Blog

While we continue to heed the theological caution of the Reformers as they faced the Islamic faith on the borders of Europe, we need to seek new opportunities to engage with our Muslim neighbors.

May 26, 2015 0 2 comments
Blog

Work of the devil? Work of the Triune God? Work of angels? Work of humans? Touchable? Untouchable? Genius in its composition? A disordered work of fiction? These are no new questions for the Christian who would approach the sacred text which Muslims describe as "noble" "unchanged" "final" and "...

May 24, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Not long ago, the leader of a large school of missions said, "We view all missions' practice through the lens of the social sciences." Knowing the context in which this was spoken would tell this observer that:

The social sciences like anthropology and sociology are becoming the main...

May 9, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

On May 24, churches around the world will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. What is the connection between tongues of fire and mission work? Keep reading to find out!

April 29, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

Learn how World Renew & World Missions are responding to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

April 27, 2015 1 2 comments
Blog

Prizing earthly comfort drives us to selfishness, cowardice, and apathy. When we seek comfort, we fail to trust that God will provide for us even when we personally dislike our circumstances.

April 19, 2015 3 2 comments
Resource, Article

Check out the Youth Ministry section for an interesting and timely series on short term missions!

April 14, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Come learn from Dr. Atef Gendy, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, who will be at Calvin Seminary on April 19.

April 9, 2015 1 1 comments
Blog

Do we, as Christian Reformed folks, find our identity first in Christ or in our own traditions?

March 30, 2015 3 3 comments
Blog

Accad says: "....Your view of Islam will affect your attitude to Muslims. Your attitude will, in turn influence your approach to Christian-Muslim interaction, and that approach will affect the ultimate outcome of your presence as a witness among Muslims."

            The Lebanese scholar...

March 11, 2015 0 3 comments
Blog

The influence of youth in missions and development is often overlooked. But even though we aren’t making donations or writing books, young people like myself are doing big things.

March 9, 2015 4 2 comments
Blog

Greetings scholars of Christ:

         The Mormon man said to me, "All I want to do is to help the children given to you from the Heavenly Father to love Jesus." Compelling at first glance, but at a second look, a great challenge. The challenge is that he used Christian words, which...

March 4, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Learn more about World Renew's director, Andrew Ryskamp.

February 10, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource

In an era of growing tensions between religious communities, we are endeavoring to discuss peace at an event to be held at Calvin Theological Seminary on Feb 13. Join us!

February 4, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource

Check on the Deacons' page!

January 24, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

I was nervous about safety, travel, finding community, and other things, but, strangely, I was more afraid about raising support than almost anything else.

January 13, 2015 1 3 comments
Blog

When we talk about community development, what are we really saying?

January 7, 2015 1 2 comments
Resource, Devotional

Subscribe to the OSJ's Advent daily devotional to refocus on celebrating God's redemptive work and anticipating his second coming this season.

December 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

People sometimes wonder what percentage of their church's budget ought to be devoted to missions. Some statistics from other churches might be helpful in thinking about the issue.

December 15, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Deepening the relationship between your church and its missionaries may benefit from "being there." This article provides ways and means of making the most of a field visit for the benefit of your church and its missionaries.

December 8, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

One of the questions that churches are starting to ask is how we can dialogue with our Muslim neighbors in a way that is honest and faithful?

December 4, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? We are grateful for God's work in the Philippines this past year!

November 29, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

As Christians who have the orders to take the Gospel to every ethnic group on this planet, we might be well advised to understand some of the attitudes that we will encounter. As we encounter Muslim believers it would be wise to understand the Islamic doctrine of al-walāʾ wa-l-barāʾ. In a...

October 28, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog

193 riders making up 40 teams joined together for an autumn day of cycling in a collective effort for poverty alleviation. Sarah Williams, one of the riders, reflected on her experience riding with Sea to Sea...

