Maybe We’ve Got it All Wrong – Book 2 {Day 17}

By Friday, October 17, 2014 0 0

Have you heard of Steve Saint? I sure hope so. He’s the son of martyred missionary Nate Saint, who was one of four aviation missionaries killed by Auca natives in Ecuador. Steve lived among the Auca with his aunt Rachel and Elisabeth Elliot, one of my heroes of the faith, from the age of 10. He was baptized by two of the men who had killed his father shortly after they trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.

Today, he builds amazing things, including flying cars, at his company, I-TEC.

Chris read The Great Omission recently. This is what he had to say about it.

Maybe We’ve Got it All Wrong.

Many of us have been involved in missions in some way or another. Whether we have supported missionaries for many years or even had the opportunity to be a part of a short term mission trip. The country you went to is sometimes dictated as to where in the US you grew up. For me, I went to Mexico. I’ve been down to Mexico on mission related trips 3 times if I remember correctly, maybe even 4. We would fly down to San Diego and then drive across the border into Mexicali or Tijuana. Once in Mexico we would set up tents at a camp site and then go each day to a village where we would lead a VBS, build something and do a sports ministry. From people I’ve met from around the country this is pretty much what everybody else’s experience is as well.

Steve Saint looks into these actions and shows that we really aren’t hitting the point. We have created not so much a mission of sharing the gospel with people and then discipling them into maturity in Christ so they can then go and do likewise, but rather something of a welfare system. Many of the villages that we went to in those Mexico border towns simply withheld doing projects because every year for a few months thousands of teens would come down into their country and perform tasks for them and take up all of the costs as well. And because each group only stayed for a week there was sometimes overlap as to what was going on. The last time we went down to Mexicali we heard from a Mexican pastor that the exterior of their church had been painted three times in two months by three different groups that came to work with them.

We know that this isn’t how it is supposed to work but we really don’t know how to involve ourselves in such a way so as to know what to do about it. This is where The Great Omission comes in. Steve does a great job of using past experience and scriptural wisdom to discuss what things should be happening or at least what things need to be changed in some cases. I’ve now looked at missions very differently than I used to and ask myself certain questions before I get involved in missions in any way. I want you to read the book so I’m not going to specify what those questions are right now.

The truth of the matter is that many of us neglect the fact that we are all missionaries in our own towns and so end up caricaturing it into something else so that we will “know what it looks like.” We find it hard to believe that the 15 years we’ve spent employed at some company talking to coworkers and seeing one of them come to Christ is actually mission work. Of course some are called to do roughly the same thing in another country but that doesn’t make their work any more or less important than ours. We tend to think it is though and then we start creating it into something which can start to forgo its original intent and turn it into providing services which people become dependent on and never have the chance to operate on their own.

Most of the book looks at missions in the third world, but it still applies everywhere to some degree or another. This is all information I will try to bring with me so I can be sure that my influence is pointing people to Christ and not reliance on Americans with money and technology.

31 Stories of Preparing for the Mission Field at Seasoned with Salt // theduryees.com

Guest Posting: Going There

By Wednesday, January 16, 2013 0 0

A woman and writer I admire very much did an insightful and interesting series on race in October. I really enjoyed that series and even contributed some of my own thoughts about being raised by grandparents, something that makes me different from the crowd. Then, I had a funny experience after reading her follow up. I am so blessed to be able to document my story on her blog today!

Click through to read what happened to me at a movie theater and how I still don’t have all the answers.

Water Daily for Best Results: about planting a church where it will grow

By Tuesday, April 10, 2012 0 0

Recently, I learned a statistic from a Perspectives course that I found hard to believe: of all the money that goes towards “missions” in the American church (which is by far the wealthiest and most resource-filled), 5.5 percent goes to the “reached” world. That means places where Christianity is acceptable and local churches exist. It includes all of the developed world and some of the undeveloped world, including North America and yes, Spain. Remember, just because it is reached doesn’t mean it isn’t needy. But, alarmingly, only half a percent (or half a penny of every dollar!) goes towards reaching the unreached world. Unreached means the Gospel has no penetration, churches are secret if they exist at all, and/or preaching is illegal. In short, missions to unreached parts of the world needs a lot of money!

How do you think the remaining 94 percent of money used for world missions is being used? To reach Christians.

It is shocking!

And I would argue that perhaps that means that the American church is spending a lot of money to promote world missions, or to reach cities like Seattle, which is one of the least churched cities in America. But the fruit of that would be more missionaries, and if we were sending more missionaries, wouldn’t those tiny percentages – 5.5 percent and .5 percent – be increasing? If only slightly?

Here’s the stat come to life: I think American church plants are reaching American Christians, and shame on them for it. We should not be stealing Christians from other churches to create and bulk up new churches. It seems to me that big churches “see a need” (what that means must be different for each church), buy a building, send people who live nearby to the new building, and call it a “church plant.”

Maybe that is useful. In America’s least churched region, I am willing to say it probably is useful. Perhaps saturation is a relevant tool for spreading the Gospel. Perhaps.

But let me describe my view of church planting. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly not for the Sunday Christian.

An area, like a small city, a suburb or a large neighborhood, lacks a Bible-preaching, Jesus-glorifying body of believers. Not a building called a church, but a group of people meeting together for the sole purpose of worshiping God.

God calls a family or a VERY small team of people to move to that area. They move, and spend their days bathing their new home in prayer, getting to know its culture, its way of things, and people. Maybe they meet other parents and the school their kids go to, peers at the local coffee shop, neighbors. They minister to people: maybe they feed the homeless or fix pipes at the local women’s shelter. And as they are going about these tasks, they are introducing people to Jesus. They’re sharing the Gospel in their own words, without the use of big events or invitations to Sunday church. Combined with their ministry to people – maybe a neighbor had a baby and these “church planters” brought a meal and spent some time holding a baby so mama could shower – the Gospel is relevant. When your actions say things, people are willing to listen to your words.

