Monday, December 19, 2011

श्री येशु जन्मदिनम् उत्सव् (Christmas Program)

SUPPORT THIS EVENT!!!
हामी आफ्नो प्रोग्राममा तोपाईंहरुलाई निम्तो दिन्छौं ।
श्री येशु जन्मदिनम् उत्सव्

We invite you and your family to our
Christmas Program
येशु संसार्को ज्योती हुनुहुन्छ 

Sunday, December 25th 2011 at 1PM
670 S. Lambert Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

For more information email: christmasprogram@tibm.org

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This event  sponsored by TriEak Parmeshwar Mandali (http://www.tibm.org/trieak-parmeshwar-mandali.html)

Weekly Nepali Satsang: Sundays @ 2PM
670 S. Lambert Rd. Glen Ellyn, IL
Free ESL, Citizenship Classes, more

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Languages Should You Learn to Reach the Least-Reached?


What languages should missionaries learn in order to reach the absolute least-reached peoples in the world? Here is an article and a list of 112 languages that was featured in a recent edition of Lausanne World Pulse:

Lausanne World Pulse - Perspectives Articles - No Christians, No Scripture, No Missionaries: Update to the List: "It is imperative for those of us who follow Christ to disciple all peoples. Of the many peoples that need missionaries, which are highest priority? We believe it is the groups which, so far as we know, have no Christ-followers among them, no books of the Bible, and no missionaries with the intent of bringing the gospel to them."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lausanne Global Analysis

I don't know a whole lot about this just now, but it sounds like a pretty great resource that is coming to the Global Church in 2012 via the Lausanne Movement. Read on . . . 


Important to the development of good Communication strategy is reliable information.  During 2012, the plan is to launch The Lausanne Global Analysis: 

"The Lausanne Global Analysis delivers strategic and credible information, commentary and insight from an international network of evangelical analysts so that global Christian leaders will be equipped to address the issues impacting world evangelization."

Currently the idea is that the LGA will be written by teams of evangelical Christian researchers in research centers around the world.  They would be tasked with providing a monthly (2012), bi-weekly (2013) and then weekly (2014), report on socio-cultural, political, economic and religious events globally along with analysis of how these events and actions impact the body of Christ and the spread of the gospel.  These reports will provide the solid, credible information leaders need to pray, plan and work together to share Christ more effectively.  It’s our hope that the LGA will be freely distributed as widely as possible online on Lausanne.org, through social media and in print (possibly with the help of our Lausanne Regional Communications Managers).  Read Darrell’s Jackson's article

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Mad, Missiological Tea Party

Of late, I've been trying to consume more classic literature.  I'm working through several pieces now and hope that as I complete them, I will be able to offer at least a little reflection -- hopefully a missiological one, to share with you.  I feel I need to make myself do that for the sake of my own self-discipline.  Plus, it makes me look smart.  Right?

Well, my first test comes as I have just reached the end of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.   The Disney film version had done a pretty good job of keeping me away from the Carroll's original work for most of my life.  It was learning how easily I could read it on my phone (thanks Google Books) that motivated me to dig in.  Overall, I found the book to be silly, funny, and very clever.  But no one needs me to vouch for Carroll's classic in that regard.  The key question of this blog for Wonderland is whether or not we might draw up from the rabbit hole any missiological insights.

In my experience in reading through the book, it was somewhere towards the end of chapter seven, "A Mad Tea Party", that I actually did begin to think about Carroll's work missiologically.  At the end of Alice's rather ridiculous encounter with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, she marches off in disgust at what she has interpreted as unbearable rudeness.  Looking back over her shoulder, hoping they would call her to come back and rejoin the tea party, she catches a final glimpse of them, now trying to cram their friend, the Dormouse into a teapot.  The picture provided in Carroll's original work is quite hilarious.  At this, Alice promises herself:

"At any rate I'll never go there again!  It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life."