October 25, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar will explore ways in which the church and its leaders can equip and encourage members to see God in their workplace and to live out their faith as Kingdom workers there.

October 15, 2014 0 0 comments

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Just to be fair, Jesus used some tactics not highlighted by this article, namely pointing out the woman’s sin [Jn 4.17-18], as well as denigrating her religious tradition [Jn 4.22].

The “dialogue” with others is fun and outright necessary. But eventually, pre-evangelism gives way to evangelism, and a definite truth must be passed from one to another. The Spirit decides whether that truth is received as “an aroma that brings life” or “an aroma that brings death.” [2 Cor 2.16] Let us enjoy pre-evangelistic dialogue, but use it for what it is: an exercise leading up to conveying the absolute, saving message of Christ crucified.

Interesting Greg.  I wonder how many from a Christian background are turning to Islam?  I have a feeling the numbers are large.

Your seventh recommendation is to embrace both truth and love simultaneously... which is good.  But to put it slightly different, without truth, there is no love.  And for the christian, to tell the truth without love, is not christian.

Maybe because it was published at 5 AM over two years ago, I missed this gem of a reflection.  My friend who wrote it should really go to work for a PR firm that specializes in glossing over things and putting on the best face, even while underneath the body suffers.

For us veterans of the - yes, fights - between these "sisters," this article just describes the present because the past has been so sad.  And the lack of real collaboration/coordination/cooperation on so many "fields" (following the lead of the home offices in spite of some very good attempts otherwise) has led to a paucity of results in too many places.  There are not many places where we can point to a thriving church with a holistic ministry where Word and Deed are a natural integral expression of what our theory is.  Why?  Dual agencies/administrations by nature replicate dual structures.  

In a couple of Central American countries the national Christian Reformed churches have practically no working relationship with the new model of going with NGOs as the preferred expression of the CRCNA there.  Please give a critical re-read of the paragraph "Do CRWM and World Renew work together?"  We are not surprisingly replicating our grand mistake of  allowing the divorce of 50 years ago to go on and on.  And my sense of things is that the boomerang of ecclesiastical history has come home to debilitate our whole bi-national denomination, as evidenced by the malaise and decline so lamented by many of us who did what we could to do it differently. 

thanks, Abigail, for this work with old colleagues!   I was one of those writers of dusty letters back in the late 80s,(yes they seemed dusty even while I wrote), and I remember that the fax was a new hi-tech development over there in Asia.Nobody dreamed of such a thing as email.  I really enjoyed reading your reflections on the boxes of correspondence.  

Abby, this is beautiful! Thank you for ensuring that these voices will not disappear.

Greetings Greg:

   As I read your post, I see that you are doing something that the Apostle Paul did as he "carefully observed" the practices of the Athenians in Acts 17. Careful observation is hugely important, and careful observation will lead to questions. As I carefully observed your post, I noticed a few things.

1. You seem to insinuate that a mosque is the Islamic equivalent of a church and an imam is the Islamic equivalent of a seminary grad. From an Islamic point of view, this is questionable. If you read the description of a mosque from the hugely influential Muslim named Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in his 2006 fatwa:

<<<<The mosque at the time of the Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] was the center of the activities of the Muslim community as a whole: it was not just a house of worship and prayer, but included worship, a university for science, a forum for literature, and a parliament for consultation ... it was used by delegations from various places in the Arabian peninsula to meet with the prophet [Muhammad], and it was the place where he gave his sermons and guidance in all religious, social and political aspects of life.

In the life of the prophet there was no distinction between what the people call sacred and secular, or religion and politics: he had no place other than the mosque for politics and other related issues. That established a precedent for his religion. The mosque at the time of the prophet was his propagation center and the headquarters of the state.

This was also the case for his successors, the rightly guided Caliphs: the mosque was their base for all activities political as well as non-political.