And then, not suddenly but over time (probably a long time), a little Bible study is formed. At first, one other couple comes over sporadically to share a meal and listen to a little bit of Bible teaching and ask their questions. Then, more regularly. Maybe they sing a little hymn that everyone knows from childhood or lyrics printed on a page. And one week, three new people show up.

Other weeks, no one shows up.

Once, the church planters had to start over completely because the Gospel is so offensive to their friends they stop coming altogether and take the others with them.

Months in, the original family discovers that their living room won’t hold all the people coming to study the Bible. So they ask one of the regulars if their much larger home might be used. These new hosts are now serving in their church, but they don’t know it! And then months later, it happens again. And maybe a small group breaks off to study a little differently. There’s some one on one discipleship happening among some of the first believers, so they feel comfortable leading a study.

Not before they know it, but after many months of prayers and crying out to God because people aren’t interested, or leave, or succumb to sin, or become Christians and start serving and then move away, there’s a crowd of people who want to serve their neighborhood corporately. That’s a church.

So they rent out a room in a local community center, or a movie theater, or whatever, and they start having an organized meeting. Someone who plays an instrument has joined the group and he leads music. Two women who love babies volunteer to hold them for the hour that church meets.

And it grows. And thrives. And blossoms. And possibly sends out to another neighborhood with no body of believers.

Eliminating Disability and Genetic Defects

By Monday, March 5, 2012 0 0

This blog is not a soapbox, and I intend to keep it that way. The majority of my readers probably think and feel the same way I do, and I hope I am able to put into words our thoughts, and horror, with grace. For my readers who might disagree, I plead with you an open mind.

This is not about choice. It’s about Truth.

Last night I watched an ESPN story about Kyle Maynard, who is missing all four of his limbs due to a birth defect. He’s an athlete (a Crossfit gym owner and a mountain climber!), a motivational speaker, and a loving family man. But, like many people with disabilities, he struggled to find kindness and acceptance from others while he was growing up.

At the same time, here’s a story entitled, “Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say” about a couple of scientists who make the argument for infanticide (for any reason) in the Journal of Medical Ethics. (ETHICS!)

John Knight’s blog The Works of God has covered the story and the horrific response the scientists have received from some people very thoroughly and graciously. It’s interesting to me that he points out (as does the Journal, in its hasty reply) that the argument for infanticide is nothing new, and in fact occurs legally (or at least without punishment) in the Netherlands and China.

People are outraged. I am outraged. And I am deeply disturbed by the blatant disregard for human life and the ease with which these scientists speak of what cannot be called anything except murder, simply in the name of science.

But I am not surprised.

Abortion never, under any circumstances, would have crossed my mind. I don’t say this proudly, but with gratitude to the One who gave me life and has, in His limitless grace, allows me to believe in His sovereignty with such passion that I would not question the child He gives me, disabled or otherwise. I actually believe I would rejoice in it (not every second of every day, probably). And I am reminded to rejoice, then, in all the challenges I will face as a parent.

The world has a pro-abortion response to all our arguments on behalf of unborn children. Ad nauseum they tout a woman’s “choice.”

What of this argument on behalf of born children? I desire that my children will not only understand and accept disability in others, but celebrate and rejoice in it. God knows best. I want them to believe that from the top of their heads all the down to the depths of their souls. If all their potentially disabled peers are aborted (or, now, killed upon birth?), how will they learn? With all the anti-bullying activism right now, one would think that people want such acceptance and respect for people with any kind of difference. Abortion proponents say that of course they value life (whenever it actually is life, which gets later and later, it seems). Do living people have a right to believe they have a right to be alive? The message sent to the disabled is that they never should have been born.

And, eventually, if enough people believe that, there won’t be any kind of limit on when a life can be ended.

(Desiring God offers a way to remember and fight this battle (which is not of the world!) in the post, “Tell Your Children What Hitler Did.“)

The Ancient Hawaiians

By Friday, November 18, 2011 1 0

Today at Caffé Ladro, Susanna and I sat next to Tom. Our conversation led Tom to tell me a story about when the first Hawaiians came to the islands. At first, only men came with tools, plants, chickens and other things necessary for settling. When they went to fetch the women, they didn’t bring any children or pregnant women because it was too dangerous. Now, ancient Hawaiian lore speaks of a “period of great sadness” among the first Hawaiians while they waited for children to join their society.

In America especially (possibly exclusively), children are not very highly valued. They are looked at as inconveniences, interruptions. As Chris and I navigate parenthood and resist the temptation to go along with the world’s view, sometimes we have to fight for joy. But Tom’s story made me think.

Can you imagine a society without children? It would be incredibly depressing.

Tom, a single man with no children, commended me for bringing Susanna into the world and for bringing her out to the coffee shop. When I responded to his story that I had never thought about the important role children play in society, he said, “perhaps that attitude has something to do with why we are not living our lives the way maybe we should be.”

Wow.

How I wish I had picked up on this opportunity to share the Gospel. On the way home I thought of so many questions I could have asked Tom that would have led to a spiritual conversation. Who knows? Maybe Tom was looking for a way to share the Gospel with me (though based on my usually-correct perceptions, I doubt it).

I am going to pray for Tom. Maybe Susanna and I will make Caffé Ladro a regular place to wait for nap time, and God will give me another opportunity to chat with Tom.