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EDITORIAL: Global Mission Strategies

Timothy K. Park, Editor

From April 18-22, 2016, the AMA Manila 2016 was held at the Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Manila, Philippines. The theme of AMA Manila 2016 was ‘Globalization and Mission.’ Almost 200 mission leaders from 26 countries gathered and engaged in dialogues about mission in the 21st century globalized world.

This 52nd issue of Asian Missions Advance include articles written by mission leaders from different countries, ministries and backgrounds. These writers have been affiliated with AMA in the past and the in the most recently held convention. “The Spiritual Pastoral Care of Missionaries” was written by Rev. Elben M. Lenz Cesar who was a TWMA leader in the past. Dr. David Lim who wrote ‘Asia’s House Church Movements Today’ was one of our AMA officers; ‘Leadership Development through the Local Churches for Asian Mission’ by Suraja Raman was presented at last year’s ASM Forum, a commission created by AMA. ‘International Students: A Strategic Component of Diaspora Missions & the Great Commission’ by Leiton E. Chin, who is one of the partners of AMA in doing Asian ministries ‘For the Missionary Movement in Each and Every Asian Country’ by Steve K. Eom, who is our AMA Gen. Secretary. ‘Regional Report: Movement for African National Initiatives’ by Reuben Ezemadu, TWMA’s past Gen. Secretary; and the National Report: Myanmar’ by Thawng Khan Siing which was presented at the Manila Convention .

We are blessed to have gathered these men and woman of missions to give us good materials for our readings and ministries. Our articles speak about various areas in missions: missionary care, house church movements, student ministries, mission and church leaderships, denominations and continental missions.

These articles talk about mission strategies in planting churches and missions organization, evangelism and discipleship locally and globally. Reaching the young and the old, the communities, nations and the world. This is how AMA operates: thru partnerships, support and exchange of information and resources thru writings and talents. Our contributors heartily write about their findings, observations and experiences in order to share with our readers what they think would be helpful and beneficial to missions. We value our authors and their writings and we thank God for them and their ministries!

May readers of Asian Missions Advance understand and appreciate what the Lord has been doing in different parts of the world, particularly in Asia, and learn the strategies both local church pastors and missionaries use in reaching the nations. Our God is a missionary God. He himself and through His servants is actively working to restore his rule among the nations. He will finally restore his rule on earth. “May peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.” (Ps. 67:3).

FOR THE MISSIONARY MOVEMENT IN EACH AND EVERY ASIAN COUNTRY: ASIA MISSIONS ASSOCIATION

Steve K. Eom

This report contains a brief overview of the recent 12th AMA convention, as well as descriptions of future AMA ministries.

12thAMA Convention

The Asia Missions Association held its 12th triennial convention at the Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Manila, Philippines on April 18-22, 2016. We welcomed almost 200 mission leaders from 26 countries, including 63 speakers. The theme we deeply investigated was on “globalization and mission”. As a result, we were able to accumulate a vast array of articles on the theme and are expecting a comprehensive book on “globalization and mission” in the perspectives of Asian churches including some Non-Asian brothers and sisters’ to be published soon.

The convention was organized as an agora, a central square for gathering and interacting with one another among church and mission leaders from all over Asia and the world. Every participant was encouraged and challenged by their fellow participants as no one was able to count how much we learned and benefited from one another. We tried to invite at least two influential leaders from each Asian country, whether or not they were deeply involved in missions. A few of them did not have much understanding of missions when they first came to the convention, but showed great interest in the missionary movement as the convention went on. We now expect more mission organizations and national missionary associations to be formed in countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, and others in the coming years.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the speakers, national delegates, and participants from all over Asia. I also give my thanks to the representatives from world-wide or continental missions associations: MANI, COMIBAM, Missio Nexus, Lausanne, WEA, EEMA. They sacrificed their time and finances to attend the convention to show partnership with the AMA for the worldwide missionary movement. In addition, the Philippine Missions Association must be acknowledged and appreciated for hosting this historic event. Without their compassion and sacrifice, we would not have been able to have this amazing event. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Timothy K. Park for his leadership as Head Chairman for the past 6 years. He has served faithfully and played a pivotal role in creating networks of leaders and churches around Asia.

During the convention, the new leadership team of the AMA were elected as follows:

New Officers

Head Chairman: Dr. Wati Longkumer (IMA)

2nd Chairman: Rev. Lalano Badoy (PMA)

3rd Chairman: Dr. Paul Han (KWMA)

General Secretary: Dr. Steve Eom (EWCMRD)

Treasurer: Dr. Yong Joong Cho (Global Hope)

Recording Secretary: Ms. Helen Cho (EWCMRD)

Regional Associate Secretaries

East Asia: Dr. K Y Cheung Teng (HKACM)

South Asia: Rev. Edward Ayub (Bangladesh)

South East Asia: Dr. Prawate Kidarn (Thailand)

Commissions

Missiologists: Dr. Chansamone Saiyasak

Church and Mission: Rev. Yohannes Nahuway

Asian Missionary Fellowship: Dr. Susanta Patra

Information, Research & Communication: Dr. Hong Yang

Dr. Wati Longkumer was elected as the head chairperson. He is an ordained minister of the Nagaland Baptist Church. He came to IMA after serving as the Director of the Nagaland Missions Movement (NMM). Prior to the NMM assignment, he and his family were NMM missionaries in Cambodia for over eleven years. In Cambodia he served at the Phnom Penh Bible School (College) as the Academic Dean and the Vice Principal. Under his leadership, the AMA is expected to grow enormously in every aspect. The AMA next triennial convention in 2019 will be in India and to be hosted by the India Missions Association under his leadership.

Future AMA Ministries

From now on, the AMA will continue to focus on missionary movements in every Asian country. We will put all our efforts into encouraging every country in Asia to participate in missions and to have a national mission association as a result. For instance, I visited and invited Rev. Edward Ayub to the AMA Manila Convention. He is one of the new figures in the AMA. He is a pastor from Bangladesh and was elected as the Associate Secretary of the South Asia region. He has started praying and thinking seriously about establishing the Bangladesh Missions Association since the convention was held. He sent an email just after the convention, saying:

“Thank you for giving me great privilege to serve AMA. Since hearing about AMA, I have been praying and thinking seriously to establish Bangladesh Missions Association. There is no such thing yet. God has helped me to establish few organizations, association, and mission in my little involvement in mission work. I hope that the dream of Bangladesh Missions Association would also be fulfilled.”

There is no such organization in Bangladesh where Muslims are dominant. During the convention he developed a vision to start a missionary movement in Bangladesh. We pray his dream will be fulfilled in the near future. The AMA will do its best to help countries like Bangladesh join in the mission of God.

In addition, we will continue to publish the Asian Missions Advance, the bulletin of the AMA. The Asian Missions Advance was first published in 1978 and stopped in 1993. In August 2011, the bulletin resumed its publication with issue number 32, and now we are on to issue number 52. The Asian Missions Advance is being published quarterly under the East-West Center for Missions Research and Development(EWC/mrd), which has served the AMA as its official center for missions’ research and development. We are sending copies of these bulletins to individuals, seminaries and missional organizations worldwide. The bulletin has been and will be greatly served to introduce the thoughts of the Asian Church and mission leaders to the world.

In addition, we will aid Asian churches in training mission leaders through developing mission models, training mission leaders, and caring for Asian missionaries. The East West Center will play a major role to accomplish these tasks as the official center for missions’ research and development of the AMA. To start our full-scale missionary movement and mission leaders’ training for Asian missions, the EWC opened its office in Seoul, Korea in 2015, and will open a new office in Chiang Mai, Thailand this coming August. I will move to Chiang Mai in 2017 to help accelerate its ministries. The EWC-Chiang Mai will work as the headquarter of the AMA on mission research, publications, training church leaders and missionaries, and missionary member care in Asia. As we go on with missionary movements around countries in Asia, we will provide programs for church and mission leaders in each country. The EWC-Chiang Mai expects participation from church and mission communities in Asia and beyond.

We have entered the most creative and productive period in the history of the Christian missionary movement. In the past few decades, Christianity has experienced a significant growth in Asia while the churches in the West are stagnating. Asian churches are taking more and more responsibilities of the world mission. The Asia Missions Association has enormous opportunities and significant responsibilities to enable Asian churches to actively participate in God’s mission. Now is the time for the AMA to facilitate more partnerships and cooperation among Asian churches and provide mission resources and programs to them so that each and every Asian country may be able to participate actively in world mission.


 

Dr. Steve K. Eom is the General Secretary of the East-West Center for Missions Research & Development. He is the SIM US Director of Asian Churches Mobilization. He is also serving Asia Missions Association as the General Secretary since 2010.kseom1@gmail.com

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: A STRATEGIC COMPONENT OF DIASPORA MISSIONS & THE GREAT COMMISSION

Leiton E. Chinn

Introduction:

Making disciples of Diaspora Peoples is both a growing opportunity and responsibility, as well as a challenge for the Church. It is a growing opportunity because of the increasing trend of migration of peoples, and also a responsibility for the people of God to welcome and love the foreign-born coming to our communities, campuses, and churches. Making disciples of international sojourners, whether they have become permanent residents or are temporarily living among us, is a challenge because they represent myriads of cultures and different kinds of groups, each with their own distinct needs. Most Internationals are immigrants or refugees, while others may be business people and other professionals, researchers, military personnel, seafarers, laborers, au-pairs, overseas domestic workers, short or long-term visitors, diplomats or government officials, academicians, and students.

During the opening plenary address of Global Impact’16: International Student Ministry Consultation held in the Czech Republic in May, the leader of the Czech student ministry that is part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, recounted the history of the start of the movement.  An international student from the Netherlands enrolled in a Czech university and discipled several Czech students who then became the founding leaders of the indigenous student ministry.

While we were in Manila for the Asia Missions Association 12th Triennial Convention in April, we visited a thriving church that was started by a ministry that gave priority focus to discipling international students.

The focus of this article will be on ministry among International Students, who are relatively a small segment of the broad scope of Diaspora Peoples, but who represent a highly strategic component of the goal of “making disciples of all nations”. The next generation of the worldʼs transformational leaders are in the worldʼs universities and colleges, and a steadily growing percentage of students are coming from other countries. They may grow in professional and spiritual formation while studying abroad, and become nation-builders after they return home. Many, if not most, international students do return home, either within a year of graduation, or eventually years later as seasoned professionals, adding to the brain-gain and leadership potential for their countries and surrounding region.  According to Project Atlas 2015 of the Institute of International Education, the current number of about 5 million international students is projected to increase to 8 million by 2025.

I. Why is International Student Ministry (ISM) Highly Strategic in Relation to the Great Commission?

A. Strategic Elements…..International Students & Scholars are:

  1. already among us, here and now, on our campuses, in our communities, and in our churches; we do not need to wait to go somewhere abroad, in the future; we do not need to get a visa, medical exams and vaccines, or purchase a plane ticket;
  2. sufficiently conversant in our language in order to study in our schools, or may be in a language institute to enhance the learning of our language, and appreciate the opportunity to practice our language with us (and while we do not need to be fluent in their native tongue, we could have them teach us some expressions of their language);
  3. generally curious to learn about our culture, history, country (city, town) and may wish to have host-country friends who can be cultural mentors;
  4. often more open, curious, and responsive to learning about Jesus Christ while living abroad, such as those who have been seen among Chinese scholars and Japanese students;
  5. freer to consider the gospel if they are away from a restrictive society, culture and religion that may be hostile towards Christianity;
  6. possibly from “unreached people-groups” where the Church does not yet exist or is in an infant stage; or from a ‘closed’ country that does not allow missionaries;
  7. appreciative of hospitality, and welcome relationships of mutual intercultural interaction, as well as the inter-generational social context of host-families where younger children, parents, and grand-parents are valued along with peer-age adults;

[“The main missiological lesson is….found in John and Edith Haywardʼs hospitality to a dusky stranger back in 1929. The Haywards professed no great love for the masses, nor did they devise even a single ingenious scheme for evangelizing the world. They did love one stranger. What the church in India, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan would look like today had the Haywards not welcomed Bakht Singh into their home is a matter of speculation. The fact is that without their hospitality two of the most significant movements in twentieth-century Asian church history probably would not have occurred”, Thinking Small: Global Missions and American Churches, by Jonathan J. Bonk, Missiology, April, 2000];

  1. potential world leaders politically and in their professions, nation- builders, and transformation agents [Chinaʼs First Hundred by Thomas LaFarge recounts the profound transforming influence on China by the first group of returning Chinese students from the U.S. from 1872-1881, some of whom became Christians];
  2. cultural informants or “instructors” who may advance missions awareness. Two mega-shifts in missions in the 19th and 20th century were spurred on by the informants role provided by international students:
  •  In the 3rd week of the July in the month-long Moody student conference at Mt. Hermon, MA, 1886, a special “meeting of the ten nations” was held in which students from 10 countries shared briefly about the need for missionaries in their part of the world. Those “Macedonian calls” fueled a response that resulted in 100 of the 251 students signing a pledge of willingness and desire to be missionaries.  The missionary passion coming out of the conference was the initial thrust that led to the formation of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions in 1888. The SVMFM produced over 20,500 missionaries on the field, and thousands more who supported the missionary movement. [Student Power in World Evangelism, David Howard, Inter-varsity Press, 1970];
  • Dr. Ralph D. Winter’s development of the Unfinished Task of World Evangelization in relation to the “hidden peoples”/unreached peoples concept effected a paradigm-shift in mission understanding and strategic planning. What contributed to the emerging “people groups” missiological-view of Dr. Winter? He told me in effect, that the Fuller Seminary School of World Missions where he taught at, had 10 students and 100 faculty…and went on to explain that he was a “student” learning about church growth and evangelism among the world’s great diversity of cultural sub-groups, from a 100 “teachers”…his international student informants

International students may play a tremendous role in the advance of missions understanding and needs, and will continue to be valuable instructors, if we are willing to listen and learn from them

  1. potential gifts and ministers of God to the host nation and Church; an African seminary student was instrumental in the conversion of a veteran priest, who later became a bishop and played a significant role in the evangelical renewal within his denomination; Christian international students need to be encouraged and allowed to utilize their spiritual gifts and ministry experience while they are studying abroad, and the host-country church has a responsibility to disciple Christian internationals in their congregation.