... Politics as a science is one of the best disciplines, and as a practice and career it is the most honorable. The surprising thing is that it is politicians, who are totally immersed in it [politics] from the top of their heads to the soles of their feet, who are inquiring if the mosque should embark on and leap into political affairs. Politics in itself is neither vice, nor evil, according to Islam. ... For Muslims it is part of our religion: doctrine and worship constitute a system for the whole of life. 

... It must be the role of the mosque to guide the public policy of a nation, raise awareness of critical issues, and reveal its enemies. 

From ancient times the mosque has had a role in urging jihad for the sake of Allah, resisting the enemies of the religion who are invading occupiers. That blessed Intifada in the land of the prophets, Palestine, started from none other than the mosques.  Its first call came from the minarets and it was first known as the mosque revolution. The mosque's role in the Afghan jihad, and in every Islamic jihad cannot be denied.>>>>

      So what is the bottom line here? The mosque is essentially the "mini-headquarters of a political-religious state" for the advancement of Islam in a given geographical area. This view is also stated by Sheikh Omar Bakri, principal lecturer of the London School of Shari’ah he lists in order the following functions of a mosque.

1. the headquarters of the Islamic State's supreme leadership

2. a section of the Department of Information and Culture

3. a Judiciary Court

4. a University for Learning and Teaching

5. a platform for oratory, eloquence and poetry

6. a place where war booties are divided

7. a detention centre for the prisoner of war

     If I have not persuaded you yet, the book The Mosque Exposed, by two former Muslims, Sam Solomon and E. Alamaqdisi will attest to the above. 

    Greg, your making "careful observation" in your honourable quest to be a good neighbour might need a bit of "careful observation."

2. Your title: Since you mention love and terrorism I wonder if you could ask your imam dialogue partner a couple of questions.

a. What does he think of the Qur'anic injunction to "prepare" in Qur'an 8:60 and its relation to terror..

b.  I also wonder what he thinks about Brigadier Malik's book "The Quranic Concept of War" with its bottom line "

Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only
a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into
the opponent's heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be
achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet
and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon
the enemy; it is the decision we. wish to impose upon him.  p.59

c. Does he see any connecting lines between the "time of terrorism" that you refer to and any kind of primary source documents?. 

 

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

Great observation. All to often we place the emphasis on the verb GO. Indeed the important point is to MAKE. Of course we do not make disciples by ourselves. That would certainly scare us. But we must be in the world and constantly ready to share the hope that is within us.

Bonnie, you are correct in that translation of the verb "to go" in Matthew 28:19. It's a participle that more describes how you are to make disciples rather than just going. It's a lifestyle rather than a sometime thing. 

Great points!  For some of us, its too bad we were not encouraged nor taught how to do that from the time we were children.  Never too late to start.

I am not a Greek scholar - but I once heard a pastor say that "Go and make disciples... would be better translated, "as you are going, make disciples ... " That makes sense to me, it's every Christian's calling.

Greg...

Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with supporting missionaries at home and abroad, especially now that they must do a lot more fundraising. The problem is that there are many who are more complacent to just give to missionaries than be one as well thinking they've met their responsibility which they are called to. Missionaries need our support and I gladly give to their work wherever I can both in money and in time. I think the word used now is "glocal"--be both globally and locally focused in missions. Hmmm... that might be my next blog post.

Hi Joshua,

I agree one hundred percent that the mission field is all around us and that we are to invite people into the kingdom - and live in a winsome way that draws them in. That is what Salaam Project is all about. But CR World Missions has survived for 125 years because people were also willing to give of their hard earned income and many have heard the Gospel because of it. So I would say yes, reach out to your neighbor locally, but if you feel called to support your missionaries through prayer and finances - go for it. Thanks for blogging.

Greg

Grove City is a nice place, and the college a good one.  (we have relatives there).  Enjoy, and blessings.

Abby,  Thanks for your work this summer. You did a marvelous job for the Global Mission Network page.  Steve

I've appreciated your articles, Abigail and hope to read more from you in the future! Many blessings in your studies this year.

