Resource, Lesson or Study
Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to share the gospel with others based on the Heidelberg Catechism. The Go and Tell seminar is now free online and includes the video, audio, power points, testimonials, and more.
June 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
This summer we'll be hearing from missionaries on home service about their call to missions, what life is like as field staff, and their ministries around the globe.
June 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Changes in the missionary support paradigm at Christian Reformed World Missions have created some controversy. A former missionary and current missions leader gives a personal perspective.
June 18, 2014 3 5 comments
Blog
Join World Renew for our inaugural online course! Beginning on July 7, you are invited to explore how to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself, based on When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.
June 13, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog
If it is more of a blessing to give than to receive, then if we truly love our neighbor we will allow her to give as well, we will not rob her of the joy in giving of herself to us.
June 12, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The gentleman and I chatted about politics, the majority religion here, self-appointed prophets, and the greatest question of all, namely 'Who is the living God?"

The gentleman tried to furnish answers from the Qur'an which talk about Allah as the "ever-living, and the sustainer of all...

June 7, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
Synod 1910 made some imaginative recommendations to the local church regarding missions. And today, more than a century later, we may take a lesson.
June 3, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet
A book by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter that encourages a new, "hope-filled, relational way forward for those in turmoil regarding a response to gay and lesbian Christians."
May 6, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
“I have a prayer request for you, will you commit this year to pray for God to answer this petition?” I replied, “On one condition.”
April 22, 2014 3 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording
This webinar will show how adding a FOCUS to your missions program can result in more people being part of the missions strategy and more effective ministry being accomplished.
April 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Last month, I had the priviledge of accompanying a work team from a church in Minnesota as they visited schools and churches in five communities in Guatemala. Three years ago they did an exploratory trip to these communities via Vid y Pampanos (Vine and Branches), a World Renew Partner in the...

March 14, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog
Brandon's idea of a responsible global citizen has much to do with being trustees of the biblical story and practitioners of the love of Jesus towards neighbor, friend, and foe alike.
March 13, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Last week, a colleague sent me a link to a blog post entitled "How Support Raising Keeps Parachurch Ministries White" (read it here http://ministerdifferent.com/support-raising-white). The piece contributes to ongoing conversations we have been having at the denomination's global missions...

March 5, 2014 1 3 comments
Discussion Topic

       " No issue in missiology is more important, more difficult, more controversial, or more divisive for the days ahead than the theology of religions.
This is the arena where differing truth claims among world religions challenge Christians to articulate their understanding of the...

March 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
What does it mean to be a responsible global citizen?
February 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

New Film From the Heart of Guatemala City

Through Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) and CRWM missionary Joel Van Dyke, the CRCNA supports Guatemalan leaders seeking to share Jesus' love and grace with at-risk youth in Guatemala City. In 2010 the film production company ...

February 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Recently Mary Dykstra (Global Volunteer Coordinator for World Renew) and I (Wendy) were interviewed for the Transformational Networks blog by Bethany Beachum (Nehemiah Center). Below is an excerpt of that interview. I invite your questions on the topic of global volunteers and partnership.
February 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
One of the kindest signs of community that we as a family have experienced in our Neland CRC congregation is the way the whole faith family contributes to an educational fund that helps parents meet the heavy tuition load while their kids are in school. In a similar way, I witnessed in November how the “Love Cambodia” congregation, one of World Renew’s local partners, blesses their surrounding communities. 
February 4, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Watching Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon. Lots of diverse people have become invested in the fortunes of the Crawleys: upstairs and downstairs. It occurs to me that one of the fundamental story lines in that series has important parallels to the future of Christian Reformed World Missions...
January 28, 2014 0 20 comments
Blog
In the mid 2000’s Christianity Today took notice of research by Calvin College Professor, Kurt Ver Beek, on the lower than expected benefits of sending volunteers out from North America. Ver Beek has lived in Honduras for 30 years and he was there for the duration of Hurricane Mitch (which took 14,000 lives in 1998). The North Americans who flew south to serve in the aftermath of the storm were his case study.
January 21, 2014 0 4 comments
Blog
In the world of missions, disaster response, and community development, there are a lot of organizations. A LOT. World Renew works in partnership with a lot of them. 
January 14, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog
In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, I challenged myself to think of 12 reasons to love Muslims. Here goes and we will see if I can do it.
January 6, 2014 0 20 comments
Blog
10. Getting Involved in Global MissionsThis post definitely has staying power! Written in 2009, it provides a comprehensive list of ways to get involved in missions, overseas and in North America. You'll also find links to helpful resources.
December 31, 2013 0 2 comments

