Epistles of Thomas

January 9, 2010

Jackie Pullinger at Missions Fest 2010

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 14:49
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I just finished listening to Jackie Pullinger at the plenary session this morning. Her theme was on persevering in ministry even if it looks like there are no results. Or if your fruit quickly turns back to its old life. What is important is that we do the will of the Father, regardless of whether it appears we are accomplishing anything or not. She ended with a time of prayer for those who have been missionaries and given up, those who have tried to serve the poor and been rebuked or had their houses misused in return, and for those who have seen loved fruit turn their back on Christ. It was quite moving judging by the number of people who went forward. I can’t help but reflect on the difference between this message and Will Graham’s reflections yesterday on his grandfather’s successful ministry. Both are well known 20th century workers but the results and focus have been very different. Billy Graham focussed on bringing millions to the prayer of salvation, whereas Jackie Pullinger has focussed on raising up her spiritual children to live as Christ. Both are needed if we are to be the Church.

December 11, 2009

Quotes of the Day and review

Filed under: Missions,Pastoral,Review — Thomas @ 11:34
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“The spiritual temperature in many of our churches is so low right now that a new believer has to become a backslider to feel at home” (167).

“The average Christian spends more money on dog food and lawn care than for the cause of God’s kingdom because he has completely taken his life and finances away from the living God’s hand” (195).

OUCH – I hope your church doesn’t sound like this but unfortunately the stinging remarks that Yohannan makes in this book are all too true in the experience of many Christians. Perhaps women should be thankful that he doesn’t use inclusive language! I would question his basic premise that this is a problem that only the North American church grapples with. I know that churches planted by native missionaries also deal with sin and its consequences in their church. I read his most famous book, Revolution in World Missions some years ago and was curious to see if he would focus on that theme in this book as well. The main emphasis of his organisation, Gospel for Asia, is that western Christians should stay at home and donate money so that native (mostly Indian) missionaries can accomplish more for the same cost. That theme is also present in this book as can been seen from this quote:

“Re-evaluate the efficiency of your current missionary programs, especially those which support American missionaries or social services. Realize that most mission efforts which rely on American staff—or provide social services—are no longer effective” (159).

After reading Revolution in World Missions I was left wondering what western Christians are supposed to do if God calls them to be missionaries (or agents for social change). He does seems to allow a place for American missionaries in this book as can be seen from these statements:

“God may ask you to throw away your furniture, give up your education and career, abandon your business and inheritance, leave family and friends. He may ask you to drive an old car, wear out-of-fashion clothes from a swap shop, give up romance and plans for marriage, go to the foreign mission field, or move into an inner city slum” (173-74).

“For my wife an me, even before our children were born, it was our continuous prayer every day for God to save their souls and call them to be missionaries” (194).

Perhaps he only means that westerners can go overseas if they compliment his vision of supporting native missionaries, but the possibility remains open. On the whole this book is quite challenging and must cause us to examine our lives and ministries to ensure that they are fully honouring to God and not just to western cultural expectations. My only quibble is with Yohannan’s emphatic statements that supporting native missionaries is God’s only plan for reaching the rest of the world. He doesn’t talk about supporting missionaries to unreached people groups but rather supporting native missionaries, as if that is the only way it can be done.

October 17, 2009

Quote(s) of the day – William Carey

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 22:45
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Today we have a humorous quote from our good friend William Carey and his book that shaped the world of Protestant missions:

“It is well known to require no very extraordinary talents to learn, in the space of a year, or two at most, the language of any people upon the earth, so much of it at least, as to be able to convey any sentiments we wish to their understandings.”

If you believe that I have about 1000 ESL folks I would like to introduce you to. It is well known that they slip back into their native tongue when they have something really sentimental to convey. Perhaps people were just that much more talented back then!

And now for a bonus quote – “If congregations were to open subscriptions of one penny, or more per week, according to their circumstances and deposit it as a fund for the propagation of the Gospel, much might be raised this way” or at least enough for a small coffee every three years.

October 6, 2009

2 Chronicles 4-6

Filed under: Missions,Old Testament — Thomas @ 0:20
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Chapter 4 describes the temple’s furnishings. Not surprisingly, the gold King David had collected is put to use making an altar, tables, lampstands, and other assorted items (4:19-22). In chapter five the ark is brought successfully into the temple and placed in the holy of holies. All the leaders of Israel are present and the sheep and cattle sacrificed are uncountable. The blood flowed freely in Jerusalem that day. They sang praises to the Lord: “He is good; his love endures forever” and the temple was filled with the cloud of the Lord which is his glory.

Chapter six provides us with the record of Solomon’s temple dedication speech and prayer. It is important to note that he proclaimed this as not just a temple for Israel but for all the nations, requesting of God: “…Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name” (vv32-33). Indeed, may all the peoples of earth know the Lord our God.

September 30, 2009

Mouk People of Papua New Guinea

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 10:04
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I was introduced to a video about the Mouk people of Papua New Guinea during the Perspectives Course. The video is called Ee-Taow! which means “It is True!” This people group was reached by four western missionaries: Mark & Gloria Zook who appear in the video and David & Diann Yunker who were absent at that time. They spent months teaching the Mouk about their place in the world and the history of God’s work in the world beginning with creation. It was two months before they reached the narrative about Jesus’ coming and death. The video I have linked to is twenty minutes long and well worth watching. At the end of the story about Jesus sacrifice for us they all began to chant “Ee-Taow!” and celebrated for 2.5 hours!

September 25, 2009

International Student Outreach Seminar

Filed under: Missions,Pastoral — Thomas @ 17:01
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Next Saturday, October 3, 2009 there will be a special speaker at Surrey Alliance Church. Douglas Shaw will be speaking on reaching out to international students who have come to Canada to study. It looks like a good opportunity to learn about this type of ministry and it is free, which is best of all!

For more information surf on over to the Surrey Alliance website.

June 1, 2009

The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd

gospkingTonight I finished reading The Gospel of the Kingdom. The last chapter is “When will the kingdom come?” I was interested in Ladd’s presentation because A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, advocated that by engaging in missions we would hasten the return of Christ. Not everyone agrees with that idea but it has long been a popular one among missiologists and missions promoters, although it would be even more so if everyone agreed on it. Ladd is quite a proponent of this idea as these two quotes demonstrate:

I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again. The Word of God says it [Mt 24:14]. Why did he not come in A.D. 500? Because the Church had not evangelized the world. Why did he not return in A.D. 1000? Because the Church had not finished its task of world-wide evangelization. Is He coming soon? He is — if we, God’s people, are obedient to the command of the Lord to take the Gospel into all the world (135).

If God’s people in the English speaking world alone took this task seriously and responded to its challenge, we could finish the task of world-wide evangelization in our own generation and witness the Lord’s return (136).

I’m not sure why this idea has fallen out of favour among the general Evangelical church. Perhaps “expectancy fatigue” has set in. This book was first published in 1959 and Simpson had already been preaching this message 80 years earlier so several generations have come and gone without seeing world evangelisation completed. We are closer than ever although the goal has moved. Ladd talks about the Bible being available in 1100 languages. That has more than doubled but we are now aiming at more than 5000 languages. Let us persevere in the race set before us and remain faithful until the end so that we might find ourselves labeled “good and faithful.” Maranatha!

May 29, 2009

Video on Ralph D. Winter

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 15:53
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winterFor those of you who know who Ralph D. Winter is you might be interested in viewing this video in which numerous pastors and missiologists reflect on his life and ministry.  If you don’t know who he is then be doubly sure to get on over there! He was instrumental in producing TEE material and founded the US Center for World Mission in 1976.

Dr. Winter passed away to his reward on May 20, 2009. You can read the official obituary here.

May 10, 2009

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement — Reader 4th ed

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 22:12

readerI just found out today that a fourth edition of the enormous Perspectives on the World Christian Movement Reader was released in January. I was required to read 300 pages of this as part of my ordination requirements and wouldn’t you know it – as soon as I finished I discover a new edition has been published. You can read the details about the updated content here. I don’t feel too bad though because they say that they have shortened many of the articles in order to include a greater quantity and variety. I can say I read the longer, fuller version :). If you’re eager to get your hands on a copy surf over to the William Carey Library.

Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorn, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader. 4th ed. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009. 9780878083909.

April 7, 2009

Nigeria’s Untouchables and the Power of the Gospel

Filed under: Missions — Thomas @ 11:11
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The BBC has an article today about the Osu people of Nigeria who have long been ostracised from their communities. The influence of the Gospel has meant that they are able to live freely and marry who they want because in Christ, and thankfully in the local Church, it does not matter who your ancestors were.
Praise the Lord!

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