Thanks for your good work. And for your enthusiasm about The Network site in general.

Yes, thank you Abigail. I look forward to working with you in the future.

Thank you, Abby! We have enjoyed having you in our office and look forward to your continuing service.

Thank you Greg for your exposition of Sharia law and the contrast with the law written on human hearts by the Holy Spirit and accomplished by His power.. Your points of explanation are helpful yet could be mis-interpreted quite easily.

For instance, it is important to stress that Muslims believe that they uniquely are "rightly guided." Yet the reality is that Biblically speaking, they are actually not. Biblically speaking they are in darkness.

The daily prayer called the al-Fatiah prayer prayed by Muslims asks that they stay on the right path--which is essentially what the Sharia is.  However, what you might easily have overlooked is that the assumption by Muslims is that theirs is the right path which insures blessings--and again Biblically speaking this is not so.

Rather the al-Fatiah prayer {Surah 1:6-7) reads اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ

Ihdinā ṣ-ṣirāṭa al-mustaqīm [English=Guide us to the Straight Path.
 صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّين Ṣirāṭa al-lathīna anʿamta ʿalayhim ġayri l-maġhḍūbi ʿalayhim walā ḍ-ḍāllīn [English =The path of those upon whom You have bestowed Your blessings, those whose (portion) is not wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.]

The classical Muslim exegete Ibn Kathir stated that those whose portion is wrath are the Jews, and those who have "gone astray" are the Christians. 

Thus the essential prayer which stands behind Sharia law, is a daily appeal not be be a Jew or a Christian.

Might it be an idea to look at the assumptions behind such Islamic ideas as the Sharia for the benefit of your readers?. Otherwise you might be saying far too little, and open yourself to the charge of being a witting or unwitting apologist for Islam.

Shalom

 

 

Thank you for all your comments. I am surprised that there aren't more but it is the summer.

First, let me reply to Joe. I read a lot of current affairs that use CE. I do not mean to make any theological statements by that.

Now to Harry. I am deeply distressed by events in Nigeria and the Middle East. We do need to be in prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted, forced to flee from their homes, traumatized. I realize that is is nearly impossible for Christians to live under IS. But I continue to believe that we should not judge all Muslims by these extremist groups, and in fact many Muslim leaders have denounced IS, Boko Haram and other groups using violent tactics that target minorities. We have to remember that much of the current violence is Muslim vs Muslim, not Muslim vs Christian. Before the current events in Syria, Muslims and Christians co-existed well - I know that from a Syrian Christian. My intent in this post was to compare Christianity to Islam, to help us understand why Sharia is important to Muslims and to show that in Christianity we have gone a completely different route - looking to the guidance of a living God and his Spirit rather than a codified law to guide us. In this the Anabaptist missionary and scholar Dr. David Shenk is my guide. His peace building focus is one that I hope we can all adopt.

Harry & Joe,

Greg works as the Project Manager for the Salaam Project, an initiative committed to learning how to better love Muslims in the name of Christ. This project takes God's call to love our neighbor very seriously--regardless of whether our neighbor shares our faith. Further, Jesus did not reserve his love only for the "good" people, in fact he often sought out the most wretched of sinners. We should absolutely be outraged and devastated about the violence in Syria, Iraq, and Nigeria taken credit for by Muslims, but that does not mean we should refrain from loving our Muslim neighbors. This may make them all the more difficult to love, but I also believe this then makes the Salaam Project all the more important.   

As Christians we ultimately desire that our Muslim neighbors will find the peace, joy, and hope that we have in Jesus, but we also take Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13 to heart, "the greatest of these is love" and understand that as Christians we must "love as he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Greg sheds light on parts of Islam that can help us to better understand our Muslim neighbors, especially when it is often difficult to comprehend their actions. However, he also points out in his closing that Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide us, which Islam lacks. How grateful we can be for a God who lives in our hearts and convicts us!   