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Hi Harry,  Actually, every congregation in the Christian Reformed Church received a report last September detailing the situation of the career missionaries they currently support.  It had figures on the individualized budget, support received in 12-13 and the goal amount for 13-14.  Many of our missionaries already have 15-23 churches supporting them.  We are really hoping that most missionaries will not have to take on additional relationships with congregations.  It would be better if current churches were able to evaluate their giving patterns and some (at least) would be able to increase their financial support.  If you, or others do not know what happened to your congregation's letter, please email me at svanzanen@crcna.org and we will get another copy to you.  Steve

Steve your comments about the options for CRWM might include sending a list of all missionaries by country to all churches with a cost for each country.  Then ask churches to commit to sponsoring missionaries in those countries with a certain amount.  The process might need to be formalized so that the commitments made can be met. But it would certainly involve the churches. At the CRWM you would need a template to help churches decide why they can or would support certain countries.

This is a very high level idea that would need lots of work.

When my wife and I felt called to missionary service in 1996 I went to my denominational agency, CRWM.  The staff tried to interest me in work happening in the Philippines, but our sense of call was to Eastern Europe, where communism had recently been dethroned.  It seemed clear to us that God was at work in a remarkable way in that part of the world at that moment in history.  CRWM had work in Eastern Europe, but in 1996, there were no positions available.  The financial struggles of World Missions had already begun a few years before that and new positions were hard to come by. 

So, following the advice of a recruiter for World Missions we discovered another agency which enabled us to follow God's call.  Because that parachurch agency does not have the blessing of Ministry Shares, we were asked to raise 115% of our actual costs.  The extra covered the supervision and support which the agency provided us.  We approached churches and individuals who knew us and explained that we believed God had called us to this work and prepared us to serve Him in that setting.  By God's Grace and through the generosity of many, our support network came together quickly. 

There were many blessings in this process.  We reconnected with old friends.  People showed amazing generosity.  They got in touch with the work of God in Eastern Europe in a deeper way as they prayed for us, which certainly is the lifeline of any missionary.  As we visited with churches on home service they were encouraged to see that God was at work even in the Old World.

Later, when we shifted from that other agency to CRWM and the support goal was lower, that was nice.  We were grateful for the role of Ministry Shares in reducing the challenge.  I understand the deep attachment that people have to our historic method of missionary finance.  However, with a 50% decline in the purchasing power of the Ministry Share dollars actually received by World Missions some hard choices need to be made. 

It seems that there are three basic options.  First, continually shrink the size of CRWM's mission force.  This is what we have been doing and don't want to do anymore.  Second, renew the Ministry Share system by having Synod request and churches give a continually growing amount of general gifts to World Missions that are not connected to a particular person.  Given the trends in our churches and the track record of the last quarter century, that doesn't seem very likely.  Or, third, recognize that our world and our denomination have changed and we will need to adapt to that change.  The higher missionary support goals are part of an overall effort to raise support for World Missions that includes direct mail appeals, connections to major donors, grant requests to foundations and work with those considering estate planning.  All of these efforts are necessary.

With Missionary Support Teams, The Veenstra Missionary Support Fund, assistance from staff and other resources, we believe that this change will result in the renewal of the CRC's mission effort, and that there really is no other realistic option.  No method of missionary finance is more important than the mission itself.

Wendy

 

Thanks for the reply. I will get the book.

Bill

As an agency, we also need to emphasize that partnership in the gospel is not limited to financial partnership, but also includes prayer and service.  In fact, CRWM has increased its number of volunteer missionaries over the last few years by more than 100%!  God is good.

 

Thank you for your comments, Steve.  I agree, North American churches are developing more of a missional focus, however I do not believe that a missional focus in North America should occur to the detriment of missions in and with the majority world.  If anything this should spur us onto a view of our role in global missions (local, regional, cross-cultural, and worldwide).  I pray that is what will happen as God's people are reawakened to prioritize Jesus' great commission from Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15.

Thank you Case.  We are not sure what will happen at this point either.  The impetus is on us to make this thing work.   We need to remember that we are all in this together and work to see God's kingdom advance as we each play our particular part in the one mission of God.  Again we very much appreciate you and pray God's blessing on you, your family, and the ministry to which He has called you.   Thanks again for your partnership in the gospel over many years.  