B. Returning International Students Impacting their Country/Region

A newsletter from a tentmaker friend in a restricted access country states that“more than 500 from our university have gone abroad during the last four years. Under the conditions of their scholarships, most of the students will return after graduation to take up positions at our school”. Hopefully most of the returnees will bring back positive influences to their school and society, but some may be carriers of negative baggage.”

One of the compelling strategic components for ISM is that Christian returnees are Christʼs ambassadors to their own people and culture, and should be encouraged and equipped to return home with the conviction that God is sovereignly sending them home as His witnesses.

A survey I conducted for a paper was taken of ISM workers to list some Christian returnees who have made significant contributions in the advancement of the gospel and building of Christʼs Church in their region. Some of the returnees came to Christ while studying abroad, and others were already believers, and discipled during their international sojourn. Here are only some of the returnees cited in the survey:

* John Sung, who came to Christ in the US in the mid-1920’s and returned to China as an apostle and revival spread like wildfire throughout the Far East.

* Many of todayʼs top evangelical leaders of the Church in Malaysia and Singapore were discipled as students in Australia in the ’60’s and 70’s. Adding to the ranks are graduates from the 80ʼs and 90ʼs, such as Dr. Patrick Fung, the first Asian International Director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship, who was part of the Overseas Christian Fellowship of Sydney.

* Two sisters from a highly restrictive country came to Christ as international students, discipled by a student ministry, and returned home to have a very fruitful ministry until they were kicked out of their country. They have continued to have a highly successful ministry in other neighboring countries of the restricted region.

* Student in Portugal: In the 1980ʼs Procel DaSilva Armando was sent by the government of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, to study law in Portugal. He came to Christ and discipled with the Christian Union of Portugal. After returning home he exercised courage and faith to decline situations that would compromise his convictions and as a result was promoted highly to serve his nation. Lindsay Brown summarizes the story in Shining Like Stars with, “…in Portugal as an overseas student was able to become a Daniel at court back in his home country. We should never underestimate the influence that someone with courage can bring on the whole direction of a culture”.

*Student from Portugal: a high-school exchange student trusted in Christ in the U.S. and returned home and engaged in a university ministry. Later he became the national director of the campus ministry and entered into partnership with two international mission organizations to launch an ISM at two universities in Portugal. He also is a key leader with the Portuguese Bible Society. (Lausanne Occasional Paper #55).

* A contemporary Japanese returnee has planted 70+ churches

* A contemporary Chinese returnee has planted 7 churches, a specialized ministry, and a campus fellowship

* Niijima Shimeta (aka Joseph Hardy Neesima) stowed away to America and became a Christian in 1866. After attending Amherst College, MA, he graduated from Andover Theological Seminary and became the first Japanese ordained Protestant minister in 1874. He returned to Japan in 1875 to start a Christian school that became Doshisha University and also Doshisha Womens College of Liberal Arts.

C. ISM Benefits Local Churches & Ministries

Local churches and ministries are discovering how enriching it is to have a ministry among international students because:

  1. of the benefits and significant global impact that’s possible with a very modest ISM budget; high-yield but low cost;
  2. …ISM provides a tangible dimension to a church’s mission vision, with engagement options for the congregation to participate in…beyond prayer and financial support of overseas missionaries and ministries;
  3. …ISM incorporates the broad range of church members available for involvement, from children to retirees, and utilizes their varied gifts for service—hospitality, helps, administration, teaching, mercy, evangelism, leadership, etc.;
  4. …returned or retired missionaries back home are extending their cross- cultural mission service by ministering among international students from the country or cultural-linguistic group they served overseas; we had several missionaries and other returned expatriate government, military or business people involved regularly in our church-based ISM;
  5. …many people who have a desire to serve abroad but are not able to, are having a fruitful ministry with international students from the country or region of the world they had intended to go to; it is not unusual to hear volunteers say that they had a desire to be a missionary when they were younger, but circumstances changed their direction in life, and are now being global missionaries at home, and sometimes in their homes.

[“before the Haywards were married, Edith wanted to go to India as a missionary, but she could not. The Lord instead enabled her and her husband to host, disciple and prepare a vessel for His work in India and other parts of the world…Bakht Singh…while living with them as a newly converted international student, little did they realize that their guest would one day be the…greatest evangelist and church-planter in India in the 20th century; [from Brother Bakht Singh of India, by T.E. Koshy, 2003] [Edith Hayward had committed herself to missionary service in India… when instead she decided to marry a businessman, her “spiritually-minded” roommate and best friend boycotted the wedding, convinced that Edith had stepped out of the will of God; from Note 19, Bonk, Missiology, April, 2000].

  1. …international students are ready-made language and cultural teachers and mentors for anyone going to the students’ countries for long-term or short-term missions, study abroad, work, or simply a visit;
  2. …international students may provide a critical linkage for ministry/mission in their homeland, either personally after they return home or by giving a positive introduction and endorsement of missionaries to their family, friends, and networks; returnees could be gatekeepers that open the door for ministry by foreigners in their country [our own daughter did a study-abroad in Quito, Ecuador and was invited to the home of a former international student who was part of our churchʼs ISM…and later our daughter returned to Quito for 9 months of short-term missions]

I have heard of returned students who either opened the door for missionaries or closed the door to missionaries, depending on their good or negative experiences in the missionariesʼ homeland.;

  1. …ISM provides great “pre-field” cross-cultural experience for those planning to serve in another country [“The most effective way workers can prepare to serve overseas is to invest one or more years ministering with international students. Ministering to international students needs to be given a stronger emphasis in the preparation of mission candidates. Workers who minister to international students long before going overseas were shown to be much more effective than their peers”, Tentmaking: Business as Missions, Patrick Lai, 2005] ;
  2. .…the reality is that most Christians are not “called” to serve as long-term professional missionaries or to be self-supporting “tent-maker” missionaries in another country, but will remain in our homelands. Nevertheless, staying home does not mean we cannot engage in cross-cultural, global ministry….ISM is one avenue for engaging in world missions at home.

II.  From Mission Field to Mission Force

While ministries and churches have traditionally viewed international students as a mission field, more attention and priority should be given to discipling Christian international students to discern their calling and stewarding their gifts as Godʼs agents of the Great Commission, whether they return home, remain in the host country, or go to another country. Our church-based ISM created an evening worship service by and for internationals to deliberately provide a variety of ministry opportunities within a church context.  As a result, the international worship team leader went to seminary and then returned to his home country in South America as the first “returnee” Episcopal/Anglican priest.

III. Ministry as an International Student: A Priority to Implement

Christian college students should be encouraged to commit to a semester or year abroad as an international student and in effect, be an intentional student “tentmaker”. Besides the academic and personal rewards of the studying in another culture and country, the student will both minister while abroad and return with a greater appreciation for and skills to engage a world of growing cultural diversity and “glocal” mission opportunities. Returned study abroad students are a natural pool for ISM involvement. This strategy is “ISM in reverse”.  Campus ministry movements, such as Intervarsity USA, are to be commended for intentionally prioritizing “study abroad” and establishing a study abroad department.

IV.  Global Recognition & Networking of the ISM Movement:

One way to share the vision of ISM with the global Church and to encourage and equip denominations, mission agencies, campus ministries, local churches, and other ministries for outreach among international students, is to develop a global network of ISMs which will also resource, and equip one another to enhance the development of ISM in their area and context of ministry.

The Lausanne movement included International Student Ministry, in conjunction with Diaspora ministry, as a new emphasis for world evangelization at its 2004 Forum in Thailand, and subsequently established the International Student Ministries Special Interest Committee in 2007, which then evolved into the ISM Global Leadership Network(GLN).  The Lausanne ISM GLN, comprised of national and regional ISM leaders, hosted a regional Asia-Pacific consultation in Singapore in 2009 and again in 2015 under the directorship of Terry McGrath, the founder and former director of ISM New Zealand, who is the Lausanne Asia-Pacific ISM Regional Facilitator.  In 2014 the Lausanne ISM GLN, became a linked network of the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, and conducted a Manila-wide ISM training hosted by the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches and the Philippine Missions Association.  The Lausanne ISM GLN seeks to pioneer ISMs in strategic locations where it does not exist and to enhance existing ISMs, primarily through encouraging regional ISM networking, resourcing, and equipping events.

V. Challenges

A. Continual Need to help Godʼs People Really See Internationals

God repeatedly emphasized in the Old Testament the command for His people to love and care for widows, orphans, and foreigners (aliens, strangers, internationals). But often people donʼt extend help, friendship, or hospitality to marginalized people because they donʼt “see” them. Their eyes may notice a foreigner, but their heart looks past the stranger. We need Godʼs grace and love to truly see international students in our midst and feel compassion for them, just as Jesus felt when he saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd, as lost and distressed. Seeing and feeling with Godʼs eyes and heart will direct our steps towards genuine welcoming of foreign students and other strangers.

I was at a conference that had four workshops related to ISM. A question was asked of the participants, “Are more American students noticing or seeing international students?” The unanimous reply by representatives of different campus ministries was “no”. The greatest pool
of potential friends and witnesses to international students are their fellow host-national students, but they are practically blind to seeing the mission field sitting next to them or residing on the other side of their dorm-room wall. Who will encourage the local students to lift up their eyes and see the world, ripe for harvest in their classrooms? Who will challenge them to ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into the global mission field on their campus? Who will encourage campus ministries to invite Christian international students to join them, or if contextually appropriate, to form a culture/language specific fellowship?

B. Need for Training the Next Generation of ISM laborers

The first generation of the contemporary ISM movement is at the stage of winding down their race and should be passing the baton to younger leaders.  How appropriate and needful that the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (Jakarta, Indonesia, August, 2016) included both  Introductory and Advanced workshops on ISM, and established on-going mentoring of younger ISM leaders by veteran ISM workers.

In addition to mentoring the next generation of ISM workers, there is an urgent need for advanced academic training and research in ISM.  Nearly all of the current ISM staff have not had any formal academic training in ISM because it hardly exists.  There is an occasional introductory course on ISM, but no degree with any emphasis or concentration in ISM. It would be irresponsible and a failure of stewardship if this present generation of veteran ISM staff does not address the need to prepare the next generation of ISM staff.  It is time to establish some academic courses and possible Masters degree with an ISM focus, so that the next and future generations of ISM workers can at least have an option for academic training and research in ISM, to go along with non-academic training opportunities (e.g. organizational training and ISM conference workshops). This author had the privilege of convening the first two North American consultations to explore the establishment of academic training in ISM.  Such a possibility is now within reach in collaboration with the Lausanne Global Diaspora Network(GDN).  The GDN seeks to encourage the inclusion of diaspora missiology at Christian higher education and theological institutions and recently produced Scattered and Gathered: A Global Compendium of Diaspora Missiology that was presented at the 2016 AMA Mission Convention in Manila.  One of the chapters of the compendium is on ISM. An equally valuable compendium on diaspora missions that also has a chapter on ISM is, Global Diasporas and Mission, vol. 23 of the Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series.

C.  Need for Contextualized Reentry/Returnee Preparation and Discipleship

The need for culturally relevant and contextualized pre-departure reentry training and discipleship, and post-return follow-up, as well as informing home country churches and fellowships of the issues returnees face has been an on-going challenge for ISMs.  Stories of a significant number of returnees who became believers abroad, but fade from Christian fellowship after returning, keeps this issue a high priority.  Perhaps the most developed ministry to address this critical need is the Japanese Christian Fellowship Network (jcfn.org) that was formed by Japanese students attending the 1990 InterVarsity “Urbana” Missions.  A primary resource for international student reentry preparation is Think Home: A Reentry Guide for Christian International Students, that is translated or adapted in several languages and countries, is available at: http://ism.intervarsity.org.   A bibliography of Christian international student re-entry resources is available from the author.

Resources

A.Websites:  a list of national and regional ISM websites is available from the author

B. Lausanne ISM publication and ISM bibliography

International Student Ministry

________________

Leiton E. Chinn is the Lausanne Catalyst for International Student Ministries and the member of World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission Associate and Asia Missions Association. lechinn@aol.com

ASIA’S HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENTS TODAY

David S. Lim

How do the house church movements (HCMs) in Asia understand their biblical vision and actualize their mission strategy? The answers to this question comes from the perspective of an Asian (Chinese-Filipino) house church leader who has been trained as a biblical theologian and has been advocating for HCMs in Asia since 1987 and fully practicing house churching as one of its key leaders in 2001.

Most of the leaders in the HCMs in Asia have been meeting annually since 2006 in regional and continental summits to pray, fellowship and plan together on how to make disciples of all the peoples and nations of our vastly un-evangelized continent and beyond. Asia continues to have the most number of unreached peoples living in regions dominated by major religious faiths and political ideologies with almost negligible Christian influence. Can the Christ-following minorities of Asia really reach out to our Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Communist, and secular humanist neighbors effectively, so that the Great Commission can be fulfilled among them, even in our generation?

The Asian HCMs believe that by God’s grace, we can be the major force in Asia’s harvest in partnership with churches in our respective neighborhoods and countries. Actually if HCMs were considered as one denomination, we would be the largest in Asia perhaps as of two years ago. And if our Lord tarries, at the rate of our multiplication nowadays we may soon be the largest church body as large as all the denominational churches in Asia combined in the next two years.

Our Vision: Kingdomization or Societal Transformation

Asia’s HCMs believe that God desires His people to bless all peoples to inherit eternal life in heaven and abundant life on earth (= shalom/peace) as they obey Him as their Creator and King through their faith in His Son Jesus Christ. He thus made a simple plan for world redemption called “church planting movements” (CPMs) or “disciple multiplication movements’ (DMMs) by which all peoples and nations will be made into disciples/followers of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. By His grace, all HC networks seek to work with all Jesus-followers to realize His reign on earth until He returns to set up His eternal kingdom (Rev. 11:1).

We shall pray and work for “kingdomization” or “societal transformation,” by which the individuals, families, communities and institutions in our nations will be enabled to relate with each other and with other communities with biblical (= God’s kingdom) norms and values. We seek to build Christ-centered transformational communities that are growing in righteousness and justice marked by self-giving love (Greek: agape), where every house and workplace is a church. Righteousness refers to right relationships (usually using one word: “love”) with God, with self, with all people (esp. those already in the Kingdom, Gal. 6:10) and with creation.

Our goal is for all peoples to accept the biblical worldview and behavioral patterns, which shall have been contextually institutionalized into laws, policies and structures. This will be achieved through the processes of evangelization and disciple-making — to form Christ-centered and Bible-based communities in places of residence (neighborhoods) and in places of work or study (schools, factories, government offices, banks, stores, etc.) — where God’s word is discussed, applied and lived out relevantly in their daily life. Any section of creation can be sanctified and transformed by prayer to God in Jesus’ name and obedience to His word (1 Tim. 4:4-5). Thus there is actually no need to build Christian or church buildings, for all properties of Christ-followers belong to (and should be used for) His kingdom (Jn. 4:21-24; Acts 7:48; 17:24-28)!

Biblical Basis of our Kingdom/Transformational Mission

We also hold the following seven (7) biblical basis of our Kingdom/transformational mission:

  1. God intended His redemption plan to be spread to all nations (from Jerusalem) in the quickest possible time – for His desire is to save all (2 Pet.3:8-9, 1 Tim 2:3-5).
  2. For rapid fulfillment of His desire to save all, God’s plan of world evangelization must be simple, so simple that ordinary believers, including new, young and/or illiterate believers can do evangelism (Jn. 4; Mk. 5:1-20; Lk. 5:1-11). The gospel message is simple, too: “Jesus Christ is Lord who alone gives eternal and abundant life,” which any believer can share with others, esp. their family and friends and school/work-mates!
  3. The quickest way possible is to mobilize as many believers as possible (if possible, every Christ-believer), perhaps by the millions to evangelize and disciple the nations. The Great Commission is given to all believers. This is the priesthood of every believer in practice (1 Pet. 2:9-10; cf. Exod. 19:5-6).
  4. Each believer can and should be discipled to become a disciple-maker. It is possible to plant and program the right DNA into new converts, so that they will grow and develop into reproducing Christ-followers for the rest of their life by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim.2:2).
  5. Life is relationships; all the rest are details! To disciple means to equip Christ-followers with just three relational skills: (a) hearing God through prayerful meditation to turn His word (logos) into a word (rhema) to be obeyed (2 Tim.3:16-17); (b) making disciples through leading a “house church” in Bible reflection and sharing, thereby each one learns how to do personal devotions (or “Quiet Time” = lectio divina) with fellow believers (Heb. 10:24-25; 1 Cor. 14:26); and (c) doing friendship evangelism to share what they learn of God and His will with their networks of non-believing kin and friends.
  6. These millions of reproducing believers can be produced through mentoring (or better, “discipling”) by disciple-makers (= servant-leaders) who seek to equip all believers (cf. Eph. 4:11-16) right in their house church meetings, usually in their residences and workplaces. Our Lord Jesus trained his twelve apostles to do this “master plan for world evangelization,” and they did it (Lk.9:1-6; 10:1-24). The Apostle Paul did it, and in eight years he testified that he had no more people (both Jews and Gentiles) to evangelize in the northern Mediterranean area (Rom.15:18-20, cf. Ac.19:1-10)!
  7. Kingdomization can be done effectively and strategically through the disciple-making movement (DMM) or church planting movement (CPM) mission paradigm, so as to produce “people movements,” especially if combined with Community Development and C-5 (high contextualization) strategies, which many missiologists label as “insider movements” (IMs) nowadays (Talman & Travis 2015). And it will be done: Our Lord Jesus told his disciples, “Fear not little flock! For it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” (Lk. 12:32). We have found like-minded partners in the campus evangelism, marketplace ministry, community transformation, business as mission (BAM) and tentmaker movements in Asia and globally.

Our Simple Strategy: Disciple Multiplication Movements (DMM)

House churches (HCs) are actually “disciple-making groups,” which may also be called “simple (or organic) churches,” “basic ecclesial communities” (BEC), “office cells,” “care groups,” etc. It is any small (not more than 20 adults or 10 couples, preferably as “two or three” for intimate sharing) Christ-worshipping and Scripture-honoring body of believers who have covenanted to meet regularly and are willing to be held accountable for their Christ-centered lives to one another.

HCs focus on the “disciple-making” process, which starts when a believer finds another one (old or new believer does not matter much) who care to pray and work together to build up one another (1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10:24-25) and to help each other fulfill the Great Commission (Heb. 10:24-25). They will seek to turn friends into converts, through “friendship (or incarnational) evangelism,” and then also into disciples by inviting them to become HC members.

“Disciples” are those who are willing to be mentored to form a more Christ-like character, equipped to discover and minister with their spiritual gift(s), and trained to do evangelism and lead HCs. By then, the disciple should have become a “disciple-maker,” empowered (given authority) to lead his/her own HC network. The HCs may be (a) residential, where its members meet in homes, living out their faith in their neighborhood, or (b) professional, where its members meet in their place of work or study, and witness to their faith in the marketplace.

EXPANSION. HCMs grow through “cell multiplication,” normally in less than a year, by starting one or more similar groups, in love, to make more disciples for Christ. This happens intentionally, as members are encouraged to disciple new believers in new (their own!) HCs, or, to pair up and start new HCs in their contexts. At the start of each HC (say, the first month), it is best that they meet as often as possible (if possible, daily!) After several months (maximum of three years), HCs of “HC leaders” can meet less regularly, say, monthly and then quarterly, and later annually or even just through correspondence and social media (email and Facebook)!

PROGRAMMING. The weekly program in HC meetings are informal, flexible and contextual, with the free mixture of activities according to the needs and giftings of the participants, as set by the leader(s) in close consultation with all the members. Activities include: prayer, Bible reflection, fellowship (try to include a simple/potluck meal together always!) and sharing, collection and stewardship of resources for community service and missions support. Following 1 Cor. 14:26 pattern of meeting, all members come prepared to “disciple (or teach, encourage, confess sins, etc.) one another,” as they participate in building one another in their body-life together.

For Bible reflection, the leader facilitates discussion by prayerfully choosing an appropriate biblical text, and as it is read three times (with one-minute pauses after each reading), and then just asks the group to answer two questions: (1) “Which verse (or word or idea) in the passage is most meaningful for you? Why?” And (2) “How can we apply what we have learned for the good of our family, friends and/or community/workplace?”. To train their members to be disciple-makers, they just add another question, (3) “Who are the two people you can share our lessons with?” and expect them to report what happens in the next meeting. These members are encouraged to not bring their contacts to the HC, but to form and lead new HCs themselves.

For sharing time, they can answer any or all of these questions: “What has God done for you lately?” “What has God been teaching you lately?” and “What have you done for God lately?” Emergency issues should take precedence over planned activities. Hence, between opening and closing prayers, each HC grows spiritually together (literally) “as the Spirit leads”!

Our Cross-Cultural Missions: Effective Tentmaking

Since 2005, the Philippine Missions Association’s (PMA) flagship mobilization program has focused on equipping and sending overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to be tentmakers who catalyze simple disciple multiplication movements (DMMs) to bless the nations. This is similar to the Back to Jerusalem mission of the major HCMs in China where they envisioned tentmakers sent like ants, bees and worms, rather than as lions and elephants (Hattaway 2003).

To show how DMM works on the ground, here is one training module called “Tentmakers Crash Course,” which describes effective tentmaking as consisting of seven steps, all of which can be done in 6-10 months by beginners, and in less than a month by experts:

  1. Make a second home. When they arrive in any new place, they should find a “person of peace” (Lk.10:5-6) and settle down in such a way the people they will invite later will feel comfortable to visit their new home. This includes loving the people, learning the language, appreciating the culture and religion, and following their cultural customs as much as possible (1 Cor.9:19-23)! They should never criticize their host culture (esp. politics and religion) in front of them, even in private.
  2. Make friends. They must aim to make 2-6 “best friends” with the networks of the “person of peace.” They start by being approachable and sociable. They must be good conversationalists by being good listeners. They must spend much time with their new friends, making most of their interests their own, too. They must give gifts in special occasions, be hospitable and invite their friends to eat, cook or even sleep overnight at their place. Above all, they should help their friends in their time of need!
  3. Make friends with leaders. They must try to make 1-2 leaders to be their friends, too. Upon arrival, they should visit key leaders and give them a gift or at least offer to help in community affairs. They must do their jobs well, as excellently as possible, and give extra free service sometimes. They should participate in community activities, volunteer as member or officer in working or planning committees, and share any suggestion for improvement with their leader-friends, and proceed only with their approval.
  4. Make converts. When opportunity arises (and there will be plenty), they should be ready to share Jesus with these friends (1 Pet.3:15). According to their need or concern, they can share their testimony with them: how Jesus works in their life. Then they can share about the life and teachings of Jesus that are relevant for them (each one may need a different emphasis). Once they are sure that the friends truly want to follow Jesus as their leader, helper, forgiver and/or guide, they can invite them to be baptized; and when they freely consent, they can baptize them in private! The key is to be sure that the friends have changed their allegiance from idols (religious or material) to Jesus! If trained, they can opt to wait until the time is ripe for the converts’ whole family or whole community to be converted and baptized together!
  5. Make disciples. They then must disciple the 2-6 converts in one-on-one and small group discipling relationships. The more times they spend together right after their conversions, the better. There is no need to use any materials; they just urge the new believers to read the Bible in the language(s) they understand, and discuss their questions and insights with them. They must trust the Holy Spirit to speak to them through the Word, and they will have the wisdom to guide them to learn from the Bible (cf. Acts 20:28-32). For “Bible sharing” sessions, they just choose a short passage and ask, “What does this text say in our own words?” and “What is God telling us to do in this text?” The goal is to bring each one to spiritual maturity in Christ-likeness (Col.1:28-29), which is to live a life of obedience to God – a life full of agape-love/grace (out of sinful self-centeredness to sacrificial service for others, esp. the poor, cf. Matt. 22:37-39; 25:31-46; Gal. 6:1-10; Heb. 10:24-25).
  6. Make disciple-makers. As they are discipling their new converts, they should encourage the latter to make their own converts and disciples from among their own friends, relatives and neighbors, a few individuals or groups at a time. Their disciples can start discipling their own disciples by just following what they have been doing with them. The new disciplers just have to be a couple of steps ahead of their disciples! They should lead their own group and not bring their disciples to the tentmaker’s group. It is best that they do not even visit their disciples’ groups. After all, they will be growing spiritually faster as they lead their own group in our life-based interactive mutual learning model of disciple-making.
  7. Make a planned exit. To disciple is to Model, Assist, Watch and Leave (M.A.W.L.)! This is actually step no. 1: to plan to exit as soon as possible, so that our disciples “graduate” to be our equals – disciple-makers and servant-leaders in their own right! The tentmaker’s role is just to be a mentor, guide or coach for a while, and then stop meeting them regularly and tell them, “Greater works you will do without me,” just like what Jesus told his disciples when he was about to leave them (Jn.14:12). They must not be surprised when their disciples (esp. the leader-types) do better contextual witness and multiplication than them! Of course, they can keep in touch with them by correspondence and visits, as Paul did with his disciples. Then God can send them to another unreached area, so that they can repeat the same process there.

In most Asian HCMs, we emphasize that DMMs aim to plant “people movements” by equipping disciples to multiply simple biblical Christianity — contextualized, holistic and transformational “indigenous churches” that are truly replicable: self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating and self-theologizing. We will be planting “churches” that will be copied by future generations of Christians, so we should avoid transplanting denominational churches (= complex Christianity) which are often non-contextual (= foreign-looking, if not actually foreign), hence have almost always produced marginalized Christians who are separated from their communities — despised and rejected by their family and friends, not because of the Gospel but because of their extra-biblical forms.

So, we prefer to encourage our disciples not to attend an international fellowship or denominational church, if there is any, perhaps except in special occasions. They should just focus on making disciples and multiplying “simple churches,” for where two or three believers are gathered prayerfully, there is the church (Matt. 18:19-20)! They should encourage their disciples to just “gossip Jesus” and multiply small “disciple-making groups” among their friends and kin in their neighborhoods and work-places. They are to just do this spiritual “network marketing” of the Gospel from city to city – till every home and workplace in the world knows and obeys Jesus.

Our Historical Development: National House Church Networks

The Christian world came to know about HCMs mainly through the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) in China when the almost extinguished Christianity emerged as “unregistered churches” in the rural areas and some cities. Most of these HC networks have grown exponentially to as large as 7-8 million, especially in the central and southern provinces of China, and estimated to be about 100 million strong nationwide by 2012.

When we convened in Manila for the first Asian HCM Leaders Summit in 2006, we knew that 75% of China’s HC networks have become mainly “micro-churches” that have the clergy-led, hierarchical and “edifice complex” ecclesiology, so that if religious freedom comes to China, they will be building Christendom structures as soon as possible, as is evident in many cities and regions of China since 1990s. Yet six of the leaders from the “pure 25%” were providentially present at the summit as they joined 40 others from other countries: Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, New Zealand and U.S.A.

The first Phil. HCM Leaders Summit was convened earlier in Manila in 2005. Since then they have met annually in 20-30 participant summits to encourage one another and plan together for expanding the movement nationwide and beyond. We have met in Quezon City (2007), Cebu (2008), Cagayan de Oro (2009), Tagaytay (2010, when we were joined by 5 HC leaders from USA and Australia), Valencia (2011, when we adopted the name “Star Grass Coalition”), Novaliches (2012, when we chose “healthy lifestyle” and “organic farming” as our entry-points into communities, the latter similar to “apostolic gardens” of the largest Indian HCM today), Babatngon (2013, when we adopted Creative Community Foundation Inc., CCFI, as our main national development organization), Iloilo (2014), and Davao (2015, when we formed the Phil. Community Supported Agriculture Network and joined the Phil. Movement for Transformational Leadership).

At the first Asian Summit in 2006, we already learned that among ourselves there were several HCM training modules ready for use across Asia: Bruce Carlton’s “Project Thessalonica,” Tony Dale’s “Getting Started” with DVD, my “Tentmakers Crash Course,” Roberto Claro’s “A Higher Purpose for Your Overseas Job,” Mitsuo Fukuda’s “Upward, Outward, Inward,” Robin Corner’s “ Simple Church,” Navigators’ “Insider Ministry,” Center for Community Transformation (CCT)’s field visits to their house-fellowships, and various Chinese HC Trainings. The most significant training program may be Claro’s “A Higher Purpose” that trains overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to form “circles of three” wherever they go to live and work in Asia or elsewhere.

61 delegates from 13 countries (now with the addition of Australia and Vietnam) made it to the 2nd HCM Summit in HK in 2007. Concurrent sessions were organized around the general topics and were followed by a training session on how HC meetings were conducted in India in the networks coordinated by Victor & Bindu Choudhrie and their team. Country reports were followed by times of prayer for each country (including those were not represented at the summit). Equally important were free times when the delegates simply took time to build relationships and get to know each other.

The 3rd summit was held in 2008 in Bandung, Indonesia, where a number of CPMs and IMs were spreading (not much can be shared here due to security concern). It turned out to be almost a global one, with more than 80 participants and the presence of Wolfgang Simson (Germany), Wolfgang Fernandez (Latin America), and a “cell church” leader, Ben Wong (Hong Kong). Much time was given to listening to messages from these recognized leaders, and discussing and praying in response to them. Some of us were able to visit some IM leaders in the area and in Jakarta. As we accepted India’s offer to host the next summit, we discerned that it was time to call for an international one.

So in November 2009, the Indian network of Victor Choudhrie hosted the First Global HCM Leaders Summit in New Delhi, where every continent was represented among the 135 participants. From Asia, we missed the delegations from, but heard good reports of CPMs in Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Middle East and Central Asia. A representative from each country served in the “steering group,” as we sought God’s guidance on how to fulfill our vision and mission most effectively. (This group met again a few months thereafter in Kuala Lumpur, and discerned to focus on catalyzing DMM in Africa for the next two years).

And so in August 2012, 35 participants made it to the 4th Asian HCM Leaders Summit in Tokyo, Japan. This time we had participants from Nepal, Singapore, Cambodia, Australia and Central Asia, with some from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan not making it due to visa problems. We were shown the easily replicable Japan-developed “Upward, Outward, Inward” (UOI) training as co-facilitated by a Central Asian and a missionary-to-Japan trainers. We also learned from the reports from those networks that were effectively reaching poor communities through combining CPMs with community development. Then the Japanese HCM also held their national summit focusing on equipping those who were involved in the dramatic breakthroughs after the tsunami disaster last March 2011 (with testimonies of Jesus appearing in visions) can turn the HCM in the affected northeastern region into a national movement.

Meanwhile the Southeast Asian region held its first HC Leaders Summit in August 2013 in Singapore, with delegates from Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia. Its second summit was held in February 2014, just before the 5th Asian HCM Leaders Summit in Bangkok. Most significant was our discovery of a fast-growing HCM in Thailand, called “House Network Church” led by Sinchai Chaojaroenrat, who had pastored two mega-churches in Bangkok but has become an advocate and effective leader of CPMs (which he called “zero-budget church planting”) in Thailand that had begun to spread to Cambodia and Laos. We accepted his offer to host the next Asian and Global HCM summits in Thailand.

So the Thai HCM hosted the 6th Asian HCM Summit and the 2nd Global HCM Summit in the premises of an African migrant church in Bangkok in May 26-27 and 28-30, 2015. New delegations came from Central Asia and Africa, including 9 from China. Some of the key leaders decided to become more focused in our involvement in secular societal structures, esp. in the academic, business and political sectors to “plant Jesus” and transform communities and the marketplace for God’s kingdom.

We look forward to holding our 7th Asian Summit in February 2017 in Manila, after the Southeast Asian region hold their 3rd one in August 2016 in Jakarta. Moreover, the Indonesian delegation offered to host the 3rd Global HCM Summit in 2018 in Bandung, which we all welcomed: how symbolically significant to hold the next global HC summit in a Muslim-majority country, after the first in a Hindu-majority nation (2009) and the second in a Buddhist-majority nation (2015)! The Asian HCMs are hosting the global HCMs to keep their focus on frontier missions among the unreached!

Since HCMs form networks that constitute a flat structure, where every HC and every HCM is autonomous and has direct access and responsibility to our King Jesus, these summit conferences of HCM leaders aim mainly to reflect the unity of the HCMs, and to nurture the personal relationships esp. between the older and younger leaders in the various HCMs in Asia – across their vast ethnic, cultural, generational and linguistic differences.

Due to security concerns, many details of HCMs in restricted countries cannot be shared in this article. Across Asia today, HCMs and IMs are producing transformational communities that are led by local Christ-followers who have not been extracted from their relational and religious communities. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Asian HCMs will be catalyzing DMMs and IMs in Asia and beyond, for we believe that the harvest is indeed plentiful (Matt. 9:37-38) and has always been ripe for reaping (Jn.4:35). Our King Jesus is indeed building His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt.16:18-19)! May God find us faithful in working together to realize the kingdom of God effectively in Asia and the world in our generation!

Bibliography

Carlton, R. Bruce. 2000. Amazing Grace: Lessons on Church Planting Movements from Cambodia. Chennai: Mission Education Books.
Chaojaroenrat, Sinchai. N.d. (in Thai) House Network Church. Bangkok: Christian Leadership Institute.
Choudhrie, Victor. 2007. Teaching Cards for Church Planters. greettheekklesia@gmail.com.
______. 2010. Mega Church to Meta Church. www.peterjfarmers/mega-church-to-meta-church.
Claro, Robert. 2003. A Higher Purpose for Your Overseas Job. Makati City: Church
Strengthening Ministries.
Francis, Andrew. 2011. Mission on the Outside. Baltimore: Publish America.
Fukuda, Mitsuo. 2010. Upward, Outward, Inward: Passing the Baton of Discipleship. Gloucester: Wide Margin.
______. 2011. Mentoring Like Barnabas. Gloucester: Wide Margin.
Garrison, David. 2004. Church Planting Movements. Midlothian, VA: WIGTake Resources.
_______. 2013. A Wind in the House of Islam. Monument, CO: WIGTake Resources.
Gauran, Johani. 1991. The Witnessing Kit. Makati City: Church Strengthening Ministry.
Hattaway, Paul, et al. 2003. Back to Jerusalem. Carlisle: Piquant.
Hoefer, Herbert. 2001. Churchless Christianity. Pasadena: William. Carey Library.
Kraft, Charles. 1979. Christianity in Cultures. Maryknoll: Orbis.
Lim, David. 1987. The Servant Nature of the Church in the Pauline Corpus. Ph.D. Diss., Fuller
Theological Seminary. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
_______. 2003. “Towards a Radical Contextualization Paradigm in Evangelizing Buddhists,” Sharing Jesus in the Buddhist World, ed. David Lim & Steve Spaulding. Pasadena: William Carey Library. pp. 71-94.
_______. 2008. “Catalyzing ‘Insider Movements’ Among the Unreached.” Journal of Asian Mission 10.1-2 (March-September 2008): 125-145.
_______. 2009. “Filipino Urban Missions in the Buddhist World,” ed. Paul de Neui. Communicating Christ in Asian Cities: Urban Issues in Buddhist Contexts. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, pp. 201-223.
_______. 2011. “Towards Closure: Imperial or Incarnational Missions?” Asian Missions Advance, 33 (October 2011): 20-22.
_______. 2013. “Asian Mission Movements in Asia Today.” Asian Missions Advance 41 (October): 29-36.
_______. 2013a. “History and Ministry of Philippine Missions Association: Leading the Global Shift to Tentmaker Missions.” Asian Missions Advance 41 (October): 2-6.
_______. 2013b. “The House Church Movements in Asia.” Asian Missions Advance 38 (January): 3-7.
Lopez, Bob. 2004. “Raising Up the New Breed of Missionaries.” TIE News (2004): 3-5.
Nee, Watchman. 1974. Further Talks on the Church Life. Los Angeles: The Stream Publishers.
Pantoja, Luis, Jr., Sadiri Joy Tira, and Enoch Wan (eds). 2004. Scattered: The Filipino Global
Presence. Manila: Life Change Publishing.
Richard, Herbert. 1999. Following Jesus in the Hindu Context. Pasadena: William. Carey Library.
Simson, Wolfgang. 2001. Houses That Change the World. Carlisle: Paternoster.
Talman, Harley, and J. J. Travis (eds.). 2015. Understanding Insider Movements: Disciples of Jesus Within Diverse Religious Communities. Pasadena: William Carey Library.
Zdero, Rad. 2004. The Global House Church Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library.
_______. 2007. Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader. Pasadena: William Carey Library.



Dr. David S. Lim served as the National Director of PMA, and the National Facilitation Team, Chairman of the PMA’s flagship program: the Philippine Missions Mobilization Movement. He is also the President of China Ministries International-Philippines and the CEO of Asian School for Development and Cross-cultural Studies. He is also the Board Chairman of Lausanne Philippines, and serves in the Steering Committee of SEANET. cmiphil53@yahoo.com

MANI 2016 REPORT THE MOVEMENT FOR AFRICAN NATIONAL INITIATIVES

 

Reuben Ezemadu

The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI) recently drew together leaders from across Africa and around the world at two major events focused on the mobilization of the African Church for fulfillment of the Great Commission.

MANI was launched in 2001 as a network of networks catalyzing African National Initiatives and mobilizing the resources of the Body of Christ in Africa for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Its purpose is to affirm, motivate, mobilize and network Christian leaders by inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached and least- evangelized in Africa, and the wider world.

The vision is advanced through the country assessment process, the communication of up-to- date research, partnering initiatives, prayer efforts and national, regional and continental consultations focused on the unfinished task. Previous MANI continental consultations have been held in Jerusalem (2001), Nairobi, Kenya (2006) and Abuja, Nigeria (2011).

The MANI 2016 Continental Consultation brought together 560 delegates from over fifty countries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 7-11, 2016.

Held in the African Union Centre, Christian leaders focused on the biblical mandate to “make disciples of all nations” in the venue normally reserved for African heads of state and their representatives.

Dr. Reuben Ezemadu (MANI Continental Coordinator) led the assembly in celebrating God’s dynamic work through the African Church and in assessing the challenges that lie ahead.

The consultation theme was “Hearing and Obeying God in Times Like These.” Stirred by biblical expositions from Revelation 2 and 3, delegates sought to discern what the Spirit of God is saying to the Church in Africa regarding her national and global mission.

On behalf of the African body of Christ, delegates prayerfully repented, renewed their personal devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and freshly aligned with God’s mission of love to all nations. Worshipping the Lord of the harvest, they affirmed the collective goal of healthy, Christ- honoring churches living out the good news among every kind of people in every place.

Faced with the threat of militant Islam, African believers were called to loving, proactive witness in hostile contexts and to faithful obedience despite great suffering and loss. The participants acknowledged that least-reached peoples are now in greater contact with Christian communities than ever before. With millions of African Christians moving beyond their national borders, it was affirmed that the African Christian diaspora must be more intentionally equipped and mobilized as massive mission force.

a time listening

A Time of Listening

a time of reflecting

A Time of Reflecting

MANI 2016 emphases included:

  • Go North – mobilizing mission initiatives from sub-Saharan nations to the peoples of the Sahel and North Africa.
  • Discipleship – multiplying followers of Jesus through disciple-making movements and other discipling ministries.
  • Younger leaders – proactively developing emerging leaders and creating opportunities for their engagement in mission.
  • Women – affirming and releasing African women to fully employ their gifts in Church and society.
  • Children – nurturing the next generation as a redemptive force in our world.
· Prayer and intercession – hearing from God and recognizing that all-important work of the Spirit in the advance of the Gospel (Zech. 4:6)
  • Orality – utilizing oral communication to reach the great majority of least-reached peoples living in oral cultures.

One hundred global delegates traveled from other continents to learn from and collaborate with African delegates. Focused interaction was devoted to mutual partnering opportunities and best practices with the Church in Africa. Among topics discussed was the sending of African missionaries into other world regions as catalysts for evangelism, church planting and renewal.

MANI 2016 was highlighted by the presence of leaders from the China Mission 2030 movement who came in response to MANI’s call for assistance in reaching two million Chinese living in Africa. They were enthusiastically received and returned home with a plethora of invitations.

