Discussion Topic

This newsletter from East Africa director Davis Omanyo has started lots of discussion in the CRWRC offices. Sharing it here so that others can weigh in.

If you could only choose to assist one of the four children in a family, who do you choose and why? Don’t they all have a right to such...

March 8, 2010 0 7 comments
Discussion Topic
With the world population nearing 7 billion and given the rate of population growth, it may be that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the people who ever have lived on this earth are alive right now. What a HUGE time in the history of the world for Christian missions!!! To me, it seems...
February 27, 2010 0 3 comments
Blog

The appearance of this site created some interesting conversation (here and here) about the relation of global and local mission. The terms themselves are often not used in the same way. Some use global as a synonym for international. Others understand it as a term that embraces both international and domestic. This site was developed with the first understanding, but change is coming.

February 26, 2010 0 1 comments
Blog

You may have noticed an exchange in the "How is it?" suggestions section about the absence of local mission from this site. If not, I hope you take a look and offer your thoughts. At the risk of oversimplification I'll venture a few thoughts on the relation of local and global mission as a former pastor and a former missionary...

February 10, 2010 0 7 comments
Discussion Topic

If you've gotten as far as the forum, you may have had a pretty good look around the Global Mission Network site.  So, what do you think?  We want to continually improve this content so that it is more user-friendly, useful and engaging.  Your input is deeply valued and will lead us to...

January 27, 2010 0 28 comments
Resource, Website

Back to God Ministries International is the media ministry of the Christian Reformed Church. It operates in ten of the most widely spoken languages of the world, covering a large percentage of the world's people.

January 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

I've just completed two very intense weeks as chair of the Haiti Event Response Team.  Our job was to monitor the situation and determine if security conditions allowed for our missionaries to remain in Haiti.  That job is finished now that aid is begining to flow into Haiti and there are sufficient security forces on the ground there.  However, as I wrote to one of our missionaries, "Our job is done, but yours is just beginning."  Over the months and years to come there will be lots of work for our Haiti team, which is called Sous Espwa (Source of Hope).  They will...

January 26, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Written by Carol Sybenga

Your life is part of a bigger story and we all have a role to play in the building up of God’s Kingdom. The CRCNA has opportunities for you to take on some of those roles - providing you with a place to serve and to be part of various transformational ministries....

January 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Video

A simplified explanation of the factors that keep people in poverty, and the ways we can help break the cycle.

January 25, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Cross-cultural outreach does not mean you have to leave your country! You don’t even have to leave your province or state! North America is made up of many different cultures: urban and rural, downtown and suburban, Canadian and American… even in different churches within the same community!...

January 25, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

ORIENTATION “Don’t Leave Home Without It!”

Preparation for serving in short-term missions is more than just booking a flight and packing your suitcase. A question that must be asked is, "how can your engagement with those in communities, countries and cultures different than your own,...

January 24, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Written by Lisa Sochacki

A mission trip is a big undertaking and can in fact be very overwhelming if you have never done it before. Rest assured that you do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to taking your church group on a mission trip. We have been involved in this work for...

January 22, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

What sort of education is needed to become a missionary? Is it important to serve under an agency? Find answers to some commonly asked missions questions below. 

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Now what?

Your mission trip is coming to an end…you’ve packed your bags to return home and are looking forward to seeing family and friends again. But what will that be like? How will they understand the experiences you’ve encountered? You are now looking at people and the world through...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

Sample outline for a budget for a short term missions trip.

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

This brochure provides helpful tips for coming face to face with poverty on mission trips.

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Whether you went on a mission trip this summer or know someone who did, you might want to learn more about “re-entry”—what happens upon returning to a person’s home culture. People experiencing cultural re-entry can be tired, confused or discouraged, and are often critical of their own home...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

As groups prepare for a mission trip, many focus on the logistics, sleeping arrangements and what tools need to be brought to the work site. Many times the spiritual preparation for the experience takes a back seat and spiritual growth either "just happens" or doesn't when the team actually gets...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Service and Learning teams offer numerous possibilities for spiritual growth both individually and as a group. Offering time alone each morning whether 10 or 30 minutes, is a real gift to your team. It allows quiet time to read scripture, pray, reflect on what God is doing in their lives on the...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

CRC Volunteer Orientation – WHY GO?

John and World Renew Staff:

I want to say a special thank-you for last week’s ServiceLink training. It was my first experience with World Renew at the Burlington offices. I found people were warm, friendly, and very hospitable. Thank-you for...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

1. God-Centeredness
An excellent short-term mission seeks first God’s glory and his kingdom, and is expressed through our:

Purpose — Centering on God’s glory and his ends throughout our entire STM processLives — Sound biblical doctrine, persistent prayer, and godliness in all our...
January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

The Gospel, the commands (and the example) of Jesus Christ have compelled the Church toward mission for nearly 2000 years. Although the task is not nearly complete, its dimensions, methods and intermediate goals have changed dramatically in recent years. This article aims to give you a thumbnail...

January 12, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

The Triennial Urbana Missions Convention gathered about 17,000 people, mostly college students, for information and inspiration about missions. The CRC was well represented with more than 50 taking advantage of our travel grant and quite a few others who didn't hear about it. We also had three...

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

There are many things you can do to keep the flame alive and to continue to be a LIGHT in the world. Here are some practical steps you can take to stay on track spiritually and in ministry.

January 1, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Chart

Visual book summary for When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor... and Ourselves, Fikkert & Corbett (2009)

December 22, 2009 0 0 comments

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Henrietta,

I'm not saying that the rationale is right or wrong for raising funds.  I'm saying I'm uncertian at this point.

But I would say that I don't believe your comparitive arguement with sweatshops is fair when you consider there are two completely different elements here.  Sweatshops approach people as devalued and just pawns for someone elses to gain.   The employers don't care about their employees and their motivations are quite opposite of those who obviously  value for the other person and value an urgency in trying to help and better another person's life as best as they know how, IE sponsorship organizations. And while there may be some similarities they are minor in comparison to the overall issue.  They may both be fruit but there's a bit of a comparison of apples to oranges.  Sorry, that's my philosophy background coming through.

But I hear what you're trying to convey and understand your passion for it.  But I also can't help but wonder if God's common grace uses some of these means in a very positive way. 

I think we're just touching the tip of the iceberg in this discussion.

You make some good points, Allen.  I fully agree that it is dangerous to make generalizations, and that one should do  some basic research about an organization to become informed as to its program activities, fund raising practices and expenses in making decisions about making donations.   Some facts and figures are helpful here.  You are also right in that donors need and want pictures and stories.  That is why CRWRC includes pictures and stories in its Free A Family program, in its Annual Report, on the web site, and in many other ways

Regarding whether or not families in Africa experience a loss of dignity in having the pictures of their children posted on the web site, it will not be easy to assess this accurately.  From my years in Africa, in their desire to be courteous and friendly to visitors, and to be cooperative with potential donors, I know that people will be very reluctant to give a negative response, and are highly unlikely to tell you that they do not appreciate this manner of fund raising -- if they thought they had any choice in the matter.  Does the rationale that they benefit through increased fund raising make it right, or might this be akin to justifying sweat shops because otherwise workers would have no job at all?

You certainly have to be careful and aware of any particular child sponsorship organization.  Investigation is important.  My wife and I sponsor a child through an organization that has very little admin costs.  Most of the money goes to actually helping the child, the family and community.  And while we may question whether or not these organizations should post pictures of children to raise funds, I understand that the western culture needs to see those faces.

I read recently of a number of studies that showed a huge difference in charitable giving when relaying facts and numbers in comparison to showing faces and stories.  Facts and stats and figures do two things to many people in the west: 

  1. Numbers dehumanize the people in need which in turn causes many in the west to turn a blind eye.
  2. These figures then become overwhelming to most people causing them to think there is little they can do and their gift is barely a drop in the bucket.

Having a picture and a story causes people to more than double their charitable donations.  Putting a name and a face to a need motivates people's compassionate action to a higher level.  To them it becomes personal.  For some people, and I'm thinking also of the non-believing western world (they don't always think in the same world view terms as Christians do or,in particular as we do here in the CRC), this at least moves them to greater charity and awareness of the needs of the world.

I wonder too if those who are putting themselves up for sponsorship feel a loss of dignity in the process.  Is that a western way of thinking that we assume is the same way they view it?  Or do they see it as an avenue to help their children and their situation since for some, especially the orphaned there are little resources available?  After spending some time in Africa and getting to know the people there, I ponder these things as well.

Contacts as requested:

Confessio Augustana

Box 2051 Station Main

Stony Plain AB T7Z 1X6

Canada

or:

Augsburg Lutheran Church Tract project

Box 352

2359 Hwy 70 SE

Hickory NC

28602

USA

 

August Guillaume

In Africa I have had experiences where I discovered that the Old Testament prophets are similarly reveered by Muslims.

Thank you August for directing our attention to these resources.  Do they have contact information or a web site? It sounds like these are helpful materials

In addition to the materials Meghan mentioned the Advancing Ministry Among Muslims Team is developing an introduction to Islam based on John Esposito's materials.  We're also developing materials on dialogue with Muslims.

Once again thank you for connecting us to these resources.

 

I've heard talk of promoting Crescent Project's DVD curriculum, which includes info on basic Islamic beliefs, how they compare with Christianity, how to better understand and embrace our Muslim neighors, etc.

Unfortunately I don't have much more information than that, but it's another resource to look into if you're interested.

God bless you Steve, You did a good jog by exposing them with your guidance. My children have grown up with my illness. They talk of the gain in life perspective.

Thanks

Ken

Thanks Henrietta for a very well written and though provoking posting. Hopefully many people will check-out the organizations they are supporting with child sponsership type programs and see exactly how the program works and how the funds are used. Many do not and it is not all good.  I would say that at almost ever christian concert I have gone to the band promotes or there is a booth for some child sponsership program. The organization is hoping to use the event to "sell" sponserships and it works.
However the program works it is still wrong in my opinion to use children to sell any sponsership program or solicite funds for any type of aid work. Thankfully the CRC agencies have seen the light. Unfortunately many others have not.

Hello Grace

Thanks for reinforcing the fact that in making a decision as to what organization to support, it is right to look beyond a simple "Child Sponsorship or not" criterion.  It is worth the time to check out websites and annual reports to learn in more detail their fund raising methods and expenses, as well as the nature of the programming that is actually being carried out. 

It's all good.  CRWRC already has a group of committed givers.  Their target donors already have a heart and mind connection with their ministry.  Describing the specifics of an area of need will prompt their donors to give, and offer a specific focus for prayer and giving.

Para-church organizations have to use a different approach.  The face of a child captures the attention.  We were contacted by a well-known organization during the first year we were married, and agreed to support a child with a monthly donation (without seeing a picture).  Over the past 31 years, we have supported several different children and their individual communities.  It has been a privilege to pray for each child.  While some organizations may give out information, and seem to exploit the children they are trying to help, I believe that other organizations are very well-organized and do very well supporting the child/family/village, while using very little of the donation for overhead. 

I respect the approach that both organizations are using. 

Thanks Steve, We woke upon hearing the negative affects of most child only missions. We shifted giving to alternate children and family missions. There are better ways as you have said and it makes a lot sense to listen close to what the family/community is asking for.

God bless you Steve for pointing this out.

Ken

Steve, This is exactly the concept behind STM for our children. The average income in the CRC is some where around 65000k a year. We can afford to do both kind of missions. Our first ministry is to our children so they can become missionaries or support the missionaries. If you talk to my chilren or the prison ministry personal where they went the same kind of reactions that you describe in your article happen to the Glory of God. Steve , I'm not against the need for effective long term missions. But I do see a good reason for effective STM also. They are all part of us doing God's kingdom work.

I remain open to any suggestions as long as they do not envolve removing a good ministry. Everything can be improved including ineffective STM that do occur. I also struggle with some of the references you link too. Why don't you get some comments in here from the people where the missions are being performed such as the local contact or one of the indigenious converts. I would love to hear what they think in a direct fashion.

Thanks

Ken

In our new year 2011 using technology at hand we can humbly send 'video prayers' to mission supported communities throughout the world. Just a suggestion.

Hi Karl: I believe each 'project' is unique in that the people involved, the services offered and possible results may be different in each case. trying to make one theme through it all may be rather tough and end up being a bit superficial.

Why not incorporate one project (only) in a service concentrating on the particulars, have the liturgy match that particular theme as well as songs and sermon topic (of course staying close to the Bible, so it may digress from or broaden the theme).

