Mission Hits #11 (Dec 2020)
Welcome to Mission Hits, a fortnightly blog highlighting stimulating and significant recent resources related to world Christianity, world church, and world mission.
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CONTENTS: Maximum of 3 resources in each category…
Please note that there will be only 1 'Mission Hits' in December (Christmas break!)
Twice-monthly editions will resume from January 2021.
If you're anything like me, you'll know how scarily easy it is over time to gravitate towards a Christian bubble at the cost of spending our lives and sharing the gospel with the lost. This short, simple 2019 article challenges us to watch out for that danger! "It is easy to live inside a Christian or missionary bubble. Everyone inside that bubble already knows Jesus. It is where we spend our time…where we feel comfortable. Our needs are met there. We love and we serve our Christian friends. Nothing wrong with that! We need to step out of the bubble though. Noticing the bubble exists is the first step. Then, we must take action to break it, to open our lives up to a broader group of people."
"Yes, COVID-19 is a new virus, but for many in the world, they are already dealing with much worse…Hopefully, one day, the worst of this pandemic will be over. This virus will no longer be a huge threat, the death rate will even out, the healthcare system will recover, public schools will open, and restrictions will ease. But for the world’s poor, they will continue to live life in pandemic-type conditions, as they always have. Will we think of them? Will we remember what it felt like, and use that empathy to pray and give and go?"
What an impressive article by Rupen Das. Effectively, this is a biblical-theology of migration: "There is considerably less theological exploration on the phenomena of displacement. What is missed in all of this is that migration in the biblical narrative, and in the Old Testament teachings on how foreigners (refugees and migrants) should be treated, reveals something fundamental about who God is and about his intentions for creation. The biblical narrative of migration is founded on the bedrock that God does not remain distant but moves into the physical reality of human beings."
A long article from Christianity Today magazine focusing, through many stories, testimonies and quotes, on what has happened in 2020 through the pandemic to American cross-cultural missionaries overseas and the American missions movement generally. In short, huge changes are taking place, but few seem to agree on the direction and extent: "Their lives and work are dependent on governmental permissions, work visas, plane rides, the willingness of communities to welcome outsiders, and sometimes financial support from churches or friends back home. The whole system that made living abroad possible has been put into question by the global pandemic."
These three marks of the Philippians’ partnership with Paul should mark our congregations too re: sent missionaries. The first point here especially is an interesting one that I hadn't considered much before: "If we in the local church commit to biblical worship…and bold evangelism,…we will stand side by side with our fellow workers throughout the world, refreshing their hearts as they strive for the same countercultural, Christ-exalting, gospel-shaped life."
It's December, so we mustn't let this edition of Mission Hits go without a Christmas-themed link, and this was fun and helpful. "One of the myriad reasons I cherish the Christmas season is that it is one of the few times when the songs on the lips of the people of God truly match the missional optimism Scriptures associates with the kingdom of Christ."
This 25-minute podcast certainly describes the more 'institutionalized/professionalized' elements of Nigerian missions, but within that it's a short, helpful interview with Adegbite Olanihun from the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association (representing 13,000 Nigerian missionaries), about the challenges and opportunities of the Nigerian missions movement. If you're new to the idea of what majority world mission can look and feel like, this is a good place to start.
American missiologist Ed Stetzer interviews Anglican clergyman and Wheaton College associate professor Dr. Esau McCaulley about his recent book "Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope". This 44-min podcast is worth a listen if you haven't yet read the book. The questions are relevant (How does reading the Bible as an African-American as opposed to as a white person change anything? Does this impact upon beliefs in the inerrancy of Scripture?) and the answers are sharp, clear and challenging.
Michael Prest is Director of mission agency UFM, and is a good friend and nice guy. There's nothing spectacular about this interview as such. It is just a very helpful, enjoyable, clear, relevant and all-round solid chat about priorities and patterns in UK mission sending today and the relationships between mission agencies and churches. Some helpful thoughts about insider movements and discipleship making movements too (if you're not sure what is meant by that, have a listen. Everything is explained well.)
