Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas


Hi there everyone. Have a great festive season.
Feliz navidad, prospero año y felicidad.

Negrito

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Missions & Other Religions

Two weeks ago I shared at the Manurewa Baptist Church. For the second time this year I held an open conversation in the youth service based around some thought provoking videos about poverty & afluenza, advocacy, and one called What in the world.

Twice now a question has come up from a young person about why and how we reach people of other religions with the message of Jesus Christ. In both cases I gave a brief answer to this complex question, but here I would like to explore with you some ideas that may be helpful in the context of a post-modern pluralistic society where most people "believe in believing in everyone's belief to believe in whatever they want to believe in." and don't relate to answers such as "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me" or by heaps of other scripture illustrating the uniqueness of Jesus.

A few ideas:

1/ Jesus as fulfilment: Jesus is the fulfilment of the desire we all have for ultimate reality or to find God. People look for him in various religions and see patches of who God is because God is working to reveal himself to all people. But just as the Bible talks of Jesus fulfilling the law of Judaism, so Jesus also fully reveals Allah (as a Palestinian Christian told me, this word for the one true God is not solely the domain of Isl*m and in fact predates it). Just as some reform movements in H*nduism believe in one God (eg Arya Samaj) and others become devotees of one incarnation, so those who devote themselves exclusively to Jesus ( Yeshu Bhakti) find the ultimate reality they have been searching for. Many nominal Roman Catholics in South America want to know the freedom that Christ brings to their lives and are just waiting to be told. So we don't go to them to criticize their way of life but to introduce them to Jesus, the one who will fully reveal God to them and the one whom they have been seeking all along.

2/ Jesus changes lives: We all have the tendency to both run towards God and run away (or hide) from him. In religion we see an effort to deal with this rebellion or self-reliance through ceremony or ritual. But only a relationship with Jesus enables us to truly make peace with God because Jesus is both God & Man, he lived an exemplary life and his death & resurrection deals with this tension. If we truly believe it, we want to share it with everyone. I have seen examples of peoples lives radically changed eg. from drunkard to wise counselor. Jesus doesn't just deal with all this in a meta-physical way but actually changes lives.

3/ The dark-side: Religions also have a dark side as well as extremist groups: caste, jihad, prosperity doctrine in the church all produce inequality and injustice. The good news of Jesus speaks out against injustice and urges us to work for reconciliation, equality, justice and peace in a world that is hurting because we messed it up. And we largely messed it up because of #2, but we also shouldn't ignore the role of the "dark side of the force" working through human culture & religion (see book review of God’s Rivals: Why has God Allowed Different Religions? by Gerald R. McDermott which points to principalities & powers). You will see that I include the church in those with a dark-side. That doesn't mean we give up on the church, but we aim to plant organic churches that are salt and light in the world and show the Kingdom of God. This includes word, deed & sign: I remember growing up in Fiji as a teenager that many people adherents of other religions turned to Jesus through the church being church: helping out people after hurricanes, openly telling the good news and praying for the sick who were healed. That is just what Jesus did and that is what we are really called to do both @home and overseas.

4/ From experience: Living in Fiji as a teenager where one friend was M*slim another H*ndu, another Catholic/Spiritualist, and I had a teacher who believed we were the science experiment of alien life-forms, I had to face the issue of the uniqueness of Christ. I wondered how come we had a corner on the truth, and came to a point of saying "If there is a God, who are you, because I am confused." I wondered if I only believed in Jesus because my parents had rammed it down my throat from childhood. Those were dark weeks, but I am glad I went through them because Jesus met me in my questions & answered them and now 20 years later I can still say I know (Spanish conocer) Jesus not just know & believe stuff about him (Spanish saber). Sure, my experience is subjective, you can say Jesus is truth for me; but you can't deny my experience and the experience that many people have had. He is not an ideology but a person who entered history. I know he rose from the dead because I was talking with Him just now.

