Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

This is a video from the Lausanne Conference describing how God is working in the Middle East and North Africa. If you want to read more on this you can check out “Light Force” and “Secret Believers” by Brother Andrew, or “Which None Can Shut”, by Reema Goode. Brother Andrew also has a website called Secret Believers. In the words of Ravi Zacharias,””Brother Andrew and Al Janssen reveal the amazing stories of those who witness the love of One they once refused and passionately searched until they found Him, even in the face of great opposition. Theirs is a testament to meekness, grace, and triumph, and a call to every follower of Christ to mirror their example.”

Here’s the link to the video (it’s a little slow to load, but worth the wait):



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Chris Wright, in his fine commentary on Deuteronomy (NIBC series), comments on the “missiological significance” of Deuteronomy (page 8):

Deuteronomy is a book for people on the move, literally at first, spiritually and morally thereafter.  It sets Israel on the boundary of the land and looks beyond that boundary to what lies in store for Israel as it moves into the future with God.

Furthermore, it is a book addressed in the name of a God on the move–Yahweh, the God who has been dramatically involved in Israel’s past movements, and indeed also in the movements of other nations on the great chessboard of history.  It presents, therefore, a God of sovereign worldwide purpose and a people with a sharp spiritual mandate and moral agenda.

Earlier Wright fleshes out some of the dynamics between God’s mission and our mission:

“[T]he detailed requirements of God on Israel are all founded upon the grace of God manifested in their history.  This is not only a structural matter but is also reflected in the way the very vocabulary of Israel’s response to Yahweh in chapters 12-26 mirrors that of Yahweh’s actions toward Israel in chapters 1-11.  This [is the] priority of grace and divine action within the covenant framework…”

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I happened to watch a documentary on HBO this weekend called “A Small Act”. Here’s the synopsis from the website-

“When Hilde Back sponsored a young, rural Kenyan student, she thought nothing of it. She certainly never expected to hear from him, but years later she does. Now a Harvard graduate and a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations, Chris Mburu decides to find the stranger that changed his life. Inspired by her generosity, he starts a scholarship program of his own and names it for his former benefactor.”

It is an incredibly moving story, we were literally cheering out loud for some of the students by the end. It is also a great reminder of how small acts of kindness and generosity can change someone’s life, and that we can never really know what God will do with even a mustard seed of faith.

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On July 11th there were a pair of terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, in crowds watching the World Cup Finals. When I heard about it, my first thoughts were directed towards our high school kids who were  in Uganda on a mission trip. Thankfully, they were safe as they were in another city at the time. As I was reading about the attacks, I read about a guy named Nate Henn was one of the 71 people killed. Nate served with an organization called Invisible Children.

Here is an article from there website about Nate Henn: http://natehenn.com/

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I recently read David Platt’s book Radical. In the beginning of the book he recounts his experience teaching the Bible to a group of believers in an Asian underground house church. He talked about how despite less than ideal conditions- they met in a crowded, sparse, poorly lit room with no amenities- they went for almost two weeks for hours on end, listening to him teach. It reminded me of a story in the book Three Cups Of Tea, a book by Greg Mortensen that recounts his experiences building schools in rural Pakistan. In one of the villages, a regional political/religious leader told the village chief they could not buils the school. After some discussion, he agreed to allow the school to be built if the village would pay a “fine”. The cost would be about half the wealth  of the village (this was a very poor village). Mortensen was outraged, but the chief quickly agreed. The chief explained later that his most prized possesion was a beautiful copy of the Koran, but that he was unable to read it. He said that while the wealth would not last for long, it was a small price to pay for his children being able to read what he believed to be God’s word for themselves. I pray that we will desire the true Word of God with this kind of hunger.

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what are the casualties of the church retreating from society and forming their own safe little enclaves away from “the dangerous world”? look at the memphis city school system and you will find out.


but the church is rising to her call to be a light in the darkness, to be amassedors for Christ, and agents of God’s blessing in His world. we have posted on MTR before (under “why i love memphis”) but i feel like we need to put this video up again. why? watch and find out.

the church being the church. more mercy, more glory.

