Scattered and Gathered in My House

We are big fans of making the most of space that we have.  Our home has been very well-stewarded during the past decade that we've been in Chicagoland.  Today was just a nice, cool example that I felt like sharing with you:

At one point today, the upstairs of our little house was devoted to training Karen S'gaw younger leaders.  Katherine (my wife, in case you didn't know) has been taking time regularly to meet with these cool folks to teach them how to take care of their church finances.  They have been eager learners and It's encouraging to see one of our diaspora church plants investing real responsibility and ministry into the next generation.
Meanwhile downstairs, TIBM's research team was busy working to finish "Stage 1" of our four-part diaspora people group research and mobilization plan for Chicagoland.  We're working on a list of priority people group clusters and multicultural residential patches (think Move In, because we are).  The list is nearly complete after today's blitz.  So, here's senior interns Abby and Andy along with my oldest son, Christopher (the one shoving a donut into his face).  Christopher rocks the missiological research pretty darn good for a 10-year-old!


Wearing Tika (तिलक) as a Bhakta of Lord Sri Jesus

Photo by pangalactic gargleblaster

If you disobey the Word of God, even though you have stopped wearing tika (तिलक), you have become as one who is not a Bhakta (devotee and disciple) of Lord Sri Jesus.

If those who wear tika (तिलक) keep the requirements of God's Word, will they not be regarded as Bhaktas of Lord Sri Jesus?

The one who wears tika (तिलक) and yet obeys God's Word will condemn you who, even though you stopped wearing tika (तिलक), are a lawbreaker.

A man is not a Bhakta of Lord Sri Jesus if he is only one outwardly, nor is devotion and discipleship merely outward and physical.

No, a man is a Bhakta of Lord Sri Jesus if he is one inwardly; and devotion and discipleship is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by any written code.

Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

(Inspired by the argument of Paul the Apostle from Romans 2:25-29)


Are Diaspora Remittances More Effective than Developmental Aid?

Photo by Daquella manera
According to diaspora expert and economist, David Phillips, the growing global trend of human migration may prove to be one of the most effective ways to bring development and aid to impoverished nations.  Phillips argues in a new book entitled Development Without Aid: The Decline of Development Aid and the Rise of the Diaspora, (you'll want to shop for the Kindle version) that remittances from diasporas tend to provide a more consistent source of public goods than direct humanitarian aid which is often diverted to "conspicuous consumption".  His arguments are nicely summarized in a recent post over at the People Move blog.

Phillip's brief article is a bit technical in places but very insightful.  We keep telling you all that diaspora phenomenon is revolutionizing the world.  The scattering of people is the key missiological issue of our time - the human tidal wave is upon us!

Here's a powerful paragraph from Phillips:

Relatively recently the World’s diasporas have emerged. Over 215 million first generation ‘permanent’ migrants now live in host countries. Remittances have risen significantly faster than migrant populations which have risen faster than the world population. By 2014 they will surpass half a trillion dollars, four times official development aid. In Sub Saharan Africa remittances have doubled since 2006 and on a realistic count significantly exceed aid. The average skill levels and incomes of migrants have also risen and their average educational levels exceed those of many rich countries including the US. Increasingly diaspora flows are being invested rather than consumed.

I hope you will check out David Phillips' article and take some extra time to explore the excellent "People Move" blog by the World Bank.


The High Cost of Poverty

Photo By Alex Barth
A great post over at Red Letter Christians highlighted the "high cost" of being poor in America.  For example, did you know that food, transportation, and insurance can all be more expensive for those living in poverty?  For example, lower income people often have to pay higher car insurance premiums and there are often many costs associated with accessing money if you are poor.  Consider:

Even using money itself is expensive. Checking accounts often charge monthly fees unless one maintains a minimum balance or direct deposit. Without a checking account, it can costsignificant fees to cash a paycheck. Without checks, one is also often charged a fee to pay utility bills. And sometimes the money’s just not there to pay for food and for the electricity, so you put off the electricity bill, even though you know you’ll incur a late fee. And saving money for the future?Worry instead about surviving today.
So without access to banking services, many must turn to predatory payday lenders. You can borrow $300 for a $47 fee. That’s only if you pay it back within a week (806% APR). But now at least your rent is covered. Credit card interest rates also vary by income. Making standard minimum payments, it will take 13 years to pay off a $4000 credit card balance carrying the typical 11.5% APR. Bear in mind that the majority of uninsured folks carry over $2000 in medical debt alone.
I encourage you to visit this post but also to check out this educational, interactive game:
Spent - This game simulates a situation of sudden poverty (like a job loss) and challenges you to make it through the month.  I found the choices presented to be about 50% similar to what may be faced by some of our refugee and poorer immigrant friends.  
I also appreciated this list "Being poor is . . ."
For a more global perspective, I would point you again to Wilbur Sargunaraj's video about poverty.