Then a few weeks later do the same with another project. The one unifying theme is that we work to serve our Lord with our gifts, although the gifts and work may differ from time to time.

posted in: How is it?

Hey folks, lets take these idea's a step or two forward. Like Karl said incorperating, every one who willing to learn and assist in missions around your community. This could be a chance to make difference right around us. You could combine small groups, youth groups senior groups and mops. Think about a joint effort on all missions. We need to think out of the box on our efforts to address the Kingdom goals.

posted in: How is it?

I think developing a theme is a great idea. It will help provide a mental box for people to fit things into. A brochure that provides all the ways that people can get involved would help cement the connectedness in people's minds. Some people will naturally be drawn to one aspect of it or another, and that's OK. As long as they see that it's for a broader goal within the church's vision/mission.

posted in: How is it?

I'm thinking about how my local church could integrate several interests into  one educational missional outreach program.  We are setting a very high priority on youth, and we have the usual programs for neighborhood kids.  In addition we are going to begin involvement with a city-wide initiative to increase the number of kids who graduate from high school.  In addition an evangelical para church organization wants to partner with us to relate to kids in the community.   In addition we have a daughter of the congregation involved in starting a Christian education program overseas.    

Here's what I'm wondering - could these all be somehow inter-related in the strategy and learning of our congregation, so that we are seeing the commonalities among all the "glocal" efforts, providing a theme that is motivational and educational for families, develoipng a cadre of volunteers all of whom can share some common experiences as well as some distinctly different ones....   and together we can learn about how to be involved in God's world at multiple levels using multiple gifts and skills, and end up with our congregation engaged in some kind of "unified" glocal mission.....

Anybody out there got any ideas or experience to share?

THANKS

posted in: How is it?

How children are chosen: I am pretty sure that it is the local school director that makes that decision.  I am the CRWM consultant to COCREF here, but I don't handle all the information.  Since the funding is coming through WWCS directly to COCREF, I am not in the pipeline. 

Steve Brauning

CRWM, Santo Domingo 

I'm not a community developer, so I can't speak to that specific program. What I do like is "If one child has received a sponsorship pledge, all of the children in that family will also receive support." My question is, how are the children chosen?

One of the approaches CRWRC takes is if people want to give to school fees, for example, a "board" is formed that includes teachers and parents, and any money is given to the board. They then decide who needs the help most and are also encouraged to contribute to it, building ownership. That way it's seen as a community effort and not something that is coming from the outside.

augilla1,

It looks to be a spam comment. You received the email because you've commented in that discussion thread before (so are subscribed to receive notices about new comments).

In the meantime, someone else must have already hit the "flag as inappropriate" button so it's been removed.

Spammers are everywhere, even in discussion forums! I hope this explanation helps.

Tim

posted in: How is it?

I received an e-mail consisting of the following:

 

New comment by SaundersCharity:

That's essential when you got a professional custom papers writing assistant. You will have to be be very careful if you buy college papers [1]. Because some firms reliable and some are fraud.

To reply, flag, or view the full post: http://network.crcna.org/content/global-mission/subtle-shift-posture-missional-church#comment-2512

 

When I click on the link I can not find Comment 2512, 

In fact I do not know how to find a comment #.

What is going on?

 

posted in: How is it?

Lou, you do what you have to, I'll be here.

I suggest we all pray for decernment and objectivity. We should also pray for forgiveness and thinner skin.

Good morning all, tho this  is especially for Ken.  I'd written: "I DO (shout ok on that?!) want to "affirm" any and all ," to ,,,,,," ","...

....to which you commented "that wasn't nice".  Truthfully that didn't bother me at all - we long-time missionaries perhaps get a bit thick-skinned.  Or maybe its being of Dutch/Frisian descent!  So no apology needed, Ken. 

I notice that Karl has bowed out of the conversation for now, and I want to follow suit.  Let's all do some reading and reflection on this important topic, and maybe revisit it after the Livermore/VerBeek book comes out.    Adios. 

Fraternally, Lou

Sorry, Ad hominem

Lou, the shout reference was not a nice thing to say. Please reconcider your coment. Ken

Thanks Frones

I feel benefit from reading from all who share. Knowing it is not easy I too often hesitate to share my thoughts online, but the more I read discussions I feel an 'e'-connection with like minded people. For me it is OK to 'hear' via words. So Ken I am glad you have benfited.