Greg Sinclair seems so intent to get along with other faiths that he readily casts aside the traditional AD (Latin for Year of Our Lord) to refer to the destruction of the Jewish temple as 70 CE (common era). I wouldn't be surprised if Sinclair refers to the birth of Jesus simply as Xmas.     

I get the impression you are an apologist for the Muslim Faith. Until I see Muslim leaders as a group distance themselves publicly from the events of those 250 girls in Nigeria and from the establishment of a caliphate in Syria and Iraq which minces no words about their objectives, I fail to see the relevance of what you and the CRCNA are trying to do. 

I would refer you to the latest news letters from MERF as to the events in the Middle East.

I would think that is wise and good that our mission board has a CMT (Crisis Management Team) to give direction to and make decisions for our missionaries in times of crisis.  It is often difficult to be objective in such times.  And certainly objectivity is necessary.  Within a given crisis situation, one can easily think that God will take care of me.  But the reality is that Christians are no safer than anyone else if they do not take intelligent steps to be safe.  If you think that, then just stop taking a life saving drug that your doctor has prescribed and see where that gets you.  The same applies to the safety of our missionaries in crisis situations.  God has given us wisdom and insight for a reason.  And we should trust the insurances our denomination provides, such as the CMT.  Blessings to our team.

Thanks for this insightful blog. It's so much easier to concern ourselves with the kingdoms of this world and of our own lives, which are visible all around us, than to be completely surrendered to the kingdom of God, which is often invisible. May the Lord give us eyes to see his kingdom, where he is working, and hearts to follow him as King.

Very interesting point, Bill. Money is without a doubt a "king" for us as Christians. Love that verse in Psalms! If only we could put it into practice. 

The Israelites were never good listeners and neither are we Christians. As a cynic and pessimist I use worst case examples. Consider Psalm 20:7-8: 

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.

No nation has ever tested this verse by putting it practice. This goes in spades for the nation which put "In God We Trust" on its money. If we were honest we would use "In Money We Trust" on our money. It might strengthen the US dollar.

Great article!

Thanks for your reflections, Abigail.  In a way, you answered your concluding questions about what has served as "king" in my life and culture in the four "No, God!" statements you gave earlier in the article.  I counted the word "I" ten times and the words "me" or "my" fourteen times in those four statements.  I have too often served the king of self, which is also the biggest "king" in our culture.

Hi Lou,

The exciting thing is that churches have mostly responded very well in the past year.  Instead of keeping their total dollar amount the same and shifting it around, many have boosted their support significantly.  One church decided to increase their support of a CRWM missionary from $1000/year to $1000/month, fully meeting his goal for this year.  Another missions committee member told me he was upset with the new model and asked the team, "What are we going to do about it?"  They decided to boost their mission support budget by $6000/year.  If we are to move boldly into the future in obedience to the Great Commission, we do need to think through priorities.

For many years I had heard about a Presbyterian denomination in southern Asia that funded missions through a handful of rice taken from the bag for family use and setting it aside for missions.  I met the mission director and asked, "Is it true that people in your denomination do this every day?"  He said, "No, we do it at every meal."  In their poverty, they are totally committed to exalting the name of Jesus and willing to sacrifice to advance His cause.  The challenge to us as wealthy North Americans is clear.

Hi Steve,

This is where I mentioned on the Twitter feed that I concluded we were talking past each other.  I hear you speaking to the need for the denomination to stimulate the desire to serve in missions through a clear commitment to the life-changing, essential character of the Gospel.  "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).  We certainly do need to re-emphasize in our day of relativism and pluralism that the Bible makes all kinds of exclusive claims about Jesus.  This builds the desire to serve in Gospel proclamation at home and abroad.  

I was addressing the mechanism for getting those motivated people to their field of ministry, which hasn't been working very well for a quarter century.  These are exciting days on the deployment side because our change in support-raising paradigm means we can send more people, but all of us need to work at the stimulation side.  And, truth be told, many CRC people are serving in missions with a variety of other organizations who would have served with CRWM in the past.