Now, I don't think for a minute that Carroll was trying to say anything much about cultural anthropology, but that scene of Alice storming away from a frustrating and confusing tea party with people she deemed to be crazy, stupid and uncivilized is just about one of the best illustrations I've seen of what happens when we cross cultures.  More often than not, we go in with a certain set of unexamined expectations, definitions, presumptions and rarely ever consider that those to whom we go have their own ideas which may be very different. We may think that we are communicating one thing, but it is received as something entirely different.  Let's take a quick look at Alice's introduction to the Hatter, March Hare, and Dormouse:

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it; a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. "Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse," thought Alice; "only as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind."


Immediately upon entering the cross-cultural environment, Alice begins sizing up the scene and interpreting what she sees according to her own worldview.  For example, she sees the Dormouse being used as a cushion and assumes that this is an act of unkindness on the part of the Hatter and Hare.  This process of interpretation, of course, can hardly be avoided.  However, the reflective cross-cultural practioner must be aware that it is happening.  Alice shows signs of this, checking her judgement a bit and granting that since the Dormouse is asleep, he may indeed be plenty comfortable.

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. "No room! No room!" They cried out when they saw Alice coming.  "There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.


"Have some wine," the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.


Alice looked all around the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. "I don't see any wine," she remarked.


"There isn't any," said the March Hare.


"Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it," said Alice angrily.


"It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited," said the March Hare.


I see here a great illustration of cross-cultural conflict.  Alice, by disregarding the cries of "no room", commits a cultural blunder that is interpreted by the hosts as rude and, as we would discover later in the chapter, actually creates a hardship for them.  Alice, completely unaware of her mistake focuses instead on pointing out what they have done wrong.  She gets angry and is the first to openly criticize.  When confronted with her mistake, she dismisses it and essentially blames them for causing the problem:

"I didn't know it was your table," said Alice: "it's laid for a great many more than three".


In Alice's mind, whatever mistake she may have made was the result of the actions of the hosts.  Her actions were only reasonable.  Anyone else would have done the same thing.

Well, it goes on like that for several pages.  Some points of the tea party are very rich indeed from a cross-cultural perspective.  Again, that final, funny scene of the Hatter and Hare stuffing the Dormouse into a teapot says it all.  Alice, the outsider, storming away in a huff. Convinced of her rightness.  Frustrated with the hosts' foreignness.  Looking at their seemingly inexplicable actions with contempt.  "The stupidest tea party!"

I'd encourage any of you that are engaged in training cross-cultural workers to take a look at Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and especially the chapter about the "Mad Tea Party".  And, if you do end up using it in any training exercises or if you have any insights from the chapter you'd like to share, please comment below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What’s Wrong with Tim Tebow? - Rich Lowry - National Review Online

I don't watch much football these days and I usually don't get that excited about every athlete that thanks God for a homerun, touchdown, or MVP award. However, I really liked Rich Lowery's article on Tim Tebow in National Review. Here we see that it isn't all the genuflections and mentions of Jesus that really draw people to Christ. Such things are just trimmings. The substance is a life of godly character lived under the Lordship of Jesus.

What’s Wrong with Tim Tebow? - Rich Lowry - National Review Online: "By any reasonable standard, though, Tebow is a blessing. He won’t be getting arrested for groping a woman at a Halloween party (Julian Edelman), for accidently shooting himself with the Glock he smuggled into the dance club (Plaxico Burress), or for running a dog-fighting ring (Michael Vick). He won’t be taking performance-enhancing drugs. He may or may not continue his success on the field, but he will do everything he can to respect his teammates and his God.
Here is a prominent player who will almost certainly never require fathers to make awkward explanations to their kids about some spectacular scandal. Rejoice, America, rejoice.
"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Building Bridges: Perspectives on Baptist Unity (Reviewed)

WARNING: If you are not a Southern Baptist, you might find the following very uninteresting.

Here from the seclusion of my secret personal retreat getaway, I was able to polish off the little book by David Dockery and Timothy George on Southern Baptist unity.  The book is entitled Building Bridges: Perspectives on Baptist Unity [link is to free e-book version!] and weighs in at a mere 64 pages.  In short, let me say that I found the book to be powerful, insightful, and the kind of thing that I hope and pray is embraced broadly throughout my denomination.

Why did I read this book?

Wordle: The Baptist Faith and Message 2008
Baptist Faith & Message
Ordinarily, many of you know that I spend my energies writing about missiology, contextualization, Hinduism, diaspora and the like.  So, you may be surprised to find me reading a book about Southern Baptist identity.  However, these days I find myself with more and more of a voice among my denominational brothers and sisters.  I train and supervise new SBC church planters; I help to lead one of the largest local Baptist associations in the country; and I pastor two Southern Baptist churches.  Very recently, I've also been invited to serve as a part of a new Southern Baptist North American Mission Board project called "Send Chicago".  Send Chicago consists of a coalition of about 18 missionaries, pastors, and other leaders who are tasked with seeking to develop strategies for church planting in Chicagoland.  I've been to a couple meetings thus far.  Actually, it was the most recent one that stirred in me a desire to read Building Bridges.

What does it mean to be Southern Baptist in Chicagoland?

During our most recent coalition gathering -- the first official one -- the question was asked, "What does it mean to be a Southern Baptist church in Chicago?"  After a bit of discussion, there was a followup question, "What makes Southern Baptists different from other Evangelicals in Chicago?"  This second question was immediately met with an answer from a member of the group that just about made me fall out of my chair, "We preach the word of God!" Astonished, I wondered if as a group we were actually suggesting that only Southern Baptists were preaching the word of God.

My contribution to the ensuing conversation was a challenge that we not make "planting Southern Baptist churches" the end for which we labor in mission.  Rather that we make our focus extending God's Kingdom, reaching people who don't know Christ -- you know, that which Christ actually calls his people to do.  We will plant SBC churches as a means to that end.  I shared with the group that it wasn't the building of our denomination that got me out of bed in the morning, but the building of Christ's Kingdom.

Well, I certainly didn't have the last word and the rest of the conversation around the room on the topic was anything but decisive.  We have much work to do -- that we must do.  Theological, missiological, racial, economic, political, historic, traditional, and ideological elephants abound, stomping around the room, begging to be talked about.  And the question that rang out in all of the discussion that day, that spontaneously emerged from the rather chaotic proceedings and then sort of lingered there was this, "Why are you Southern Baptist?"

For me, the answer comes very quickly from my heart.  It is a family thing.  Not that my biological family was Southern Baptist.  No, but I came to know Christ in the Southern Baptist context in Oklahoma.  Michelle, Jon, Becky, Boyd, Dan, Jim and many others who established, brought me up and mentored me in the faith were all Southern Baptists.  I was baptized, licensed, and ordained and sent out as a missionary by Southern Baptists. And, I should say, I love standing in the tradition of Lottie Moon.  So, it is my heritage and my family.  We live in a culture of leavers and I have been encouraged to jump ship many times over the years. But in spite of the many, many problems I see in our huge denominational family, I just don't believe that leaving is right, helpful, or godly.  I believe we must "test all things" and "hold on to what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21) and try our darnedest to fix the rest!

But, still, what does it mean that I am a Southern Baptist?  Are there reasons besides loyalty to a family and heritage that keep me Baptist?  The answer is yes, but I don't want to spend any real time on that today.  Instead, I want to point especially my Baptist readers to the book Building Bridges.  I commend it to you and believe that God would have the SBC embrace the message therein.  The call that Dockery and George have made is to renewal rooted in a "retrieval" of our historic roots as Baptists, as Protestants, and as Christians.  They call for a renewed Baptist unity (in-house) as well as a "candid ecumenism" of conviction in the service of unity in the universal Church for the sake of world evangelization.  Two quick quotes are due here.  First, regarding Baptist unity:

"We must recognize that Southern Baptists have historically reflected considerable diversity.  While we do not hold out doctrinal uniformity as a goal, we do call for renewed commitments to the inspiration, truthfulness, and authority of Scripture with an accompanying commitment to a hermeneutic of acceptance over against a hermeneutic of suspicion, as well as a re-establishment and reaffirmation of the Gospel center" (p. 33).