OK, I just gotta make two comments and then no more.  

One is that the idea of short term missions is useful when we contrast it to career missionaries, but of course there really is no such thing as an STM.  We are ALL missionaries for life if we are followers of Jesus. Every minute, every day.  Ok, got that off my chest.

Now I also want to recommend a book by David Livermore about short term missions.   He's spoken and written about this with about as much wisdom as anyone could, and he's a follower of Jesus, and he's worked with CRC agencies and is now working on another book with Dr. Kurt Verbeek of Calvin.   I highly commend him.

This discussion has been a learning experience for me.

Here I am again... Two things:

I made a mistake on the Sol del Valle (that's in East San Fernando Valley, greater Los Angeles) web site if interested:     It is

www.sdvccenter.org      We set that up to deal with the community needs and oportunities after starting the church of the same name.

And more importantly, I DO (shout ok on that?!) want to "affirm" any and all who are out there witnessing.  It strikes me a lot of this is our categories; STMs yes come in many variaities, but still is a category that needs lots of clarification.  I'd be interested to hear more about the church/agency/organization involvement and guidance in some to the overseas efforts.

May I suggest that we do some more research (lots of web info is "out there" on this topic) and reading...?

Lou

Hello all.  I'm almost hesitant to jump back into this wide ranging duscussion.  I've been somewhat absert for various reasons; here just a few comments. (turned out to be QUITE a few!)

I understand that to some I come off as a bit "judgemental" - personally, I like to think of it as "discerning" (in the sense that the Apostol uses that, as distinguishing the spirits).  And to say that the Holy Spirit can use any of our efforts is true, but can also be a trump card to stop discussion.  At least I was sensing it that way. 

When I speak at Mission Emphasis Weeks I often refer to the historic distinction formerly used: "evangelism" is close by, in our own context; "mission" was usually farther away geographically and cross-cultural/linguistic.  As others point out, that disctinction is breaking down as times, places, etc. "globalize".  So call it what yiu will.   But I feel that for reasons of effectiveness and stewardship, there are compelling arguments in favor of keeping our non-career efforts reasonably close to home - more effective where language and culture are not great barriers - and less expensive - freeing more dollars for long-term presence abroad.

I just got back from a weekend away, taking care of young grandchildren while our daughter and her preteen went with a church group, coordinating with an established house building group in Baja California (south of Tijuana) , to raise a house for a family.  This is a return visit; our daughter is a native Spanish speaker and served as translator.  Six local churches there cooperate with the program, which has three long-term volunteer staff on site.  I think this is a great program, but not very repeatable for churches/volunteers from much farther away if you want to take the stewardship factor into account.  This is a three hour trip (plus border wait of a couple hours).  Most of the other criteria for good STM are met.  Now if this were to go to Africa, even for two weeks, I would have serious questions, although I duly note that some of our dialogue partners on this site have long-term invovlements.  "You have to know....." 

I think Karl has underlined again the three components of good programs, and uses the word "expensive" in a broad sense. It will "cost" folk time, effort, money, to do all the steps well.  And most American Christians - pastor and youth leaders among them - suffer from the "instant gratification" syndrome of our culture.  So too often we end up with half-baked results.

A book I hadn't heard of was mentioned by Karl: Keller's Ministries fo Mercy.  I'll have to get that.  Meanwhile, I heard no one respond to my sorta challenge to read Chapter 7 (really, the whole book) of Fikkert's When Helping Hurts.

OK, I have to get to preparing my message for a "quinceanyera" this weekend.  The daughter of a young boy who came from Guatemala when he was 13, now his daughter is 15, and he and his wife invited us to go to celebrate this specail occasion with them up in Los Angeles (two hours away).  I value long term relationships and this will be a significant occasion to renew relationships in a place where we ministered for 15 years on site.   (interested in the community building dimension?   go to   www.soldelvalle.org ) I could write half a book about how hard it is to plant a sustainable church even with that investment of time and money, at least in that place!