 

 

Thank you for this, Steve.

There is greater depth to this than from what can be ascertained from a Twitter feed. I am glad that CRWM is able to use this model to free space for new missionaries as CRWM only sends missionaries as are able to be created. Your 'shrinking missions' fact is that of demand. This demand is not our want or desire to send missionaries-- of course we do, and the more the better. It's an issue of demand that is constrained by our ability to create the position.

My point of clarification, coming from someone who is say, younger. I think you were circling the camp with this sentence: "CRWM chose to keep sending sons and daughters of the Christian Reformed Church to serve God in missions." This is historically correct. I mentioned on social media that there is a vast contrast between missionaries then and missionaries now. The number of missionaries actively entering the field is an issue of supply. The CRC has not been doing the best job in this regard-- and this is an issue separate from financial status. This brings up orthodoxy-- strong conviction and belief. We are not raising up missionaries the way that we were because, in my opinion, we are feeding ourselves wishy-washy statements, unchallenging gospel truth, and lackadaisical doctrine. How are we to fulfill the Great Commission if nobody is telling me that we are to be salt and light to the earth? Or "because I belong to him, Christ... makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."

We ought to be wise builders who build on rock-- Not foolish builders who build on sand. Those creedal truths are our rock-- and as Jesus said-- we must both hear and put into practice these words. That's how you'll raise up a generation of missionaries.

My heart aches for CRWM and for our overseas mission staff as they deal with funding issues.

I recently returned from India where I was witness to incredible church growth. K.P. Yohanan's Believers Church plants 17 churches per day across that nation.

I attended a ceremony for a class of Bible College graduates. These were 20-year-old young men, many of them having grown up in the slums of Mumbai and elsewhere, who were new Christians and who were determined to return to their slum neighborhoods to spread the gospel.  They went through a two-year Bible College training program with the express purpose of church planting.

Each one of those 20-year-olds said that they would plant churches and preach the gospel until they die ... realizing full well that they may only live three or four years before they will be killed for their faith.

My point is this: Is there a simpler, more-effective way to train young men and women ... something that doesn't require four years of college and then seminary training with an MDiv at its conclusion.

The demand is incredible in India -- and around the world. These graduates feel the 'urgency' to get out and spread the gospel. They 'ache' for the lost.

The Christian Reformed Church -- especially our pew-sitting parishioners -- don't see that urgency. Their focus is on the plight of our overseas missionaries and their families rather than on the thousands of 'lost' they may reach.

Last night I attended our church's congregational meeting where we are looking at a $3.5 million 'renovation' to our church building. It will make our comfortable pews more comfortable. We have numerous churches throughout our classis -- never mind our denomination -- who invest millions in their own comfort, building their own 'kingdom' rather than God's kingdom.

That $3.5 million could fund a new church plant in our city, providing $100,000 in salary and support for the next 35 years.

We as a denomination have lost the sense of urgency when it comes to spreading the gospel.

"The mission....has been delegated to His Church."  When spelled with a Capital "C" this gets fuzzy, but insofar as a lot of reformed folk understand "denomination," the Church has dodged and a lot of congregations duck when approached.  Used to the paradigm of a missionary having to have 12 to 14 churches supporting them at anywhere from $500 - $2000 each, what does a congregation that has perhaps four or five missionaries do to "up" their amount to the necessary level?  The obvious choice to some is "cut some entirely."

This is yes, a pattern of quarter of a century, as is the decrease in membership.  That is the trend that so concerns me; I don't see enthusiasm for mission in churches that are not successful in local evangelism either.  God help us....

Indeed, it's spam. When that happens, you can just hit 'flag for review' and it'll be removed for review.

The sites above are advertisements for something and appear to have nothing to doe with the issue under discussion.

