The Proper Posture for Self-Outpouring (2 Cor. 6)

Photo by Andreas Levers
From time to time on this blog, I want to make available to you my personal sermon notes.  Now, let me say that I don't always make very detailed notes.  Particularly when preaching/speaking through a translator, I tend to just jot down a couple thoughts in a notebook and go for it.  Occasionally, however, I do make some notes that have value to someone other than myself.  So here we go ...

At our house church, we've been working through 2 Corinthians as missionaries especially with 12:15 as a theme verse, "I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls."  I was tasked with handling chapter 6 and did so in a 2-part message entitled, "The Proper Posture for Self-Outpouring" (download full notes here).

The idea was that just as people tell you to lift with your legs and not with your back, so there is a proper "posture" for pouring yourself out.  There are things to do and not to do, in order to ensure that you pour yourself out for others faithfully.  Probably more that the four points I mentioned here, but I was trying to stick to the text at hand.  Here were my four points:

1. Remove all unnecessary stumbling blocks to the gospel (6:3)

2. Show yourself to be a servant of God (6:4-10)

3. Open wide your heart (6:11-13)

4. Cling to the promises of the God who tastes good (6:14-18)

So, I had to wander off the reservation a bit with that last point to bring in a little Psalm 34:8.  There's also a little Sanskrit and some T.S. Eliot in there for good measure.  Enjoy!


Secondary Resettlement Surge Centers for Bhutanese Refugees

Today, I am referring you to the following article:  Akron, OH: Secondary Resettlement Boom Town

Photo by Katrine Syypli
But before you go there, please take a moment to consider again the issue of "secondary resettlement".

“Secondary resettlement” is now in full swing among the Bhutanese-Nepali refugees that have migrated to the United States.  This is, of course, when refugees who were originally settled in one city, voluntarily uproot themselves and move to another.  Reasons for “secondary resettlement” are complicated and usually include factors such as family reunification, the promise of better jobs or cheaper living expenses, and plenty of misinformation (usually related to public aid). 

For some time, cities in Pennsylvania have been among the most talked about as being favorite secondary resettlement destinations.  Now both Buffalo, NY and Akron, OH (see linked article) are emerging as destination cities.  In the case of Buffalo, the attraction is related to the perceived ease of access to government welfare services (BTW – I made multiple attempts to contact the International Institute of Buffalo in order to get some correct information on these issues but didn’t get a reply).  In Akron, the draw is jobs and family. 

Secondary resettlement is a normal part of the evolution of refugee communities and explains why so many Somalis are in the Twin Cities and Burmese have flooded Ft. Wayne.  But it is also a concern.  The runs to other cities are often inspired by misinformation and can create overwhelming burdens on local economies.  Instead of finding jobs, some refugees find flooded unskilled labor forces, high unemployment, and many other unanticipated new challenges. 

Of course, it is crucial to affirm that God is the superintendant presiding over all human migration.  Cross-cultural workers should not fret when families move away.  Still, we should take up the challenge of speaking into the lives of those considering secondary resettlement.  Have that carefully weighed all the facts?  Do they have accurate information?  Have they taken seriously the purpose the Lord has for them in the place of their original resettlement?  This last question, it seems, must be strongly pressed upon those pursuers-of-greener-pastures who also claim to be followers of the God who left the glories of heaven for the way of the cross.  


Children with HIV in Asia resistant to AIDS drugs

HIV/AIDS has lost some of its headlines in the West.  I remember my high school days with Magic Johnson, made-for-TV movies, and public awareness campaigns.  It seemed then that HIV/AIDS was threatening our very way of life.  But, that fear gave way to the fear of terrorism and now to the fear of economic collapse.  We are rich and comfortable enough to have a short attention span on these things.  The rest of the world isn't so lucky . . .

Children with HIV in Asia resistant to AIDS drugs: "HONG KONG (Reuters) - Teenagers in Asia receiving treatment for HIV are showing early signs of osteoporosis and children as young as five are becoming resistant to AIDS drugs, an anti-AIDS group said on Thursday, urging more attention be given to young HIV patients.  The finding, made available on World AIDS Day, is a reminder that while more people in Asia now have access to basic AIDS drugs, improved medicines remain out of reach and patients -- both adults and children -- still suffer from inadequate care. In Asia, some 160,000 children are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Of these, 57,000 require treatment but only 30,000 were receiving it as of the end of 2008, according to UNICEF."


WISE introduces program to assist professional refugees in Minnesota | Bhutan News Service

I applaud this effort! We need many more like it.

WISE introduces program to assist professional refugees in Minnesota | Bhutan News Service: "This program assists refugees who have been in the United States less than five years and who were educated and licensed in other countries, said a press statement issued Thursday. “This program offers free assistance to refugees with becoming licensed to practice their trained professions in Minnesota, or in the alternative, developing alternative career pathways.  WISE works with refugees who were doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, teachers, and engineers in their own countries.”"


Censoring Ramanujan's Essay On Ramayana: Intolerant Hindus And Confusing Texts

Worth a read ...

Deepak Sarma: Censoring Ramanujan's Essay On Ramayana: Intolerant Hindus And Confusing Texts: "It is concurrently ironic and hypocritical that the very same "Hindus" who champion "Hinduism" to be the only tolerant religion are also intolerant of academic and other publications that are incongruous with their imagined and reified vision of Hinduism, and especially with their homogenized version of the epic Rāmāyaṇa. The recent antagonism towards the late (and great) A. K. Ramanujan and his article on the varieties of the Rāmāyaṇa has led to the article being dropped from the syllabus at Delhi University, to vandalizing the offices of the History Department there, and now to Oxford University Press' shameful decision to discontinue publishing and selling any book that contains Ramanujan's essay. Though the perpetrators of these injustices deny allegations of censorship, I certainly know it when I see it."


Muslims Outnumber Southern Baptists in Illinois

Photo by: Steve Evans
For what it's worth . . .

According to a recent report - The US Religion Census 2010 - there are now more Muslims than Southern Baptists in Illlinois.  Here's a quote:

Muslims have become the third-largest religious group in the state after Roman Catholics and independent evangelicals. Not to mention, the fastest-growing one.

The Chicago Tribune published an article on the religious data for Illinois here.  You can also find the nation-wide summary findings here.  One must ask how seriously we should take any mission agency broadly focused on Chicagoland which pays little or no attention to the presence, needs, and divine opportunities presented by such a massive and rapidly burgeoning Muslim community.


Christ Bhakti: Narayan Vaman Tilak

I have just recently finished H.L. Richard's Christ Bhakti: Narayan Vaman Tilak & Christian Work among Hindus (available in updated edition with new title) and wanted to briefly mention it here.  H.L.'s work is a biographical, though not strictly narrative, account of Tilak (1861-1919) who was a rather controversial figure in Indian Church history.  Himself an Indian Brahmin, Tilak's life journey is one of finding Christ as Lord, Savior and Guru and then of finding his way back into the Hindu context as a fully devoted follower of Christ.  In the book, H.L. highlights successes and analyzes flaws in a way that makes the text quite valuable to anyone pursuing an incarnational Christ-life among Hindus.

As my regular readers know, I'm not much for writing elaborate book reviews.  Instead, I will highlight below a few things that especially stood out to me.  Perhaps it will whet your appetite for more:

Tilak on Missions and Missionaries

"I am really tired of Missions and Missionaries. These with their agents form an institution which is day by day degenerating.  They are guided by selfish motives, they are slaves to self sufficiency, pride and the world.  Excepting those who join the flock and live in and for worldly motives, no other person can do anything for their country as long as they depend on these petty lords and their satellites.  There is no end to their underhand dealings, there is no end to their dependence on their flatterers.  I am educating my wife so that I may one day be free of this missionary-Christianity, missionary-injustice, and serve my country and try to lead her to Jesus just as He guides me.  Missionaries and mission-agents can never do more than what money can do." (Sept. 23, 1903)

Hard-hitting? Absolutely. A century has passed since Tilak penned these difficult lines. We who continue to labor as missionaries would do well to examine ourselves regularly in light of his words.  Are we slaves to self sufficiency? Do we basically do only what money can do?

Tilak on Women

Ten schools could not be put on a par with a single educated mother.  Before an educated wife, all learning in language is cancelled out.  Before a single educated sister, all literature and music is in vain.  It is on a single educated daughter that all future policies of a nation depend. (April 1899)

Tilak on Hinduism

Since I am an Indian, it is natural that I should take pride in our Indian literature and in our Indian mahatmas. But do not suppose it is simply out of pride that I sing their praises.  Tukaram  and Dnyaneswara were once my gurus; and, even though I am not now their disciple, I give them grateful honour as my gurus of former days.  The traditional way of union with the Supreme through bhakti (devotion), which Hindu mystics have conceived and Hindu devotees experienced, may be summed up in the for words, samipata (nearness), salokata (association), sarupata (likeness), and sayujyta ('yokedness' or union); this has helped me to enter into the meaning of that series of Christ's sayings -- 'Come after Me', 'Take My Yoke upon you', 'Become like unto Me', 'Abide in Me'.  

Let me just end with a note that I haven't read the updated version that is available on Amazon right now.  I read the 1991 edition printed in India.  I imagine that H.L. has revised and somewhat expanded the work. I am sure that this only adds value to the work.  So, if you are interested in contextualization, Hinduism, biography, etc -- check it out.


Immigrants should be valued as job makers

Quickly now, here is an article from The Kansan arguing that diaspora people actually create jobs and boost local economies. Fascinating stuff.

Onions: Immigrants should be valued as job makers | "When 64% of Indian students and 68% of Chinese students educated in the U.S. hope to start a business within the next decade, we should be capitalizing on the chance to jumpstart the economy and put Americans to work. We should be finding ways to increase visas for entrepreneurs and innovators, removing barriers to access, and creating environments that welcome the best talent in the world, regardless of origin."

Starting Diaspora Church Planting Movements (Part 1)

Photo by: Amelimeloo
Not long ago, I was asked to speak on the topic of “Starting Church Planting Movements among Diasporas”.  Oddly enough, though I have been well immersed in both the church planting and diaspora missions worlds for some time now, I have never considered this particular hybrid.  As far as I know, the concept of a “church planting movement” was rather popularized (if it is possible to popularize a topic of missiology) by David Garrison in his writings on the subject about a decade or so ago.  Diaspora missiology is a comparatively younger field of study – at least in the sense that relatively few people were talking much about it prior to Cape Town 2010.  Ralph Winter was certainly correct in his analysis that diaspora missiology “may well be the most important undigested reality in missions thinking today.”[i] So, when I was asked to look at this issue of “diaspora church planting movements”, I realized that my task was to “digest” church planting movements from the perspective of diaspora missiology. 

Today then, will be the first of what will likely be several installments on the subject.  I earnestly invite your interaction.  What I hope to do is to explore the issue with you using my own working presentation on the topic as an outline.  Eventually, I hope to arrive at some solid insights that could be put into a meaningful article or book chapter.  So, let’s dig in.

Understanding our Terms:

Now, we obviously must begin with some definitions.  For diaspora missiology, I will use the Seoul Declaration on Diaspora Missiology –

Diaspora missiology is a missiological framework for understanding and participating in God’s redemptive mission among people living outside their place of origin.[ii]

So, the definition of diaspora mission cannot be far off.  Diaspora refers to those individuals living outside their country of origin – the scattered peoples of the world who number some 215 million souls.[iii] So, diaspora mission is all about participating in God’s redemptive mission among them. 

So, what is a “church planting movement”?  For this definition, we must look to Garrison who has been perhaps the most influential missiologist on the subject.  Garrison defines the term as follows:

“A Church Planting Movement is a rapid and exponential increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.”[iv]

I've taken the liberty of breaking down Garrison's definition into its four component parts.  In the diagram below, we note the desired result or outcome, the primary agent, the central activity to be done, and the targeted field within which a church planting movement takes place:

And just like that, we've defined our terms and have a place to begin discussion.  So let me begin the discussion by asking you for your thoughts thus far.  Consider Garrison's definition of a church planting movement in light of what you know about diaspora mission/missiology.  Does anything stand out to you as being potentially difficult to "digest"?

[i] Winter, Ralph (2004). Personal email message to Sadiri Joy Tira.
[ii] Lausanne Diasporas Educators Consultation (2009).
[iii] Economist (19 Nov. 2011). “The Magic of Diasporas”.
[iv] Garrison, David (1999). Church Planting Movements.