Meet Cultural Intelligence Ambassador, Wilbur Sargunaraj - @wilburworldwide

Today, I want to ensure that all of my readers have been properly introduced to my new friend, Mr. Wilbur Sargunaraj.  Wilbur is known around the world as "India's First YouTube Star" and has several million views on his YouTube channel to prove it.  He's gained his "Simple Superstar" status first through great comedy and music, but I am discovering that this is only the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Wilbur!

What I love most about Wilbur is his role as a global ambassador for "Cultural Intelligence" (CQ).  CQ is a concept that comes from David Livermore, who's book Serving with Eyes Wide Open is something I've recommended for years.  In his passion to bring equality and unity in the context of an increasingly globalized and diverse world, Wilbur is traveling the world on a mission to raise up "First Class" world citizens who know how to engage cross-culturally and treasure people from all backgrounds.

As I've been getting to know Mr. Wilbur recently, I have been delighted to find a man of deep humility who is passionately seeking to use his gifts to make the world a better place.  I find the Lord giving me a deep appreciation and respect for the work he is doing and know that you will also.

Here's a quick introduction "Wilburwood" --

Wilbur's most popular music video: Love Marriage:

A couple very popular CQ videos on how to use Indian, European and Japanese toilets (worlds apart):

The trailer for Wilbur's upcoming feature film, Simple Superstar:

And, most importantly, get a taste of Wilbur's heart for critical global issues by watching "Why Poverty":

I would also encourage you to check out Mr. Wilbur on Facebook and Twitter.


Chicago's New American's Plan: The Most Immigrant-Friendly City in the USA!

Image by City of Chicago

If you haven't heard, Chicago's political leaders and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have set a goal of making the city "the most immigrant-friendly city in the country".  Their plan is designed to make Chicagoland the premiere immigration hub in the United States and even to stimulate a "race to the top" to inspire other cities to become more welcoming to foreign-born peoples.

I know the plan isn't perfect, but I'm so excited about it and the implications of this initiative for mission.  Once again, I must sound the call to local churches, ministries, denominations, and Christian organizations.  Are you up to speed with what God is doing in Chicagoland? Are you ready for the "human tidal wave" that is coming?

I'm including a video webinar below which features Adolfo Hernandez, Director, Chicago’s Office of New Americans, explaining some of the details for the Chicago New American's plan.  The total video is about an hour long, but Hernandez' presentation is only about the first 18 minutes.  Or, if you prefer, just check out the written summary of the plan available here.


The World in a City and We're Still People-Blind!

Photo By 'J'
In 2003, my wife and I moved from Oklahoma to Chicago fully expecting that we'd just be passing through.  In fact, we began our application process for the International Mission Board (IMB) right away and planned to move overseas as soon as finished my graduate studies.

As he so often does, God threw a major wrench in our plans as he began to introduce us to our neighbors of many nations.  Convinced that we had moved into the very heart of the white, Evangelical Midwest (just ten minutes from Wheaton College), we were shocked to find that some 80-90% of the families in our subdivision were foreign-born.  Indeed the majority of them where South Asian Hindus and Muslims representing a number of unreached people groups.  Some how, God had move the frontiers of mission - the ends of the earth - to the Chicago suburbs!

As we explored the surrounding communities, we found a great disparity between the local churches which were largely homogeneous (ethno-linguistically speaking) and the schools, the grocery stores, the libraries, and other neighborhoods which were multicultural.  We began visiting churches locally in an effort to discover why this was the case.  We wanted to know if anyone was trying to reach our neighbors for Christ!

I remember a lunch with a local pastor from around that time.  He generously offered to take me out to Applebees for cheeseburgers and listened as I shared my heart for the Hindus and Muslims all around us.  After several minutes of this, he stopped me suddenly and, with a flourish, extended his arms to either side inviting me to survey the restaurant and asked, "Cody, WHERE are all these Hindus and Muslims you are talking about?!?!"

In 1974, Ralph Winter challenged the global church to repent of a malady he called "people blindness" -- a  blindness to the existence of distinct people groups within countries.  Wrote Winter, "'People blindness' is what prevents us from noticing the sub-groups within a country which are significant to development of effective evangelistic strategy." A generation later, it would seem that we are still blind.  Or perhaps, we simply refuse to see that in our day God is changing the world.

