November 2015

We’re in the Solomons!

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We’re happy to report that we’ve arrived safe and sound (including all 19 checked bags, and 12 carry-ons) to Honiara, Guadalcanal! We left New York on Saturday, October 31 at 5pm. Our baggage was checked through straight to our final destination, which was such an answer to prayer. After 3 flights, with a combined air-time of 23 hours and over 30 in total travel time, we arrived in Honiara at 3:45 pm on November 2. It was Judah’s 3rd birthday that day as well, so we celebrated with a chocolate chip muffin in the Brisbane airport, a lego toy gift and birthday card from his grandparents.

Once we arrived, we cleared customs easily, got our bags and waited on the curb for our friend Jerry. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, he was in the village and could not read our last email detailing our arrival time. So we ended up waiting for over an hour, and were the last people waiting for pick-up. God provided, however, because Jerry’s cousin, Rosa, works at the airport and was able to call around and talk to some men to help take us to our accommodation for the night with the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

As we had no dinner plans and were all pretty tired and hungry, our friends the Ashleys graciously cooked us spaghetti and beans and even gave us food for the next morning. Jerry’s wife, Ruth, also came by bearing gifts of fruits, juices, cookies and crackers for the kids. Since arriving on Monday, we have slowly gotten over jet-lag and gotten a bit used to being sweaty all day. We have made family excursions to the downtown to shop at the market, visit the diocesan office, eat fresh hot buns from the Honiara Hot Bread Kitchen (let me tell you: it is HOT in there!) and we even bought ourselves a smartphone… something we thought we would never do.

It turns out we may not easily be able to get access to internet on our computer in the village, so the next best thing is getting it through the phone so we can at least email and Facebook.

The children have made some friends on the Wycliffe compound and enjoy jumping on the trampoline, playing with the pets and trying our Pidgin English. One of their favorite Pidgin games consists in trying to imitate the cash collectors from the city buses. We came out after nap one day to sounds of them shouting: “Foafala S-D-A” (i.e. “Four spaces left for the bus going by the Seventh Day Adventist Church”) Their favorite part of going out is cramming onto the small buses that weave in and out of traffic in Honiara!

Tomorrow night is our last night in Wycliffe housing before moving over to Jerry and Ruth’s home on the other side of town while we wait for word from Malaita for our guest house to be ready.

Please keep us in our prayers as we continue to adjust, learn Pidgin English and communicate with people in the village about our arrival. May God bless each and everyone of you! Your prayers have been felt over here!

The Jihad of Jesus 

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By Jeff Fountain, director of YWAM Europe and the Schuman Centre for European Studies.

Called The Jihad of Jesus, it’s a handbook for reconciliation and action, a do-it-yourself guide for all Christians and Muslims who want to move beyond the ‘clash of civilizations’ and struggle for justice and peace nonviolently side by side.

I’ve known the author, Dave Andrews, for four decades, during which he has been consistently provocative and radical in his application of Jesus’ teaching to daily life and contemporary society.

Dave doesn’t pretend to be an expert: ‘I have not written this book as a specialist. I am not. I have simply written this book in conversation with Muslim friends, seeking to find a way we can struggle for love and justice that is true to the best in our faith traditions.’

Frequent misleading references to ‘jihad’ in newspaper, radio and tv headlines prompted some of Dave’s friends, both Christian and Muslim, to suggest he write a book about Jesus and ‘jihad’ and call it ‘The Jihad of Jesus’.

They hoped the provocative title would get a lot of attention, and introduce Christians and Muslims to a Koranic reconstruction of the concept of ‘jihad’ in the light of the radical practical nonviolence of Jesus.

Presently in Europe to promote his book, the Brisbane-based Australian has had prominent attention from the major papers in his home country with front page and full-page stories. Also the influential American Huffington Post review urged ‘all Christians and Muslims to join the Jihad Of Jesus’.

Oxymoron

For most of us, the book’s title seems an oxymoron. That word ‘jihad’ clashes with the Jesus we know. And Dave admits that the word conjures up images of terror and atrocities–from 9/11 to the recent aborted Thalys would-be massacre.

But if you go back to the Koran, he explains, the word jihad actually means struggle, not war. The word for war in the Koran is qital. The overwhelming emphasis of the word jihad in the Koran is non-violence.

Which means that what most ‘jihadists’ are involved with is totally unacceptable in Koranic terms, Dave argues.

‘So rather than taking the anti-jihad stand–which won’t succeed because jihad is such an important view in the Koran–we’re saying let’s reclaim it from the extremists, reframe it as a sacred nonviolent struggle for justice,’ proposes the author.

‘If both Christians and Muslims believe Jesus is the Mesih or the Messiah–which they do–let’s look at Jesus as a role model for non-violent jihad. Rather than see Jesus as a poster boy to legitimate crusading against Muslims, we see Jesus as a Messiah who can bring Muslims and Christians together, to work together non-violently.’

But achieving common ground it is not as simple as condemning violence, concedes Dave. Rather, it involves a critical reflection of the way religions have been constructed.

He argues in The Jihad Of Jesus that we are caught up in a cycle of so-called ‘holy wars’, but while this inter-communal conflict may be endemic, it’s not inevitable. And this gets to the core of the book’s argument: our religions can be either sources of escalating conflict, or resources for overcoming inter-communal conflict. For that to happen, we need to understand the heart of all true religion as open-hearted compassionate spirituality.

Open-set

When we define religion as a closed set–where you’ve got people who are in the right, and people who are in the wrong–we tend towards the violence of religion, believes Dave.

