I have been reflecting on how Resonate's Salaam Project has progressed over the last nine years, and as a way of thanking you for your ongoing support, I want to share with you how this ministry continues to change in new and exciting ways.
How my story connects to the work of Salaam
“So then King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Acts 26:19
This passage was shared with my wife and me by a career missionary back when we were in training to go to the field.
In many ways the work I do now began back in the summer of 1990 when we participated in the CRWM Summer Missions program and traveled to Mali, West Africa for three months. After this powerful time of cross-cultural learning, Nelly and I spent time in Winnipeg where we were involved in local ministry with Good News Fellowship Church and Project SOW. Towards the end of our year as discipleship leaders in the SOW house, Nelly and I felt called to return to Mali with CRWM and did so in 1993.
Once back in Mali we lived in the village of Yuvaru and bore witness to God’s saving grace through Jesus as we learned to live like the Fulani. A highlight was becoming friends with a nomadic Fulani man whom we called Mr. B and his family. Two of our children were born in Mali and our children spent their younger years running around in shorts and flip flops chasing lizards. We labored in that mission field until 2001, after which I went to seminary and pastored a church in Alberta.
Salaam is created to equip churches for ministry to Muslims
In 2011, I became interested in a new project designed to help congregations reach out to their Muslim neighbors. After the events of 9/11 there was a growing awareness that Muslim ministry was necessary, and that the church lacked resources and training for this challenging ministry. I became the project manager and trainer for Salaam Project. It was really the first its kind and ran from 2011 to 2014 when it became Salaam 2.0 and focused on Muslim ministry in the Canadian context. With this change of focus it became possible to partner with Outreach Canada and their growing network called Loving Muslims Together.
A shift to focus on diaspora people groups in Canada and the US
When Christian Reformed World Missions and Home Missions came together in 2018 as Resonate Global Mission, it became possible to focus on diaspora people groups, a huge population of people scattered around the globe, many settling in Canada and the United States. This group of people has been neglected by mission agencies in the past. Focusing on diaspora people groups continues the spirit of Salaam Project and what was originally envisioned as outreach across religious, cultural, and ethnic barriers, but also expands it to other ethnic and cultural groups who are now our neighbors in Canada and the USA.
The Journeys into Friendship Network is born
As a result, the Journeys into Friendship network was formed. It is a binational collaborative network with the Reformed Church in America. It is founded on the idea that friendship in Christ, as Jesus talks about in John 15, is robust enough to overcome barriers of race, ethnicity, culture, and religion. One way we are seeing potential for further ministry is the quickly expanding Iranian church today. This is truly a movement of God’s spirit in our time and we seek to welcome new Iranian believers into our churches. Journeys into Friendship is one way to help this happen.
The Journeys into Friendship network meets monthly on Zoom and yearly for a longer consultation. This year we will meet in Chicago if the pandemic allows in June 2021. If we are unable to meet in person we will meet virtually. Journeys into Friendship is a global network with local expressions and the focus this year is on the city of Chicago.
I am looking forward to where God will lead Journeys into Friendship next. It has been a great journey so far.