I rejoice that in the decade since we cancelled our application with the IMB and committed our lives to reaching the least-reached peoples of Chicagoland, we have met a number of kindred spirits here -- people that realize what was wrong with that pastor's question and who have a deep love for diasporas who now call Chicago home.  But people blindness is still too prevalent. Too many individual Christians, local churches, denominations and Christian organizations fail to see that Chicago is not only a "world city" but indeed the world in a city.  And this is true with megacities all over the globe.  New York, Paris, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, are all becoming increasingly diverse as they become increasingly large.

So, it is gut-check time for churches and mission organizations and denominations and Christian leaders.  As one of my teammates, an immigrant pastor from Ethiopia, recently said, "We (immigrants) are the future of the church! Most of the standard American models of church and ministry are now obsolete." So, how are you adjusting? How are you changing? How are you embracing the new era of diaspora movement?


For fun, I want to direct you to a blog post I tweeted out a few days back.  This is from a great blog called Chicago is the World.  The article is called "Hello World - Chicago Calling" and gives a nice, brief summary of some of diaspora Chicago.  Every Chicagoan who cares about mission should understand what is being said in this article.  Otherwise, you simply don't get this city.  And, if you are from elsewhere, consider writing up a similar article for your city and I'll post it here on The Ramblings.


The Frontier of Mission Advance is Shifting

By pam's pics-
During my recent tour through Michigan teaching the infamous "Lesson 14" of Perspectives ("Pioneer Church Planting"), one of my primary emphases was that in the 21st century, the frontiers of mission are shifting radically.  In the latter part of the 20th century, Ralph Winter (following McGavaran and Townsend) opened the eyes of the Church to the reality of unreached and unengaged people groups.  Frontier missiology was thought of as primarily a discussion of how to get the gospel to unreached peoples who had never heard.  It was critical in those days to de-emphasize geography in order to help mission leaders and practioners realize that the "unfinished task" was about reaching peoples rather than about merely establishing the church in every geo-political country.  As Winter said strongly, "Geography is not as important as peoples."

Today, frontier missions is still about unreached peoples and this has become the overwhelming majority opinion of the evangelical world.  But Winter had also seemed to believe that understanding what was happening to peoples geographically was key for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  So, to quote Winter with a bit more context, “Geography is not as important as peoples.  Once that is clear, the question of where they are is a very exciting one." (Unreached Peoples: What Are They and Where Are They?, 1984) 

Today, we must ask afresh the geographical question of where are the unreached peoples of the world.  Indeed, it may be more appropriate to ask where they are going.  In a new era of mission history, we see a borderless and wireless world of instant communication, high-speed travel, and ever-accelerating mass migration.  People are on the move like never before.  My friend, Joy Tira, likes to refer to this as a "Human Tidal Wave" which is an image that captures well the magnitude and power of diaspora phenomena.

I have much more to say on this issue.  But today, I would rather you take a look at an excellent post by another friend, Justin Long.   In "Shifts in the Remaining Task", Justin writes about the traditional understanding of "World A, B, and C" or "evangelized" and "unevangelized" and reflects upon how migration and urbanization totally transforming the mission field in our day.

Here's an excerpt:

Most World A (unevangelized) individuals are found in heavily World B peoples, cities and countries. And more and more, we are seeing World B provinces and cities in World C countries. This is especially the case because of the movements of diaspora peoples into World C countries. Europe today, according to the Atlas of Global Christianity, is home to 28 million unevangelized individuals. I know some will think the number is far higher. My point is only that the West is not 100% Christian, and there’s plenty of room for work. One can’t say that Europe or America is completely evangelized–only that it is largely evangelized.

Please take careful look at Justin's entire article.  He has done a great job of  helping us to understand the exciting and complex nature of today's shifting mission frontiers.  Now consider:

1. Do the mission structures of your church reflect the realities of these shifting frontiers? 

2. Who are the "World A" peoples and the "unreached people groups" that live near you?

3. How do you see the "Human Tidal Wave" powerfully changing the dynamics of your city?


Quick: Latest Numbers on Bhutanese-Nepali Resettlement

By World Relief Spokane
Some folks were asking me for the latest numbers on the Bhutanese-Nepali resettlement.  These are the figures as of last month:

BHUTANESE REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PLAN: Ignorance isn’t bliss, esp in a foreign land | Capital | "Through the programme, the UNHCR and IOM jointly stated that altogether 78,519 refugees have been resettled in various third countries so far. According to data, the US has accepted the largest number (66,134), followed by Canada (5,376), Australia (4,190), New Zealand (747), Denmark (746), Norway (546), the Netherlands (326) and the UK (317)."