Posts Tagged ‘missions’

Divine Narcissism

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

If the glory of God is the driving force behind missions, is God a narcicssist?  God desires (hopefully as do we all)  that there be a worshiping people before his throne from every tribe, tongue, nation and people (promised by Rev 5:9 and 7:9). John Piper has been one of the most vocal proponents that God is fully deserving of this glory from all. Missions involves gathering together worshippers so he gets more glory.

But for others, God’s concern for His own fame and glory seems to be “vain and egotistical”.  Paul Copan tries to answer this question in an article, Divine Narcissism, in Philophia Christi (8:2:2006), “Why does God desire for us to worship, praise and glorify Him?  Why is it wrong for us–but not for God–to be so self-preoccupied?”

His article is subtitled “A further defense of God’s Humilty”.  Valuable thoughts for anyone with a passion for the glory of God.

Copan says that God should not be thought of as proud.  “Rather, he has a realistic view of himself, not a false or exaggerated one.  His view of himself isn’t distorted or unnecessarily lofty. He is God, after all!”

Speaking about praise, Copan  says,  “Praise is called for by creatures caught up with God’s greatness, power, goodness and love.  Praise is the climax of realizing God’s excellencies, and creatures fittingly erupt in praise, spontaneously beckoning the rest of us to do the same. ”   Amen and Amen!

Top Ten Myths About Missions

June 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Spent some time roaming around missions catalyst and here are two articles you may want to look over.  Published in 2008 but I think they are still relevant.

First four myths

  • Myth #1 – Only Extraordinary People Need Apply
  • Myth #2 – Missions Means Going Overseas, Planting Churches
  • Myth #3 – Non-Christians (Especially Muslims) Are Hairy, Scary Meanies
  • Myth #4 – It’s All about Money

Last six myths

  • Myth #5 – It’s All about Meeting Needs
  • Myth #6 – It’s Just One More Thing
  • Myth #7 – It’s All Missions
  • Myth #8 – All Mission Effort Has the Same Strategic Value
  • Myth #9 – God Only Uses Americans and Other Westerners
  • Myth #10 – God Has Given Up on Americans / Westerners

Short-term Missions

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Ethnocentric thinking about Haiti

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

In an article, Theyr’e Not Us, Roberto Carlo expands our understanding about the disastrous attempt of well-meaning Christians who tried to rescue 100 Haitain orphans and bring them back to America.  Sigh!!!  He goes on to describe other ill-fated attempts of missionaries to help.  His conclusion for success in mission endeavors: “That requires doing something that most Americans are terrible at: seeing ourselves and our history as the rest of the world sees it, never mind taking it seriously.”

What Carlo describes in this article is ethnocentric thinking–an assumption that our way is better, resulting in a lack of respect for people in their own context and an inability to see how God is already at work.  I understand that people “just want do do something to help” but in too many cases, that help makes things worse in the long run.

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own.

Ethnocentric: characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior.

Missionary conversations: part 4

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

photo by gerard laurenceau

Some common grief phenomena experienced by missionaries upon re-entry to their home country

S: . . . so I guess the sense of loss is kind of different to say when we leave Australia. When we left Australia . . . to go overseas because we knew that we would see basically everybody again when got back, but leaving [host country] to come back home, then (pause) really it’s a probably won’t see you again sort of goodbye, . . . I guess that sense of loss in some sense is more acute for me.

J: I heard one other missionary on home leave . . . who felt like a dried up raisin. . . . And I thought that was very, very good—lost juice. You were all there but just dried up.

C: . . . there’s, there’s a real sense of not really belonging, whereas in the place where we worked we had very close friends of many years.

H: . . . you know I get really, excuse the French, but I get pissed off that people are so stupid here [in Australia] and so short-sighted.

A: I think…buying a house and setting up a house sometimes has been a bit overwhelming in seeking to make the right choice

N: [I have] basic struggles with nuts and bolts of getting around and to help the children settle better.

F: . . . just sitting on the verandah and ignoring all the mess inside . . . and the feeling that we were home . . . and the feeling of well-being that that gave me.

From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009

Missionary conversations: part 3

February 6, 2010 Leave a comment

More conversations with missionaries about what what happened when they returned to their home country.

