Mission Hits #7 (Oct 2020)
Welcome to Mission Hits, a fortnightly blog highlighting stimulating and significant recent resources related to world Christianity, world church, and world mission.
Mission Hits is a ministry of www.fromeverynation.net
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(1) General, (2) Video/Audio, (3) Digging deeper, and (4) Books.
If not 2020, when?! Advice for engaging in mission to the nations in your own locale including "research", "talk to people", "practice hospitality", and "prepare to be patient".
This is marvellous. Motivating your congregation (and yourself) for missions. But it's not the normal 'more conventions, books and programs' approach though: "A people not wowed by the good news of Christ won’t seek to woo others to embrace it. Your extolling of Christ precedes your people extending Christ to others. Mission is the reflex of people rejoicing in Jesus."
Israel Oluwole Olofinjana (Founding Director of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World and a Baptist Minister in the UK) argues that as ‘people from the majority world appear to suffer more due to systemic and structural issues in our unjust world’, the global church can learn from majority world Christians and their theologies about whole-life discipleship models ‘rooted in suffering and sacrifice caused by social economic inequality’.
People will have a whole variety of responses to this. But at the least we can read and engage with extraordinary testimonies like this one from an Indian YWAM movements leader. "When he reached their home, everyone was crying. He told them to go out of the room. He then began to pray for the lady. As he prayed, she suddenly moved. She had come to life again! God had done a miracle like none he had ever experienced before."
This is really important. And personally challenging. Very relevant for missionaries and agencies as we 'tell stories' of those we work alongside. "The people I met were resilient, powerful, proud, and ambitious. However, the only portion told was of their obstacles on the way to where they were…I must challenge my purpose of harvesting the story by asking am I telling their story in a way that will speak life to whom the storyteller and their lived experiences are or am I instead contributing to the exploitation of the story and objectifying the storyteller for donor fundraising gain?"
A flexible 4-week course that you can run anytime with a Bible study group, homegroup, missions committee etc. that uses video, discussion, online materials, personal reflection and optional activities to help people understand more about God’s mission. Four sessions, each a 45 min video followed by 45 min discussion (with an hour homework each week): "What is mission?", "The Biblical basis of mission", "What is culture?", "What are the next steps?". Done through All Nations Christian College (UK).
Rebecca Hopkins summarises some key findings of the newly-released Barna report into trends in American missions. "One-quarter of engaged Christians aged 18 to 34 is a 'supportive skeptic.' They have given to missions, volunteer in their church, and believe that 'sharing the Gospel with non-Christians' is an important part of the work. But they have concerns. They either believe missions creates unhealthy dependency, missions was too linked with colonialism in the past, missions hurts the local economy, or missions needs to repair its reputation. This group also includes a large percentage of minorities."
From a talk by Martin Lee at the UK Global Connections 2014: Very relevant still! His titles are: (1) Centrality of the gospel, (2) Agencies need to do something about their governance, (3) Agencies need to collaborate, innovate and take risk, (4) Churches need to be at the centre, (5) Discipleship here and everywhere, (6) Mutual respective partnership is vital, (7) Don’t forget the hard places.
My feeling is that the 'Missionaries are spiritual superheroes' thing is much less than it once was (and perhaps even is getting fully inverted soon?!) but even so, this is a helpful article from the Upstream Collective explaining why such attitudes are damaging for everyone: "When we see full-time cross-cultural work as the best way to get close to the Lord, we cheapen the very message missionaries carry: that God already came down to us to make a way for that relationship."
It's from 2019, but I really enjoyed listening to this. Lesslie Newbigin has been described by some serious people as the most important theologian of the 20th Century. Who's to say? Undoubtedly Newbigin was a significant figure whose importance and relevance is increasing over time, not decreasing. In this 1h conversation Michael Goheen, surely the foremost evangelical scholar on Newbigin, explains his life, work, and significance, and I'm pleased to say Goheen speaks as clearly and engagingly as he writes. I have, to my shame, mainly encountered Newbigin through secondary sources. This podcast inspires me to start reading Newbigin direct.
Including articles on 'An Investigation of the Social Identity of Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) in Bangladesh' and 'Overcoming “Domination”: A Vulnerable Approach to Inter-cultural Mission and Translation in Africa'.
October 7th-9th. Free. Online. Paper topics include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Puerto Rico as well as thematic papers on theology, charismatic renewal, historiography and demography. Includes plenary from Phillip Jenkins on "Fertility, Faith, and the Limits of Evangelical Growth in Latin America"
It's a complex debate, and I'm an absolute novice in it. But this article by Seth Vitrano-Wilson strikes me as an important argument on one 'side' of the 'Muslim Idiom Translations' debate : "As someone who grew up accepting a worldview in which other authorities took precedence over God’s Word, I plead with Bible translators everywhere: Please be careful not to undermine the authority of God and His Word by mixing in ideas from false prophets and false worldviews that would needlessly dilute or pollute the life-giving truth we all need."
Graham Joseph Hill
"Jesus is calling his church to be a multiethnic and missional people who listen and learn from the many voices of world Christianity. Graham Joseph Hill issues a moving call for churches to be missional by being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Hill does this by exploring the thinking of twenty-five Asian, African, Latin American, Indigenous, African American, diaspora, Caribbean, Oceanian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern pastors and theologians."
Donald C. Palmer
"This manual is intended to serve as a teaching tool and a study guide for cross-cultural conflict management courses in Bible colleges, mission organizations, and churches. Thirty years after its original publication, this practical, Bible-centered approach to the dynamics of conflict and conflict management in cross-cultural situations remains relevant, both abroad and in today’s hybrid cities."
I've sadly not read this yet, but this one is personal. Gill and her husband Mark are friends, wonderful people, and long-term workers in Mongolia. This is a novel! One that helps the reader understand the history, culture, way of life, faith, and missionary endeavours of the Mongolian people and church. "The dull creaking of a wooden oxcart heralds the arrival of the funeral procession to the bottom of a mountain in Arhangai Province, the scrubland wilderness where Namdorj and his wife, Yanjaa, started their new life. As the family struggle against the pressure of modern Mongolia, neither can know the significance of the indecipherable manuscript that passes into their hand."
Mission hits is a ministry of www.fromeverynation.net
For questions, comments, or suggestions for the next edition, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that I choose links to resources I find stimulating and/or significant. Posting a link does not mean I personally agree with everything there!