5/ Conversation and journey: In terms of the how to reach people of other religions, I think it is a matter of listening to them, conversing with them and jouneying with them as they discover Jesus. This is why Alpha is so successful in many western countries. Just like Abraham in OT, they develop a better understanding of God as their faith develops; it is a priviledge to journey with them.

6/ Not extraction evangelism: There is much debate about how far is too far in contextualisation, but it is clear to me that wherever possible we need to help people follow Jesus without extracting them from their society. There is always the possibilty of rejection by family & network but our methods shouldn't make this a certainty. That's why for me forming simple communities of believers in their own cultural context is ideal.

7/ Some Bible (for those who need it).
Malachi 1:11 Try reading it in different versions. Does it suggest that worship of other religions is pleaseing and acceptable to God? Christopher J.H. Wright in The Christian & other religions: the biblical evidence (pdf) suggests not. The best reading (eg NIV) is looking to the future when God's name WILL be great among the nations and worship brought to his name. Paul uses a similar argument in his conversation with the people of Athens.

8/ People are lost without Christ - I wish the Bible would let me be a universalist, but it doesn't. I don't know if sincere followers of other religions will be judged on the light they have received, but I do know that those who have devoted their lives to Jesus are saved.

Wow, that's a lot of heavy stuff. Do you agree / disagree on any points? Which point is most helpful for young people in our post-modern society? What other ideas could be added?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shift Happens

Let this wee vid blow your mind




BTW: back in NZ a few weeks, will post some more on trip when I have time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Heading Home


Hi there. I am writing from my hotel room in LA. In a few hours I will be heading home on AirNZ - more than 12 hour flight to Auckland. I can't wait to see the family. I have been away for a month and I really miss the boys. It was great to have Riche with me on most of the trip, but I haven't seen her for 2 weeks either! It was a fantastic trip but it is time to go home.

Since my last post we travelled back to UK, Riche headed home and I came stateside for a clan gathering of directors - at this awesome place up in the NC mountains (with an internet fast hence no posts). It was so good to spend time with others who have done this role for a long time - a real encouragement to me who is just starting out. In Africa I learnt that our home office role is important, because we serve those who are out there doing it. Here I learnt that it gets easier, but never easy to lead.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Danja Hospital


Mark & Faye Griffiths are on their way back here. Mark is a doctor at Danja Hospital. It is a leprosarium as well as offering a general clinic and some surgery as surgeons are available. The guy in this photo greeted us at the gate. He is a great witness to what a difference this place makes in the lives of leprosy sufferers. There are not many people who would want to work in this difficult place, but they desperately need another doctor with surgical experience.

Market


We visited the Markets with Ceciel just after the rains. It is like one of the older markets (PPG) in Guayaquil and there was a wide range of veges, spices, second hand parts and clay pots. This picture is of desert sand that is sold for camel feed. Bartering and such games are the norm.

Hausa Church


Purple robes, amazing singing, translated songs, heat, men on one side women on the other, preaching about tithing as much as anything else and seeking funds to complete the pastor’s house – all these are impressions I take from the church service we went to on Sunday. The service was in Hausa, the language most commonly spoken in Niger. But there are a number of believers who speak English and an old man translated for me.
The church has been 80 years in Niger : estimated 1% of the population in a sea of Islam.

Sowing Seeds of Change in the Sahel

Who would have thought that planting Australian Acacia trees around the plots of millet that everyone grows here would generate income and help people survive during the harsh heat that is Niger most of the year, but it works. Chris Nicholson is involved in this project that shows villagers how to plant these trees that produce bushels of seed and also firewood from pruning that generate income in the dry season. Niger is all green at the moment with the heavy rains that fall June-August, but most of the year it is barren and sandy. This project is also helping subsistence farmers to use better growing techniques for their millet (staple diet). The village visits provide opportunities to develop relationships with M people. Evangelists are also shown these techniques so to have a creative access point to begin working in a village. The project also has a research aspect. (photos)

Fulani Ministry

The Fulani are a minority group in Niger. They are a semi-nomadic unreached people group.

