. According to one Dzongkha expert quoted in the local press, such problems ‘would not arise if the bills were drafted first in the national language’."

Dashain Daily Prayer (दशैं दैनिका प्रार्थना): Joy Day

Wednesday, 9/28/2011
द्वितीया (Second Day)
Joy Day

पवित्र आत्माको फल आनन्द हो ।
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy.

प्रभुमा सधैँ आनन्द गर । म फेरी पनि भन्दछु, आनन्द गर । 
(फिलिप्पी ४:४, Philippians 4:4)

Today, pray that Nepalis everywhere will know the joy of the Lord Sri Jesus Christ. Pray for families who are in mourning now to experience new joy in the Lord.

आज, प्रार्थना गर्नुहोस्-

“पिता परमेश्वर, सबै नेपालीहरुलाई तपाईंको आनन्द दिनुहोस । सबै बिलाप गर्नेहारुलाई सान्त्वना दिनुहोस ।“

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Snapshot of Bhutanese Refugee Life in Australia

While the number of Bhutanese-Nepali refugees that have been resettled in Australia is only a small fraction of the number that have come to the United States, they nevertheless are there.  I found the following video fascinating as an example of how refugees are creatively engaging the free enterprise system in pursuit of a better life.

Dashain Daily Prayer (दशैं दैनिका प्रार्थना): Introduction & Love Day



Namaskar and Jay Sri Yeshu! नमस्कार  जय श्री येशु !

Dashain is the national festival of Nepal.  During this 2011 Dashain season, we invite the entire Bhutanese-Nepali community to join in nine days of special prayer for the blessings of the Holy Spirit to come upon all Nepalis around the world.  This blog will have daily postings to help you to pray during Navratri that the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit will be given to Nepalis everywhere.  And we know that when we pray in the name of Lord Sri Jesus, our prayers will be heard!
___________________



Tuesday, 9/27/2011
प्रतिपदा (first day)
Love Day
पवित्र आत्माको फल प्रेम् हो ।
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love.

प्रिय हो, हामी एउटाले अर्कालाई प्रेम गरौं, किनभने प्रेम परमेश्वरबाट आउँछ  
( युहन्ना :७, 1 John 4:7a)

Today, pray that Nepalis everywhere will know the love of Pita Parmeshwar. Pray also that they will greatly love their friends, neighbors, and family.

आज, प्रार्थना गर्नुहोस्-

“पिता परमेश्वर, सबै नेपालीहरुलाई तपाईंको प्रेम दिनुहोस तपाईंको आत्मद्वारा हामिलाई मदत गर्नुहोस्, ताकी हामी हाम्रा साथि, पेरिवार्, छिमेकि हाम्रा शत्रुहरुलाई पनि प्रेम गर्नु 
सकौं ।“



Monday, September 26, 2011

A Journey from Bhutan to the United States

I liked this short video produced by the Tennessee Office for Refugees.  Here is Gopal Basnet sharing his own personal story of migration as a refugee from Bhutan.



My Journey . . . "Stories of Refugees coming to Nashville" - Gopal from TNOffice4Refugees on Vimeo.
Gopal is a Bhutanese refugee that lived for 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. While the Bhutanese expelled all ethnic Nepalese from their country, Nepal would not accept the influx of people and there has been a gridlock foe refugees since. Coming to Nashville, Gopal has made leaps and bounds; starting as one in need himself, to coming to help other refugees as they attempt to re-start their lives with hope of a new future.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Childhood of Jesus (Message in English and Hindi)

Today I am happy to share with you a sermon I preached at the Yeshu Satsang in Little India a few months back.  Here Vinod Isaac provides the Hindi translation for my English message.  Enjoy!



For more messages like this, check out http://www.adhyathmavatika.org/.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Excess Female Deaths

My friend, Sam George of Parivar International, has recently shared the following information regarding gender inequality and death:


Gender inequality

Death and the maiden

Sep 19th 2011, 15:08 by The Economist

Women and girls die prematurely in greater numbers than men
OVER a quarter of all excess female deaths occur in China at birth, says the World Bank's annual World Development Report, published on September 19th. The number has risen since 1990 from 890,000 to 1.1m. These are the numbers of extra girls who would have been born if the normal sex ratio at birth (105 boys to 100 girls) had prevailed in China. It does not do so because of the practice of sex-selective abortion. Aborted girls account for the largest single share of excess female deaths worldwide, but other sorts of death have been growing faster, notably those of women of child-bearing age in Africa. The excess deaths of African women aged 15 to 49 (when compared with female death rates in rich countries) rose by 150% between 1990 and 2008. The number of excess deaths in African countries with high rates of HIV-AIDS increased by 760%. Excess female mortality is shifting from birth in East Asia to adulthood in Africa.