Appreciatvely, Lou

Thanks Frones, I know you made that comment with good intent. I agree with you on the need for humility when we constantly fighting our sinful nature. How you describe the way you live now , is exactly how I funtion also.  I understand  Jesus is my only hope because my efforts fall short. Frones,  I know what your talking about when you refer to the value of training and sustaining long term relationships in missions. I agree with your concepts completely. I have advanced Ms which affects me pysically, cognitivily and emotionaly. There for I take responability if I sounded like I opposed that idea.

 I was trying to comunicate that STM's (It was new to me too) are one of God's tools also. There are many "stm" types depending on how you define the word mission. I have most of my experience in street ministries and how I react in every day situations. I seen many wonderful things happen. Glory be to God. I want you to understand that it is threatning when people question the value of these ministries even if they are not as effective as they could be.

I haven't attacked the veiw of you or Steve's idea's  but asked (ineffectivly) to see the value of other missions. Forgive me for the errors , I can;t figuire out the spell check. It's difficult for me to comunicate( my mind struggles ith memory like spelling and you think but type something else, It takes me 30 min to make this understandable) I know Jesus and feel his validation. I wish I could tell you more but it would be rambling. I am telling you this so you won't judge me harshly and forgive me for  some of my narrsistic  comments. I need honest conversation.

Thanks for listening

Ken

Thanks Fronse,

I had a similar experience this past summer in Zambia.  We were in Chipata about 4-5 hours from Lusaka.  We support a Reformed Pastor there.  It was a very necessary trip to establish a deeper connection with the people there.  They were soooo greatful and our relationship was strengthened.  We saw many needs and projects first hand and are now making plans to work together on some of these projects.  We've already established a new Zambian Ed fund to help students go to school and especially college.

In online conversation shouting is done in all uppercase -- SHOUTING.  Sorry, didn't mean to shout ;-)

Thanks Guys, I think we all agree this is our calling. Karl You always make good points and being efficient for Christ is a worthy goal. It's hard for me to type to explain what I feel. and I know you guys are God's servants. I just wanted affimation of the value of layman witnessing for Christ. I am completely funded by myself and I am sick too boot but I try to answer the call when it presents itself. That is the main STM I was refering too. But my kuid's and why have gone to Mexico many times and it was good on both ends.

Cross culture at home is different than when you are out of country and people are more equiped than they think. Trust and faith to attempt home stm's is the biggest requirement, Jesus can take your efforts and make changes in peoples lives. As the Aposteles found out Jesus doesn't measure quanitity but quality of intent of efforts in missions. Unless I misunderstand the story of the women washing Jesus's feet with expensive oil.

My life lessons have taught me not to worry about being judged, rather I remain open to all comments, criticisms and especially the guidance of people teaching life lessons of Faith and Love of Christ. It has been my STM (before I knew the term existed) purpose just to try and make a positive difference with believers here and wherever God places me. I continue to learn what it means to be Re-formed in Christ.

Yeah, it's real hard to be critical of STMs when you hear so many wonderful testimonies.  I'm thankful for all the ways God uses our stumbling and our weaknesses.  And he does!

And yet we wouldn't want to say that is an excuse to be sloppy about our programs.

What's important is to be realistic about how we use resources, and what unintended damage we might be doing, especially when we don't let mercy temper mercy, as Keller puts it in his book Ministries of Mercy.  His point is that it is not merciful to show mercy in ways that perpetuate dependence or harmful behavior.   

Ken, you and I know that God accomplishes his will through all kinds of bad situations, including when we ourselves screw up - he's still there working it out for good.  At the same time, he also expects us to keep on learning how to do it better.  THAT is the secret of good STM programs - are they willing to discipline themselves to keep doing it better, better stewardship, better cross cultural communication, better understanding of the cultural practices and what MY good intentions might mean in THEIR culture....  better orientation, better followup.  If there is not a rigorous process for evaluating and improving, that for me is a signal of a program to stay away from.

I hope nobody here thinks that I am in disagreement with good effectively trained missionaries as being essential to sustained missions. What I am trying to do is prevent the judgment of other forms of missionary work. I have witness God's work in many forms of spreading the gospel. I have also seen turn around's in social conditions as a result of STM in my area. Both methods were blessed by God. I can't speak for God on what he puts on everyone's heart, but I do know that Jesus uses many ways to spread his word .  I think we need to trust the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us. With His council, anything can be accomplished.