Bill,

You raise a lot of interesting points. I can't speak to how CRWM finances its missionaries as I am not familiar with the inner workings, but I'm not sure what you meant by "The financial condition of CRWM and CRWRC must be at least five years old." World Renew (formerly CRWRC) finances its missionaries very differently from CRWM, particularly because we do not receive ministry shares. Our staffing levels were reduced in 2009 but are increasing as donations permit.

As for your comment about whether the money being spent is effective, and why you might have experienced negative outcomes as a result of trying to help your neighbor, I suggest you read the book When Helping Hurts. It will explain why handouts often hurt instead of help. And makes a case for integrated word and deed ministries. There is also a webinar in the archives.

Thank you Joe for your comments I am encouraged that a board member is aware of the importance of people (churches) praying for us. For missions at home and overseas prayer is our lifeline! My understanding concerning teams to help us bring our stories is:  that is the function of the board and North American staff. I am also encouraged that I finally see an understanding of the problem I quote " I think what it does is sound the alarm to let the church know that its decisions regarding paying ministry shares, working to adopt missionaries to support, etc. have consequences.  I believe that if the need is properly communicated, as well as the vision for what God is doing in the world, the church can meet the need.  The resources are there, we just need to reconnect the church to the work being done.  We believe the 90% model will work best to re-establish that connection".  Joe, I am not convinced however that overseas missionaries should be the point of the spear in that endeavor. Blessings.

Could it be that part of the "problem" is that churches in North America are discovering that being missional means more than supporting missionaries in other countries? Conservative as well as liberal writers such as Michael Horton (The Gospel Commission), Alan Hirsch (Untamed), Lance Ford (The Missional Quest) and others have been reminding us that The Great Mandate is not just for countries far away, but also for our communities right around us. While we all appreciate and support the hard work of our overseas missionaries, we should be truthful and admit that it is easy to have the attitude of I've supported financially and even prayerfully so I've done my part to fulfill Christ's mandate for the church. I grew up in a missionary family and I married into a missionary family so trust me, I am aware of the difficulties faced by missionary families. I believe that while churches still desire to support our missionaries, we are also realizing that we need to be missionaries right here. As an example, for years our church supported 4 missionaries. Then we decided to support 3 missionaries and set aside the remaining 25% to support our members involved in mission causes. Since we made this change, a number of our members have experienced the joy of being a missionary.

Thank you to the Van Wyks (my wife's family served CRWM in Nigeria for many years) and to the many others who have sacrificed much in listening to God's call. I pray that, as a denomination, we can continue to have a strong presence of missionaries around the world. I also pray that, as local congregations, we will also be willing to sacrifice and to listen to God's call to be missionaries right in our own communities.

PastorCase I understand your objection, and I believe the analogy certainly falls apart if we think that CRWM missionaries are dependent on the good graces of the agency to continue in their kingdom work.  Nothing could be farther from the truth!  I think it is important for us to realize that missions is not now nor has it ever been the work of a few apart from the body of Christ.  In fact, the support of churches (prayer, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.) is of utmost importance and remains the gold standard even in the new support model.  Please allow me to explain.

Our hope is that more churches would join in helping our missionaries raise the support they need.  We see how it is difficult for missionaries to focus on both fundraising and ministry.  Therefore, we encourage missionaries to develop teams in North America (members from supporting churches, etc.) who can assist in telling the stories and raising support.  In no way should the 90% model be seen as the agency abandoning its missionaries.  If that happens, then shame on us (agency and church)!  I think what it does is sound the alarm to let the church know that its decisions regarding paying ministry shares, working to adopt missionaries to support, etc. have consequences.  I believe that if the need is properly communicated, as well as the vision for what God is doing in the world, the church can meet the need.  The resources are there, we just need to reconnect the church to the work being done.  We believe the 90% model will work best to re-establish that connection.  

As for the question about North American staff raising their own support, I am sure you can see how that might be difficult.  The stories they tell will not likely be as compelling as the work of frontline missionaries.  So please continue to share your stories, and we will do our best to share them as well, so that God might be glorified, the church of Jesus Christ edified, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Thank you again for your good kingdom work!  We really appreciate you.

The comparison of Downton Abbey and CRWM raises many serious questions. As an example: Is Lord Grantham’s benevolence to the widows occupying farms that are not efficiently worked a comparison of “the benevolent role of the World Missions Board towards its missionaries? If so I find that offensive and I might add inaccurate.