GOP Debate Highlights on Video

Did you catch the GOP debate tonight? Haven't really started thinking about this yet.  Where are you at on all of it?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/highlights-from-the-gop-debate-in-orlando/2011/09/22/gIQA4SGJpK_video.html

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Abi Maya Sarki is still missing

Please note the following information and pass on any tips that you may have.  

D


- The Washington Post: "Abi Maya Sarki, 24, vanished July 25 after working the night shift at a Riverdale Park McDonald’s, where she knew enough McEnglish to navigate her way through Quarter Pounders and meal-deal menus."

Southern Baptists are Considering a Name Change

Have you heard the news?

The Southern Baptist Convention is now considering a name change. At the linked to article points out, this isn't the first time. Motions have been entertained at the annual convention multiple times before. However, this may be the furthest into the discussion we've ever gotten.

I definitely support this idea. "Southern Baptist" is too regional. Nearly as bad as something like "Church of England in South Africa" or "The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod South Korea". It always has felt kind of silly to be planting "Southern Baptist" churches in Chicago, particularly among diasporas (migrant peoples). I don't even bother trying to explain "Southern Baptist" to most of the people I work with. It is difficult for me to imagine what this would be like in other nations. In particular, what is it like to be a "Southern Baptist" missionary in Northern Sudan or North Korea?


Further, I support the choice of bringing Pastor Micheal Allen on to the task force that will study the possibility of changing the name of our denomination. Micheal was a fellow on-site participant at Cape Town 2010 and is the pastor of the inner-city and multi-cultural Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago. I have a tremendous respect for Micheal and the ministry he leads and believe that he had a very good handle on what is going on both within our local and national denominational life as well as in the global body of Christ as a whole.

Now, what names will be suggested, if any, remains a mystery. I have read: "Orthodox Baptist Church" (which is kind of dumb), "Evangelical Baptist Convention" (which is better), "Worldwide Baptist Convention" and simply "The Baptist Convention." "International Baptist Convention" has actually been proposed and rejected in the past.

One person quipped in support of the name change: “I think they ought to change the name to the International Baptist Convention,” he said. “Then at some point - when we get ready to start mission work on other planets - we could switch to the Interstellar Baptist Convention. … That way, the initials would stay the same and we wouldn’t even have to change the logo.”

Well, the process should be interesting. If the name is going to change, it must be approved by two consecutive Conventions. That means the earliest possible change wouldn't be until after the 2013 annual convention. That's only if a proposed name is suggested and approved in 2012 -- which, let's face it, isn't going to happen. My prediction is that the name will change but not until 2015.

Here's the link to the news article:

Illinois Baptist State Association: Home: BP: IL Baptist appointed to SBC name change study committee



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pink Dolphins beat a Big Buddha Everytime

     I am very tired at the end of one of the funnest tourism days I've had in a long time.  The Himalayan Global Summit will begin tomorrow, but today was a holiday in Hong Kong.  So, I spent a great day with some old friends.  They treated me like an honored guest as they fed me Dim Sum in the morning, spicy Szechuan for dinner and nice little snacks in between.
     Most of the day was spent traveling out to Ngong Ping on Lantau  Island to see one of the world's largest Buddha statues.  The 250 ton monstrosity was impressive to be sure.  But I was more overwhelmed by the natural beauty of Lantau Island and its surroundings.  Mountains, forest, waterfalls, and plenty of ocean -- breathtaking.  Beyond that, the sheer image-of-God humanity of the Tai O Fishing Village was just unforgettable.  Tai O was my favorite place of the day.  Walking through the markets and narrow streets was other worldly.  I even nearly received a good caning from an old lady who apparently didn't want me taking pictures of her house (I thought it was a store).
     From Tai O, we got on a little boat and went out into the harbor.  It was there that we saw pink dolphins.  Yes, pink.  I must admit, I didn't think they existed.  They do and they are awesome. Clearly, all that man attempts to do in showing their skill is made to appear rather silly next a single pink dolphin conceived of and formed in an instant by our Creator.  Oh that the hundreds of devotees prostrating before "The Big Buddha" would realize that any one of them is more impressive than that statue.  Image bearers that they are.
      Made our way home via the "Night Market" in Kowloon.  I was blown away by the display of corruption in the form of idol shops, sex shops, fortune tellers, astrologers, and hawkers selling knock off products.  Mainly I was blown away because this market seemingly materializes out of nothing every night in the streets surrounding the Chinese temple I photographed yesterday.  To me it seemed very clear that Satan had established a spiritual stronghold in the blocks surrounding that temple.  My friends did point out a church that had started right in the middle of it all.  Praise God for them and their willingness to move towards opposition for the sake of the gospel.
     Finally, I was much more successful with Nepalis today than yesterday.  Apparently, many of them live and work right around the place where I'm staying in HK.  The "Night Market" seems to draw them out of the woodwork.  Anyway, I found a store that sold topees!!!  Also, picked up a couple other cool things.
     Anyway, I will leave Kowloon tomorrow and travel the New Territories -- further north in Hong Kong.  That is where the Summit will be held.   Pray that I'll have no trouble getting to the right place at the right time as no one will be available to take me there and I'll need to navigate the bus system alone.

Good night!!!


 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Overcoming Jet Lag in "Asia's World City"

     Well, I am ready to sleep after a great, day exploring and enjoying Hong Kong.  This is my second time here, but today I had most of the day completely on my own just to check things out.  I tried to think through my goals for the day.  I wanted to pray, enjoy myself, eat good food, and pick up some gifts for the folks back home.
Tin Hau Temple, HK
     Most of the day I just wandered around.  The parks in Hong Kong are beautiful and peaceful.  Old people practicing Tai Chi abound.  Early on I discovered a temple devoted to the deity Tin Hau - a patron deity of seafarers.  Seeing the temple there along with many small shrines in apartments and on street corners served as an important reminder of the indigenous lostness of Hong Kong.  So much work is left to be done among the Chinese.  Help us, Lord.
Kowloon Masjid
     Of course, I am always struck by diaspora as well.  Today I saw a huge mosque in Kowloon with lots of Muslims coming and going.  I doubt many people consider the importance of reaching Muslims in Hong Kong.  But the need is great.  I don't exactly how many Muslims are in this place but I know they are varied.  Today alone I encountered Indonesian house maids, Arab imams, South Asian Muslim men hawking watches on the street and even one Pakistani man who offered to sell me marijuana (I turned him down, by the way).  I also met a few Nepalis.  I have found them difficult to identify here, and also quite stand-offish.  They have seemed almost afraid.  Not sure what is behind that, I haven't encountered it in the past.
     I disappointed myself with my eating today.  Ended up with a McDonald's breakfast and a KFC lunch.  Pathetic, I know.  I just go intimidated with the prospects of ordering food in a more "local" establishment.  Part of it was not being able to decide.  Part was being afraid of prices being too high.  Most of it was just having no functionality in Cantonese.  Well, I do know how to ask for more chili sauce -- essential skill.  By mid afternoon I got up the nerve to get some fish balls on a stick -- wonderful, really.
Hot Pot
     Saw some other cool stuff that I won't go on and on about.  The highlight however was dinner tonight with old friends.  Yau, Kay, Ryan, and Carol were all students in our college ministry back in Oklahoma.  It was encouraging to see them and to hear what the Lord is doing among them.  They encourage me by their very existence.  I hope I was an encouragement to them as well.  It is always great to see people you invested much in continuing in the faith, walking with the Lord.
     Of course, we did have great food.  Per my request, we went out for hot pot and ate most of the food in the restaurant.  Delicious!  Tomorrow we will again share a meal -- dim sum.
     So, that was my day.  It is now 11:30PM and I haven't had a nap.  Was up at 6AM.  So, I feel sleepy and seem on my way to overcoming jet lag quickly.  Tomorrow will be focused on these Hong Kong friends and do some prep for the summit which starts Wednesday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Arrived in Hong Kong!

Thank you for your prayers.  The trip here to Hong Kong was a great one -- really, Cathay Pacific is the way to go.  And I've safely arrived at my old friends' (Yau and Kay) home in the city. It was truly a delight to see them after 6 years.  I'm encouraged by their strong faith in the Lord Jesus and that their love and affection for me hasn't faded.  Tomorrow they'll be going to work and I'll be wandering about the city alone -- trying to overcome jet lag and look for Nepalis.  Should be fun.  But in the evening, we'll celebrate the Moon Festival together with other friends Ryan and Carol.

Also, I just finished Skyping with my friend at the Nepal Bible Society.  He'll be having some friends hand carry Bibles and other materials to me here in HK from Nepal.  Pray that there will be no complications with that.  I'm especially excited to get my hands on the Bible Society's new "simple" Nepali Bible.  Should be a big hit with the Bhutanese-Nepalis.  I could still use your financial support to help purchase these items.  Take a look at the below links for that.


  • To make a gift of support for Cody's trip to Hong Kong to equip Himalayan Christian leaders click here!
  • To make a gift of support for the general ministry or to meet specific needs of TIBMclick here!

Friday, September 9, 2011

What is Cody Doing in Hong Kong?!?!