Mike & Ceciel lived up north in Tahoua & also in a little Fulani village even further north. Recently they came to Maradi to help Tambaya a Fulani Christian leader. They are putting the scriptures and good Christian teaching on to MegaVoice players (mp3 players with fixed content), so that the Fulani believers (mostly illiterate) can have the bible in their own language. Hand in hand with this is a translation project that has almost completed the NT in Fulfulde. What a fantastic privilege to be able to bring the Bible in such a practical way to the new believers.

Maradi


We arrived here Saturday. Richelle is much better PTL so we could make the 2 ½ hour journey by road from Galmi.

(The photo is yard sale day on the road).

Tomorrow we leave for Niamey.

The Hughes & Nicholsons are doing a fantastic job. They speak Fulfulde & Hausa respectively and have adapted well to living in this hot & hard place. In fact it doesn’t surprise me to meet and also hear of many down-unders who are part of the story of the gospel in the poorest and harshest country on earth. It has been great to meet with these families. Their kids are great also. We have known Mike & Ceciel for many years so it just like catching up with old friends and our conversations have ranged from their ministries to the bigger issues of life and missions. In the next few posts I will outline some of the ministries here & the experiences we have had.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Crook as a dog

Riche was up all night crook as a dog. She is also running a fever. Please pray for her. Bloods show it is not malaria. We think it is just a virus, but she feels like crap. We are hoping to go to Maradi tomorrow, but that will depend on her improving.

I got my trouser zip fixed today: 300CPF ie. about NZ$1. Coudn't even buy the zip for that in NZ.

Hello…Hola….Salam Malak...Bonjour…Sannu

I realized today that in a week I have been in 6 countries & spoken in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Arabic, French & Hausa). Here in Niger, the main languages are French & Hausa. The French I can understand some, since it is close to Spanish at times.

Had a funny experience at an airport in North Africa. Our plane was late and we (read I) was concerned we might miss our connecting flight. A man had greeted me in French, so I got out our French phrase book and asked him did he know why the plane was late. He replied something that was to the effect of he wish he knew. At that point I said I only spoke a little French but more Spanish. It turned out he was ½ Spanish, ½ Belgian, so we switched in Spanish and had a great conversation. Then he asked the officials in French about the plane, translated into Spanish for us, and we in turn translated for a Russian woman who spoke English but no French or Spanish! The plane turned up an hour late, but we managed to catch our connection.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Galmi




We are at Galmi Hospital today. We flew in by SIM-AIR on a single-prop Saratoga Piper. It was fun. Heaps better than the other option of a bus ride of a whole day over roads that have detours on the detours because the bridges have been washed out with flooding. The woman who came with us, Kristine, smiled all the way, I think because she was so freaked out.



Galmi hospital was started in 1950. Missionaries from 11 different countries work with local Nigereans in this ministry that attracts people to Christ by helping with their physical needs. Walking around the hospital you can see that the need is great: especially for doctors (long or short-term). Also the rebuilding project is in need of a new project manager. The original buildings have cracked over time. The newly renovated section looks fantastic, but the rest needs completion ASAP.

Dave & Lois Freeman are doing a fantastic job here with Guesthouse management, counseling & maintenance work. They have fit in really well so quickly and I think that the day they plan to leave all the roads will be out and SIM-AIR grounded.

We hope our visit will be of great encouragement to them. I know already they appreciate the Milo, boating magazines & Turkish Delight we brought on behalf of a family member.


We head to Maradi Saturday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sahel Academy- Niamey

Great school for both missionary and local children. NZ teachers could fit in well here – they even have a staff room! The director of the school showed us round. They urgently need a principal (associate principal in NZ lingo) to look after the teaching programme – preferably a teacher with some school management experience. The minstry position is for 1 year starting NOW! They also need a maths teacher for the high school starting January. I would offer to come back but am kinda committed to NZ for now. The current maths teacher is finally heading home after extending his 7 month stay to 3 years.