Wendy also presented a webinar on this topic in 2012. You can view the webinar recording and download a resources document here at Nurturing Generous Spaciousness: A Response to Gay Christians in the Church.

A very interesting discussion. As we continue to use language of inclusion and reconciliation, too often that discourse revolves around people of color NOT having resources, knowledge or means to witness the Gospel globally. The 'root' of race-differences is NOT necessarily economic. Rather the secular conversations about 'reconciliation' get tangled in our Christian language use and unfortunately quoting of Scripture is used to argue for or against 'in-Christ' brother and sisterhood. Our imperative should be to LIVE the Gospel at all times and in all we seek to witness for the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Hi Donna,

As Wendy mentioned, the finances of World Missions and World Renew are very different.  World Renew does not receive Ministry Shares, so the 50% decline in their purchasing power has not affected World Renew.  Also, personnel costs represent a much greater percentage of World Missions' budget.  World Missions also does not receive government grants.  All of these factors make gaining support for missionaries a much more important issue for World Missions.

Community CRC Announcement: We are excited to announce that the Go and Tell evangelism seminar by Pastor Jim Halstead is now available for free at www.fortwaynecrc.com Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others. The Go and Tell free resources (video, booklet, testimonials, etc…) have helped many to become equipped to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. For example, Karen thanked us after she took the Go and Tell seminar online, she wrote:

“Dear Pastor Jim, I want to thank you for sharing your website with me. I have listened to all sessions and have taken helpful notes! I have also fully investigated your website. You are certainly right when you told me you have the gift of evangelism. You have put together one of the most comprehensive, loving effective ways of evangelizing I have ever listened to. So many of the sources you have quoted from are wonderful but the way you brought them all together is a gift from God! My Bible study I attend has around 200 women and I cannot wait to take it to my leadership. Lastly, thank you for emphasizing not pushing a person into praying a prayer. I did the study of Follow Me this summer and I know that this can lead to false conversion. The F.I.R.E and L.A.W., the bridge and the Christian Wheel were very helpful. I am thankful for how you taught us to let the person pray their own prayer of repentance! I love letting the Holy Spirit do His work rather than me trying to mess up His work. Thank you and God Bless you. I look forward to putting into practice what I learned!”

To access the Go and Tell seminar online, go to www.fortwaynecrc.com and click on the Go and Tell tab. You will be able to access the Go and Tell videos, resources and testimonials. We pray that the Lord of the Harvest will use this material to raise up workers for the harvest field (Matthew 9:35-38).

Delighting in God,

Pastor Jim Halstead

www.fortwaynecrc.com

Church: 260-493-2398

There are a couple of thoughts I have after reading your post and the original that you referenced.

First, I don't agree with equating nonwhites with underprivileged. So that leaves us with two questions to answer as to why more ethnic minorities are not engaging with the denomination. #1, in our multiethnic congregations, is everyone given equal opportunity to join the short term missions teams? I would argue that yes, they are, because most of the churches I work with do fundraising as a congregation to support whoever wants to go, as long as they work on the fundraising too (make the pies, wash the cars, work at the dinners, etc.) #2, in our ethnic churches, are they uninterested in missions or just uninterested in going through our denomination? Is money really a factor? I tend to think not, because I have seen some incredible donations come through our ethnic churches after a disaster. So what is the real reason?

Setting aside the STM issue, let's talk about funding missions. This is actually something that affected World Renew's decision to move towards a country support approach rather than a missionary-centered approach. Many of our overseas staff are not from North America, or if they are, are not Christian Reformed. So they don't have their own church, Grandma and Grandpa's church, and their aunt and uncle's churches to get support. Nor do they have the social connections mentioned in the article you referenced. Yet, their stories are just as powerful, if not more so. One of our staff actually had someone come up to her after church and say, "this is the first time in my life I have heard an African woman talk about Africa." Of course, as the article mentioned, it is this pooling of resources that is possible in nonprofit organizations and denominations, not so much parachurch organizations. I suspect, though, that if the parachurch organizations were able to shift their fundraising strategies they could have a similar approach. 

