40 maps that explain the world

This is a cool article by the Washington Post.  If you care about global issues and global missions, you will find many of the maps here very interesting.  For example there are maps that show where foreigners are most and least welcome, maps that show which parts of the world are least racially tolerant, maps that show where people feel loved the most.  It's really valuable stuff.  Check it out!

40 maps that explain the world:


Master-less Plans of Global Evangelism

Image Courtesy of EMQ
In case you have missed it, my article from the July 2013 issue of Evangelical Missions Quarterly is now available for free at the Billy Graham Center website.  It is always an honor to be published in EMQ, and a double blessing to see that the BGC felt it was important for a broader audience to read.

I think this brief article can be described as the inner wranglings of a 30-something missionary who is perhaps seeing the last vestiges of his naivety die away. I am not, however, losing my idealism and conviction that we can and should do better.

So, the article is called "Master-less Plans of Global Evangelism" and you can check it out at the link below.

Hot Off the Evangelism & Missional Presses | Wheaton:
EXCERPT: To what extent can mission leaders today say that if God doesn’t keep his promises, then our plans and ministries will utterly fail? Have we created strategic fail-safes that allow us to progress toward or even accomplish our organizational goals even if our prayers go unanswered and God does not do anything particularly interesting? Have we become functionally atheistic in our mission praxis today?


Need some help friends!

Greetings friends and family!

Today, I need to make a special appeal for some bonus financial support. This summer (especially the last month or so) has hit us pretty hard with needed repairs to house, car, etc. Additional ministry expenses have also come up and, well, basically, we are just not doing very well financially right now.

Typically, I make requests for financial support toward specific projects such as international trips, etc. This time however, we need some special general support as well. Basically, we could really use about $2200 as follows:

1. $1200 would help us in light of the various repairs, etc that have come up including water heater replacement, related plumbing expenses, our car got hit while parked, and a few other things.

2. $1000 would help me a lot in making a trip beginning next week through several states. (1) I need to be in Arkansas for a training that will allow us to begin offering the Perspectives course in Chicagoland to raise up a new generation of missionaries. (2) I will visit Nepali disciples who are now living in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New York to encourage them and evaluate how to best catalyze them for making an impact in their new cities. (3) I will visit potential partners in Toronto who are looking at joining hands with us in various ways including church planting in Chicago and development ministry in Ethiopia and Uganda. Fortunately, my lodging prices are minimal (only 3 hotel nights needed) as I will be staying in Nepali and partner homes for most of the trip. Most of the expenses are associated with food and gas.

My prayer today is that many of you will click on and make a quick gift of any amount to support us (add a note like Lorances). Our online giving is set up through PayPal which we find to be still the safest and best system out there. All gifts are also tax deductible. If you prefer a more traditional giving option, you can always mail a check to us (let me know).

Also, we could use some additional monthly supporters. The longer we serve on the mission field, the fewer regular supporters we have. Currently we have less than 10 regular monthly supporters. So, while you are over at the website, you can set up a monthly gift of support for us on this page

Thanks again for all your support, prayer, and encouragement!

BREAKING: The United States Opens Doors for Syrian Refugees

Photo by Trocaire

Foreign Policy has an exclusive story posted yesterday announcing that the United States will open its doors to 2,000 Syrian refugees.  This follows a similar announcement from Canada just a couple months ago and daily news updates on how the humanitarian crisis for the refugees is growing more and more desperate.

Here is a quote from the FP exclusive:

The numbers are relatively small: just 2,000 refugees, compared to an estimated two million people who have fled Syria during the civil war. But it's a significant increase from the 90 or so Syrian refugees who have been permanently admitted to the U.S. in the last two years. And it's not entirely uncontroversial. The refugees, mostly women and children, will be screened for terrorist ties -- a process that could take a year or more to complete. 

If nothing changes from this initial announcement (which is unlikely), we can expect to welcome new Syrian refugee families in the first half of 2014.  My expectation, of course, is that there will be changes to this announcement.  After the November elections, I expect that efforts will be made to make the US public more aware of how winter weather is making the Syrian crisis more intolerable.  Perhaps by the end of the year or beginning of 2014, we may see a larger announcement.  The Church needs to get ready to welcome these new neighbors!

If this is your first exposure to the issue, please read my primer article: "Bracing for the Syrian Tidal Wave: Preparation Points for North American Churches" as well as my "Open Letter to Displaced Syrians".  If you are hungry for more, you can check out everything I've posted on the Syrian refugee crisis here.


Darshan: The End of the World and Modern Pessimism

Photo by Tom Godber
I've been studying this morning about optimism and it has led me to reflecting upon our present day fascination with apocalyptic themes in our films and TV shows.  A quick glance at the following Wikipedia list shows that we've produced more more apocalyptic films since 2010 than during the entire decade of either the 80s or 90s. And this isn't even considering TV shows like Revolution or Walking Dead.  What's going on? Does it matter?

List of apocalyptic films - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

My gut tells me that it matters at least somewhat and maybe it matters a lot.  For example, does this suggest that for all of our renewed awareness and interest in "engaging" issues such as human trafficking, world evangelism, climate change, poverty and hunger, HIV/AIDS, global terrorism, immigration justice, racism, and more that we are actually engaging in a rather pessimistic and hopeless way?  Do we engage as those who wish to do something good but who do not actually believe that good can reign?

With Nelson Mandela perhaps nearing the end of his life, I remember growing up in the 80s and being told in school and even by TV sitcoms that the racial walls of Apartheid could be defeated.  I remember watching President Reagan calling for Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall"! And I remember watching people climb all over the Berlin Wall soon thereafter with sledge hammers tearing that thing down.

We see walls all over the place today.  And we raise awareness.

We see intimidating walls rising up around the world.  And we call people to become engaged.

But do we no longer believe that they can actually be torn down?


Darshan: Ministry Sanctuaries

["Darshan" is a Sanskrit term that can be translated as "viewing with devotion" or "lovingly reflecting". It is a form of meditation. But enough about that. I'm going to use it to mark out posts on this blog that are simply quick reflections. Different from news clippings or missiology posts. Do you get what I mean?]

This summer has been a tremendous challenge. As some of you know, health problems, busyness, etc. have been slowing me down.  In ministry and missions, indeed things can get overwhelming. Sometimes it becomes difficult to know what to do next. Often, I find myself doing one thing only to begin quickly doubting myself, thinking that I should be doing something else. Or perhaps ten other things.

This past week, I have found myself talking about the need for ministry sanctuaries. By that, I mean refuges in ministry that protect you from the clouds of doubt and the voices which tell you that you should rather be doing something else.  These are ministry activities that are so pure, so simple, so Biblical that doing them removes you from the worry of all that you are not doing.

Prayerwalking is one of those things. As is visiting and ministering to the sick. For me, blessing and dedicating babies is another.  When I engage in these things, I feel it doesn't matter what I am not doing. They are sanctuaries.  If you are in ministry or missions, you also need these kinds of sanctuaries.  And you need to visit them often.

Here are the two Nepali babies I conducted naming ceremonies for during the past couple weekends: