mission

Mission Myth Busting

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The following is an excerpt by David Hall from the latest edition of Missions Interlink Bulletin. The full version can be found here.

A few days ago I shared with mission leaders in Christchurch about the need for them to be Mission Myth Busters. But the challenge is just as important for you. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about missions today. It’s our job – it’s your job – to challenge the myths, exposing them for what they are: lies from the enemy.

There are so many myths, where to start? Let’s start with the idea some people have that ‘the day of missions is over.’ When we look back and think of the interest in missions in some circles ‘back in the day,’ we can indeed see a decline. For example, much time and effort by so many in the New Zealand missions community went into a large event called “Destination World – The Call,” yet only a few hundred came. And most of those were “the choir,” already involved to various degrees in missions. So it’s understandable why some would conclude “the day of missions is over.”

But what most didn’t notice is what God was up to behind the scenes. Today there are Kiwis serving the Lord overseas in some hard places as a result of The Call. And God indeed sparked a flame that is spreading missions in and from New Zealand. I helped arrange for a couple Pacific Islanders and a Maori to come as presenters to The Call. When they came and looked around, they said to themselves, “Where are our people? They should be here.” That led to a group of Pacific Island Christian leaders meeting, eating, and praying about what their role in missions was, is and ought to be. And that led to forming strong partnerships with both Pacific Island pastors and the NZ missions community via Missions Interlink, what we now call: Pacific2Nations.

Within a year we rented the largest facility in South Auckland. About 1500 PI’s came and over 400 responded to the call to missions. Over 150 PI’s went through the Kairos missions training. And a dozen or more short-term teams went to various ‘closed’ countries in Asia as well as Brazil and other nations.

Yes, mission personnel changes over time. And mission methods and foci have to be continually re-evaluated and adapted to be effective in different situations around the world. That’s happening, and the result is rapid growth of Christianity, especially in Asia, Africa and other hard places around the world.

As long as there are unreached peoples we’ll need missions. And New Zealand will likely always play a significant role in missions. You know the stats: There are more non-Christians in less-reached countries and nations, than ever before – between 2 & 3 billion are isolated from the Gospel. Poverty, conflict, injustice and other crises represent both challenge & opportunity to proclaim God’s kingdom.

I’ll say it again, as long as there are unreached – and people hurting, hungry, abused – the world will need missions! If you hear people say “the day of missions is over,” help bust the myth!

Update from Iri and Kate

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News and prayer update from the Matos:

NZCMS Mission Partner Iri Mato will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the Faith2Share Leadership Consultation this week. Iri leaves Kondoa on Friday 3 October and returns on Friday 10 October, so there is a lot of travel involved. Please pray for safe travel and good connections.

A Kenyan, Dr Peter Okaalet will be the keynote speaker. The conference will be a focal point for 65-70 visitors plus many local church leaders. It will be an opportunity for Iri to meet with overseas CMS representatives and to renew friendships with Ethiopian Christian friends from the days when he and Kate served in Gambella, Ethiopia on the border of Southern Sudan. During the consultation Iri will be sharing in leading worship.

Please join us in praying for Iri as he travels and connects with members of our global CMS family.

An Update from Nadia

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The last month has seen a lot of changes, a lot of challenges and a lot of achievements.

For the last two weeks I have been the only ‘Muzungu’ left at Potter’s Village as Sue and Mike have been home on leave and Rosie needed to head home to be with her family for a while. So how did that affect things? Well in some ways it didn’t… everyone has been as lovely to me as ever, though perhaps they check up on me a bit more to make sure I’m not too lonely! In the medical centre it has meant that we are a little tight on staff and I have been on-call the majority of the time which is draining, but it has been a quiet month which, perhaps, is for the best.

The medical centre still demands my creativity and I never stop learning new things. A recent bout of typhoid cases has taught me a lot about the management of the illness and an unusual case in the nursery had me researching for days!

In terms of my education projects, the staff from Kisoro hospital who have been selected to work in their new Special Care Nursery have begun to come over and spend some time with us and learn about how to care for neonates and run a nursery. It’s a little over-whelming trying to figure out where to start on teaching people when they need to know everything and there is so little time! I talked so much the first day my throat hurt! There is a long way to go with this but a start has been made and they seem very enthusiastic though which is encouraging.

Feeling a little over-tired I decided to get away for a weekend last week since I was rostered for a long-weekend off. I went and stayed at a lodge right on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable forest. I admit, I spent most of the weekend just catching up on sleep, enjoying not having to cook and relaxing on my little veranda that was barely two metres from the edge of the forest, enjoying the view and reading books. I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity for this mini-break and also to see a little more of the exceptional beauty of nature here in Uganda.