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Advance Memphis is a ministry in the Cleaborn/Foote neighborhood run by our good friend Steve Nash. They have just been awarded the South regional “Hope Award for Effective Compassion” by World magazine and are featured here in World’s most recent issue. If you want to be both encouraged and challenged about what’s happening in Memphis, check the links and read more about how God is using Steve and Advance Memphis to love the folks in one of the poorest zip codes in America.

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In the Emmaus class last Sunday, we heard testimonies from Laurin Maddux and the Ingers. Laurin talked about training counselors who work with orphaned girls in Albania. The Ingers told us about their relationships with internationals in Memphis and their recent trip to India. In both cases, we were confronted with overwhelming need. The extreme abuse, neglect and exploitation of thousands of Albanian women. An Indian province of 100 million, with intense poverty and almost no awareness of the Christian gospel. As we have seen in the news lately, and in our own experience, Memphis has it’s own issues of overwhelming need. I often hear these numbers and stories and feel hopeless. As I thought about Sunday morning, I was reminded of a video I saw of man raising awareness for adoption from China. In the video he was walking along the beach with a little Chinese girl. He told the story the familiar story of a man walking along a beach covered with stranded starfish. As he walked along, he picked up a starfish and threw it back in the ocean. Someone asked him why he bothered, there were so many starfish, what difference did it make?  The thrower answered, “It made a difference to that one”. At this point, the storyteller stopped, picked up the girl and said, “You see, this isn’t a starfish we’re talking about, she’s my daughter.” That’s the answer. While Laurin and the Ingers saw the statistics, they also saw the stories of the people who make up those statistics.

As Steven Curtis Chapman (father of three adopted Chinese daughters) said- “One bed at a time…that’s how we’ve got to think about the daunting challenge of caring for so many orphans. One bed at a time.”

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In Romans 15:24-29, Paul tells the Romans he wants to use them as a base for going to Spain, to unreached people groups.

But first, he has something else to do.  He is engaged in “that paramount object of uniting the Jews and Gentiles.  Union among Christians we here see placed even before the carrying of the gospel to new countries.”  (Robert Haldane, Romans [1874], 626-7.) 

Three thoughts on Romans 15.

(1)    I’ve written an essay on Paul and social concern, published in a book by IVP in the UK.  (I’m pretty sure it’s not important enough to be published in the USA!  Tim Chester was one of the contributors, and you can see the outline and summary at his website.) 

Transforming the World? The gospel and social responsibility

I sometimes hear people say that because people’s eternal destinies are at stake, ministry to the poor and suffering should not get in the way of evangelism.  Evangelism is crucial; it should have a position of “ultimacy” in mission, to use Christopher Wright’s words (The Mission of God). 

But in my essay, I point out that Paul here in Romans 15 chooses to take a collection for a bunch of poor people, across racial, continental, and denominational lines, before doing evangelism and church planting among unreached people groups. 

(2)    As an aside, Paul would have had no ability to raise money apart from the church planting and evangelism he and others had done.  So I’m working on another essay, arguing that church planting is the greatest act of social justice we can engage in.

(3)    Paul could have had someone else take the money.  But apparently, Christian unity is really, really important, a “paramount object”.  What are you giving up for church unity?

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When I step into Scripture, I frequently bring my concerns with me:  I desire to know God more; I’m looking for help to say something beneficial for my Sunday School class or an insight into the gospel that encourages my kids; I desire to see something encouraging about laboring for Jesus.

But sometimes the biblical text I’m reading and what I hope to find in the Bible don’t match up.  For instance, sometimes the Bible just doesn’t seem to place a premium on the ministry success I’d love to see.

Take Luke 10:1-24, where Jesus sends out disciples to do ministry.  Jesus seems pretty jazzed about the mission, but then goes off on Chorazin and Capernaum for their failure to repent (10:16-18).

When the disciples return to Jesus, they are jazzed about the spiritual power they’ve been able to exercise.  But nothing is said about their success (or failure) in leading others to repentance.  The narrator, the disciples, or Jesus are all silent on that issue.

Even worse is Isaiah’s mission (see Isaiah 6) and the devastating message Isaiah had to deliver:  the “good news” was “bad news,” until Israel was left with nothing but a stump…6:8-13.  I wonder if that’s what Isaiah thought he was headed for when he said, “Here am I, send me!”

Takeaway:  Perhaps the trajectory of the church is generally “win”, but all of must be prepared for a holy “fail”…

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