The important and influential book 'Salvation to the Ends of the Earth', a biblical-theological approach to the subject of mission (2001) has been updated/rewritten. In this Themelios article Andreas Kostenberger explains the reasoning behind the new edition. That may not sound interesting, but in doing so he explains well some of the changes in biblical-theological scholarship on mission over the past 20 years and how that impacts how mission as a theme is being understood in the New Testament.
OMF's journal for reflective practitioners 'Missions Round Table' has a 2020 edition out about missions and people with disabilities. Articles include 'On Human Rights and Identity Politics: How Disability Challenges our Missiology' and 'Following in God’s Way by Foot or by Chair'.
Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison
"In their first book 'When Everything Is Missions' Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison called us to refocus our gaze on the gospel and the Great Commission. In this follow-up book, Conversations on When Everything Is Missions, more than 15 contributors add their voices. Each brings research, analysis and experience to the table. They reflect on how we got to the place where many sincere Christians believe everything is missions and address what it might take to put the gospel and the Great Commission back at the center of our global outreach efforts"
"More Christians now live in the Majority World than in Europe and North America. Yet most theological literature does not reflect the rising tide of Christian reflection coming from these regions. If we take seriously the Spirit's movement around the world, we must consider how the rich textures of Christianity in the Majority World can enliven, inform, and challenge all who are invested in the ongoing work of theology. Majority World Theology offers an unprecedented opportunity to enter conversations on the core Christian doctrines with leading scholars from around the globe"
Tim J. Davy
We need a commentary series like this for every book of the Bible: "The book of Job is famous for its complex and compelling exploration of suffering and faith. It is less well-known for its contribution to a biblical understanding of God’s mission and the church’s role within it. In this detailed study, Tim J. Davy provides the most in-depth treatment yet of a “missional” reading of Job. Ultimately Davy makes the bold claim that the book of Job lies, not at the periphery, but at the heart of our understanding of the mission of God."
Korean artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang. A Christian missionary during the Korean war suggested to artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang that he paint biblical scenes with a Korean backdrop. He painted about 30 within a year. Christians disagree over how necessary and indeed helpful such depictions are. If nothing else, let us agree that these paintings are beautiful and thought-provoking. See also these remarkable equivalents from Africa.
"There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused unprecedented difficulties for people all over the world, not least those individuals and families serving in cross-cultural mission. In this webinar, we’ll be thinking about how we can support our mission partners throughout, and beyond, the global pandemic. UFM Directors and Pastoral Workers will explore why this is needed and share practical tips on how best to practically connect with and sustain mission partners during this time" Monday 18th January, 1-2pm UK time, Zoom, through UFM.
I respect folk who try new things, and this is certainly new for me. " A card game that enables the players to craft exciting stories through different world views and characters. This evangelistic tool provides the framework for effective discipleship utilizing a fun storytelling approach." Yeah, it's a bit cheesy and some people would not enjoy playing such a game, but I could see such a thing being a fun evening activity in a missions-training program or such like. At least it's different!
(1) "God isn't looking for begrudging compliance but for people who want what God wants"
(2) “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”
(3) "When the message of the kingdom is divorced from the person of Jesus, it becomes a programme or an ideology, but not a gospel"
This is a remarkable essay. I know a lot about Paul McCartney, but I learnt much from this and enjoyed it greatly. There's some fascinating lines in this. What about this for a conversation starter: "I doubt there is anyone alive responsible for a greater share of the world’s happiness." Honestly, this is a long but awe-inspiring read. What a amazingly gifted man.
This article really has to be read to be believed. It's about a million different ways to comprehend how many people there are in the world, and what a small space we could fit into!
It's well-known by now that the most-commonly used map projection we use, the Mercator Projection, was designed for navigational purposes and thus can't be relied upon to accurately portray the size of countries, especially the further north you go. But this 3-second long animation shows how significant that distortion is.
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