Well, tomorrow (9/10) I will be on my way to Hong Kong for a week.  After a couple days of overcoming jet-lag and spending time with old friends, I will be attending the Himalayan Global Summit, a gathering of Christian leaders from Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, India and elsewhere.  The theme of the summit is "Himalayan People! A Missionary People!"


It is excited to be able to attend this event and to be a part of the equipping and mobilization of Himalayan Christians who have caught a vision for the Great Commission.  They recognize that the age of mission "from the West to the rest" is over and that mission today is "from everywhere to everywhere".  For my part, I will be leading two, 2-hour sessions on issues related to diaspora mission, refugees, and contextualization.


I definitely need your prayers for the trip.  My wife has posted some details about how you can pray and will keep that updated during the trip.  


Also, some of you are probably interested to know how my fundraising for the trip is going.  Good news!  While most people have not used the online giving options to do so, I have raised almost all I need for the trip.  Friends and family have been really getting behind me in this.  It was especially encouraging when "SK", my first-ever Nepali friend, who came to know Jesus as a student in Oklahoma City where I was a international student minister, send a gift of support.  He and his wife now live in Europe and were full of encouragement for this trip.  


SK's gift was followed by gifts from several Bhutanese-Nepalis who were waiting for my birthday to give money for my trip.  To receive such generous support from refugees who have come to know the Lord through our ministry in Chicagoland is deeply encouraging.  One sister even bought me some new dress clothes for my presentation!


In all, I believe I now have enough funds for the plane ticket, lodging, food, and conference expenses.  I am hopeful that some more gifts of support will come in today (on the eve of my trip) to help me buy Nepali-language resources at the conference to bring back here.  I'm not exactly sure what resources will be available, but I'm hopeful that there will be some really good stuff that we can use in our ministry here and elsewhere.  Particularly since our ministry opportunities are expanding all the time.


Just the other day, I received an email from a church in another American city that has been working among Bhutanese-Nepalis and other diaspora groups.  Dealing with the diversity of diaspora mission has left them feeling both excited and puzzled about what to do.  They write:


"Our leadership is in a quandary because we know we must help them in their spiritual growth but with the language barrier we are at a loss.  We don’t know how to grow in His name with the diversity that we are encountering.  We do know that God is leading us in this direction as He has opened up all the doors for us to enter and we must follow what He is giving us.  Is there any assistance you can give us?"


Well, this is the kind of thing we live for and love.  Please keep us in your prayers and me especially as I head to Hong Kong tomorrow.  Support us financially as well so that we can continue to do these sorts of things.  The ministry of TIBM has expanded beyond our wildest imaginings and God is doing marvelous things.  
  • To make a gift of support for Cody's trip to Hong Kong to equip Himalayan Christian leaders click here!
  • To make a gift of support for the general ministry or to meet specific needs of TIBM click here!

20,000 Tibetans are Stranded in Nepal as Refugees

Nepal’s Tibetan refugee resettlement plan still in doldrums News: "Kathmandu, Sep 8 (IANS) Nearly six years after the then US president George W. Bush proposed to resettle in America around 5,000 Tibetan refugees, regarded as living in danger in Nepal, there is still uncertainty and a shroud of secrecy surrounding the project.
In the past, the US successfully lobbied with the Nepal government to allow the over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal to be offered new homes in the US and other western countries. Subsequently, more than 50,000 refugees have already exited Nepal.
However, the Tibetan resettlement programme, though it involves a handful of refugees by comparison, continues to hang fire due to Nepal’s reluctance to ruffle the feathers of its giant northern neighbour China."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Grace to You" Continues to Rage Against Contextualization

To be honest, there isn't really much more to say in response to the current series of blog posts that is being featured on the Grace to You (the ministry connected to John Macarthur) web site.  There is a third offering today and I suppose it will be followed by others, but again, if you do not accept the unsubstantiated assumptions that they begin with, everything else falls apart.  And by the way, I really wish GTY hadn't disabled commenting on their blog as I would love a more direct conversation with them about this.  Perhaps they will re-enable commenting soon.


Catching you up -- My responses to GTY's anti-contextualization series PART 1, PART 2


GTY continues to essentially equate contextualization with a selling out of the gospel, which it fundamentally is not.  Today's post on their site doesn't add to that or really say anything constructive at all.  It simply stoops to new lows in its slandering of those who are pursuing contextualization as missionaries of the gospel.  Here's a brief quote:



By contrast, the “contextualization” of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age. It has opened the church’s doors wide for worldliness, shallowness, and in some cases a crass, party atmosphere. The world now sets the agenda for the church.
This is demonstrated clearly in a book by James Davison Hunter, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. Hunter surveyed students in evangelical colleges and seminaries, and concluded that evangelical Christianity has changed dramatically in the past three decades. He found that young evangelicals have become significantly more tolerant of activities once viewed as worldly or immoral—including smoking, using marijuana, attending R-rated movies, and premarital sex.
To blame contextualization for immorality is sad and wrong.  Further, it is more than a little hypocritical coming from those for whom the gospel and Christian life has already been contextualized.  In my humble opinion, GTY is a great ministry that has stumbled at this point.  Pastor Macarthur should rectify this matter.  These anti-contextualization slurs and slanders should be withdrawn.  GTY has accused falsely faithful missionaries and Christ-followers who are pursuing contextualization as incarnation at great personal cost and are seeing the Lord honor their work by bringing many souls into the family of God.  The so-called "church marketeers" are not the same thing as those who are pursuing contextualization and the equation of the two is irresponsible, unkind, and unprofitable for the family of God.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nepali Language Learning Resources

Over at TIBM.org we have just updated our Nepali Language Learning Resource page to include a new and really great free resource.  You can see the description below of the Nepali Primer produced by Digital Himalaya.  Along with the other resources we've included on our site, Nepali-language students should run, not walk, over to tibm.org.

Nepali Language Resources: "1. Nepali Primer - This is a basic introduction to the Nepali language that has been produced by the Digital Himalaya Project. If you are just getting started with Nepali, you will be hard-pressed to find a better, free online resource."

Grace to You's "Giving Up to Gain" - latest on contextualization

I want to simply make note of the fact that Grace to You has posted a new article related to contextualization -- well, a post that is really seeking to be against contextualization.  I responded in detail to their first post and I would encourage you to read my comments on that first. The new article posted by Grace to You is entitled "Giving Up to Gain" and it truly doesn't add anything to their case unless you accept the false assumptions set forth in the first article.  That is, particularly for this second post, one must accept that the pursuers of contextualization are "church marketing specialists" who are willing to sacrifice the message of the gospel to gain hearers, to modify its content to suit the world, to compromise its truth instead of calling people to faith and repentance.




Of course, the fundamental problem with what GTY is doing is that they have begun with a wrong definition of contextualization.  They are attacking something which I would agree is bad but inappropriately naming that thing contextualization.  It is something else.


In terms of what GTY offers as interpretation of 1 Cor. 9:19-23, I essentially agree with what they are saying about Paul desiring to give up his rights in order to win others.  But that's exactly what my point was when I argued in the previous response to GTY that this text is most certainly a pro-contextualization passage. Here's what I wrote then:


I would suggest reading it in the larger context of chapter 9 and then comparing the language to the Carmen Christi of Philippians 2.  Is it not clear, that Paul has in mind the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ as he reflects on his own ministry philosophy?  Paul, though free from all, makes himself a slave to all just as Christ, who was in the form of God, emptied himself and took the form of a servant.  What was this slavery for Paul?  It was becoming a Jew to Jews, a Greek to Greeks – all things to all men.  In this, Paul’s vision was clearly Christ who was found and human likeness and was obedient to the point of death on the cross.  So this was not a matter of experimenting with novel new ministry methods for Paul.  It was slavery.  It was a laying down of his rights and life that he might win more people to Christ.


Writes GTY:


So winning people to Christ was his one objective. In order to do that, Paul was willing to give up all his rights and privileges, his position, his rank, his livelihood, his freedom—ultimately even his life. If it would further the spread of the gospel, Paul would claim no rights, make no demands, insist on no privileges.


What GTY fails to see is that included in this -- perhaps even the most obvious implication -- is that Paul was willing to give up his cultural preferences and identity.  He was willing to become a Jew to the Jews and a Greek to the Greeks -- all things to all people.  To argue that this is not a text describing Paul's pursuit of contextualization as incarnation seems to be really missing the mark.


I guess at the end of the day, I don't really have a huge disagreement with GTY.  I think that what they are opposing -- if it actually exists out there somewhere -- is something that I would also oppose.  The problem is that whatever and wherever it is, it simply isn't contextualization.  I don't care if the proponents of it drop that term here and there -- they just don't know what they are talking about.  They are playing a game and not pursuing the difficult and cruciform road of incarnation.


The whole contention with the Darrin Patrick crowd comes at the same issue from a different angle.  It would seem to me that GTY would be at odds with Patrick on the issue of contextualization.  Of course, I'm not sure.  But I think the fundamental problem here is a poor understanding of the key term.  For GTY, contextualization means essentially to conform to the culture, blend in, sell out the gospel.  Patrick doesn't really disagree with this.  He seems only to offer the modification that "over-contextualization" means to conform to the culture to the point of selling out the gospel.  For Patrick that is contextualization but it is too much of it.


So long as Patrick and those in his school of thought grant that there is a necessary connection between contextualization and slipping into heretical syncretism, the GTY-types can always respond by saying something like, "Why not just stay far away from anything so inherently dangerous?" And this wouldn't be a bad question.


No! This connection must be denied.  Syncretism, heresy, licentiousness and the like are not the special domain of contextualizers for they flow not from the incarnational life but rather from sin, ignorance of the Scripture and sound doctrine, and a deficient commitment to Christ.   One certainly does not have to be involved in contextualization to fall into these pits.  Contextualization is not to be imagined on a continuum with normal, sound, and good Christianity on the "non-contextualized" left and increasingly dangerous examples of contextualization moving off to the right until they eventually fall off into the fires of friendship with the world and hatred toward God.   Contextualization rather has as its model the incarnation of Jesus and its aim the enfleshening of the Christ-life in every historic human context. 


If Patrick and others like him could grasp this, then they might be much more effective in their advocacy and pursuit of contextualization, being thus able to respond to the GTY-types, "You know that's not what we mean by that term don't you?  Not at all."


To the GTY author, perhaps it was John Macarthur himself, again, I'd encourage you to get to know better the people who are really doing the work of contextualization.  I don't know any "church marketing specialists"; I probably wouldn't get along with them very well if I did.  But I can tell you that we pursue contextualization full on and have called many people to repentance and faith in the process.  In fact, just did so this past Sunday.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lausanne World Pulse - Global Diaspora Network Meets for First Time in Paris

This posted a while back, but I just came a cross it today. Definitely one of the coolest little meetings I've ever been to.

 Lausanne World Pulse - Global Diaspora Network Meets for First Time in Paris: "The Global Diaspora Network (GDN) was formed in October 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa, by Joy Tira, the Lausanne senior associate for diasporas. GDN is a catalytic movement that motivates and mobilizes diaspora Christians to partner for global missions.

The GDN met for the first time on 21 February 2011 in Paris and was hosted by LifeAgape through the leadership of Henri Aoun, LifeAgape president (and GDN advisory board member). Two decisions of the event included the need for the GDN to call a global diaspora (missiology) congress in 2015 and to accelerate the use of technologies in evangelism and discipleship for the “people on the move.”

GDN replaces the Cape Town/Lausanne III event-specific Lausanne Diasporas Leadership Team (LDLT) and functions under the umbrella of the Lausanne Movement."


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Piper debunks a silly thing that Hirsch and Frost wrote

When I read the below excerpt from Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, I thought, "Well, that's a dumb thing to say." Then I enjoyed reading/watching John Piper's response. BTW - I was originally led to this by someone that tweeted the article in such as way that suggested that Hirsch and Frost were taking contextualization too far. I'm not sure why. They aren't talking about contextualization at all. Just pure silliness.

Minimizing Views of God Don't Advance the Mission - Desiring God: "Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost write in The Faith of Leap:

It seems correct to say that God took something of a risk in handing over his mission to the all-too-sinful human beings who were his original disciples—and all the sinful disciples beyond them. We wonder what Jesus must have been thinking on the cross, when all but a few powerless women had completely abandoned him. Did he wonder if love alone was enough to draw them back to discipleship? The noncoercive love of the cross necessitated a genuinely human response of willing obedience from his disciples. Given our predispositions to rebellion and idolatry, it is entirely conceivable that history could have gone in a completely different, indeed totally disastrous, direction if the original disciples hadn’t plucked up the internal courage to follow Jesus no matter where. (36–37, Locations 464)"

Friday, September 2, 2011

When the Camps are Empty


I found this article to be fascinating. It highlights the relationship between Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Nepal and Nepalese citizens who live near the camps. It highlights the fact that Nepalese citizens have come to depend on the camps for business and asks what will happen to these people after the camps are closed.
No refuge when refugees leave - Nepali Times: "The government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are closing and consolidating the camps as some of the remaining 63,000 refugees prepare to leave. Locals who depend on the camps for business and jobs now have to seek refuge elsewhere. Nearly 700 families were relocated to Beldangi and Sanischare from Goldhap in eastern Jhapa in June. Goldhap, the fifth and smallest of the camps which housed 4,600 refugees since 1990, is now a vacant lot."




Answering "Grace to You" on Contextualization


Grace to You, the ministry associated with Bible teacher John MacArthur has apparently decided to target contextualization for the next few days on their blog.  It continues to boggle my mind that there seems to be no end to the attacks on the pursuit of contextualization.  Well, you can read the first edition of their series, “All Things to All Men” here.  For the most part, you can probably guess at my responses based on my previous writings on the subject.  Nevertheless, let me attempt a brief reply.  GTY's words are in italics.
The notion that the church must become like the world to win the world has taken evangelicalism by storm. Virtually every modern worldly attraction has a “Christian” counterpart. We have Christian motorcycle gangs, Christian bodybuilding teams, Christian dance clubs, Christian amusement parks, and I even read about a Christian nudist colony.
The above is a game.  From the first paragraph, it is clear to me that the author either hasn’t interacted with a confessing Christ-follower who is a genuine practitioner of contextualization.  Is he seriously suggesting that a “Christian nudist colony” is a serious example of contextualization?  The above list is designed to shock a particular audience rather than to educate.  It is disappointing to me and others who have paid a great price in order to cross-cultures incarnationally with the gospel.
Where did Christians ever get the idea we could win the world by imitating it? Is there a shred of biblical justification for that kind of thinking? Many church marketing specialists affirm that there is, and they have convinced a myriad of pastors.
Okay, I suppose I must pause here for a moment and admit that there may indeed exist a movement of American Christians (“church marketing specialists”) who do all kinds of stupid stuff under the label of “contextualization”.  But, I would argue that anyone who has the imitation of the world as their goal isn’t practicing true contextualization.  As I’ve said before, Biblical contextualization – real contextualization – is focused on the imitation of Christ’s incarnation.  This is what Paul practiced and it is what must be aimed for today.  We must not fall into the trap (either in our advocacy or in our opposition) of thinking of contextualization as merely a way to market a church.  Properly understood, it has less to do ministry techniques and methods than with spiritual discipline.  The one who has practiced contextualization truly, particularly in cross-cultural situations, has done so at great personal cost.  He or she doesn’t have to be convinced that living incarnationally -- voluntarily giving up ones personal cultural preferences, language, and food for the sake of the gospel – is spiritual discipline.
Ironically, they usually cite the apostle Paul as someone who advocated adapting the gospel to the tastes of the audience. One has written, “Paul provided what I feel is perhaps the single most insightful perspective on marketing communications, the principle we call contextualization (1 Corinthians 9:19–23). Paul … was willing to shape his communications according to their needs in order to receive the response he sought.” “The first marketeer was Paul,” another echoes.
Okay, well people who are reading Paul in this way – as a marketing strategist – are being silly.  But again, this isn’t contextualization as incarnation.  It is marketing.  Marketing is simply not what I am advocating for.  However, before GTY criticizes marketing too much, they should ponder for a moment why they engage in it themselves.  After all, they do market their ministry and resources all the time.  They adapt the form of these things all along the way in order to reach more and more people.  One wonders what exactly they are condemning here.
After all, the apostle did write, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor. 9:22, 23). Is that a mandate for pragmatism in ministry?
I’m not sure what is meant by a “mandate for pragmatism in ministry”, however I will say out right that this certainly is a mandate for the pursuit of contextualization.  I would suggest reading it in the larger context of chapter 9 and then comparing the language to the Carmen Christi of Philippians 2.  Is it not clear, that Paul has in mind the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ as he reflects on his own ministry philosophy?  Paul, though free from all, makes himself a slave to all just as Christ, who was in the form of God, emptied himself and took the form of a servant.  What was this slavery for Paul?  It was becoming a Jew to Jews, a Greek to Greeks – all things to all men.  In this, Paul’s vision was clearly Christ who was found and human likeness and was obedient to the point of death on the cross.  So this was not a matter of experimenting with novel new ministry methods for Paul.  It was slavery.  It was a laying down of his rights and life that he might win more people to Christ.
Was the apostle Paul suggesting that the gospel message can be made to appeal to people by accommodating their relish for certain amusements or by pampering their pet vices?
No, of course not.  While there are some people who would perhaps seem to think that this is what is meant by contextualization, it is not what I mean.  Nor is it what anyone that I know means who practices contextualization.  For contextualization to be genuine, it must enable the Christ follower to bring God’s prophetic word to bear on a given cultural context – and to do so in a way that can be understood, preferably (like Jesus did) as an insider to that culture. 
How far do you suppose he would have been willing to go with the principle of “contextualization”?
Paul was willing to go all the way because his model was Jesus who became fully human, fully Jewish, fully Galilean, etc.  The “how far” questions miss the point on contextualization and, I must add, are usually asked by Western Christians for whom the gospel has already been fully contextualized!