Loss of Control

N: I guess it’s . . . not having an environment where you know and understand and have some control over what’s happening . . . that’s all become incredibly wearing and tiring.

S: It [loss of a family relationship on re-entry] was completely outside of the control that we had. . . . I guess it’s really quite a shame.

B: . . . in one sense you’ve got a bit of disappointment because we left sooner than we wanted . . . so there were things on the field that we hadn’t got done before we left.

J: I have just had to say, “God I just can’t do this [care for children in different locations], you know, I don’t have control over this, I’m just going to have to let you . . . be the boss there.” . . . He’s come through every single time (laughter). Does that make it easier for next time? Not always.

From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009

Missionary conversations: part 2

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

More conversations with missionaries regarding the losses incurred on their return to their home country.

Vicious loss cycles—Vicious loss cycles occurred when the primary re-entry losses led to secondary losses which aggravated the primary losses and were associated with a breakdown of balance in the participants’ lives.

N: . . . as we focus on the situation of settling back in we have countless decisions to make in a relatively short period of time. . . so that in itself is very wearing and means that isolation and lack . . . of people to confide in makes all those decisions more difficult.

F: And it [illness on re-entry] was partly due to ongoing stresses when we came home added to all the other things, which I really haven’t had time to process.

For N, multiple re-entry losses, including lack of support, led to multiple decisions with loss of energy which aggravated the initial losses and resulted in an imbalance between the demands and his ability to respond. For F, multiple re-entry losses led to lack of balance in her time to process these losses which had negative physical, mental and spiritual changes which then led to further loss.

From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009

Missionary conversations: part 1

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Listen to some missionaries talk about social losses they experienced when they returned to their home country for home assignment (furlough)

N: I found very much coming back to Australia there, there really isn’t the social network that we fit into at all … We’re in transition from being people who were supported within the church organization and in a very special way and now have ceased our official and formal arrangement with our, our sending organization, there really are very big gaps in the group of people that we have around us, the group of people that we knew for instance. We have people that were very much our friends many years ago and for a whole range of reasons are, are much more distant. . . . There’s an overwhelming sense of isolation.

T: They [the community] just think it was a great experience and a great adventure. So, yeah I find that a bit hard, it’s sometimes quite hard to explain it to people. . . . ’Cos they just don’t quite get it and you don’t want . . . to put people down and make them feel silly for how they perceive it, so . . . they’re right, in that I guess it was a great experience and adventure, but that wasn’t all that it was.

B: The people who we were relating to are now someone different, who thinks differently, and operates differently and . . . and that’s taken a bit of getting used to.

G: . . . it’s [role change] going to take a while longer to work out, you know; whether they’ll [the organization] (pause) . . . feel like I can be of any use for anything. I don’t know.

From “Back Home: a qualitative study exploring re-entering cross-cultural missionary aid workers’ loss and grief” Published in Omega 59:1 2008-2009

A Prayer of a Missionary Parent

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I have no idea where I picked this up but it is good for any of us in ministry that get our priorities mixed up.  I am grateful for all the forgiveness my children have extended to me as it has been needed.  Formatting is not quite right.  Too bad.

prayer2Father forgive us.

For in the name of service to you

We have built warm relationships with those we minister to, with our supporters.

But have allowed distance, coldness…
to seep into our relationships with our children;

We have believed in the myth of “quality time” and sometimes forgottenthat our children, especially our teenagers, need us-need quantity time.

In the name of Christian excellence-for we are leaders, are we not;
we have placed intolerable burdens on our children,
forgetting you said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We have allowed music…earrings…clothes…grades…
to blind us to their hearts

Yet we are deeply grateful you do not judge us by externals,
nor deal with us as our sins deserve;

We have treated our children with distrust because they have failed once?…twice?…many times?
wounding their spirits
maybe quenching the spark of desire to change.

Yet you continue to trust us and use us
after a myriad of failures…and broken promises.

We have basked in your grace freely poured out to us, Yet have sometimes doled it out to our children
in drops…in spoonfuls…maybe cupfuls.

We have sometimes seen rebellion in our children’s faces,
heard it…we thought…in their voices,
when in fact it was pain…confusion…maybe anger.

We have not looked long enough into their eyes to see the tears waiting to spill over nor listened carefully enough to hear the longing

sometimes barely a whisper

to be all God wants them to be.

Yet, Father, we know we are weak and we run to you,
knowing you love us just as we are.

Maybe we are afraid to see what lies in our children’s hearts
for it may give us a glimpse
of pain…confusion…weakness…that lies in our own.

O Father, we need you.

Forgive us…heal our brokenness.

Give us your eyes…your ears…your heart.

Help us to tread gently, lovingly, graciously, on the soil of our children’s lives
knowing that you are already there,
and always will be.

Home Field Advantage

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Found the following on Brigada backpage  2009/06/28 I have copied it entirely (stadium picture is my addition)

I’ve always been fascinated by studies on the concept of motivation Take “home field advantage” or “HFA” for instance. A 2006 study by The Times, a daily national newspaper in the UK,  found that in the highest league of soccer teams in England (the English Premier league), a home team can expect to score 37.29% additional goals than an away team. In another study (reported in the Journal of Sports Sciences) of teams in the same league, a researcher looked at over 5000 games between the years 1992-2006. He found a statistical correlation between the size of the home crowd and its corresponding impact on HFA. In other words, for every additional 10,000 people attending, home field advantage increased by 0.1 goals. Bottom line: According to these and other studies, there’s an advantage to playing at home.

home field advantage Which is one thing missionaries rarely get to do.

Think about it: They have to travel far away. They leave their own farms, beds, pets, vehicles, and their favorite home-cooking. They say goodbye to friends, extended family, and favorite hobbies & recreation. In place of all these and other items, they have to pick up a foreign language, drive a foreign car, eat foreign food, and find foreign addresses to meet with foreign people who dress in foreign clothing and view life through a foreign worldview.

Where’s the home field advantage in all that?

If missionary life is similar to soccer, there’s a strong chance they’ll score fewer goals. No wonder we have unreached people groups.

Does that mean we should fold up shop and quit doing missions? No way.

Instead of competing for goals in the back of a net, we’re wrestling with Satan for the souls of people we’ve come to love and respect. Missions is certainly worth the investment — and as every “visiting” soccer team knows, it’s still possible to win those “away games,” if we prepare thoroughly, follow our game plan closely, and never, never quit.

So how ’bout you? Have you ever felt like you were playing an “away game” on the mission field? If so, please share your testimony, insight, or suggestion.

Feel free to make comments here but as I said, this was from Brigada and they might like to hear from you as well.


A poem from a (tck) third culture kid

March 31, 2009 3 comments

Someone sent us this poem not too long ago and maybe it will help all of us to understand ourselves if we are tcks or if we are trying to understand others who are tcks.  Written by a high school senior.

America; Foreign Home

How could I tell them?
They would never understand…
That my heart and life are split in half,
Yet each bleeds into the other side, undefined.

They know not the side of me that belongs across the sea.
They only know what the eye can see; the American inside of me.
And yet this American is tainted, stained, infused
With the chaos, the wonders, the essence of her other home.

My people have not known what it is like to save a child from the streets.
My people have not known the abject poverty, the smell of disease.
They have not heard nor seen the vain, desperate cries to empty, ugly gods.
It is not enough to show them our pictures or see a video. It is not enough.
They simply don’t get it… Until that same voice pricks their hearts.

All the dinners, all the fellowships, all the talks
With all the average people in all the average churches
It wears one down to explain over and again that
America has now become the foreign land.
The awkward silence ensues, and they serve more food.

Because they don’t understand this foreign land, they don’t understand the foreign me.
I’m too foreign to be American, too American to be foreign.
I have become a puzzle-piece, with ever-changing, ever-morphing sides.
With some I do not fit; the kids in the States would never match my sides.
That is sometimes unbearable; sometimes freeing.
Sometimes both at once.
Maybe I have the worst and best of both worlds.
I will keep searching for my niche; for I know that my misshapen heart
Will always have a home no matter where I go…
Home is in following Him.

Bangalore, India
Sept. 2008

Are we lacking a sense of urgency?

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Transparency, action, sense of urgency.  Sounds like words that should describe the church in our mission!!  Have we been lulled into complacency as those apparently were in Mumbai?  Might we as the body of Christ need to take heed of the following words that came out a recent conference in Delhi? Not that I want us to come across as a right wing militant church.  Indeed, our enemies are not flesh and blood but the spiritual forces in the heavenly places.  Read Eph 6 and John 8.  Bold print from me.  Source from William Katz at Urgent Agenda

Sec of State Rice held a joint conference with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi earlier this evening. The part that jumped out to the media on their endless “Breaking News banners” was this statement: “What has to happen is there has to be a real sense of transparency, real sense of action and real sense of urgency because these are extremists who have the same intention and same goal, and that is to terrorize and send messages to states around the world.”

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Hudson Taylor on self-denial

August 24, 2008 Leave a comment

This is part of a longer paper on the spirituality of Hudson Taylor which I just posted.

If the only qualification for being a mystic was self-denial, Taylor would have qualified! Taylor often wrote about self-denial, “The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will.” (Union) Self-denial was the way the disciple could show his love for Christ and his high value of the Cross. (Separation) Steed quotes Taylor as saying, “Is anything of value in Christ’s service which costs little?” (Man 282) Whenever personal, family, church or even mission interests came above those of Christ, Taylor identified this thinking as “earthly or sensual, if not devilish.” (Psalm) Taylor did not inflict self-punishment on himself (as some of the extreme mystics might have done) but self-denial did bring joy to Taylor, “My experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.” (Retrospect)

For Taylor, self-denial was necessary for the disciple if the missionary task was to be accomplished. Without self-denial, the lost would likely be neglected.

How sadly possible it is to take delight in conferences and conventions, to feast on all the good things that are brought before us, and yet to be unprepared to go out from them to self-denying efforts to rescue the perishing; to delight in the rest of faith while forgetful to fight the good fight of faith; to dwell upon the cleansing and the purity effected by faith, but to have little thought for the poor souls struggling in the mire of sin. (Cross)

China could only be won by men and women willing to sacrifice all. (Man 211) Taylor was not afraid to communicate to prospective missionaries about the necessity of self-denial to be a CIM missionary. “If you want hard work, and little appreciation of it; value God’s approbation more than you fear man’s disapprobation, if need be, to seal your testimony with your blood . . .” (Ibid. 260) For Taylor, self-denial was an essential element in his own spirituality, believing that it would bring glory to God. “May GOD work in us, and we work out in daily life, not self-assertion but self-denial – not ease and honor seeking and right-maintaining, but right-abandoning and cross-taking – and this for the glory of His own holy Name.” (Cross)

Cost of Ministry

June 22, 2008 1 comment

A few months ago, a friend of mine read a quote out of John Goldingay’s little (159 pages) book, God’s Prophet, God’s Servant. He gives some pithy reflections on Jeremiah and Isaiah.  Finally read his first chapter this morning on “What being a prophet costs”, using the example of Jeremiah.  As a missionary, I need to hear these words!! According to Goldingay, if we are to be in ministry, we must be willing

1. To stand alone

We should be “. . . willing to stand alone, to cope with isolation, opposition, betrayal, and attack, even from those who ought to be most loyal to him.” 18

See Jeremiah 11:1-12:6; Mark 6:4

2. To have no private life

“He had no freedom to make his own decisions about how he lived his life; indeed he was forbidden the life of a normal human being.” 22

See Jer 12:6; 16:2-9

3. To be as hard as a rock outside even while you are being torn apart inside

“Jeremiah here appears as a man who can be hard as a rock when he is under huge pressure to change his stance and modify his message.” 24

See Jer 19:14b-20:18

Jeremiah’s experience in ministry is an experience of crucifixion, says Goldingay:

“Indeed, arguably, it is at these moments of crucifixion that Christian ministry is at its most authentic, its most distinctive.  For that was how it was with Jesus, and that is how it is with the person who follows Jesus.” 30

Goldingay ends his chapter referring to 2 Cor 4:11( Jeremiah, he says, is the 2 Cor of the OT) and concludes,

“There is a cost involved in being a prophet, in being a servant of God.  There is a cross involved.  We do not have to hide from this fact with glib talk about life being a challenge.  Because God promises that as we carry the cross, we can also reveal his glory. ” 30

I wonder why we neglect to mention the cost of ministry in our desire to get more workers out to the field?


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