Regarding ecumenism:

"A model of dynamic orthodoxy must be reclaimed.  The orthodox tradition must be recovered in conversation with Nicea, Chalcedon, Augustine, Bernard, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, the Pietists, and the revivalists. In sum, our Southern Baptist identity must be rooted in the consensus fidei of the Christian Church . . . . We must take seriously the biblical call to unity in accord with the Nicene affirmation of the oneness and universality of the Church" (p. 33).


If you are a Baptist with an identity crisis, read this book.  It will help you.  If you are being bugged by Baptist elements that think you just aren't Baptist enough, read this and memorize some of its pithier quotes.  I think it is just right on at so many points.  For the record, there is good mention of issues related to the "Conservative Resurgence" and Calvinist v. Arminian disputes.  When you finish the book, you should feel that the conversation has just begun however.  Much more needs to be discussed.  The issue of race was barely touched.  Gender isn't really mentioned.  Sticky subjects like alcohol use, church polity, and "speaking in tongues" were not specifically referenced.  Again, we have much more work to do, but I am thrilled that Dockery and George have boldly and insightfully gotten the ball rolling.

[P.S. - Actually, I noticed that this book came out in 2007.  However, free copies of it were distributed at the most recent associational meeting of Chicago Metro Baptist Association.  That was the first time I saw it.  I'm happy to do what I can to give the worthy title a little more attention.]

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A life filled with hope cut short - West Side - The Buffalo News

Keep in prayer for the Niroula family in Buffalo, NY --

A life filled with hope cut short - West Side - The Buffalo News: "Born in a refugee camp in Nepal, Darpan Niroula spent most of his nine years living in a bamboo and plastic hut, eating little more than rice cooked over a dirty charcoal stove and not knowing what it was like to call a place home.

Two summers ago, Darpan and his family came to Buffalo in search of a better, brighter future.

The boy barely had a chance to start living that dream, when he was struck Thursday evening by a church day care bus just a few yards from his lower West Side apartment.
"

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Guess Ethnic Cleansing Doesn't Count as Corruption

Refugee's Depiction of Torture Received in Bhutan
Transparency International has released a report scoring some 183 countries according to what they call a "Corruption Perception Index". In South Asia, their findings show Bhutan as the least corrupt nation in the region. I find such a labeling (i.e. Bhutan as a relatively "clean" nation) to be misleading at best and a disservice to humanity at worse. Those unaware of the Bhutanese government's effort to "cleanse" the nation of ethnic and religious minorities may be tempted to think of Bhutan as a romantic and exotic kingdom - worthy of praise for it ability to preserve a "pure" society. An index like this may have the effect of boosting tourism and thus further prop up and legitimatize the countries criminal regime. It is laughable and sad at the same time. Bhutan has committed crimes against humanity and either forcibly exiled or killed thousands of its residents. What level of "non-corruption" they have managed to obtain has come at the edge of a genocidal sword.

TI ranks Bhutan as least corrupt country in South Asia | Bhutan News Service: "Bhutan has been ranked as the least corrupt country in South Asia. Nepal is the second most corrupt country in South Asia after Afghanistan if one goes by the Corruption Perception Index- 2011 released by Berlin-based Transparency International today."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nepal’s economy dependent on exploitation | MediaGlobal News

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (Psa 68:6 ESV)

Here's an article that highlights well an angle of human trafficking that you may not be aware of. I'm not sure that I agree with the tone of the headline which seems to blame Nepal for the large number of women who are exploited. The fault, it seems, lies more with the receiving nations that don't do enough to prevent the abuse of domestic workers. Anyway, this is something the Church should be more greatly aware of. It is shocking to me to know that 9 out of 10 women who leave Nepal for foreign work "are victims of exploitation or sexual violence".

Nepal’s economy dependent on exploitation | MediaGlobal News: "Since the 1990s, in light of increased globalization, more and more women are joining the ranks of Nepalese migrant workers. Of the approximately 83,000 Nepalese women that leave the country every year to work for foreign employers, fully 90 percent are victims of exploitation or sexual violence, says a study by the Foreign Nepali Workers Rescue Center (FNWRC).