We have worked for World Missions off and on since 1973 and are presently working for World Missions in Nigeria. For many years we have raised money for World Missions.  For 20 years, after 2-½ years of service in the field we spent the next 6 mo. in the US travelling from western Washington State to eastern Washington to southern Ontario, to all over Mich. to visit 18 supporting churches. What a time that was! We told them what God is doing through them and us working together; we continued to ask for support and for prayer! I am convinced that if churches support us financially but do not pray it is ineffective, prayer is our lifeline. I told all my churches that support us and still do so today that we cannot do this work without their support and prayers. That seems to be no longer important to the Board since the burden of support has been removed from the church and laid on missionary families. We have always raised money and it was always a blessing to visit our churches. However there is now a new standard, it is called raise 90% or else. Apparently only the missionary’s jobs are on the line.  If the Board is really serious about this change, let them apply this 90% standard to all of its employees.

 

I think there is a more urgent question that arises out of this comparison; it is out of balance and one sided. If missionary attitudes are compared to the traditional and old ways of Downtown Abby then let’s also compare Lord Grantham and his family to World Missions. Since I have watched that program they have continued to hire staff even as they faced bankruptcy. They have not made one change in scaling back their lifestyle to alleviate the financial problem. Although busy all the time no money is brought in by them, except by inheritance that contributes to the running of the Abby.  Has the office staff been reduced along with the radical reduction of missionaries? I do not mean to be unkind nor do we lack Christian Charity as the leadership of the Mission Board have suggested but if you make comparisons lets not be one sided.  After all that why would World Missions be compared to the corperate asperations of Downton Abby in the first place?  Is it because World Missions is slowly moving away from expecting our many churches to support Missions as our Lord has mandated? I believe the new 90% corperate gold standard moves us in that direction.

 

What I think is tragic in this whole new fund raising scheme is that the standard has  changed, 90% or else is a corporate standard. The standard of good missionary work by conveying the Good News to the people around us, good language learning skills, loving the people we work with, enduring separation from our kids during the school year and separation from family and friends in the home country are standards that no longer will keep us working for World Missions when the gold standard is not met. If you want to know the standard of Jesus, log onto heavenhigh.org  I pray World Missions will move forward to that standard.

Thanks for the timely analogy, Steve.  I do not watch "Downton Abbey" but I can clearly see the parallel in your example.  CRWM has been a blessing for many years, and we pray God will use CRWM to continue to bless others and be blessed by others well into the future.  

Ken, the new way of fundraising has been called the "90%" model.  It was discussed in a recent article in the Banner.  It will eventually require all missionaries to raise 90% of their actual costs of doing ministry on the field.  The actual costs will differ from the average cost per missionary numbers, which CRWM has used for many years when missionaries were asked to raise 60% of the average cost.   Also, with respect to your second question, we agree.  It is time that career missionaries take on a new role.  However, as our number of partnerships increase in the world, it is also increases the number of opportunities to serve in the world.  I am sure you can imagine that 55 missionaries limits the means and locations in which we are able to meaningfully engage.  Since CRWM values sharing the gospel with those who have not heard it, we are seeing more and more opportunities to share the gospel creatively with Muslim people groups around the world.  The missionaries may not all come from "the West" as you suggest, but as we partner in ministry with other brothers and sisters from the majority world they too will need financial partnership in order for us to see the kingdom continue to advance in our time.  

Great questions! 

I support the concept that OUR missionaries should be 100% supported by Synod. At the least, "A deal's a deal." If a missionary is not doing his part, fire him for cause. If the missionary is doing his part . . . how is Synod's unilaterially changing contracts in mid stream different than companies that are scrapping pension plans for senior employees? 

The financial condition of CRWM and CRWRC must be at least five years old. So how many new missionaries have been put on the payroll in the last 3 years? Just curious. CRC's strong point is theology. Our weak point is business management.

At least half of most every church budget goes to making the members feel good and/or to increase  the take aka membership. In 60 years of church going, I only know of one congregation - NOT Reformed - that gave 50% of their budget to missionaries and have heard they have gone main stream. I am sure that every one of you knows of a local congregation that is not paying its Synodical membership dues - call them what you want - because the congregation is paying for, even borrowing for, a cosmetic or building expansion building project. 

Recently read that there are 5 billion people in the world who live on $2/day or less. If every Christian in the US and Canada sold everything they owned and gave it to CRWM and other charity organizations, would there be enough to help those 5 billion people temporarially live on $3/day?

I remember in the 1950's hearing commercials for "Save The Children" and such. These are BIG national charities. If these charities were successful one might expect that by now there should be enough "saved" children who are thankful enough to make the charities self-propagating. Same with "Habitat." Apparently saving bodies is not more successful than the last 2,000 years of saving souls.