Recently, with the medical centre staff, I have been going through neonatal scenarios looking at how to identify what is wrong with babies and how to decide on the appropriate treatment and management. It was, therefore, a big moment of pride across the board when, on getting back from my weekend away, the staff presented a complex case to me, which had come in over the weekend, and their management of the case which was spot on! I was so proud of them for their achievement and it was great to see their excitement and the growth in their confidence in neonatal care.

My time at Potter’s Village is fast coming to an end with my last day of working in the medical centre set for October the 24th, exactly a month away! After this I will have a week break to refresh myself and also renew my visa before heading to my next destination, Kisiizi Hospital.

A New Spirit and a New Hope

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The following is an update from Bishop Mouneer of the Diocese of Egypt where our Mission Partner Rosie is based.

Dear friends,

Last week we heard about terrorist attacks which targeted the army and the police in Egypt. These attacks occur from time to time since the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

Also last week, millions of Egyptians queued in the banks to deposit whatever they had in order to participate with the Egyptian government in fulfilling a new project in Egypt to establish a new canal parallel to Suez Canal. This was the response of the Egyptian people to the call made by President Al-Sisi to participate in this ‘project of the country’.

The new canal project will cost around 60 billion Egyptian pounds, but it will improve the economy and create many job opportunities. People bought shares in this project according to their ability from as low as 10 Egyptian pounds to several thousand pounds. The surprise was that the people paid more than the 60 billion pounds needed for the project.

This was an amazing response from the Egyptian people who did not allow fear from terrorism to hinder their hope in the future of Egypt. I see the millions who crowded at the banks as another referendum in support of the current government. It is a new spirit and a new hope.

I hope the similar new spirit may spread in the church of the Middle East. We need such a new hope while we are facing many challenges such as the immigration of youth and violence against Christians.

We can have such new hope when we hold on to God’s promise ‘Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert’. (Isaiah 43 : 19)

Let us lay aside every fear, wrong and weight which can hinder us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

May the Lord Bless you!

Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis

 

Missional Spirituality – Seven Habits of a Lifeless Church

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Let us say that a church alive is marked by Christlikeness among the people, worship of God, love and compassion and mission toward others … and other such marks. Let us also say it is marked by the church’s classic marks: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. And we must root this all in gospel and Trinity. Our culture works against a church alive and if we let culture shape us we can create a lifeless church, though any church that is lifeless is a sick contradiction. The themes of our culture, however, work against the life of God in a church.

What are they? What cultural trends challenge the church/faith? What trends intrude on missional spirituality?

In their new book, Missional Spirituality, Roger Holland and Len Hjalmarson, sketch seven cultural habits that grow in Westerners naturally and which, at the same time, counter what the gospel aims to do in our midst.

1. Disenchantment: borrowing from Charles Taylor and others, the argument is that prior to the Enlightenment (at least) it was difficult not to believe in God, while in the modern world it is difficult to believe in God. The world prior to the Reformation and especially before the Enlightenment was enchanted — alive with the presence of God and signs of his presence. The Enlightenment’s rationality and empiricism and dualism created a world in which it was easy/ier not to believe in God. Christians who buy into the Enlightenment project counter the gospel’s world of enchantment with God.

2. Excarnation. They speak here of disembodiment or the diminishment of embodied spirituality. It’s about ideas, not rituals and acts and form.

3. Abstraction. We separate ideas from objects and subjects and rationalize and theorize. The faith becomes a system of beliefs instead of a Person in whom we trust and in whom we hope.

4. Consumerism. I don’t think they get to the bottom of this one, though they touch on themes and symptoms of consumerism. Ownership is normal; obsession with ownership, status, and the dopamine rush of purchasing … these are at work in consumerism, as is a culture in which everything is comodified. Consumerist Christianity, at the ecclesial level, is about attending a church because of what you can get from it instead of worshiping God and serving our brothers and sisters. With consumerism, I think of Clement, of St Anthony, of Augustine, of St Francis, of some in the monastic tradition… of Ron Sider … of the neo-Monastics, etc..

5. Entitlement. A society marked by consumerism and self-image education feels entitled to a church meeting needs and to what it offers and to participating in decisions and authority etc..

6. Extraction. Their point is a simple one: we too often draw non-Christians out of their culture into a church culture in order to Christianize them. We plug them into a pre-set forms and roles and routines and deprive some of their natural giftedness.

7. Mutant Pietism and Programism. They will look at Pietism later, but pietism has been diminished and it has been connected to easily to church programs. Mutant pietism is inner world individualism and insufficiently missionally-shaped piety. The original pietism, esp that of Francke, was missionally minded.

 

Re-blogged from www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed with permission.

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author or editor of forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. He’s also a veteran blogger. Scot’s passion is to see the church embrace the mission of God in the 21st century. For more from Scot visit www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed