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Posts Tagged ‘Mission’

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It’s almost that time of year. Well, we’ll need to celebrate Christmas first of course, but many Christians, young and older, students or GAPpers, early retired or really retired… will soon be thinking about a short term mission trip.

“I have a sort of love / hate relationship with short term mission trips,” I wrote a few months ago in one of many posts on short term mission.

I look out for blogs on this topic and Eddie Arthur is a regular writer who makes one think.

Eddie’s latest is published in Christian Today website entitled 7 Tips For Making The Most Of A Short Term Mission Trip.

  • Talk to your church leadership: Definitely do that!
  • Go with an organisation that you’ve heard of: Yep, there are some dodgy ones out there… so I’m told.
  • A word of warning: Read this one for yourself
  • Make sure they will look after you: “Going to Burkina Faso for a month is different from spending a week in Ibiza and it’s much more of a challenge,” says Eddie. He’s right.
  • Do no harm: You could you know – “It can be really exciting to go out to the developing world and help to build a new village school. That is unless you are the village builder, who has lost his income because he’s been replaced by a bunch of young Brits who are working for free…”
  • Have a break: Maybe a wee holiday before coming home…
  • Look for the seal of approval: A very important one – read all about it!

Before we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in 1988, I had never been on a short term mission trip. Could I count taking a school SU group away to Co Tyrone for the weekend or several years as a section leader of Newtownbreda CSSM or hosting a home Bible study group? Do they qualify as “short term mission”? What do you think?

For a number of years I was responsible for summer mission teams for Wycliffe UK & Ireland and I think we got it right in that these were definitely not “mission tourism” but experiencing and contributing to the long term task of ongoing Bible translation projects. An encouraging number of participants later joined Wycliffe long term.

I am retiring at the end of December, so I am unlikely to ever go on a short term mission trip, but well you never know… should I read Eddie’s article again?

Oh,nearly forgot! Check out Wycliffe’s options here

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Great idea! But there seems to be some disagreement about how...

Great idea! But there seems to be some disagreement about how to…

In Christian mission, you have three choices: you’re primarily a goer, you’re primarily a sender, or you’re primarily disobedient.

A few days ago, me old mate Eddie Arthur discussed the missionary saying which appears above in bold. Like many other “popular” missionary sayings, says Eddie:

…this is pithy, memorable and has a grain of truth in it. However, as with all of the others, I’m not entirely convinced that it is helpful.  [my italics]

He has a couple of comments to make:

Firstly, I’m not entirely convinced that guilt is a great motivation to anything in the Christian life. Saying that if you don’t do X you are being disobedient may well be true and it is certainly a classic strategy of many evangelical teachers. However, in my experience, saying this sort of thing just makes people feel bad and doesn’t do much to change behaviour. It is far better to demonstrate the joy, and privilege of being involved in mission work than it is to make them feel guilty for not being involved.

Next he takes a look at arguably one of the most abused verses in the Bible:

Secondly, the saying is all about going – something that isn’t actually central to the New Testament teaching on mission. I know that many people will want to point me to Matthew 28:19, where the text says “Go and make disciples” or something like that, depending on what translation you use.  The problem is, that in the original Greek, there is only one command in this verse and it isn’t “GO!” A better, but not very idiomatic translation would be “going, make disciples…” Essentially, the command is to make disciples wherever you are. Some people go to the far corners of the earth, others go to the office; but we are all called to make disciples.

And adds:

If you don’t believe me, read this.

I just did – and it’s a very clear discussion of why thundering the imperative “GO!” from the pulpit is not really what Jesus actually said to his disciples.

The rest of the post (and it’s well worth reading it all) discusses what Eddie thinks it really means to be a disciple of Jesus discipling others – and suggests a re-writing of the misleading bold statement above

“Serving Jesus by making disciples wherever you are is the greatest privilege you can have; you’d be daft not to do it.”

I like it!

If you are interested in helping every language group in the world get an accurate translation of Matthew 28:19 – and the rest of the Bible – check out Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland or search for the Wycliffe office where you live.

 

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mission-trip

I have a sort of love / hate relationship with short term mission trips.

Before we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in 1988, I had never been on a short term mission trip overseas. But should I count taking a school SU group away for the weekend or several years as a section leader of Newtownbreda CSSM or hosting a home Bible study group? Do they qualify as “short term mission”?

For a number of years I was responsible for summer mission teams for Wycliffe and I think we got it right in that these were definitely not mission tourism but experiencing and contributing to the long term task of ongoing Bible translation projects. An encouraging number of participants later joined Wycliffe long term.

I have blogged on this topic before, but what sparked this one was first my church mission coordination group discussing the possibilities for a group from my church to visit a couple that we support in Kenya and, in the future, another couple en route to Japan. And we’re thinking hard about how we do it. It will not be mission tourism!

And secondly there was Eddie Arthur’s recent blog which has the same title as this post. read on…

Yes, you read that title right. There is no such thing as short-term mission.

We could spend ages arguing about what exactly we mean by mission, but that’s not the point of this piece. Let’s simply look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

So mission is first and foremost to make disciples. It isn’t about making converts; getting people to raise their hands at the end of an emotional evangelistic talk. It’s about helping people to develop into maturing Christ followers who are living disciplined (the clue is in the word) lives. That is not a short term project, it can’t be done in just a few weeks or even a few months.

If this wasn’t enough, Jesus then tells us that we have to teach the new disciples everything he commanded us. That might take a little time, too.

So mission, by it’s nature, is a long term activity. There are no short cuts.

I particularly like this next paragraph.

However, just because mission itself is long term, this doesn’t mean that there is no place for short term mission workers. What it does mean is that short-term mission work must take place within a long-term framework. Short-term missionaries can bring valuable skills and manpower to bear at critical points in a long project. The key is designing short-term mission projects that support ongoing mission work.                  [Italics mine]

Eddie added a footnote. Well, he would; he works for Global Connections! But I thoroughly agree with his final sentence.

If you are interested in short-term mission, you should take a look at the Global Connections “Short-Term Mission; Code of Best Practice“. I would strongly discourage anyone from going on a short-term trip which does not adhere to these basic principles.

Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland is looking into new initiatives in this area but in the meantime see what might get you involved.

 

 

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“Selfish, unscrupulous and on the run from his brother whom he’d twice robbed, Jacob was not an ideal candidate for a special visitation from God and his heavenly companions – and yet that’s what happened!”  Fran Beckett SU WordLive 18 July 2016

As I read the passage from Genesis 28, I was struck by Jacob’s words when he awoke from his stairway to heaven dream encounter with God: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” I even added the words to my phone calendar for the next week. Too often I live my life and do my work with inadequate awareness that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing – God is in this place and in this situation. God has been encouraging me in spite of all my inadequacies.

First Steps
First Steps with Wycliffe
I get a buzz seeing people excited about bringing God’s word to others, how God leads them step by step. From January to July this year, we had five brilliant sixth formers from Coleraine, Ballymena, Limavady, Belfast and Newtownards on work experience with us.Three of them came to our First Steps day in February joining others exploring possibilities with Wycliffe. You can read about their reactions by going to www.nornirn.wordpress.com and search for “work experience”
Silhouettes with 2
As I write, Two Week Stint is happening in the South of France with four university students from N. Ireland attending. Three of them have been to First Steps and two did work experience some years ago. One of them, Caitlin, recently sent me this message:“It’s great. We just had 3 days of linguistics, which was fascinating, and now we’ve started on literacy. And it’s so pretty around here! So I’m having a great time.”

For all these whether still at school or at university or in work, we pray that God will guide them step by step in their walk with him.

Taking a Bigger Step
Our November newsletter had a picture of five silhouettes on a map in the office which reminded us to pray daily for new recruits. Two of those silhouettes now have faces as Rachel and Elaine were accepted as members in training with Wycliffe Bible Translators for overseas assignments in linguistics and Scripture use. Please continue to pray for the remaining three silhouettes to become faces.

Family Steps
On 28 February, my mother was admitted to hospital. She was quite ill for a time and is now in a nursing home needing full time care. My father has moderate dementia and has been in a residential home since late June. It has been a tough time for us and for my younger brother Alan. As I look back, I can say with Jacob, surely God has been in all these situations: in hospitals and care homes; with doctors, nurses, social workers and care workers; and some very civil civil servants.
Meanwhile Cathy and Doug have sold a flat in Aberdeen and are looking forward to moving into the first house of their own in September, while Stephen, Rachel and Ellie are expecting the patter of tiny steps, also in September.

Serious Step for John and Ruth
We plan to retire from Wycliffe Bible Translators at the end of 2016. We were accepted as members in July 1988, taught at Vavoua International School in Cöte d’Ivoire from 1989-1997 and have been in various roles with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland ever since. I am delighted to have worked with a great team in The Mount since June 2015 and look forward to hearing how God will use Ricky and Marlene Ferguson in leading a new team and building new relationships with individuals and churches.
We will be in touch again before the end of the year. As always we give thanks to God for all of you reading this – for your interest, generous support and prayers.

Next Steps in 2017..?
Who knows – surely the Lord will be in that place too!

Coming up soon…

Big events this summer
Look out for Wycliffe at New Horizon Coleraine 6-12 Aug 2016 and Bangor Worldwide 19-27 Aug 2016

Guest Bible Scholar training
Belfast 22-26 Aug 2016
Love the Bible? Think everyone should have it in their own language? You could help from home – contact Nev at nmccormack@wycliffe.org.uk

Kairos @ Belfast Bible College
Course in World Mission 12-16 Sep 2016 John is one of the teaching team
See Belfast Bible College website

Wycliffe:Live 2016

Wycliffe Live 16 a5poster#2

 

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messy-ch-pentecost

No, this is not another blog about another way of “doing church”!

It is inspired by the fact that I really enjoyed Eddie Arthur’s Pentecost post this morning!

Pentecost: Miracles Don’t happen

OK; miracles do happen – but stick with me on this one.

Sometimes the events of the day of Pentecost are presented something like this; the Spirit descended on the disciples, they reached out and preached in the streets in all sorts of languages, 3,000 people became Christians and the church was now a glorious multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual group.

That’s a great story; but unfortunately, the New Testament picture is somewhat different in a few crucial respects. Yes, the disciples rushed out and preached in all sorts of languages (or were understood in different languages) and many people became believers (the term Christian is not appropriate at this point in the story). However, as we saw yesterday, the people who joined the disciples were all Jewish, this was not really a multi-ethnic group.

Eddie goes on to emphasise the point that, as we read further in the New Testament, we see that the early church was just like all our churches – brilliant yet flawed.

Eddie concludes with the words below, but do take a look at the rest of his blog – more good bits in between.

Sadly, there are no miracles which will make the church more diverse; only the gritty work of sharing, learning, making mistakes and forgiving one another. It isn’t glamorous, but it is the way forward for the church in our increasingly diverse world…

Just one final thought; part of the problem of integrating people into the early Church lay in the fact that the Jewish people saw themselves as being better than others; a privileged race. We wouldn’t be guilty of that would we?

Wouldn’t it be great if Bible translators , in fact all sorts of cross cultural missionaries, could have their own mini Pentecost and not have to struggle to learn minority languages? But God doesn’t seem to work that way…

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… and setting the right priorities.

 

God of Mission

As I wrote last weekend, it’s not original. I like to give people these seven words and ask them to make a sentence… or two… or maybe more. Most sentences make sense, but I believe only one combination of these words is correct.

What would you come up with?

This blog is called John 20:21. That’s the verse where the resurrected Jesus walked through a locked door to say to a bunch of fairly frightened disciples:

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

God the Father had sent God the Son into the world as a human baby initiating a massive change in his relationship with the world and the peoples of the world that he had created. If we tie John 20:21 in with Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8 (not to mention many more references throughout the Old and New Testaments), we see Jesus initiating another new stage in which he gives his followers down through the ages an awesome responsibility! A responsibility to be totally involved in what God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are doing.

So what’s the answer to the seven word Mission Puzzle?

I was prompted to blog by another blog post entitled As the Father sent me written by Martin Lee (Executive Director of Global Connections). You can read more about Martin at the bottom of As the Father sent me. He starts like this:

Please help us in OUR mission – the cry of many mission agencies and committed missionaries. Evangelicals have always been and will always be activists. Yet it is so easy for the emphasis to be on my mission, my calling, my sending, my ministry and when this happens it should fill us with concern.

Does this fill you with concern? If you work for a mission agency or a church… have you ever been guilty of this possessive emphasis?

Have you got a sentence from the puzzle picture above that you are happy with? Reading Martin’s blog will certainly help!

After some references to early 20th century theology, you will find this…

God is a missionary God. ‘It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.’

And later…

We are called simply to be part of God’s mission as we follow Jesus who said: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church.

And he concludes…

UK mission agencies and churches probably need to think much more carefully about the key implications of their role in God’s mission. It is not about MY mission and the promotion of what we are doing, but the work of the Kingdom.

So I’m thinking where does the mission agency that I have been a member of since July 1988 fit in? Have I been guilty in my roles in mobilisation and church engagement of pushing Wycliffe’s vision at the expense of God’s mission?

While I’m sure I often got it wrong, I’m actually encouraged by a memory from the early 2000’s when we held a series of Vision Lunches around Ireland. More than once invited ministers commented that it was their first experience of being asked by a mission agency “How can we help you?”

Wycliffe Bible Translators exists to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language which speaks to their hearts

So how do we do that?

Well… since the God of mission has a church, Wycliffe’s aim is to serve the church, both in the UK and Ireland – and in the many countries where people groups still wait to receive God’s word in their heart languages.

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A Mission Puzzle

 

God of MissionIt’s not original – although the photo is – but I like to give people these seven words and ask them to make a sentence… or two… or maybe more.

Most sentences make sense, but I believe only one combination of these words is correct.

Have a go.

In a couple of days I’ll blog on this topic again inspired by a blog I read last week

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