Not saying that we should not help people where and when we can if the Holy Spirit leads us to help a specific missionary or other person.  Personally, at least half the time I have tried to personally help one of my neighbors, their situation got worse. Does the Bible "say" anything about "sending good money after bad?"

 

Your forum cynic,

bill

 

Granted - a smaller mission force is not what we want - neither is a model where missionaries have to be salesmen better than the staff in GR, attempting to raise ministry shares! Financing local missionaries in foreign countries is another model, having staff in GR paid on the same basis as missionaries - raise your own funds - then come to work - is another model to use.  A shrinking money pot is what all of us have to face - why use the services of front line staff - the ones that actually bring the WORD to others - to raise money may not be the solution everyone is looking for. Missionaries can now shop around for the best deal, since many missionary organizations use the same model. Since there is only so much CRC based money around, who can prove more money will flow into CRC related organizations using this model? 

Are we merely competing for the same pot among ourselves?

Steve, I too have not seen the program but your comparison is interesting. The issue of CRWM is an issue for the CRCNA . We need to look at the whole and just not at each piece. The pillars (some would call them silos) are no longer the supporting the whole structure or mission. And I believe the foundations of the pillars need reform as well. 

I believe were are internalizing the process of the review and might be better served if we looked outside the religious establishment for some options. Just an idea.

Posting on behalf of John Rustenburg:

Very well stated with the harsh realities of our affluent times....and that is a very sad reality, namely, we are not a "poor denomination", but I believe that the emphasis on where even Christians spend their incomes is largely on self ,and kingdom causes no longer or seldom have priority as they might have been in previous times.

Regretfully we seldom hear from our pulpits the Bible standards for spending: that Christ's kingdom work must come first.When I see the wealth among God's people (homes,vehicles,earthly possesions, vacations with global emphasis, sports,eating out, and the list could go on.) When will we again hear the warnings of Deut. 6 & 8 that God gave to His people before they became wealthy in the promised land as well as the clarion observation of our Saviour in Revelation to the Ephesian church: "you've lost your first love".

   John

Hi Ken,  In other settings the word has gone out (not with complete accuracy!) that CRWM career missionaries will need to broaden and deepen their support networks.  Until now CRWM has relied heavily on Ministry Share to make budgets work.  The point of the analogy is that this reliance hasn't worked well in recent decades and other sources of revenue are essential to a growing ministry.  That is true even if it requires us to change cherished methods.

How important are career missionaries to that growing ministry?  Very.  In places where there are substantial numbers of Christians (the "reached" world) the main thing that CRWM does is provide training to those national Christians, who are the most important piece of the mission effort.  However, more than one-fourth of the world's people live among unreached people groups, where there are few or no Christians.  Even in such settings we "begin with the end in mind" by seeking to develop leadership abilities in those who have come to faith, knowing that we will not be there forever. CRWM seeks to respond to the varied conditions in various places and among various peoples.  

Well stated. An interesting anology. Maybe "The benevolent role of the World Missions board toward its missionaries (that) has been a touchstone of that relationship" is the primary teaching for the CRC supporting congregations and for the people we try to help. Must a smaller mission force result in a smaller impact on our world for Christ? Isn't that up to the Holy Spirit to decide?  

Probably wrong, but I think the next 50 years in North America will see an economic/social structure similar to that described in Downton Abbey but without the benevolent ownership/leadership. The Gini Index will grow while the poor and the working class retains all our "rights" as defined by our constitutions and case law.

 

 

Interesting comparison!  I don't have cable, so I don't know the story of Downton Abbey.  What I'm left wondering, however, at the end of your comparison is: What new means of fundraising do we need to employ?  What are some examples of funding that we must consider to stay in business and to keep the mission going?

Secondly, I wonder if the lower number of career missionaries isn't a good thing.  Might that be because we now realize that for real mission to have power and impact in the local community, it must be done by locals?  So rather than having career missionary families on the scene, isn't it better if someone from the West goes occasionally to train the locals, and then returns to the West leaving the national to carry on the ministry?

Hey JP I don't know where your comments went, perhaps they were flagged for moderation - considered too sarcastic. At any rate it is only through honest discussion that we will find common ground in our approach to Islam. This debate has been going on at least since the 19th century evangelical missionary movement. We have different approaches but the Spirit of God leads us and Lord willing Jesus will be glorified. Whether you take a more contextual or historic approach, that is our end goal. I advocate a respectful stance towards Islam as an important part of that process.

And the CRC wonders why so many members are leaving the denomination.

