A reflection from a yesterday in Akisan, Uganda:
Today was positively exhausting. After an hours drive into the backwoods, I taught the History of Missions/Missiology course from 10-2, broke for lunch, and then taught an Pastoral Ministry class from 3-5. We discussed everything from stone worship to polygamy. The pastors were very engaged, took notes, and asked questions. Half of them didn’t have Bibles in their own language (Ateso) so Justin took a 3 hour roundtrip motorbike to the closest city to get 50 Bibles.
Receiving Bibles for the First Time
When it came to time to distribute the Bibles, people rushed the front jostling for a copy. We didn’t have enough for everyone, but those that received them were very grateful. One 80 year old man, Amos, had asked for a Bible the day before. When I gave it to him he was overjoyed. When we stopped at a trading post on the way out, and there he was on his bicycle, reading his Bible with another man.
We got out at the trading post and went up to three cement rooms with bamboo mats, where 30 orphans sleep. They asked us to help feed them, provide clothing, and education. Many of the children have been displaced from an insurgency in the area a decade ago, losing their parents in the killings. Some lost their parents to AIDS or malaria.
What would it look like for ACL to respond to these needs? How can you help? There are already three more tribes that want us to come and start more theological training centers. The women begged us to do a womens conference. Opportunities are ripe for mission. Search your heart and ask the Lord
Thank you for your partnership in the gospel, ACL!
Myanmar is a nation of contrasts. In many places children live and grow up without any opportunity to receive an education whatsoever. It is ironic that if you go into any market it is not difficult to find people selling produce who have studied to degree level but they can’t find well paid jobs with qualifications.
Add to this reality that many of the peoples of Burma have been run out of their country, persecuted, and forced to flee into neighboring countries like Thailand. Sadly degrees obtained in Myanmar are not accepted anywhere else but in Myanmar. Refugees from Burma often can’t obtain a work permit. Well educated and trained people are forced into subsistence living. As you can imagine, they find very little hope! – (adapted from a missionary who works in Burma and Thailand)
FYI: We have Burmese refugees right in the city of Austin. You can do something about this now, here! They need old computers.
- Consider joining a team of people that can go to address these problems long-term. Of all people, Christians should be at the forefront of these issues!
- Pray that those in authority will not feel threatened by the people but learn how to use their greatest resource for the benefit of the country.
- Pray for those unemployed or doing menial jobs after spending years in education. Pray that in their depression they would not grow bitter but seek after the one who brings meaning, hope and purpose to life.
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Read more about the Shan peoples of Burma here.
Just how global does the North American missional church need to be? After all, the center of global Christianity is no longer in the West. Should we rely on receiving missionaries from Africa and Asia for a season, instead of pouring out resources beyond our boundaries?
Shockingly, 80% of deployed missionaries are sent to already evangelized areas. Roughly 30% of the global population is unevangelized and largely untargeted by so-called missional churches. This amounts to about 1.6 billion people not hearing the gospel in 38 different nations. There are still at least 13,000 unreached people groups and millions of people who have not heard a first proclamation of the gospel. In light of these statistics, just how missional is the missional church movement? Can you be a missional church and not engage the global missionfield?
- Consider 5 Reasons why your so-called missional church may not be doing global mission by Ed Stetzer.
As a church planter, it can be difficult to find time to read good academic missiology. With the surplus of half-baked missional ideas floating around the blogosphere, we can get tripped up on digesting statements that have very little support or merit. I hope to avoid making these kind of statements and posts. There is, however, a place for winsome dialog about planting best practices, church methods, and preferences. My Tools for Missional Church is an attempt to contribute in this way.
However, I find that my passion, insight and practice are most helped by reading deeply. Fortunately, I’ve had time to read some good missiology lately. Naturally, I have drifted to my missiological mentor, Dr. Timothy Tennent now President of Asbury Seminary, and to his mentor, Dr. Andrew Walls, “the most important person you don’t know”. I have the good fortune of reading an advance copy of Tennent’s Invitation to World Missions: A Missiology for the 21st Century (Kegel, 2010). In this work Tennent outlines Seven Mega Trends affecting missions in the 21st century. These 7 trends reflect major shifts in Global Christianity that must be addressed theologically and practically. Tennent does just that, drawing from his rich understanding of church history, theology, and missiology. The 7 Trends are:
- The Collapse of Christendom
- The Rise of Postmodernism
- The Collapse of the West Reaches the West Paradigm
- The Challenging Face of Global Christianity
- The Emergence of a Fourth Branch of Christianity
- A Deeper Ecumenism
How we engage and address these seven trends will inevitably shape the theology and character of Christianity and the advance or decline of the gospel in our context. Some books have been written on these Mega-Trends; however, the issues are proving increasingly complex, requiring more thoughtful reflection and attention. For instance, how does he re-centering of Global Christianity to the South and the East affect the way we think about missions and theologizing? For some great insight on this, check out Tennent’s Theology in the Context of Global Christianity. In the weeks to come, I will be blogging through some of these issues and look forward to some healthy interaction to learn and grow with you all.