MANI enjoys peer relationships with a spectrum of networks such as the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, COMIBAM, the European Mission Association, Missio Nexus, the Asia Missions Association (AMA), Vision 5:9, Ethne, the WEA Mission Commission, Transform World, Lausanne, and others. It is part of the multi-national, multi-ethnic, multi-network team that God is assembling to advance Great Commission collaboration.

MANI advocates the central strategy of national initiatives in mobilizing the African Church for mission. A national initiative is an evangelistic partnership within the body of Christ in a given country, drawing major denominations, local churches and Christian ministries together in a multi-pronged national strategy of renewal, church growth, discipleship and missions (e.g. church planting). National initiatives are currently in varying stages of development across the continent.

mani continental team

MANI Continental Team

National delegations returned to their countries with a sharper vision and a revitalized commitment to see:

  • every unreached people group, geographical area and class of society penetrated with the gospel;
  • the involvement of a significant number of its churches in global missions; · healthy churches functioning in every community of population;
· the Body of Christ working together to achieve these goals.

MANI 2016 culminated with the proclamation “from Addis to everywhere… until Jesus comes.” the MANI 2016 Declaration and the ACH Summit Communique will soon be available on the MANI website http://maniafrica.com/

mani church

The MANI African Heads of Churches (AHC) Summit served as a strategic prelude to MANI 2016. Held in Gomoa-Fetteh, Ghana, on February 8-12, 2016, this unusual event drew together 105 bishops and executive leaders from over 20 African denominations representing many millions of members. Together they explored the theme: “African Churches’ Response to the Critical Issues Facing Christian Witness in Africa and the World Today.”

The goal of the ACH Summit was to provide a forum to generate strategic awareness and collaboration among a catalytic group of African denominational leaders for the mobilization of the African Church in global mission.

The summit recognized the need to mobilize denominational structures for cross-cultural mission. It was noted that the main drivers of mission are currently ministries operating at the periphery of major denominations. The participants affirmed that a shared effort by denominational leaders would significantly accelerate the Great Commission in and from Africa.

Delegates affirmed that the Church in Africa is the hope of the African continent. They resolved to stimulate the Church to work together as salt and light in every aspect of national life for the transformation of society. Toward this end, they affirmed the importance of life-transforming discipleship, biblical pastoral training, strong families and next generation mentoring.

The 105 denominational leaders determined to extend Christian love and witness to their Muslim neighbors and stand with their brethren who are the victims of persecution. They committed to model Christ-like leadership, to disciple their church members and to encourage all – regardless of age, tribe or gender – to utilize their full giftedness in service to others.

The Summit culminated with the shared commitment to target the remaining unreached people groups and plant indigenous churches among them. Plans were laid to host national Heads of Churches Summits to follow through on the implementation of the resolutions.

God is on the move in Africa and the African Church is moving with him! MANI has been raised up as a dynamic tool in God’s hand to mobilize the body of Christ for the discipling of nations. May the Lord be honored in the outcomes of these two strategic events. For more information, please visit the MANI website: www.maniafrica.com.


 

Dr. Ezemadu is the Founding and current International Director of the Christian Missionary Foundation Inc. He served as the pioneer General Secretary and later as the Chairman of NEMA, the General Coordinator of the Third World Missions Association and currently the Continental Coordinator of  MANI  as well as the Nigeria Ministry Center Director of the Development Associates International (DAI).reuben.ezemadu@gmail.com

 

NATIONAL REPORT: MYANMAR

Thawng Khan Siing

Scope of Report

This report is based mainly on the mission works of Myanmar Baptist Convention. I would like to present this report from four perspectives: Biblical, historical, strategic and global. Then I will conclude by inviting churches and organizations to partner with us, in Myanmar missions.

 

MBC Mission: Biblical Perspective

Our greatest concern, at MBC, is to convince our churches according to biblical perspectives and be encouraged to implement them in practical mission fields. In one sentence our mission is: “To make MBC churches Great Commission Churches.” Our main emphasis is …

 

  1. The Church must ‘go’ to make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19-20)

Go to Plant Churches: Due to unfavorable political and social situations in the past, for more than five decades, the church in Myanmar had been used to ‘sit’ with fear. Due to this situation, our mission theology emphasis became ‘come and see’ instead of ‘go and witness’. Being light and salt is now our highest agenda among churches.

Now, our emphasis is to GO to make disciples all nations as commanded by the risen Lord. In most common practices we can see three forms of mission in Myanmar: Evangelization means sharing the gospel, Disciple-making means teaching the Bible in depth and church planting, not as a step by step process but separate actions. But we at MBC, try our best to make it as long term process by sharing the gospel, teaching new converts to become true disciples and forming them to be a reproducing new church.

GO  to All Peoples by Three Means: For us, all nations means, every and any unreached people groups of different language and dialects with one commonness. At least there are over 100 out of 135 languages, still in need of mission works among them.

Firstly MBC encourages to go by means of praying by adopting an unreached people. Building networks and sharing information from mission fields are very helpful here. We set the second week of July, for 168 hours in chain-prayer, as MBC Prayer Mobilization. All Baptists are praying. Here, we accompany prayers with fasting, and spiritual warfare with Bible studies.

Secondly our churches are encouraged to support mission, especially in financial terms. Though poverty is a reality, we believe that if there is a will there is a way to support the church and her ministry. A church with a normal size membership and are actively serving, supports as much as 137 missionaries in cross-cultural, far-flung mission fields. Every church is urged to engage in mission giving, even in co-operation with other churches.

Finally each and every Baptist member is expected to share their faith as a witness. The example of the first century believers as recorded in Acts. 11:19-21 is very helpful. Sharing the fruits of witnessing makes the believers mostly inspired.

  1. To make the gospel preached to all peoples at all places. (Mk. 16:15, Acts. 1:8)

To all Kinds and Cultures of People at all Places: Our beloved missionary and Bible translator Adoniram Judson beautifully translated Mark 16:15 as Go ye into all the lives and walks instead of world. That means social classes like soldiers, prisoners, taxi drivers in Yangon city, AIDS victims in the border areas; educational workers in Mandalay, disaster and war victims in temporary camps, etc. are on our agenda to share the gospel with.

As to another biblical emphasis in Acts 1:8—From Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, we stressed the importance of mission work in our own Jerusalem, where we are culturally at home. The problem with the Baptists in Myanmar is they usually over look the need for this. As we practice the Believers’ Baptism, many sincere Baptists have taken for granted that a church member is a baptized member, at the same time and a born-again believer. Because of this, in certain cases, believers from other denominations come to Baptist churches to the invitation of a Baptist member or to win their Baptist friend sincerely but resulted to unfavorable things like turmoil instead of peace and co-operation in evangelism.

We also stressed the importance of one conjunction in KJV: both in Jerusalem, and in all — the uttermost part of the earth. Mission is but seeking ways to preach the gospel to all places: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the uttermost part of the earth at the same time.

  1. Blessings of being a missional church. (Acts. 11:26)

Examples of Two Churches: Christianity started out from Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The Jerusalem church is with such historical dignity and traditions as the center of Jewish culture but, in one sense, it was not so much missional or obedient to the great commission as it should be. After preaching the gospel all around in Jerusalem (Acts. 5:28), they have filled Jerusalem with their doctrine, the gospel of Jesus, it was a perfect time to move ahead as commanded by the Lord. But they failed to do it. That was the beginning of all calamities which can be seen in each and every church without enough mission spirit: No more conversions as seen in Acts. 4:4, but financial related problems (Chapter 5), internal church splits (Chapter 6) and persecutions (Chapter 7) followed by dispersions (Chapter 8).

On the other hand the Antioch church was started through the witness of dispersed church members of Jerusalem. So to say, because of persecution that arose due to Stephen’s stoning to death, who travelled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only (Acts 11:19). The good thing is the Antioch church appointed Barnabas and Saul, their two best teachers out of five, for the mission enterprise. (Acts 13:2-3)

So Antioch became the first missionary sending church to initiate a missionary movement.  The Bible records: And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea (Acts 11:29). That means the Antioch church deserved to be called the first Christian Church and to enjoy physical blessings.

Examples of Two Seas: Our church members got inspired as we share the similarities and differences of two seas in the Bible, Galilee and Dead Sea. Galilee has River Jordan flowing in and flowing out while Dead Sea is of flowing in only. The Sea of Galilee was fully interwoven with the life of the Lord Jesus before and after resurrection. On the other hand no Bible record of Jesus visiting the Dead Sea can be seen in the Bible. To be flowing out with mission is the key to a healthy church.

MBC Mission: Historical Perspective

Officially speaking Christians in Myanmar includes Catholics. With this background I would like to present the mission history of Myanmar in four eras as following.

  1. Pre Judson Era (1514-1812)

Arrival of the Catholic Mission: Following the trade routes of the Portuguese merchants, The first Catholic missionaries arrived in Myanmar in 1514. But to certain reasons the mission was not very much fruitful as it should be and the main reason was the response of the local people. It was seen and labeled as 3M mission strategy: Merchants, Military, and Missionaries. This was as abhorable as it was to them until this day,

Arrival of the English Baptist Mission: After these arrivals, there were three hundred years of Catholic mission, and British Baptist mission led by Felix Carey, the son of the renowned missionary William Carey who arrived in 1806 with very little success.  Here, I can positively justify why God didn’t allow English Baptist mission to succeed as the history later revealed that the British Empire was invading Myanmar with three-step intentional wars respectively in 1824, 1852 and 1885. The God of history carefully arranged the gospel attempts in Myanmar as not to be misunderstood and identified with colonialism. Felix Carey had given up his missionary career and served as an interpreter to Myanmar kings.

  1. Judson Era (1813-1850)

The Protestant mission in Myanmar began with Adoniram Judson, the chosen vessel, in 1813.

Why Judson: It’s no wonder God had chosen this young American atheist to be able to sympathize with Buddhist philosophy, the dominant religion in Myanmar, since 1044 AD. Though all the white foreigners are mistrusted, Adoniram Judson successfully built good relationships through his relevant mission strategy: Incarnation, cross-culture and holistic approach, etc. His model “Service and Sacrifice” becomes the motto of MBC.

  1. Post Judson Era (1851-2013)

Within this era, about one century-long period, the mission had been growing to become the largest religious organization in the country. According to political settings this period can be seen in three divisions: Sowing and Expansion (1851-1948), Rooting (1948-1962), Fruiting and Jubilation (1962-2013).

Sowing and Expansion (1851-1948):  When Judson was promoted “To the Golden Shore” in 1850 he left behind 74 local churches, 7904 believers with 892 baptized members led by a handful of American missionaries. With the strenuous efforts of them, the gospel had been vastly introduced to many different races and tribes. A number of people movements to the gospel were recorded during this time. In 1865 the Burma Baptist Missionary Society was formed and the name later changed to Burma Baptist Missionary Convention, Burma Baptist Convention, etc. and now it is known as MBC.

Rooting (1948-1962): After Myanmar’s independence from the British rule in 1948, within a very brief period of democracy , on its first wave, instead of enjoying religious freedom and peace, much more difficulties and challenges openly broke out.  It was because the public as the winning party and its government, backup by nationalistic Buddhism,  supported the movement of the legislature that passed Buddhism as the state religion. On the other hand the gospel very quickly spread to the tribal groups and was firmly rooted in them. Today Kachins with 97%, Chins with 85%, Lisu and Lahus about 50-60% and Kayins with 30-40% of the population are all Christians.

Fruiting (1962-2010): In 1962 the military seized  the government power and they expelled all the missionaries in 1963. As the regime practiced the so-called Myanmar way of Socialism, the country which is very rich in natural resources, went down to substantial poverty until it became LDC member in 1970s.  However the Church in Myanmar at large efficiently copes with challenges along the way.

The story turned out to be the worst after the military took power and began cracking down the country’s democracy demanding rallies in 1988. The church and its mission, along with democracy movements, met the most severe treatment of history. Some churches were burned down and new church buildings were not allowed. Worship services and gatherings were strictly limited. Pastors and ministers were sent to forced labor, and some were killed. Ethnic areas were raided very often to security reasons but getting against Christianity was mainly in the mind. However Myanmar church history itself was a proof of the saying: Blood of the saints, Seed of the Church.

On the other hand, during this period, most of the remarkable milestones, jubilee celebrations followed by mission sending, can be seen. For example, the Kachin Baptist Convention made history by launching out the renowned “Three-year Three Hundred Mission” (1978-1980) by sending out 300 evangelists to preach to every Kachin villages to the goal of evangelizing all their peoples. It was after their celebration of Baptist Mission centenary in 1977. The Asho Chins, living in plain regions, celebrated their jubilee in 1988, hillside Chins in Chin land also did in 1999, etc. Chins also adopted a mission called “Chins for Christ in One Century”, known as CCOC(1983-1999) to mark the centenary. Many other similar mission projects were practiced by other smaller dialect groups.

Coincidently this period was full of jubilee celebrations for MBC and its churches. MBC’s 150th anniversary of the gospel came in 1963 a year after the  seizing of power of the military, while the 175th exactly came in 1988 in which the military regime took power again and brutally subjugated everyone. As “jubilee” in the Bible times was very closely related to freedom. It has long been our heart’s deepest yearnings, including our beloved missionary Judson that the Myanmar Bicentenary will play a significant landmark of changes in Myanmar. Since the constitution adapted the   second wave democratic kind of government in 2011, the future has been as bright as never before.

  1. Beyond Bicentenary Baptist Mission Era (2014-)

After celebrating the bicentenary jubilee in 2013 MBC adopted a new project entitled “Beyond 200 Baptist Mission”. To ensure its effectiveness a church planting mission project was also adopted, “Golden Myanmar Baptist Mission-2nd Decade”(2014-2024) with the aim of evangelizing the country, mainly focused on the unreached people groups, with a target of making Baptist churches reach 6000 in number, and 10% of the Myanmar population become Christians.