I'm pleased to hear of the "Justice and Excellence in Short Term Missions Think Tank."  I think its high time we consider seriously what we are trying to accomplish with short term missions.  Often such trips when considered thoughtfully will end up doing more harm than good.  I would refer the reader to a book by Brian Fikkert with the title: "When Helping Hurts."  When short term missions sends teams to go and do what the locals should be doing for themselves, that form of helping hurts the locals and creates unhealthy dependeny.  I trust that the "Justice and Excellence in Short Term Missions Think Tank" will give some much needed guidance in this area. 

Thanks Daniel. That makes sense. I agree that it is all about relationships in the real world.

I am glad this think tank has been formed. Too often I have seen money raised for short-term mission trips that clearly were not going to benefit either the travellers or the folks in the destination country.  I still remember meeting a Haitian pastor who, suggested that just maybe Haiti would be better off if North America would "just leave us alone."  

That being said, it may be that there is still room for overseas short term missions "done right." For example, one of the focuses of a well-done short term mission trip might be education--learning about other cultures, learning about how our actions in North America have a major impact around the work, etc. I had an experience like this in college during a two-week "mission trip" to the Dominican Republic, where we spent much of our time either learning in a classroom type setting or learning by spending time connecting with the folks in the DR. Yes, we did some painting and some digging, and taught a VBS in a batey, and I don't pretend that our trip was some paragon to be admired or copied, but the focus really was on learning from and connecting with Dominican and Haitian Christians, and it seems there were at least some long-term benefits. 

I don't pretend to have any answers on how we should be doing short-term mission; best wishes to the folks involved in the think tank--I suspect they will make conclusions that will be both challenging and beneficial.

I am not a language scholar - but I've heard that the word "go" could be translated "as you are going". We don't need to go far away to have cross-cultural and soul transforming experiences. They are all around us "as we are going". There are homeless shelters, places where street people gather, domestic violence shelters, community centers, all kinds of support groups, migrant workers, home health aides, our neighbors, store clerks, etc. I hope that the Excellence and Justice in Short Term Missions Think Tank will think of these opportunities as well.

OK the distinction I am making is moving away from apolegetics ( using your term now) to being relational & what it means to be a neighbor. The House example.  have experienced aploegtics as mere conversations amongst Christians themselves and not that engaging in the real world. However, being a good neighbor (with all its complexities) in the REAL world does allow for greater interaction amongst people of various faiths. That's all.

Hi Daniel,

I agree that first questions are crucial, and with help of the HS and apologetics we can encourage the asking of such questions. Not sure where you are going with your example of the painted house. Now I am curious, could you explain your point a little more?

Thanks.

Thank you for commenting, Larry! I have very similar sentiments about the Banner articles. What helps me is to take an asset based/appreciative inquiry approach (it works in the field, why not with our churches?)

I focus on the heart that is behind supporting those organizations. I am sure that their intentions are good. And, not everyone wants to learn about good development/missional practices. It is my job to serve those who do.

Hopefully the Global Missions Network and other communications that come from our agencies will reach those whom they are meant to reach.

Excellent question Wendy and one that I believe is not asked enough when churches or our church members get excited about a mission or ministry and want to support that organization. I personally know people that supported a mission for years before they began to realize the paternalistic tendencies this mission had and ended their support.  

Why is it some people are so quick to give to an organization without understanding how the organization works and what they do, or don’t do. I think perhaps that our mission agencies have done a poor job of explaining what good development looks like? Or perhaps poor development and poor missions has been going on for so long people just assume this is the way it should happen.

I think the bigger concern is when CRC congregations go off on their own and start their own international ministries with little to no knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. I have seen stories in our denominational publication of churches that have gone to countries around the world to build schools or churches or houses for pastors or children’s homes. While they may have perfectly good intentions generally they do not follow good development practices and are probably creating more harm than good. I know some of these CRC congregation supported missions are in countries where WR or CRWM have had a presence for years and yet they are not consulted about the project.

I am glad to hear you do receive inquires from people and churches about different organizations. As churches start to look beyond their neighbourhoods and extend their mission focus globally it will be good for them to understand these characteristics and ask these types of questions will be important for them to ask before they act. I think it is also important for our denomination to have a clear sense of what good development and mission work is. If CRC congregation supported missions with little to no thought about good development practices are highlighted in the Banner, somewhere there is a disconnect.

It was, I beleive, Bishop Newbigin who pointed out to me that when we examine the gospel writingss; all "so called gospel presentations" are actually responses made to questions FIRST asked. Jose puts his finger on sometgng crucial at the end. That to me, is the key approach.