This much is very clear: the apostle Paul was no people-pleaser. He wrote, “Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Paul did not amend or abridge his message to make people happy. He was utterly unwilling to try to remove the offense from the gospel (Gal. 5:11). He did not use methodology that catered to the lusts of his listeners. He certainly did not follow the pragmatic philosophy of modern market-driven ministers.
Correct.  He was no people-pleaser.  He didn’t seek to remove the offense of the gospel.  Nor was he intentionally trying to tick people off – he was careful to not add to the offense of the gospel by a failure to be incarnational.  So he didn’t preach in Hebrew at Lystra.  He didn’t preach the same sermon in Antioch Pisidia as he did in Athens.  He didn’t write to the Ephesians in the same style as he wrote to the Philippians.  This was not amending or abridging the gospel “to make people happy”.  This was about discovering how to communicate it with clarity through word and deed. 
What made Paul effective was not marketing savvy, but a stubborn devotion to the truth.
No, actually what made Paul effective was the work of the Holy Spirit.  Not that I am arguing for “marketing savvy”, but let’s be sure on this point.  Effectiveness in ministry comes neither from our “stubborn devotion to the truth” nor our “marketing savvy” but by the sheer grace of God.  That being said, God does, for his glory, bless and honor obedience and the pursuit of contextualization as incarnation is obedience.
He was Christ’s ambassador, not His press secretary. Truth was something to be declared, not negotiated. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16). He willingly suffered for the truth’s sake (2 Cor. 11:23–28). He did not back down in the face of opposition or rejection. He did not compromise with unbelievers or make friends with the enemies of God.
I don’t like this paragraph because it is designed to suggest that contextualizers don’t want to proclaim the truth, are ashamed of the gospel, are unwilling to suffer for truth, constantly back down in the face of opposition or rejection, compromise with unbelievers, and make friends with the enemies of God.  Sorry GTY, while this is a problem in the Church is simply isn’t exclusive to those who practice contextualization.  I find it offensive that this is being suggested.  First, walk in our shoes for a week.  If at the end you think that we are ashamed of the gospel or afraid to suffer for truth, feel free to write such things.  Otherwise, I believe that this suggestion should be retracted.
Paul’s message was always non-negotiable. In the same chapter where he spoke of becoming all things to all men, Paul wrote, “I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). His ministry was in response to a divine mandate. God had called him and commissioned him. Paul preached the gospel exactly as he had received it directly from the Lord, and he always delivered that message “as of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3). He was not a salesman or marketer, but a divine emissary.
This is more of the same.  It is a straw man fallacy really.  This idea is to present pursuers of contextualization as wimpy Christians who are ashamed of the gospel and afraid to suffer and then to say, “Well, Paul wasn’t like that so contextualization must be bad.”  Sorry, this is just bad and, I believe, irresponsible argumentation.  To the author, I would love to introduce you to a few disciples of Jesus who would blow you away in their boldness. 
He certainly was not“willing to shape his communications” to accommodate his listeners or produce a desirable response.
Of course, Paul was willing to shape his communications and did so to win people to the Lord.  One has only to compare the sermons he delivered in Antioch Pisidia, Lystra, and Athens and ask the question, what accounts for the fact that they are not the same sermon?
The fact that he was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19), beaten, imprisoned, and finally killed for the truth’s sake ought to demonstrate that he didn’t adapt the message to make it pleasing to his hearers! And the personal suffering he bore because of his ministry did not indicate that something was wrong with his approach, but that everything had been right!
In what sense does Paul’s persecution demonstrate that he didn’t adapt his message?  I would agree (as would most pursuers of contextualization) that he didn’t make adaptations for the sake of pleasing people.  However, that he adapted his message is incontrovertible.  There has certainly been persecution in church history that has arisen from people misunderstanding the intentions of gospel proclaimers.  However, contextualization also leads inevitably to suffering and persecution just as the incarnation led to the cross.  In fact, I’d suggest that contextualization as incarnation inevitably leads to suffering because it allows people to come in contact with Jesus as the word made flesh for them.  For some, their response will be faith and repentance.  But others will reject this Christ and oppose him – sometimes violently.
So what did Paul mean when he wrote, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel”? As always, the context makes his meaning clear. We’ll be taking a look at what Paul really meant over the course of the next several days. I hope you stick around.
It will be interesting to read the articles to come.  I hope I have time to treat them here on the blog.  However I think there is an ironic sentence in this closing paragraph that is worth a second look.  “As always, the context makes it clear.”  Here, GTY is reminding us of a helpful principle for Biblical interpretation.  However, the principle is more generally applicable.  The context does make the meaning clear.  That is the point of the pursuit of contextualization in the end.  The idea is to use elements native to a particular context to make the meaning of the gospel clear.  What must be understood is that the hearers of the gospel will always use their context to interpret our message.

Okay. Spending too much time on this lately.  Peace.