MBC Mission: Strategy Perspective

MBC has been very keen to the given situations. We usually draft projects and tried to implement accordingly. Thus, mission projects such as: Survival and Grace Mission (1963-1973), Mission to Communities (1973-1982), Maturing the Church (1983-1992), AD 2000 Baptist Mission (1992-2002) and Golden Myanmar Baptist Mission (2003-2013), etc. come into being.

In adopting our strategies we are very well aware of the religious composition and the role of Christians in this country. Out of Myanmar population, 5-6%  are Christians, and 95% are from minorities from hillside tribal peoples. Due to years of mistrust and enmity because of discrimination based on racial and religious affiliations, the mission in Myanmar calls for carefully designed strategy and relevant methods. Our most important strategies can be seen as follows.

  1. Incarnation Mission

As termed by the late Dr. Ralph D. Winter, the mission in Myanmar is of E3 mission: Mission to different culture and peoples, different places and religions. Therefore we need to get inside to the worldview pattern of the unbelievers we target to share the gospel with.  To a typical Buddhist, the Race, the Language and the Religion go together. Therefore we encourage living among them and thinking like a Bhamar if one is to witness to a Bhamar as Paul says: yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. (1Cor. 9:19)

  1. Contextualization

To be frank,  we are not very much successful at contextualizing the gospel in the way our people could understand and conceive as the only truth and to get outside of samsara, the reincarnation or endless cycle of birth as Buddhism has taught. We preach the gospel of the remission of sin by the death of Jesus but they believe all the evil things must be rid-off through meditation of one self alone. We wanted to introduce eternal life to their spirit but they believe that nothing is eternal. Actually they do not want it as their main idea is to cut off the cycle of samsara. Here, we give one big careful notion that contextualization is of a great strategy, the method only but not of the message.

  1. Unreached People Groups Prioritized

As seen in the Biblical Perspective section, our mission strategy is people groups based. In doing this we prioritize the major UPGs like Bhamar (Burmese) being the largest group with 63% of the population with only 0.07% Christians, for example. The second group is Shan with 13% of the population but only 0.05% Christians. The third largest group is Rakhine, 6.54% of the population, with less than 0.01% believers. Mon follows with 3.48% of the population but only with less than 1.0% Christians. We give very careful approach to them with unique solution methods instead of standardized ones.

  1. Cross-cultural Mission

To put together the things we discussed, the barrier we need to get across is cultural. Myanmar is a rich mosaic of culture that witnessing in Myanmar requires some necessary cross-cultural understandings. Larger people groups are suffering from cultural superiority complex. They think Christians, most of them minorities, are second-class citizens.

  1. Some relevant methods

Myanmar society, especially the Buddhists, is community based. To get into them is somewhat difficult. Here is a list of methods we saw fit for Myanmar mission field.

Business as Mission: In every village and town blocs there is an immigration form 10-B to be filled up by the newcomers which can be turned down by the community head. Many missionaries could not access to the desired target because of this. But if one is a business owner he or she is not likely to be treated as such. We encourage small businesses as an entry visa to the field, platform for contact and source of funding. On the other hand excessive concern to the business, in many instances, can become a hindrance to mission effectiveness.

Man of Peace: The person with whom the missionary identified is key to the response and impression of the local populace. In cases of being unable to identify any one, becoming a man of peace through community development/NGO work is necessary.

Family Evangelization: Myanmar society is family based. If someone gets out of the family cluster, he or she has no place to fully identify with. Pulling new converts out of their family circle, even with good intention, is strategically wrong. They will never get inside back. Our encouragement is: Go home — and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (Mark 5:19)

 

MBC Mission: Globalization Perspective

Globalization brings Change: Speedy and forceful change to Myanmar churches and its mission with very heavy and irresistible impact. In responding to these, we put them in two categories: Adaptation and Mission. We need to adapt to some issues while with others, we need to respond with a mission. MBC has been, as a big organization with high value on stability, usually very slow to take action in any case. Nevertheless it’s necessary to take action to the following with certain necessary changes from MBC.

  1. Adaptation to Globalization Impacts

Flexible Change: Given the internet and information technology at hand we at MBC, need to make some necessary and flexible change to be in line with the speedily changing world. We need to evaluate the relevancy of our protocols, by-laws, official process, etc. Or we can compensate the risk by improving managerial skills like empowering and delegating more and more, etc. Leadership promotion and development is a must for us in which we need to take part with the mission-minded churches around the world.

Value Change: Globalization heavily imported various worship styles and any sort of doctrines. The so called gospels with the effect on taste and even lifestyle bring changes to MBC churches and believers. Unrest and instability also ask for our careful response to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16).

  1. Mission to Globalization Issues

For us, at MBC, globalization brings a mandate to change our mission focus. Here are some important issues.

Re-emphasizing Biblical Values: Because of globalization believers become more liberal, in one word. Lifestyles become secular; attitudes become indifferent, ego centric or individual based, there is no wonder Jesus said: when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). We have to re-emphasize biblical values and teachings.

Urban Mission: Due to globalization and many reasons like security, job and better life, disaster and so on Myanmar become more urbanize, very rapidly, than ever.  At the same time urban mission seems to be more secure or promising than rural. Urban church planting is very important to our mission.

Migrant Mission: In the time of globalization, for better jobs and education, for some due to it’s political concern, Myanmar becomes a migrant nation. Its citizens migrated to at least 37 different countries. Thailand alone has not less than 4 million Myanmar migrants. Once they are away from home they feel lonely and helpless that they become very receptive to the gospel as never before. Millions of Myanmar migrants around the world, someone estimated at 5-6 million, have been waiting for a church planting effort among them. To meet this need we form International Myanmar Baptist Fellowship in 2013. Its bi-annual gathering will be held during September 13-17, 2016 in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

Internet Mission: Globalization makes this generation digital. Because of certain physical barriers, internet evangelism seems to be promising than ever. It has its own advantages such as directness, time saving, and openness without any string attached from the seekers’ side. MBC is going online with Bible correspondence, news release, and so on.

 


 

Dr. Thawng Khan Siing is the Director for Evangelism and Missions of Myanmar Baptist Convention. MBC includes over 5000 local churches which are formed into 115 church associations, 18 regional and racial conventions. As the largest and strongest Christian body in the country it has 1.8 million members out of 2.5 Christians in Myanmar, representing 72% its population. mbcem.mission@gmail.com

 

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE LOCAL CHURCHES FOR ASIAN MISSIONS

Suraja Raman

INTRODUCTION:

Christian leadership is a high calling, because of its involvement in the development of the church. Scripture makes references to leadership through the use of metaphors.[1]

Leadership is Servanthood, and we see this as an example modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ (Mk 10:35-45, Lk 22:24-27). An example from the Old Testament is that of a leader bearing the burdens of others (Lev 16: 10-26, Jn 11:50).

A leader is like a Shepherd watching and protecting the sheep grazing in the field (Psa 23:1- 5, Jn 10:1-5, Acts 20:28, 1 Pet 5:1-4).

The leader’s task is also like that of a Steward, to care for the resources of the Christian community (Lk 19:11-26, Acts 20:35, 2 Tim 1:11-14).

The Lausanne Movement has observed a great shortage of mature leaders.Leadership training programs of all kinds have multiplied, but the problem (of a lack of discipled leaders) [2]Two reasons were identified for this: appointing leaders who have not been adequately discipled, and using programs which focus on packaged knowledge, techniques and skills to the neglect of godly character.

Effective leadership development is embedded in discipleship – the maturing of the saints, their equipping for the work of their ministry, and above all, bringing them to be followers of Christ. This is a process which is a primary role of the local church,             and sadly one that many churches fall short of in their pursuit of program driven  [3]

As a result, there is still a great lack in the reproduction of godly, bible based, disciple-making leaders who are equipped for effective ministry in the Asian mission fields and the local church ministry.

The urgency of ministering to Asian believers

The heart of biblical theology is God’s transformation of people.[4]The old has passed away (2 Cor 5:17). God is doing a new work in the lives of the people living in Asia. Human relationships are at the heart of a leader developing church members for the ministries in missions. A leader should be constantly learning and listening to the voices of the Christian community (Ezra 7:10, Acts 20:17-21, 2 Tim 2:15). Leaders need to be motivated because of the urgency of reaching today’s populated world (Num 14; 6-9, 24, Josh 14:8, 2 Tim 1:6-7).[5]

In this century, the world population growth will be almost entirely concentrated in Asia, Africa and Latin America. (see chart below). Today, Asia is where we find two-thirds of the world population. In every part of Asia, we see the presence of believers because of the symbol of the cross. This draws every individual located in the urban and remote places for worship into the Christian community. Therefore, there is an urgent need for more leaders to be constantly developed through the local church.

…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…(Eph 4:12-13, ESV)

Chart 1. World Population Growth, 2000-2100 (chart by Haggai Institute)

 chart1


[1]Adeyemo, Tokunboh. Africa Bible Commentary. (Word Alive, 2006), 546.
[2] The Lausanne Movement. The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action (Didasko Files, 2011), Section IID, 56.
[3]Mark Syn, the Executive Director of Pioneers for Asia, in an interview.
[4]Tan, Siang-Yang. Full Service: Moving from Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood. (Baker, 2006), 134.
[5]Hibert, Paul. Anthropological Insights for Missionaries. (Baker, 1985), 255.


EMPIRICAL ASPECTS OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Several Asian leaders have had Ted Ward, an educator and missiologist, as their mentor, colleague, and friend. We were often challenged to look for the model of leadership that it must be drawn from the Scripture and evaluated in terms of accountability to the Lordship of Christ.[6]Ward further suggested this concept in one of his models, the Hand model as illustrated below. The hand represents us, and reminds us that each one of God’s creation is precious in His sight.

Ward reinforces that theologians for centuries have described this spiritual essence as being the center of the image of God in humankind. We must represent the spiritual nature not as merely one more of the empirical aspects-but rather as the special center of what it means to be a human being.[7]The spiritual core is represented in the center of the hand model. As God’s special people created in His image for a purpose, we are His co-workers for the salvation of men and women. An active participation in Asian missions becomes a joy and a privilege. The leader becomes excited in the ministry of discipleship.

figure1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1. The “Hand” Model by Ted Ward

 

1. THE ROLE AND FUNCTION OF THE LOCAL CHURCHES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

. . for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? and how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:13- 15)

The Church of Jesus Christ is given the task of sending missionaries into the world. God’s plan of salvation, which must be heard, is made possible through the lives of men and women, children and youth, who are instrumental in sharing the Good News with their families, friends, and neighbors. A missionary church that is “alive” is aflame with passion for the lost.

The late Dr. GD James, who served as a leader, evangelist and Bible teacher, testified of his miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ: “I was a Hindu studying in a Christian school. Soon I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Savior and Lord. Witnessing began as a delight,” and when he heard God’s voice, Dr James was faithful in giving himself to the task of the preaching of the gospel in the continent of Asia.[8]

Tan Kok Beng, an Asian church leader, challenged Asian leaders during a missionary conference on two important concepts which will empower the leadership development of the local church actively involved in Asian missions:[9]


[6] Elmer, Duane and Lois McKinney. With an Eye on the Future: Development and Mission in the 21st Century. (MARC, 1996), 34-35.
[7] Ward, Ted. Values begin at home. (Victor Books, 1989), 19.
[8]Tay, John. A Short History of Indigenous Mission in Singapore. (Armour Publishing, 2010), 10-15.
[9] Raman, Suraja. The Heartbeat of a Missionary Church. (Armour Publishing, 2011,2nd edition), xx.


A) Missions is the heartbeat of God

God’s heart beats for missions. He is the Missionary God who initiated missions in His plans for the salvation of the world, culminating in the sending forth of His Son to earth. [10]And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isa. 60:3)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

In God’s beautiful creation of man and woman, we see His heartbeat which is founded on the importance of human relationships. The coming of God’s son, Jesus Christ, into the world underlines the passion of His heartbeat for the people of the world to be saved from eternal condemnation. Individuals thus need to make wise choices.[11]

The greatest story of Asian leaders serving as missionaries is that of their encounters with the living God, which shaped them and prepared them for the mission field. A missionary leader, who is serving in a difficult part of Asia, testified that, when I heard God’s call for the unreached people’s group, I was assured that the path would be straightened. Every obstacle will be removed. Today, I continue to be there for the people.

A leader who travels regularly to a remote province in Asia testified: I had taught a team of teachers on the methods of evangelizing. I was encouraged to see their eager efforts and participation. A teenager turned up for the training. During a trip out in the hottest time of the day, they made their way to the village to share the Good News. This incident touched my heart. The trainees were eager to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

A leader together with a team of church members went to a difficult area in Asia and reported: “The place remains a popular destination for both locals and tourists, because of its well-preserved old streets (with architecture from the 19thCentury) and its history as an important trading centre along the river. While it is a quiet town on weekdays, it is very crowded on weekends. As the church is located prominently where the old streets are, beside the river, it sees an endless stream of people passing by its door on weekends. The church has also preserved some of its original architecture from that era, making it quite attractive to tourists who enjoy exploring historical sites.”

A team leader narrated: “Almost every Christian in the church had a powerful conversion experience. Several of these members were at the point of ending their life before they found faith in Jesus Christ. For example, a man found life so hopeless that he was about to commit suicide by jumping into the river. The church pastor brought a few people to minister through the ministry of music about the love of Jesus. He decided to listen to their messages and was saved. He is very contented to testify to his family that he is alive because of the ministry of the church leadership.” The leaders and team members recall that, this is an amazing story of how the message of salvation brought hope to many through the life and ministry of the church. Upon listening to their testimonies, we could not contain our tears.

Another leader serving in a poverty stricken area in Asia reflected on a local church: There is a great sense of the church being a welcoming, accepting, and redeeming community. Several of the active members were marginalized in society – the handicapped, the mentally-challenged, and families of prisoners. But to their joy, they continue to experience the joys of belonging in a Christian community. And they are trained to serve one another. The transformation seen in their lives is amazing. The church is testifying to the society that these are the greatest in God’s kingdom.

The heartbeat of a church is in world missions. When we come to Christ, others will look at us and notice changes in our life. By committing oneself to Christ, He gives identity to our experience (Rom. 6:5). The focus of a life in Christ is the reason to rejoice, and the fulfillment of all we want to become. Christian leaders must lead the local church to take the whole gospel to the whole of Asia.

B) The Mission of the Asian Church is Missions

Luke records the reading by Christ: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4: 16-19). Christ set the example when He took upon Himself the responsibility of being the anointed Messenger of Good News. The name Jesus means “salvation,” or “YHWH is salvation.”

The mission of the Asian church is the same as that for which Christ came, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ This is the main objective of the church.[12]The church exists to win the world for Christ. Mission is the implementation of this objective, “to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.” The gospel is to reach the unreached peoples for Christ wherever they are found.[13]

Christopher Wright, International Ministries Director with Langham Partnership, reinforced that, Churches are to be communities around the world, planted, nurtured and connected through ministries of sending, going and supporting-for the sake of the name of Christ and the truth of the gospel.[14]Leaders are called and used by God’s Holy Spirit in praying and sending their members into the mission field.

An Asian couple serving as leaders for their organization and sent by their church as missionaries to Mexico, reported, we felt God’s call to South America, and that our mission field was going to be a Spanish-speaking country. He revealed to us through His Word and confirmation from leaders of our church, circumstances, and inner peace.[15]

Ravi Zacharias, international apologist, has said that, the greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out.[16]The leaders and believers’ lifestyle (Matt 5:13-16) that is Christ-like leads to a compassionate response to the pain and suffering of the lost by giving them hope through the preaching of the gospel.


[10] Stott, John. Christian Mission in the Modern World. (Inter Varsity Press, 2008), 39.
[11]  Raman, Suraja. The Heartbeat of a Missionary Church. (Armour Publishing, 2011,2nd edition), xxi
[12] Raman, Suraja. The Heartbeat of a Missionary Church. (Armour Publishing, 2011,2nd edition), xix.
[13]Keener, Craig.The IVP Bible Background Commentary. (IVP Academic, 2014, 2nd edition), 125, 445.
[14] Wright, Christopher. The Mission of God’s People. (Zondervan, 2010), 221.
[15] Raman, Suraja. The Heartbeat of a Missionary Church. (Armour Publishing, 2011,2nd edition), 17-18.
[16] Zacharias, Ravi. Beyond Opinion. (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 53. This material is for ASM Bangkok 2015 participants only. Do not distribute.


2. ACTIVITIES OF ASIAN CHURCHES IN LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FOR ASIAN MISSIONS

An author conducted a survey of local churches in Asia concerning mission activities. Asian leaders continue to explore creative activities so as to involve active participation of members in the many challenges for the cause for missions. The following activities were mentioned in the survey responses, and they may be classified as Long-term, Short term, Formal training and Informal mentoring.

a) Long-term mission ministries

  1. Conduct an annual mission emphasis month to provide biblical teachings on a theology of missions during regular worship services. A follow through on other subjects pertaining to Issues and Perspectives on Missions in the 21stcentury is a relevant learning experience and a challenge for the congregation. Organize a book table of mission subjects of reading resources and literature.
  2. Organize a Mission Sunday featuring home-made cuisines of different nations for a fellowship meal. Provide information on the projects pertaining to the poor and needy.
  3. Introduce missionary prayer calendars to encourage prayer for missionaries and nations, and a “Prayer network” for prayer meetings.
  4. Provide a bulletin board with a map of the world for information on missions, missionaries, and prayer news on missions around the world, and also for persecuted Christians and missionaries.
  5. Inform and encourage members of a congregation to attend mission’s conference such as Go Forth in Singapore and the Asian Society of Missiology. This will enlarge their horizon by providing greater in-depth understanding of global missions.

b) Short-term mission ministries

  1. Experience the privilege by living and working with missionaries on a short-term mission. As a result, new lessons will be acquired such as seeing how other believers    worship in a cross cultural setting.
  2. Join efforts with organizations helping in the distribution of food and medical work to earthquake victims and their families.
  3. Encourage all members – children, youth, and professionals -and families- to participate in mission ministries where the needs are greatest.

c) Formal missions training

  1. Consider supporting needy theological students studying in the area of missions.
  2. Consider supporting staff in mission organizations for their development and spiritual 
encouragement.

d) Informal missions mentoring

  1. Introduce the concept of ‘adopting’ a missionary by every fellowship or bible study group.
  2. Have local missionaries visit the respective church ministries to interact with members and share their field experience. The testimonies of these missionaries are a source of inspiration to the 
leaders and members of a local church.
  3. The availability of the autobiographies of Asian missionaries in the church library provides an 
avenue for the future generations to consider the importance and urgency of missions in the vast continent of Asia.

3. WORKING AND ADDRESSING THE ASIAN CONTEXT OF OTHER FAITHS

Inter-Faith Dialogue in Singapore

Since receiving independence on 9th August 1965, Christians living in Singapore continue to experience religious freedom. The different existing religious groups are Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

In 1992, the Singapore Parliament passed the Religious Harmony Law, which forbids any religious group on infringing (overbearing or forcing one’s beliefs on to another person) on the rights of another group.[17]The leaders in the government had organized forums to bring together the different religious groups by having regular inter-faith dialogues and forums. This is to create an understanding and tolerance of each other’s religious beliefs

The leaders in the National Council of Churches in Singapore (NCCS) would represent the local churches at these dialogues and forums since this is by formal invitation.[18]The Singapore Centre for Global Missions (SCGM) encourages leaders of the local churches to participate in seminars pertaining to different religious context. Members from the local churches had also participated actively in these seminars. Such events have been an eye-opener to some leaders and members of the local church. To others, it offers fresh perspectives on the importance of fostering harmony in a multi-racial society.

The inter-faith dialogue reveals the experiences of reconciliation and collaboration in the importance of spreading the gospel while maintaining and promoting peace through the greatest story in the world, the Death and Resurrection of Christ.


[17] www.RacialharmonylawinSingapore.com
[18] www.ChristianToday.com


CONCLUSION

The heartbeat of missions is now in Asia, moving towards the continent of Central and South America, then to Africa, and finally to other parts of the world. The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the unbelieving world is “that they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1).

May that be our prayer also for the ministry of leaders developing the churches for Asian missions. May our feet not grow weary of travelling to the utmost parts of the world with the Good News! The Christian faith and Christian missions are inseparable!

Bibliography

Adeyemo, Tokunboh. Africa Bible Commentary. Word Alive, 2006. Bacon, Daniel W. Equipping for Missions: A Guide to Making Career Decisions. OMF International, 1992.

Benner, David. The Missions Addiction.Charisma House, 2001.

Budijanto, Bambang. Emerging Missions Movements – Voices of Asia. Compassion International, 2010.

Chew, Jim. When You Cross Cultures: Vital Issues Facing Christian Missions. The Navigators, 2009 (new edition, updated and revised).

Coleman, Robert. The Heart of the Gospel. Baker, 2011.

Cunningham, Loren and Hamilton, Davie Joel; Rogers, Janice. Why not Women? A Fresh Look at

Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership. YWAM Publishing, 2000.

Elmer Duane and McKinney, Lois. With an Eye on the Future: Development and Mission in the 21st Century. MARC, 1996.

Glenny, W. Edward and Smallman, William H. (eds). Missions in a New Millennium: Change and Challenges in World Missions.Kregel Publications, 2000.

Greenlee, David. Global Passion: Marking George Verwer’s Contribution to World Missions. Authentic Lifestyle, 2003.

Guthrie, Stan. Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century. Paternoster Press, 2000.

Hesselgrave, David. Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today. Kregel Publications, 2006.

Hiebert, Paul. Anthropological Insights for Missionaries. Baker, 1985.

Hiebert, Paul G. The Gospel in Human Contexts: Anthropological Explorations for Contemporary Missions. Baker, 2009.

James, Jonathan and Tan, Malcolm. That Asia May Know: Perspectives on Missions in Asia. Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International, 2000.

Keener, Craig. The IVP Bible Background Commentary (2ndedi.). IVP Academic, 2014.

Klauber, Martin and Manetsch, Scott M. (eds). The Great Commission: Evangelicals and the History of World Missions. B&H Pub, 2008.

Lau, Earnest. From Mission to Church. Genesis Books, 2008. Lausanne Movement. The Cape Town Commitment: A Confession of Faith and a Call to Action (Didasko Files, 2011). Reprinted in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 35(2): 59–80.

Lingenfelter, Sherwood. Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership. Baker Academic, 2008.

Livermore, David A. Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence. Baker, 2006.

Moreau, A. Scott & Corwin, Gary. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. Baker, 2003.

Ott, Craig and Netland, Harold. (eds.). Globalizing Theology: Belief and practice in an Era of World Christianity. Baker Academic, 2006.

Philip, Matthew. The Unique Christ: Dialogue in Missions. Centre for Contemporary Christianity, 2006.

Pocock, Michael, Mcconnell, Douglas; & Van Rheenen, Gailyn. The Changing Face of World Missions: Engaging Contemporary Issues and Trends. Baker, 2005.

Raman, Suraja. The Heartbeat of a Missionary Church. ArmourPublishing, 2011 (2ndedition).

Stott, John. Christian Mission in the Modern World. Inter Varsity Press, 2008. Tan Kang San (ed.). The Soul of Mission. SUFES, 2007.

Tan, Kang San. Who is in the Driver’s Seat? in K. S. Tan, J. Ingleby, & S. Cozens (Eds.), Understanding Asian Mission Movements: Proceedings of the Asian Mission Consultations, 2008- 2010. Wide Margin, 2013.

Tan, Siang-Yang. Full Service: Moving from Self-Serve Christianity to Total Servanthood. Baker, 2006.

Tay, John. A Short History of Indigenous Mission in Singapore. Armour Publishing, 2010.

Tucker, Ruth. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya: A Biographical History of Christian Missions, Zondervan, 1983.

Tucker, Ruth. Sacred Stories. Zondervan, 1989.

Ward, Ted. Values begin at home. Victor Books, 1989.

Wiebracht, Dean. The world beyond your walls: A Manual for Mobilizing Your Church in Missions. OMF Literature, 1993

Wright, Christopher. The Mission of God’s People. Zondervan, 2010.Yohannan, K.P. Revolution in World Missions. GFA books, 2004.

York, John V. Missions in the Age of Spirit. Logion Press, 2000.

Zacharias, Ravi. Beyond Opinion. Thomas Nelson, 2007.


 

Dr. Suraja Raman is involved with the Association of the Evangelicals in Africa since 1997 to present. She is a member of North American Professors of Christian Education, 1989-present, Evangelical Teacher Training Association from 1982-present and Evangelical Fellowship in Singapore from 1978-present. She received her Ph.D. in Christian Education from Trinity International University.surajaraman@gmail.com

THE SPIRITUAL PASTORAL CARE OF MISSIONARIES

 Elben M. Lenz César
Tanslated by Marta Carriker

Without diminishing the importance of other types of pastoral care missionaries should receive, I firmly believe that their personal relationship with God is of utmost importance.  In order to find spiritual peace, a productive ministry, good family relationships and even physical and emotional health, missionaries really do have to be like trees planted ¨by a spring¨ (Gen 49:22), ¨by streams of water¨ (Ps. 1.3),  or ¨by water (Jer. 17:8). Drawing from this beautiful image of a tree growing by a waterfall, it is clear that missionaries should always be as close to God as possible.  The convincing reason is one and only:  God is the fountain of living waters (Jer. 2:13).  All the effort and time spent striving continually to approach him will prove to be extremely fruitful.

WITHIN THE IRON GATES

If I were to help missionaries who, once in a while feel the same suffocating sensation with what the psalmist experienced when he said ¨I am confined and cannot escape,¨ (Psalm 88:8) I would sit beside them and present them with many options that might help them.

I would not deny that there are indeed many situations that are difficult for missionaries and for anyone else. But I would also emphasize that God´s deliverance is usually experienced precisely when doors seem to be closed.

In fact there are huge and threatening iron gates in time and space. They stand between good and evil, between vices and self control. They separate wrath from love, sadness from joy, discouragement from hope. They are between sickness and cure, between war and peace, and above all, between death and resurrection.

After confessing ¨I am confined and cannot escape¨ (NVI), the psalmist, in spite of it, lifts his voice to God saying: ¨I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.¨ (Psalm 88:9). And help will come in God´s appointed time.

In the life of Israel – when Egyptian troops were coming behind them and the Red Sea stood as a barrier before them – God parted the sea, opening a dry path so that His chosen people could cross to the other side (Ex 14:10-31).

In Jonah´s experience — when the prophet goes “down into the deep, at the roots of the mountains, whose bars closed upon him forever” – God spoke to the fish and it promptly spewed Jonah out upon the dry land. (Jon 2:5-10).

In Peter´s experience — when the apostle was in prison in Jerusalem guarded day and night by four squads of soldiers – God released the chains that bound him to the sentries and opened the iron gate that led into the city (At 12.1-19).

In Paul´s experience — when the ship in which he and 275 other people (a mix of sailors, prisoners, guards and passengers) wrecked on the coast of the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea – God protected and saved all of their lives. Not a hair from their heads was lost (Acts 27:34).

In John´s experience — when history came to a standstill, not advancing, while nothing happened, there were no surprises, good news were not forthcoming and prophecies seemed to fail, because there was no one either in heaven or on earth worthy to open the seven seals of the scroll – suddenly the Lamb of God, who was dead but now is alive, approached and opened one by one the seven seals, unleashing the events that culminate in the fullness of salvation (Re. 5:1-14).