It is our genuine & authentic relations with Muslims in all other areas of life (not a narrowed focus on just the spiritual or figuring whose God is right, etc) that the HS works so they can ask questions of us. Without the first, the second may not take place.Then only do we have some reason to share "spritually." Moreover, it might mean some Muslims would have to remain anonymous. 

Let me illustrate. In a rather wealthy neighborhood, I was approached by a family stating some in the neighborhood were alarmed that a Muslim doctor had painted his house in rather bright colors. I took a walk to see the place and she was right. It did stand out from the rest. She asked for my advice.  Rather than give it here; maybe this can be a case-study for thoughtful people to interact over how they would handle it. 

 

Just saying....

 

one grows weary of modern ideas of incusivism and acceptance. the danger of it is that without proper instruction and or explanation, too many Christians are being confused at to where do we draw the line.

loving our neighbors, loving our enemies and praying for those who persevute us is a commandment. The Bible teaches us that if we do not love our neighbors who we can see we cannot say that we love God whom we've never seen. but that same chapter of 1 John 4 tells us that anyone who denies Jesus as the son of God is not from God, it goes further to say that whose who deny Jesus have the spirit of the antichrist.

what I get from this is that the god the Muslims worship is not our God, and we must pray hard for them and LOVINGLY lead then to the truth. the fact that they recognize Jesus as a great prophet can hardly be used as an argument when those who acknowledge Jesus as the son of God are called Blasphemers by muslims, and, in their believes,  are deserving of death.

I have plenty of muslim friends, and touching religious issues with them is very complicated, only when they ask questions do I answer, and because they see me as an infidel, there is very little I can say which gets acknowledged by them. Bottom line is, only prayer anf letting the Holy Spirit touch those God has separated for Himself can do the Job. Beware that we do not turn against God trying to get too cozy with the enemies of God!

 

Greg:

This relational aspect needs to be expounded further. The family home; bought in 1949 was a former British Bungalow. India gained independence in 1947. We finally sold it in 1991 to a Muslim family and my spinster aunt moved in to "Husaainabad" a Muslim condo a few blocks away. Our home was sold to Mr. Khan. on the condition that he would not demolize it. Every other Bungalow in our neigborhood had been bought up and high-rise condos were built; the land being more valuable than the Bungalows themselves. Our home still stands to this day; Mr Khan kept his promise; even though he (and actually my aunt initially) could have made a lot more money. Each family invites and attends important events in our lives.

My point. We need to define relational; it involves being a genuine neighbor, doing proper business transtactions, sharing what we have with those who do not, engaging in social ativities, etc. This issue of love & fear (a rather western constract) needs to be translated into real relational terms. Will someone sell or buy a house from a Muslim here in N. America? (I have a rather different version about Islam -as a system- and its desire for world dominion; without a cross; but not in this discource).  It gets down to getting dirt under our finger nails; so to speak ; in our own neigborhoods.  

One of my favorite shows is "Little Mosque" on the PIVOT Channel. Great funny comedy of interactiins between Muslims & Christians in Canada. Brilliant show. 

 

Just sharing....

 

For a biblical basis for viewing all persons as children of God see www.evangelicalinclusivism.com, Postings 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Thanks Daniel for the testimony of your grandfather and for pointing out that relationships are key for engaging with people of other faiths and witnessing to our faith.

I have never been a fan of comparative religious studies or conversations; be it the liberal version that tries to share common ground or the fconservative versions that tend to be polemic. I always felt this is dangerous territory for the average Christian to tread and rather unecessary. I wish to highlight the relational aspect that can be distilled from this 12 step program, Just a joke; along the way. 

Speaking as one who grew up with his window facing the mosque and the "call to worship" my morning rooster and a neighborhood to this day mostly Muslim; I was visting it several decades later. I saw a man sitting on the ground in the front of the mosque. You could spit across the street into my room. I told him I grew up across at that home. This old man lept up to his feet and asked me who Dr. Devaputra was. I answered "he was my grand-father." He bowed down (imagine an older man) and thanked ME for what my grand-father did for myriads of Muslim students; since he was an educator. In fact, he was the first Christian to obtain a PhD (in our city) and that would have been in the late 1920's. This old man spoke how my grand-dad would tutor the local children; and he was one of them. He refused to let me go!!!!!

I think most Christians GET that  ultimately it is relational and contributing your own gifts and talents to others; whoever they might be. 

 

 

Thanks for a very balanced listing, including items 7and 12, which clearly indicate that loving Muslims includes witness to the truth about Jesus.