Thanks

Ken

Wrestling with the challenge of cross cultural missions is surely complicated by the reality of the "global village".  We are so easily led to think we can intervene meaningfully in almost anyone's life, just because it's so much easier to do!

I do really wrestle with this, especially after 20+ years with an agency that worked VERY hard to promote STM.  Three factors in high quality STMs are surely the dimensions of the preparation, the accompaniment, and the followup.  Some good data is beginning to be collected that suggests that the most meaningful and lasting changes happen in the lives of those who travel when the preparation is excellent, there is competent coaching accompaniment during the experience, and when returning home the STMissionary gets incorporated into a strong support group where s/he can process and integrate the experience and be helped to be accountable for sustaining the changes.

It's expensive to do it well, and surrounding the experience with every effort to make it sustainable in every way is vital.  Equally important is to pay attention to reducing the unintended negative side effects.   We often are tempted to say that helping the poor is not rocket science!   As a matter of fact it IS rocket science, and dangerous without wise counsel.

Ok you guys win, I thought it shouting. As far lessons are concerned,  Fronse has a wonderful mission experience and continue's to serve the Lord most faithfully. What a great testimony to a effective a mission and life.

Thanks Ken

I'm not sure what 'shouting' means in this context. I shout for joy for the lesson and God's revelation . That is all.

The cultural purpose of sharing my story by a personal example is Old Testament to me.

This doesn't sound like shouting to me.  It sounds like an important lesson was learned and applied well.  Thanks. 

Hi Fronse, That sounds like a humbling experience. I can see this has been a profound experience for you and glory be to God for your mission work. But is no need to shout.

SMS discussion is necessary so people can wrestle with purpose vs intent of interacting globally with other Christian people in lands far from home. There is a  more 'at home' opportunity the previous posts have brought to my mind.

In the mid-1990's my wife and I traveled to Lusaka, Zambia and established relationships with several Reformed Churches in Zambia which we continue in a different way now. The pastors, church leaders and students we met there we are still in touch with now, via Facebook, emails, and personal contacts. During one of my visits in 1999 I stayed at the Kamwala Congregation compound with the pastor's family. I want to share this story now.

I love Fanta orange soda and in lieu of drinking only bottled water each day my 'cool drink' would be Fanta. I bought enough for the family to share and yet for ten days they smiled and said no thanks. This seemed odd to me because they lived a very humble (sustainable) life-style. Their car was twelve years old and we spent two weeks driving to funerals in the searing heat (no air conditioning). Finally their smiling polite 'No thank you's' sank into a lesson for me. I was spending more money buying 'cool drink' each day than they were spending on food for the day. This was a God blessed 'I got it' moment that I carried forward in my approach to STM.

Now we provide guideance, encouragement, and advocacy for students seeking higher education here and in Zambia.

Also my wife and I keep in touch with the families that taught us money is not all they need. Followup with Zambians and other African students and immigrants here (relatives) keeps a trans-ocean link going forward. When and if we travel to Southern Africa we  let folks know that we are praying and thinking of them. They have shared this insight with us: The money spent for us to experience, visit and verify what they are doing weighs heavy on their hearts because without building a sense of family and community our STM leaves a spiritual and connectional void. So we still aid students when we can,

AND that is VERY important.

Steve, You had me worried. The way you explain your view in the last comment, makes a lot  clearer and I think your correct (not that what I think should matter). Thanks Steve for taking the time to explain. God bless you

Steve, I agree with you on that.

I'm with you on this one Ken. 

Lou, I hear your passion but also your angst.  I believe the Holy Spirit can work in people's lives despite us and our imperfect system.  But I picture you saying your comments with a lot of finger wagging.  This is a tough issue the church is working through.

BTW, this pastor from Zambia has come to see us 3 times in the past six years to encourage us, report and has blessed our congregation in many ways by doing so.  And seriously, it would be silly to even think that some of their folks could come here to work with us... unless we paid for it.  You have to work with what you've got.

Not at all.  The idea is to improve them.  That can be done with better orientation and even more so with better debriefing and follow up.  My last post suggests that STM visits are best done as part of long term relationship between a church here and a church or community there.  That kind of partnership, rather than a trip here and a trip there divorced from any long term strategy, is a much better way to go, in my view.

Steve , Do you feel God pushing you to stop STM type ministries?

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