Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Prayer Page 1 of 2

incarnational model

Are missionaries called to be incarnational?

The incarnational model is how we often describe our decision to live among the people to whom we are sent. We learn to speak their language. We immerse ourselves in their culture, eating their foods and building deep friendships within that people group. The term “incarnational ministry” may also refer to adopting a living standard (e.g., the type and size of our house, the transportation we use, the clothes we wear) that does not create social barriers to the common people.

But is “incarnational” the best word to describe our strategy of immersing ourselves in the culture of the people? Is the incarnation of Christ the model we should follow as we engage the unreached people of this world?

praying for churches
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Follow-Up: Praying for Churches

I began this series on follow-up noting Paul’s “anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). The basic premise has been that Paul addressed his anxiety or care for the churches by writing letters. Yet, the more I studied his letters, the more I noted that he habitually prayed for the churches. His letters not only sought to build the churches in the grace of God in Christ but also called on God to accomplish that growth. So, prayer is an essential part of following up with the churches we plant.

Interestingly, Paul teaches the Philippian church, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”1Phil. 4:6, ESV. The verb form in Philippians 4:6 and the noun form in 2 Corinthians 11:28 share the same root. So, was Paul’s anxiety for all the churches inconsistent with his teaching in Philippians 4:6? No, I think that Paul’s prayers in his letters show that he is practicing what he teaches. The range of meaning for the Greek word translated as “anxiety” includes both a healthy care (Philippians 2:20) and unhealthy worry (Matthew 6:25). Whatever the level of anxiety, turning to prayer is the appropriate response. That is exactly what Paul is doing.

grumbling against leaders
Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

Unhappy with leadership?

Grumbling and complaining should not be the theme of our conversations at this time of year with Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas before us. But we are living in difficult times. Most of us know friends who have been sick with COVID-19 and many know friends who have died from the virus.

Frustrated with leadership decisions

But the grumbling we hear is probably not primarily about the virus. The preventive measures others are imposing upon us have caused much frustration. All around the world, governments are making decisions to restrict the further spread of the coronavirus. Despite their good intentions, these decisions are nevertheless causing additional hardships. We are limited in how much we can interact with friends and family. Most of our churches both back in our home countries and in our places of ministry are facing restrictions in how they hold worship services.

Many people, particularly in the West, resent the intrusion of the government into our social, family, work and religious lives. We see anti-mask demonstrations on the news, although those of us who live in Asia probably do not see any such protests. Nevertheless, if we follow posts of our friends and family in the West, we know that many are very upset with the government’s restrictions on their personal freedom. You may have found yourself wondering how followers of Jesus should respond if we feel that the measures to counter the spread of COVID-19 are actually more harmful than the virus itself.

Understandably, we are getting tired of this crisis. Longing for life to go back to normal, we find it hard to be joyful and thankful. We find it easy to complain when we are looking at spending another holiday season apart from our friends, hampered in our ministry outreaches and struggling to stay safe.

What is a good and godly response?

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Grief – Part 2

This is the second of two posts that explore the subject of grief in the life of a believer. Part 1 presented the hallmarks and pitfalls of grief, along with a biblical perspective of grief. This month, in Part 2, the post will present ways we can prepare ourselves for, and respond to, grief. 

Pandemic Grief

I am an introvert. Actually, I’m a flaming introvert. Which means that, though I love people and find them interesting, I really, really, like to be alone. Fortunately, I married an introvert. And though we love being together, we’re also adept at making space for one another. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I noticed myself suffering from loneliness during the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent work-from-home state of affairs—a situation I thought was made for introverts.

After some introspection, I realized I was missing my co-workers. Though we’ve seen each other over the Internet, I miss being with them, in person. I miss our impromptu prayer sessions. I also miss having lunch together. And I miss regularly sharing chocolate, coffee, spontaneous conversations, and laughter with them.

Fruit to Harvest: the key is abiding

In October 2017, a major consultation on Muslim ministries was held in Thailand. It was called, “Abide, Bear Fruit“, and was a follow-up consultation to the one held 10 years earlier, also in Thailand. Both conferences were organized by Vision 5:9, “a global mission network focused on ministry among unreached Muslim people groups”.

The 2007 conference had identified 68 fruitful practices in working among Muslim peoples and these practices have significantly impacted missiological strategy for the past decade. The conference also resulted in a well-known book in mission circles, From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices and Emerging Issues among Muslims.  That book, edited by J. Dudley Woodberry, was reviewed by this blog in a post a few years ago.

Sensible Shoes

Today’s book review was written by Brittany Garrett, who serves with her husband and 3 children in Romania.

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Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown is a fictional narrative of four women on a journey toward deeper intimacy with Christ.  Each of these women bring their own baggage as they begin their Sacred Journey, and we get to witness their brokenness as well as the beginnings of their healing.

I saw part of myself in each of the four main characters.  As they learned about some of the spiritual disciplines, I, too, learned practical ways to apply them.  I enjoyed watching their stories unfold and felt satisfaction as an onlooker getting to see how God was creating beauty from their mess.  You see their struggle and their resistance to some of the disciplines and how God uses even our resistance to show us His faithful pursuit of us.

Lessons to be Learned from the Church in Asia – Part 1 (2016 Global Discipleship Congress)

A few weeks ago I had the amazing privilege of joining together with 6000+ believers (mostly Asians) at the Global Discipleship Congress (GDC) in Manila, Philippines. It was a transformational experience as God used several Spirit-filled Asian leaders to challenge us to intentionally live a life of making disciples — to live out our faith and to pass it on to others. Wishing that all SEND members could experience GDC along with me, I started jotting down a few notes for a potential blog (a poor substitute for actually being present, I know, but hopefully better than nothing).

Rev. Edmund Chan

The Global Discipleship Congress got its start with God working in the heart of Rev. Edmund Chan, a Singaporean pastor with a passion for seeing churches be intentional in their disciple-making. As Rev. Chan welcomed us to the Congress, he remarked,

“My burden for the church is that many Christians don’t pass on to faithful people the things that they learn. Or worse, they try to ‘pass it on’ without ‘living it out’! Oftentimes, we live a life of inconsistency that compromises discipleship and truncates disciplemaking. The 2016 GDC Asia Conference seeks to address this need for the Asian Church. It’s time for the Asian Church to arise in the disciple-making mandate! Join us. A global discipleship movement is well on its way!” You can read here how God led Rev. Chan to start the Global Alliance of Intentional Disciple-Making Churches. I encourage you to take a few minutes to browse this website and explore some of the resources. I had the privilege of hearing Rev. Chan speak on prayer at a local church following the Congress. To my recollection, it is the most compelling sermon I have ever heard on prayer. I encourage you to take some time to watch it here.

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