Thank you for all of your responses to this post. It is good to discuss these issues. I want to respond specifically to Elizabeth because this is a question that I often receive in seminars. Can you tell me which specific verse (Sura, ayat) you are referring to in the Quran? It would help me in formulating an answer. Thanks.

 

 

 

Thanks for this Greg!  What I appreciated the most about your '12 reasons' was your reminder for us to think of ways God is already at work in those we meet, including Muslims.   

Isn't it great that the triune God is always at work in this world ahead of us and if we are willing, offers us daily opportunities to share with others our unique relationship with God that has come to us through Jesus with those we meet!  

You have done us a favour by reminding us of some common human bridges that if we are wise enough to recognize them as we interact with Muslims will enable us to become more effective witnesses for the living Jesus. 

 

Danielle:   With respect to Islam "being a religion"  I was also of that understanding at one time,  but found that  Barnhardt's use of the  word 'masquerade'  (refer to Hebrews 4:12,13) made the correct distinction i.e. Islam is a politcal system masquerading as a religion.

Thanks for this, Greg! I find that I can talk openly about God and find common ground much more easily with my Muslim friends than with my secular ones. 

In response to Barnhardt's comments on Islam, Islam is most definitely a religion, but it operates without the separation of church and state that we're so used to and which is a pretty recent invention in the West. 

We are to love Muslims yes - by earnestly praying for the Holy Spirit to enable them to come to saving faith in Christ.  The Qur'an or holy book of Islam emphatically rejects the divinity of Jesus and  his death and resurrection - the very heart of the gospel. The Qur'an brands the Christian worship of Jesus as the Son of God blasphemous. As to the Muslim who had to stop the car for prayer time, one may wonder whether it was devotion or legalism that is, a strict obedience to Islam. The Pharisees strictly sought to observe the Law of Moses and as for me, when a Roman Catholic I never missed Sunday Mass. And it wasn't always genuine devotion. It was primarily because I believed it was a mortal sin deserving of hell punishment unless forgiveness is obtained, normally through the confessional booth at church. 

Greg...........AMEN to all 12 statements!..............Dean Koldenhoven

Recently I read in the Qur'an that the Muslim's duty in obeying Allah, they are to annihilate the people of the Book.  I take it that the people of the Book are Christians who love their Bible.  Can you help me understand the language in the Qur'an.

Thank you for sharing this wonderfully Biblical piece, Greg! Well said.

Thanks Ben! I fixed it. Too many Joels over there at World Missions ;-)

Hi Wendy,

#3 on the list "Can We Be Friends?" was written by Joel Huyser, not Joel Hogan.  I worked with Joel Huyser and Darryl Mortensen in Nicaragua and consider them both as friends til this day!

Thanks,

Ben Meyer

Thanks for this, Greg.  What he (or you) say about the importance of power in Muslim culture jibes with what we experienced working among Muslims in West Africa.  Power and success (e.g. wealth) met with automatic respect and was considered a sign of God's blessing, no matter how (often illegitimately) the power and success were achieved.  Likewise, suffering and poverty were disrespected and considered a sign of God's disfavor, even if the suffering was for a just cause (for being honest, for example).  

    It's so important for Christians not to respond to violence with violence, but rather to go the way of the Cross.  This also reminds me of N.T. Wright's argument in "How God Became King" that it was precisely in Jesus' death in weakness on the Cross that he defeated Satan and became King.

Thanks for the article Greg. This kind of information helps me to better understand the Muslim faith in todays world and how christians should respond. The Egyptian christians (as other presecuted christians in the world today) must be recieving special strength from God to practise forgiveness as has been described. We will continue to pray for them.

Thanks for  your input Greg.   There is absolutely no need for you to be sorry.  As you correctly concluded, "Ami" is given as  a pseudonym. The author (whoever he is) likes to be assured he can rest at night in his own bed,  unlike Geert Wilders who, for his own safety  has to sleep in a jail cell when in his home country.

Nevertheless, "Ami's" book was written in 2007, is registered as ISBN 0-9781206-0-4 and I think  represents the positons of both faiths, Muslim and Christian in an unbiased manner.

As for Wild Bill, he is a colorful character but no one, or any one group, has sued Wild Bill for libel nor are any suits pending.    Secondly, Bill is known to be a strong and discerning Christian....not afraid to separate fact from fiction.   North America needs more men with similar backbone, present respondents excepted of course.

Thankfully my Christian faith does not preclude me from reaching out to people of all persuasians, including Muslims.  I appreciate your concern in that regard.

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