Here is the full list of needs:
See Sahal Academy website

Christian Education Project - Niamey

Arrived early this morning (5AM), grateful for a few hours sleep. We are staying at the Centre Biblique Niamey, Niger. This morning we visited the Christian Education project. Niger teachers are attending a block course to help them to teach with a biblical worldview and in a creative way. The classes were colorful & students participative. The tutors have visited 3 years now and are beginning to hand the course over to national leaders.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Camels & stuff



We stopped over in North Africa on our way to Niger. Road a camel, visited the souk. Had an awesome time (too short).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Jersusalem

From the time I arrived in London until the time I left England I could get this song out of my head:

And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among these dark Satanic Mills?


Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant Land.


When I saw green pastures or smoky factories I would begin to sing this annoying song. I thought it was a hymn. But googling it I find it was a poem by William Blake that was put to music. If you take it literally it seems to support the Glastonbury theory: that Jesus was brought up in England – that’s bizarre. But in it’s context it was more a socio-political statement about the dark side of the industrial revolution. (Wiki)

So why did we used to sing it growing up in church?
See some discussion. My favourite comment follows:

Countless school children have had to sing this as their"school song" and
many,many mourning families have included it in the funeral rites of a loved
one. It is even regarded as Britain's "unofficial national anthem" -
but what does it mean.? This is another example of us mouthing words we do
not understand just because we are too mentally lazy to find out.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Big Ben


We had one day in London: rode the tube, saw Big Ben (not chiming at the moment), Buckingham Place and the like. Ate Indian at Liverpool St Station. Feel like I am in Monopoly game.
Sweltered in the best (only?) day of the English Summer (rest of the time was wet or overcast & cold).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tube

After 36 hours traveling by plane, train and automobile, I am now with my media naranja in Wetheringsett, near London, UK. Yay!
The tube was a bit like being on a bus in Guayaquil - packed in like sardines. I was wasted, but quite enjoyed it. It seems to be a great leveler in that there were people of all walks of life and ethnicities all together.

I was glad to finally arrive as didn't sleep too well on the planes despite taking a sleeping tablet. Watched some forgettable movies, talked to my neighbours a bit, TRIED to sleep. Weather was great in Frankfurt, but as soon as we hit the English channel we hit the clouds. The papers promise sun on the weekend, but today it is super cloudy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Africa here we come


If I look pensive, it is because my better half is half-way around the world in the UK. She left Friday. The great news it that I'm gonna catch up to her next Friday (I leave NZ Wed):-) then we get to visit 4 NZ families serving in Niger (West Africa), so the map behind me is well positioned. I will try and blog a bit when I have e-mail access so we can tell you all about the big trip. Thank God for grandparents, they arrive today and will look after the boys - they will be in good hands.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

1 year since we left



Hard to believe but it is a year since we left Ecuador (August 12th).


Wanna know why I miss it?

Read these great blogs of real life God stuff with real people in Guayaquil (ciudad de mis amores).
What a difference
Heroes
Churute
Send us out
House church baptisms
ten2b virus
or see the latest Mblog post.

Man I miss those guys.




Wanna know why I am in NZ? to reproduce myself and send more labourers into the harvest. So do you wanna join the team in Guayaquil? Let me know. Visit sim.org.nz for more opportunities.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What is the greatest threat?

Glenn Penner of VOM recently posted an interesting article on dependency. He says:

I do not believe that persecution is the greatest threat to the continuing spread of the gospel. I am much more concerned about something that, at first glace, seems benign and even helpful but which I contend is far more insidious. I am referring to the dependency creating practices that ministries are increasingly promoting in the name of "partnership."
Read more

In Guayaquil we worked with volunteers (like these heroes)and shied away from paying people to plant churches. I think we were wise as it is more sustainable in the long run. What do you think?

Also see
other blog reactions

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I want an iPhone

iPhone is just out. Great video by David Pogue.



OK. I'll admit it, I'd love an iPhone. Is that being sucked into materialism?
Good thing they are not out in NZ yet.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rocks, Sand & Water


These last few months have definitely been a steep learning curve and to be honest the magnitude of the work of director in the midst of major life change has at times been overwhelming. As I looked to gain a good perspective on things, a friend of mine shared with me the analogy of rocks, sand and water and it has really helped. Water represents all those urgent things that always come your way as leader and tend to fill your days if you let them: like e-mails and more e-mails. Sand are those necessary things like facilitating the work of others, building good relationships with key people, helping out missios with their current needs, etc. Rocks are the real important priorities. If you fill your jar with water there is no room for the sand and rocks. If you start with the rocks there is still room for the sand and the water. (So if I take a while in answering an e-mail it may be because I haven’t opened them till after lunch :-)
After that conversation I sat down and prayerfully considered what is most important for me right now. I find if I can make progress on one of the rocks each day I feel like I have had a successful day. I try to dedicate my most productive time of day to these things.

The above picture is one we took at the Moeraki Boulders many years ago. They represent my rocks for this year – things I want to spend more time and energy on: helping our family integrate back into life here in NZ, facilitating a process of vision and implementing good systems for our organisation, celebrating 100 years of the foundation of the work in Latin America (Bolivian Indian Mission), and networking with key people.

So what are your rocks this year? Drop me a comment.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A few blogs I like

Wow. Time flies huh! Seems ages since I last posted, and it IS.
Here are a few of my favourite blogs that I read.

1. Tall Skinny Kiwi
One of my favourite posts is a video that you read scripture under - Dangerous Words of Jesus awesome. I use it in all sorts of settings.

2. Jesus Creed - includes cool prayers like this:

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in mine eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at mine end and in my departing.

Sarum Primer, 1527


3. M Blog - my mate in Guayaquil serving in the CPM - great articles on house church and about Guayaquil

4. Corazon Latino - my wife's blog - check out this cool video 0f Goodnight Kiwi

If I come across a great article I put it in the side-bar under the title WORTH A READ. Or you can see them all at my shared items.

I have heaps to blog about, but am a bit too busy right now, so hopefully may get some time this weekend. See you then.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG

Hi there.
In June we will be participating along with other missions and churches in the MI7 conference called Remodelling Mission. As we look to how we do mission in the future may this article from the M Blog (Read it Here) by Guy Muse (our IMB partner in Guayaquil, Ecuador) encourage us to be prepared to make changes to adapt to a quickly changing world. Quoting Curtis Sergeant he says:

If You Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing,
You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Been Getting.

Never be satisfied with the status quo. Always seek to improve...
We need to constantly evaluate and measure what is working and make the needed changes.


At times these changes need to be radical; at times it is just a matter of kaizen (Japanese word for making tiny little improvements each and every day.) What changes do you need to make where God has placed you?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's all about me...yeah right.

This is a take-off of the Tui adverts that are world famous in NZ.
I saw it on emergent kiwi.

Reading Mustard Seed vs. McWorld (see previous post) has really challenged me. Despite 8 years in Ecuador I now feel kinda trapped in middle-class NZ: mortgage, busyness and the like. I miss the community of our house-churches in Guayaquil and am finding it easy to revert to WASP values rather than challenge the status-quo of the materialistic me-generation. It will take a determined effort to integrate back into NZ without losing all of who I have become as a Guayaco.
eg. We have a gas heater that is over 10 years old and the tank and heater need to be tested before we are allowed to refill and use it. Cost: about $100 and we have to take it across town and probably pick it up another day. Or we can buy a new one for about $150, but how do we dispose of the old one in an eco conscious way? In Ecuador you wouldn't even bother testing! I remember with fondness those rusty gas tanks that cost US$1.60 to refill:-) Throwing things away in Ecuador meant leaving them out front overnight and someone would come along and take it home and fix it and re-sell it or use it. To be honest, I don't like either of the two options I have here and we are having such trouble deciding on something so seamingly simple that we probably just use the fire this winter. What would you do?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Books, books & more books