There are two things that I suspect might be going on here, to use your terminology. One, there is a distinction between disaster response and community development. I believe that the staff who are working on long term community development are indeed missionaries, as they are working with churches and doing outreach. It is important to note that disaster response funds are NOT used for supporting long term development, which is what was described in this post. Secondly, depending on the country context, we avoid using the term missionary online (and sometimes avoid mentioning the country altogether). 

These two things would also make great blog posts as they deserve more in-depth discussion. 

I have a lot of respect for WR and am happily working closely with the international disaster response staff in Japan. I couldn't help but notice though the reference to supporting "missions" and "missionaries" in this article. It seems to me that WR has been very careful NOT to describe its work as missions or its staff as missionaries. So what is going on here? 

Yes! This is something that we had proposed for some of the new churches we were helping to plant in Cambodia, but there was little interest on the part of U.S. church planters. Of course this was some time ago, and perhaps it just wasn't promoted well. I would love to continue the conversation.

This is an excellent way to support missions! When I was a missionary on the field, I would have really appreciated a team emphasis by supporting churches rather than the pressure of being focused on as individual missionaries. It gives churches a much broader perspective of the work being done as well as the needs of the countries and their particular regions.  Would this strategy ever be considered as a means to support CRWM missionaries? 

Thanks for these insights, Wendy, as all of us who seek to support our CRC missionaries, both locally and globally, are searching for new paradigms to help the churches steward their resources well.  Your comment about local/global being a both/and solution made me wonder about a unique possibility:

What if a North American church plant was connected to a World Renew country due to similar characteristics?  For instance, there is a church planting/missional community in Denver that uses community gardening to connect with and disciple their neighbors. I'm sure there are places where World Renew is working with gardening in a community.  What if these were packaged together in a way that would be meaningful to both the ministries and the donors?

In this day of collaboration in the denomination Home Missions is looking for creative ways to partner with agencies like World Renew.  I wonder if this is one possibility?

There is a long history of working in the countries where we currently are. In 2009 we had to reduce the number of countries in which we worked because of budget considerations. It was a painful process, because we had to leave partners with whom we had been working for many years. In addition, we are always being asked to come into new countries. There are processes in place to help prioritize countries based on needs and opportunities. One of the considerations is whether or not there are other CRCNA agencies working there. The decisions are made by our codirectors, regional team leaders, and board.

As for the overlap question, I made a similar list a few years ago although it is now out of date. However, every country has an annual plan that includes a section on how they will work with the other CRCNA agencies that are in the country. I personally am more familiar with how CRWM and World Renew work together and less so with BTGMI. Perhaps that would make a good topic for a future Network post!

I hope that answers your questions, if not let me know and I will be happy to go into further detail.

Wendy,

This is very good summary. I especially like point 3 (the focus on a country as a whole). Apart from a specific calamity (to which WR has always responded very well) I wonder if WR should focus more sharply on fewer countries with great needs.  The Canadian government has such a list of 20 countries.

About a year ago I made a list of all the countries where the CRCNA was active (WM.WR.BTGMI). There were 49. Canada's list included 20 countries of which only 5 did not have a CRCNA presence. The overlap/or not, amoung the 3 ministries of the CRCNA was interesting.  Could you make a comment on that?

I think Bob Lupton's book, Toxic Charity, along with When Helping Hurts, from the Chalmer's Center, make very strong cases and compelling arguments for the need to change how we as Christians--at least in the U.S.--have engaged and continue to engage in the work of serving or helping others. Both also show that this change is needed not only because what and how we have engaged in helping or serving has not helped; it's also needed because all too often we have caused more harm than good to those we thought we were helping. What I appreciate about both of these books is that they also provide ideas and suggestions for changing how we help that benefits, improve and transform lives, relationships, and communities in ways that I think advance and more closely reflect God's reign. 

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