From Every Nation (Chris Howles)
Mission Hits #37 (May 2022)
Welcome to Mission Hits, a monthly blog highlighting stimulating and significant recent resources related to world Christianity, world church, and world mission.
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Welcome to Mission Hits #37
One of my worst moments of my decade here in Uganda was about 9 years ago when, tired, stressed, culturally-confused and even homesick, I got angry at someone who'd wronged me, spoke my mind (in a way that was pretty 'normal' in the UK, but not in Uganda), and caused a rift in a relationship with a colleague that continued for many months afterwards, contrary to everything I wanted to be and do. The first article below about forgiveness in cross-cultural settings is, I believe, hugely important for current missionaries.
But there's so much in this Mission hits edition. We have a candid interview with Chris Wright, articles about 'tectonic shifts' in mission, an extremely important-looking new book about short-term mission, and a fascinating 'And finally' link about the remarkable story of Benin City.
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Uganda Martyrs Seminary Namugongo
Mission Partner: Crosslinks (UK)
ESSENTIALS (if you only have time for one...)
Essential for Missionaries
At some point I'll have something that isn't from the 'A Life Overseas' blog in this spot. But the folk there do make it hard. Here's another on-the-money article, this time about the (often unspoken, always so dangerous) issue of anger and lack of forgiveness for many missionaries serving cross-culturally "Jesus didn’t just preach forgiveness; he forgave. We cannot preach the good news of Jesus Christ on our mission fields, without also living it out as He did. What more compelling way is there to live out the gospel than to practice that same radical forgiveness?"
Essential for Church Leaders
Give your church a global focus
There's a big difference between churches that 'have' missionaries, and churches that 'send' missionaries: “Having” missionaries looks like checking a box, putting names on a bulletin, and supporting as many people as possible. “Sending” involves commissioning and supporting missionaries “in a manner worthy of God” (3 John 6)."
Essential for Mission Agency Workers
The most promising attributes of new missionaries
Global Frontier Missions interviewed some experienced Western missionaries to find out what they considered the most essential characteristics of Western cross-cultural mission workers are. Some interesting responses related to spiritual sustainability, teamwork, and cultural adaptability. Those involved in recruiting and training sent-out mission workers in the West would benefit on reflecting on their reflections…
Essential for Christians Partnering as Senders
This is an article written directly from and to missionaries. And yet I can't shake the sense that those who partner as senders would do well to internalize such things to help them as they pray and support mission partners serving cross-culturally. Don't be afraid to ask your mission partners some of the tough questions raised by the author of this article, who gives three bits of basic advice for missionaries in their early years: (a) Deal with personal baggage, (b) Communicate with the team, and (c) Run your own race.
GENERAL (well worth your time)
(1) A movemental turn in missions: Thoughts on new eras and new wineskins
Wes Watkins, Assistant Professor of Missiology at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, argues that we're in a new, post-20th Century era of missions, albeit one that is still taking shape and being defined. He highlights four tectonic shifts taking place: 'From Western to Indigenous', 'From Linear Management to Holistic Complexity', 'From Pastor-Centric Leadership to Mutual Polycentric Leadership', and 'From Institutions to Movements'. Genuinely important stuff here.
(2) How to partner with African churches well
Fascinating and wide-ranging 9Marks interview with Ken Mbugua, experienced Kenyan church leader in Nairobi, about African theology (he's not saying what you might expect him to) and Western partnerships in Africa: "In so many cases, Western organizations land in places like Nairobi with the apparent aim of growing their brand. Churches like ours almost become a hindrance. We’ve talked with partners who have the whole thing figured out before they come to Africa. They’re just looking for people to roll out their ideas on our continent."
(3) What do you share in your missionary prayer letters?
Spot on: "Knowing that God loved and accepted me helped me feel more comfortable being real with my supporters. Of course, people are not as loving and accepting as God, but I realized that’s no reason to hide my true self from them. When I was real with other people, it gave them the courage to be real right back to me. I learned that it takes courage to be vulnerable. And it also gives others courage when we’re vulnerable with them." From American missionary Alyson Rockhold
AUDIO/VISUAL (podcasts, videos)
(1) What even is mission? - A conversation with Chris Wright
I really enjoyed this hour-long interview with Chris Wright on the OMF podcast. Not everyone will agree with everything (in missions, was ever thus) but its full of calm, reasoned, fascinating thoughts on mission, and even includes a description of how he's updating his bestselling book 'The Mission of God'. Genuinely recommend this conversation.
The 'Doing Theology: Thinking Mission' team interview Dr. Tim Gombis (Professor of New Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary). This is a super conversation where, unlike many podcasts, every minute brings out something useful and helpful even if you're in disagreement with it: "We all see the world through our own unique lens, and there is so much to be gained by connecting with our brothers and sisters of different backgrounds. In this episode we’re discussing how whiteness and white theology impact everyone. It’s about having self-awareness around your own identity and biases to understand how that impacts others"
(3) An Interview with Paul Chitwood
Dr. Paul Chitwood is President of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention in the US. IMB is one of the largest mission sending agencies in the world, and this is an interesting and illuminating 60-min interview with him about IMBs work and focus by David Joannes on the 'Missions Pulse' podcast.
DIGGING DEEPER (challenging but rewarding)
(1) The Missionary as a servant of the Church
This is a really thorough and helpful article (from AJ Gibson, Reaching and Teaching’s Regional Leader for Latin America) demonstrating with clarity and conviction how strengthening and discipling existing churches remained fundamental to his overall mission calling: "It’s a mistake to reduce missions to reaching the unreached. It’s a mistake to assume that when a group or region has access to the gospel we can assume there’s no more missionary work there to be done...Paul’s missionary ministry was as pastoral as it was pioneer"
(2) Here’s why I keep returning to Lesslie Newbigin
Gospel Coalition article by Wheaton College professor Trevin Wax on why 20th century British missiologist Lesslie Newbigin remains such an important figure in 21st century missiology and ecclesiology. A neat introduction to the man's thought and theology.
A detailed infographic explaining where the world is re: Bible translations continent-by-continent. Some significant stats here.
BOOKS (recent releases)
Links are to Amazon for best info/reviews. Other outlets are available...
(1) Re-Imagining Short-Term Missions (2022)
Forrest Inslee and Angel Burns (Editors)
"This book is for those who suspect that current practices of short-term missions are in need of serious reform. It is a book for those who recognize that, in this decade of global upheaval—and in light of the cultural, political, and demographic shifts affecting churches everywhere—now is the time for change. The essays here are intended to equip and inspire any who want to advocate for change but may not yet know what change looks like. This book hopes to promote critical rethinking and creative reimagination about the ways that the global church might learn to collaborate on a new basis of coequality and mutual respect—for the good of the world and the glory of God."
(2) Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-Development (2022)
B. Hunter Farrell and S. Balajiedlang Khyllep
"There is a deepening crisis in mission as practiced by North American congregations. Too much effort is based on colonial-era assumptions of mission launched from a position of power. These practices are not just ineffective―they deviate from mission in the way of Jesus. [The authors] want to help free congregational mission from harmful cultural forces so churches can better partner with God's work in the world. They invite leaders to lay the foundation for more faithful and effective missions with companionship, cultural humility and co-development"
(3) God and Language: Exploring the Role of Language in the Mission of God (2022)
Michael Greed and Dawn Kruger (editors)
"Missiologists and linguists open a conversation about how language is used by God and people to accomplish God's mission in the world today. Consider the role of language as highlighted in Scripture, promoting the flourishing of people, and defining worship around the throne. How does our perception of language influence our lives and ministries?...This book aims to establish the value of language as a theological and missiological category.” It is more than a means of communication. It is central to human flourishing and is a key instrument in the mission of God." Here's a nice touch: you can choose your own price! Anything from £0 to £50!
MISCELLANEOUS (varied but valuable)
Christianity Today magazine (US) has started a new venture: an annual 'Globe' edition. This first one has contemplative articles and beautiful photography covering issues related to following Christ around the world. Well-written, nicely presented. "From a seminary amid the ruins of Beirut to a remarkable church community in Djibouti to a car accident on the streets of Trivandrum, India, Christ is at work in ways great and small…" You have to give an email address to download it.
(2) First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament
Now this is interesting, and has passed me by until now (released August 2021). "A New Testament in English by Native North Americans for Native North Americans and All English-Speaking Peoples. Many First Nations tribes communicate with the cultural and linguistic thought patterns found in their original tongues. The First Nations Version (FNV) recounts the Creator's Story―the Christian Scriptures―following the tradition of Native storytellers' oral cultures.". It's a dynamic equivalence translation of the New Testament. Some samples like John 3:16 can be found on the website.
(3) Radius missiology conference 2022
Advertised as "a unique two-day event where the ideas, philosophies, and methodologies of historic and contemporary missions are discussed and taught by pastors, missiologists, and experienced cross-cultural church planters" Online option, June 29th-30th. Kevin DeYoung, Chad Vegas and other speakers.
QUOTES (wise one-liners)
(1) “Missions is practicing God’s presence until His passion compels us to obey"
(2) “Don’t manufacture a heart for missions but miss a heart for God”
(3) "Foreign missions are not an extra; they are the acid test of whether or not the Church believes the Gospel"
GLOBAL INSIGHT (Noteworthy world news and info)
(1) 7 Encouraging Trends of Global Christianity in 2022
Stats! Many of them, but well-presented and not too overwhelming. Much to be encouraged, excited, and thankful for here.
(2) No place For converts: Iran's persecuted Christians struggle to keep the faith
Clear explanation of the current, possibly deteriorating, state of religious freedom for Christian converts in Iran: "Three minority religions -- Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity -- are constitutionally recognized, but others are not and their followers are barred from holding services or possessing religious materials in Persian. That includes Christian coverts, who are not considered indigenous Christians."
(3) Modi’s India has no space for Muslims
"Recent months have also seen a surge in warnings of genocide issued by Hindutva religious leaders. Religious leaders have made more than 18 calls for abduction, rape, and genocide of Muslims, and boycott of their businesses. They have called for wiping out Islamic culture in India. These leaders are using ordinary people as their foot-soldiers to achieve their goal of establishing a Hindu state in India…Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi has remained silent"
TWEETS (short but significant)
HIGHLIGHTS (3 most popular links from the previous Mission Hits…)
(3) 6 Ways to love missionaries when they come home
AND FINALLY (unrelated but interesting!)
Author and generally-interesting-person Kevin Kelly lists (on his 70th birthday) "103 bits of advice I wish I had known". Quite a few are very clever, witty, fascinating, and thought-provoking: 'We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade', 'It’s thrilling to be extremely polite to rude strangers', 'To rapidly reveal the true character of a person you just met, move them onto an abysmally slow internet connection.' and many more…
(2) Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace
Don't you just love little known histories? This is fascinating. "With its mathematical layout and earthworks longer than the Great Wall of China, (with 100 times more material used than the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and using an estimated 150million hours of digging) Benin City was one of the best planned cities in the world. So why is nothing left?" Guardian article from 2016.
Not quite sure what, but this reveals something about aspects of modern culture. The Japanese man who rents himself out for £85 an hour to do….absolutely nothing. Confused? Have a read. It's sad, moving, revealing, and bizarrely sweet.
Full searchable archives of all Mission Hits resources from edition #1
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