People who believe they are right feel they have the responsibility to impose their views on others non-violently, or if necessary, violently, he reasons. We all know examples of Christians and Muslims who operate like that.

However, an open-set mindset exists within both traditions which recognises that it has no monopoly on God, or a franchise on the truth. It includes the other in a way that is empathic and respectful. It leads to non-violent resolution of conflicts instead of violence.

‘There’s a thousand years of conflict between our communities,’ explains Dave. ‘So you’ve got this strong paranoia and this great underlying fear of one another that has erupted again since 9/11 in explicit and graphic and catastrophic ways. That is the challenge.’

Dave acknowledges theological differences between Christians and Muslims, but intentionally tries to focus on those beliefs about Jesus that Christians and Muslims have in common as the place to start conversations.

Such ‘common ground’ is not suspect compromise, but is ‘sacred ground’ on which we can stand and speak to one another, Dave believes. He urges Christians and Muslims to reflect the kindness and humility of Christ, who they should follow ‘with every beat of their hearts, through every vein in their head, their hands and their feet.’

For further information, see jihadofjesus.com, or order the book here.

 

Thanks to Jeff for letting us repost this. The original article can be found by clicking here.

Evangelism should be comfortable, right? (Issue 25)

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When the Holy Spirit nudges me to talk about faith, three soothing thoughts often come to mind. “Now isn’t the appropriate time or place.” “I can’t think of the right words to say.” “I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.” These convenient excuses mean I can get on with my day and no one has to feel awkward.

The underlying belief in our post-modern world is a me-centred relativism. “I can believe whatever makes me feel good and you can believe whatever makes you feel good, just don’t push it on me.” Feelings equal truth, and this creates some challenges when it comes to evangelism. And these are challenges within the Church as well. As a post-modern Christian, my motivation to witness is often dictated by my feelings, and my feelings often say no.

For me, evangelism begins beside the fireplace on my knees. When I seek God’s company, he reminds me that I’m his loved and accepted child. Regardless of what my feelings tell me, my identity is in the death and resurrection of Jesus. I can risk looking like a fool for him.

I’ve been encouraged to plan my day by asking God “Who?” Who is he wanting to bless through me and have a conversation with today? Once that’s arranged, I can sort out the daily what, where, when and how’s. I can risk being fruitful instead of busy, and risk partnering with God to reach the people around me.

Evangelism also begins on the deck reading my Bible. When our worldview is rooted in Scripture, we understand the spiritual condition of others. We can look beyond people’s feelings and see their desperate need for forgiveness, reconciliation, cleansing, wholeness. In Scripture we rediscover God’s passion for the broken. When God’s truth is more important than feelings, we can risk having an awkward conversation.

At the heart of evangelism is a lifestyle of love and obedience to God. If we don’t share God’s passion for transforming lives, then all of the tools and methods we learn are useless. As we work on our hearts, we can start exploring faithful approaches to help connect our culture with Christ. Perhaps you’ll find opportunities to apply the AAA approach below.

Accept Everyone

Jesus was labelled a friend of sinners by the religious leaders. What would it take for us to hang out with the ‘wrong people’? Here’s a few pointers:

Create opportunities to spend time with not-yet-Christians. Joining an interest club or invite the neighbourhood around for lunch. Don’t be offended when not-yet-Christians act like not-yet-Christians. Good roots come before good fruit, and noticing, accepting and loving people for who they are is not the same as endorsing their behaviour. Ask God to put five not-yet-Christians on your heart. Try to pray for their salvation daily, visit them weekly, bless them monthly and include them in your activities whenever possible.

Ask Questions

Jesus asks about 300 questions in the New Testament. Asking questions gives us a chance to truly listen, and listening is a rare yet powerful way to show love. Ask about their interests, family and dreams. Questions also allow people to evaluate their spiritual beliefs and consider new ideas.

Admit the Truth

While many hold that ‘all roads lead to God,’ Christianity claims an exclusive message. Only faith in Jesus Christ can lead us to a right relationship with our Creator. We need to believe this, and we need to believe that Jesus is the best gift that we can offer anybody. One way to speak the truth in our culture is to tell stories. Listen to their story, and be prepared to share some stories of how you’ve experienced God in your life. You can also share stories from Jesus’ life, as this is the Jesus we’re inviting people to follow!

Ollie is the Anglican Evangelism and Under 40’s Ministry Enabler for South Canterbury.

For discussion

How does Ollie’s example challenge you?

What can your group do to put the AAA approach into action?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Kailakuri Update

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You’ll be pleased to know that the Health Centre is operating normally with no difficulties. Although initially a little nervous about working without Edric’s oversight, the staff are demonstrating quiet confidence and competence. The NZ Link Support Group has received the following message from them:

We would like to let you know that everybody here is working together to keep Dr Edric’s dream alive and will continue to work for the poor the way he taught us to. We have had no major problems in running the project and believe this is because Dr Bai set sustainable systems in place that the staff have been practising for years. We will continue to uphold his standard of care and teach what he taught us.

Please let everyone know that our prayers are with them and that their prayers are appreciated and felt here.

 From the entire Kailakuri Family

November’s Missional Movements

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The Hicks family arrived in the Solomon Islands last month. We also congratulate Jonathan on the upcoming publication of his book Trinity, Economy, and Scripture.

Dianne Bailey returns to New Zealand from the Philippines late November for two months.

Nick and Tessa will be coming back to New Zealand at the beginning of November for four months of Leave and Home Service. Also, the new Alcohol Ordinance which Tessa’s community group have been campaigning for should now be completed!