I am sure that after this time of sharing together reflecting on these experiences the missionary with whom I would be sitting and talking would not blurt out without giving it a second thought “I am a prisoner without hope” (Psalm 88:8, translated by CNBB)!

WHEN RESULTS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN

If a missionary came to me to unburden himself because his ministry seemed to bear no fruit, because few people accepted the Gospel and when they did, conversion seemed too slow, I would read to him or her the shortest of the 52 chapters in Jeremiah.

This chapter mentions Baruch’s moaning and the Lord´s comfort.  Baruch was Jeremiah´s assistant, scribe and friend.  It was he who wrote the first and second editions of the scroll that registered everything God had spoken to Jeremiah about Judah, Israel and other nations, starting on the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (626 B.C.) extending to the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s (609 B.C.) The prophet would dictate and the scribe would write it down.

After finishing his work of writing and after reading the scroll twice, the first time for the people which had gathered in the temple for fasting and later for a selected group of leaders in a more reserved place, Baruch broke down emotionally: ¨Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.¨ (Jer. 45:3).

It is known that emotional exhaustion (of the mind) is more painful than physical exhaustion (of the body) and that spiritual exhaustion (of the soul) hurts more than emotional exhaustion. In some cases a person can suffer physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion at the same time.  A case in point was Job.

Baruch cried because he had the same expectations for the results of his reading that God and Jeremiah had. He expected that people would have a chance to turn from their wicked ways and then receive the Lord´s forgiveness. But events took a different turn.  When the book was read for the first time before king Jehoiakim, in his winter apartment, ¨each time Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe´s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire¨ (Jer 36:23-24, NIV). Similar pain has come upon many people, including Jesus (Mat. 23:37-39), Paul (Rom. 9:2), Jeremiah himself (Lam 3:48-51) and numerous missionaries and pastors.

In Baruch ́s case, the crisis led him to prayer, prayer to get all that happened off his chest, which is precisely the type of prayer that is prescribed in cases of exhaustion. When we open up to God in prayer it is like a drainage which our tears can flow through. Missionaries are not alone in the exhaustion caused by difficulties and problems on the mission eld, which includes persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom. It is estimated that between 200 and 250 million Christians are persecuted and another 400 million live under various restrictions.

The Lord´s comfort came over Baruch as it will come over anyone who cries real tears in the presence of God.

IN THE MIDST OF PERSECUTION

If a missionary in countries that are extremely closed, where the government will expatriate, arrest or mistreat Christians would approach me in tears about his or her risky situation, I would wrap my arms around him or her and do my best to speak comfort and courage to his or her heart.

Perhaps I would begin by reading the last beatitude: ¨Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.¨ (Mt 5:11). I would tell them that Peter not only heard these words from Jesus but mentioned them in his letter:  “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rest on you.” (1 Pe. 4:14).

I would certainly spend more time, however, explaining to him or her how time and again Jesus referred to the abuse that he and his followers would suffer from the civil and religious opposition on account of the spread and keeping of the faith.  In the parable of the man who planted and rented a vineyard, the tenants seized his servants, ¨beat one, killed another and stoned a third.¨ (Mat. 21:35). When the owner sent two more servants, the tenants repeated the atrocity.  When the owner sent his own son in the hope that this time they would respect him, the same tenants ¨took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him¨ (Mat. 21:39).  In the parable of the wedding banquet, the same thing happened: the guests seized the servants of the king, mistreated them and killed them¨. (Mat. 22:6). Well, the “servants” of both the owner of the vineyard and the king whose son was about to get married are none other than the missionaries in the dispensation of grace, yesterday and today.

I would remind the missionary that the son of the owner of the vineyard in the parable, who was beaten and killed, is the Son of God!  As a matter of fact, I would insist on reading the words of Jesus himself about the suffering that awaited him in Jerusalem: ¨…they [civil authorities] will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified” (Mat. 20:19, NLT).

Jesus did not fail to mention the suffering that those who are sent would undergo: ¨Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.¨ (Mat. 24:9, NIV)

I would advise the missionary to be cautious but not fearful, brave but not careless, strong but not provocative. I would assure him (or her) that before he is mistreated or even martyred God’s grace would come and surround him much more effectively than my hands on his shoulder!

WHEN GOD FROWNS

If I were to dedicate my ministry to the pastoral care of missionaries I would teach them to undo God´s frown.  My approach would be to quote the moving call that is found in Jeremiah:  “Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD.  I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD…” (Jer. 3:12, ESV). But, instead of using this version, I would use the NIV version that says: “Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD, I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,” declares the LORD, “I will not be angry forever.”

Whenever we misbehave and do something that is displeasing to the Lord or grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), he “frowns” at us.  (It could also be interpreted as ¨God scowls at us in anger¨).  Considering that not only gross mistakes will annoy God, none of us escapes displeasing him in one way or another. John himself admits: ¨My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father.¨ (1Jo 2:1, NLT).

There is an honorable way out for the missionary who needs to change God´s frown. And it is not complicated in the least. All it takes is to admit one’s mistake, fall or sin, taking full responsibility for it, and to confess it before God with a contrite heart.

About this, the most encouraging biblical passage is “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo 1:9). I would remind the missionary that this promise is

 Conditional: “If we confess…”

It takes honesty: “If we confess our sins…” (not somebody else´s sins).

Trustworthy: “He is faithful (to fulfill the promise made) and just” (he extends it only to him who confesses).

Double: “To forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (true confession provides both forgiveness and cleansing, it removes both the unbearable guilt and the unpleasant sensation of moral uncleanness).

In order to change God´s indignant face or his scowl, the missionary must consider how far he or she has fallen (Rev. 2:5) so that confession can be made. Confession must be made so that he or she will no longer remember. Only then is God´s frown removed completely! And the sins that motivated God´s frown are “swept away like the morning mist” (Is. 44.22, NIV) or as everything that is hurled “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

WHEN THERE IS MISUNDERSTANDING

If a missionary bashfully told me in secret that he or she has a difficult time relating to his or her colleagues on the field, missionary agency or his or her church members, I would not be surprised.  However, my advice to him or her would be to continually overcome this problem, for the benefit of mission and not to grieve the Holy Spirit. And also to promote his or her emotional health and that of others, considering that lack of harmony between those who live or work together takes a toll on all involved.  On this issue there is no middle ground: either people live in harmony or they do not.

It would not surprise me because the relationship between two or more people is always complicated due to our “Adamic” heritage. Was it not in the very beginning of human history that somebody let jealousy grow in his heart towards another, a jealousy developed into wrath, wrath that found its expression in murder? Was not one the other’s brother? Was Abraham’s and Sarah’s, Isaac’s and Rebekah’s, Jacob’s and Rachel’s marital life not tumultuous? Was the relationship between parents and children, son-in-law and mother-in-law, daughter-in-law and father-in-law, brother and sister, brother and brother not turbulent in the first three families of God´s chosen people? Was the friction between Mary and Martha not ugly? Was the fight amongst the apostles to know who was the greatest of them all not scandalous? Was not the misunderstanding between Paul and Barnabas after the first great missionary journey in history and immediately before the second not unpleasant? Was the relationship between the members of the church in Corinth not chaotic?

Because we have different temperaments, different histories, different backgrounds, different focuses, different reactions, different defects and virtues, different gifts – relationships are not automatic, they are not without effort, not without crucifixion.

A good relationship for missionaries depends on some obvious virtues.  He or she should know, understand and respect the other. He or she should love and forgive the other.  He or she should be tolerant and patient towards the other.  He or she should have wisdom and receive orientation on how to live together with the other. He or she should be humble enough not to seek his or her own glory at the expense of the other’s . He or she should hate competition, comparison, or rivalry. He or she should erase from his or her memory any negative memory of the other. He or she should ask for and offer forgiveness. He or she should dialogue, talk, and open his heart to the other.  He or she should avoid any opportunity to upset the other.  He or she should intercede for the other. He or she should pray to God for these virtues.

The ethical and spiritual effort to protect good relationships is much smaller than the effort to withstand grievances.

IN THE MIDST OF EMOTIONAL UPS AND DOWNS

If I met a confused, tormented missionary who is upset about his or her own emotional ups and downs I would feel at ease to help him or her.  When this situation is not caused by sin or by any difficulty related to mental health, it is something normal in anybody’s life.

In the experience of David, for instance, there were ups and downs.  In one of his Psalms, the sensitive poet of Israel says: “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (4:8). In another that comes right after that one, David confesses: “I am worn out from my groaning.  All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” (6:6). If in one Psalm he affirms that the Lord makes him lie down in green pastures and leads him beside quiet waters (23:2), in another he declares: “My soul is in deep anguish” (6:3). Another example of David’s emotional alternation can be found in Psalm 21 (“The king rejoices in your strength”) and in Psalm 13 (“How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?”) (NLT).

There is no contradiction in David.  He is sincere when he says he is happy and when he says he is sad. But he does not affirm both things at the same time or under the same circumstances. One evening the psalmist might be very well and depressed the next.

That happens to everybody.  No one is always very well.  No one is always depressed. We all have days that are happy and days that are sad. All of us encounter favorable circumstances and unfavorable circumstances. And we all deal with comfortable situations and uncomfortable situations.

There is joy that comes easily and joy that comes with difficulty.  One of them is spontaneous joy, the other is conquered joy. The joy that comes easily depends on good physical conditions, it depends on a beautiful day, it depends on the absence of adversity, and it depends on the calm between two storms. The joy that comes with difficulty depends on the closeness to God, it depends on the acceptance of certain needs, it depends on our learning that is sometimes long and slow in coming. That was the experience of the apostle Paul: “I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.” (Php. 4:11)  (BSB). Naturally conquered joy is worth more than spontaneous joy because there is price to be paid for it.

I would strive to make it clear to the missionary that joy does not always last a long time but that neither do tears.  It is David himself who reminds us: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (ps. 30:5, nlt).

UNDER THE PRESSURES OF THE FLESH

If any missionary came to me to complain about the huge pressures of the flesh, I would easily understand him or her because I am also under the same pressures.  I would encourage them to pray as explicitly as I do.  Since we are all prone to sin, it is very healthy to pray short and precise prayers, dealing straightforwardly with basic issues.  These are not exactly desperate prayers, but they are prayers that openly call for deliverance.  Besides supplications that can be graciously answered by God, this type of prayer produces emotional relief on those who pray.

Some ever present pressures of the flesh and of the Devil are so strong that the missionary should pray more or less like this:

Oh, God, protect me from the power of the air and from myself!
Oh, God, sanctify me, draw me closer to you, correct me, and heal me!
Oh, God, set me free from any conscious or unconscious increase of vanity, set me free from any euphoria or flirtatiousness, set me free from self promotion and most of all from the equivocal, wrong, disastrous, and harmful overestimation of myself!
Oh, God, conquer me, cure me, dominate me, subject me, and crush me!
Oh, God, take away from me rash judgment, envy, jealousy, impatience, lack of love!
Oh, God, help me with my old, historical, personal, insistent, constant needs.
Oh, God, help me when I am afraid, anxious, hesitant, cowardly, unbelieving.
Oh, God, forgive me the lack of innocence and spontaneity toward sex, set me free from evil, malice, lack of shame, lust, from the adulterous heart and the adulterous eyes!
Oh, God, take away from me the fixed idea of sin, give me balance, wisdom and the power to do what is right! Amen.

WHEN THE HEART IS BROKEN

If I am called to deal with the chronic or accidental sadness of a missionary, I would help him to cast away sadness and to replace it with joy.  That is a possible exercise.

First I would tell him that joy is not an option for a missionary or for anyone for that matter.  It is an order from above that should be obeyed. The commandment to rejoice is spread all over Scripture:  in the Pentateuch (De. 16:11), in the Psalms (Ps. 30:11), in the Prophets (Zek. 9:9), In the Gospels (Lk. 10:20), in the Epistles (Php. 4:4) and in Revelation (Re. 19:7). The best known text comes from Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always: Again I will say, rejoice.” (Php. 4:4).

Secondly I would say to him or her that the main source of joy is the presence of God in our daily life, as we read in the Psalms: “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11). Missionaries should pray the prayer of Moses frequently:  “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Ps. 90:14).  That is why Paul emphasizes that we are to rejoice “in the Lord.”

 Thirdly, I would say to him or her that joy should not depend on circumstances. It should rather be independent of them. This is an art the missionary must learn.  He or she will have to soar above the situations of sadness, depression, melancholy, estrangement etc. The first and the most notable Christian missionary does not hide that at first he did not know how to do that, but that he eventually learned “to be content regardless of his circumstances.” (Php 4:11). Another example set by Scriptures comes from the prophet Habakkuk “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines. Though the yield of the olive should fall and the fields produce no food. Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls. Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”  (Hab. 3:17-18, NIV).

Fourthly, I would say to him or her that not all sadness should be expelled from the heart.  There are some special occasions in which sadness becomes a virtue and joy becomes inappropriate. Paul shows his virtue when he has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart” because of the unbelief of his brethren and kinsmen. (Ro. 9:2). There are both the exhortations to “Rejoice” (Ze 9:9) and “Do not rejoice” (Ho 9:1). The former is for what God has done (Ps 118:24), the latter (“do not rejoice”) is for the wrong that is done by people (Jas 4:9).


 

Rew. César is the Founding Director of ULTIMATO, Brazilian Magazine, for more than 40 years.  He is an emeritus pastor in Presbyterian Church of Vicosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is an Honorary President of Centro Evangelico de Missões (CEM). He served the Third World Missions Association as Vice-Chairman  from 1991 to 1994. redator@ultimato.com.br