I just love reading. Living in Ecuador for the last 8 years I would quickly swallow up any books that came my way. Coming back to NZ I really enjoy visiting the bookshops & public library and I usually have 4 or 5 books on the go at any one time. This week I discovered that I could join the library at Carey Baptist College - wow, thousands of Christian books only 15 minutes away. I made myself leave after picking up 5 books in just 10 minutes, or I never would have left there:-)

Easter is a long weekend here in NZ (Fri-Mon), so I have delved into the following books this weekend:

Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo - a classic on how to care for your missos - You can tell it was written over 10 years ago, but it is so practical I wish every sending church in NZ had a copy.

Mustard Seed vs. McWorld by Tom Sine - I'm only 30 pages in, but already I am excited by the idea that God works through the seemingly small and insignificant to bring about lasting change.

The Bible - a great read:-) Last week I was really challenged as I took a fresh look at Matthew 22:1-14 The Parable of the Wedding Feast: especially that paradoxical phrase (v14) Many (all) are called but few are chosen.

Having worked alongside IMB-SBC I just had to get out a book I stumbled across by accident - The New Lottie Moon Story by Catherine B. Allen. All SBs know this lady and boy did she certainly NOT fit the mold!

I am rediscovering the value of liturgical prayer as part of my relationship with God, so am currently using the Complines from A New Zealand Prayer Book .

Ripening Fruit
by Margarita Allan Hudspith (Out of Print) tells the story of the first 50 years of the Bolivian Indian Mission that later joined SIM. We celebrate 100 years of work in Latin America this year and the first missos were George & Mary Allan, kiwi ingenuity exported over 100 years ago:-)

What are you reading at the moment?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Finding My Rhythm

After my first month or so in leadership I hit a wall where I was physically, spiritually and emotionally tired after 2 weeks of meetings, air travel, long days and dealing with difficult issues and real people. In talking with a trusted leader I met "by chance" at my lowest point:-) I realized that most of my stress was coming from CFS (Christian fatigue syndrome): I had been ministering long hours without a break for 2 weeks. A couple of weeks ago I worked through the weekend, but had already planned a complete day off during the following week. It's not rocket science, but it really made a difference. What Ruth Haley Barton in the latest Leadership Mag really resonates with me:
"There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our human existence."

Now I am learning to find my rhythms: when I work best, how to recognize when I need a day off before everyone around me does 1st, how to be fully engaged giving my best for the missos I serve whilst having regular slots to step back and gain perspective. As I have said to others, I now say to myself: your organisation will never tell you to do less; don't be a hero, you need to know when its time for some self-care (or listen to your wife who can usually spot it first:-); ministry is a marathon not a sprint. I haven't got it sewn up yet, but in recognising this early I am hoping to burn like a candle not a double-happy.

Here are some other very relvant quotes from the article:
"Jesus understood how quickly our passions, even the most noble, can wear us out if we're not careful."
"When we keep pushing forward without taking adequate time for rest, our way of life may seem heroic, but there is frenetic quality to our work that lacks true effectiveness because we lose the ability to be fully present. Present to God and present to other people. And we lose the ability to discern what is really needed in our situation."

It is certainly worth a read: A Steady Rhythm
Have you found your rhythm yet?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Breaking out of the Typical

What marks us out from the rest?
The following link shows a video from Mute Math that encourages us not to be trapped in the typical (lyrics here)

Peter challenges us to maintain among unbelievers an exemplary example 1 Peter 2:11-12 . But sometimes we live so like those around us that they don’t even know we are followers of Jesus. We have Jesus in our lives - it should show in our lifestyle, in our attitudes. I am not advocating a purist separation from "the others" but rather a prophetic openness to others, such as Jesus had, that creates opportunities for people to front up to the reality of God and their need for relationship with him. I am daily challenged not to define my faith by a narrow orthodoxy but by orthopraxis - a true living out of the gospel. What kind of reflection of Jesus do people see when they look in the mirror of me (or you)?

Monday, March 19, 2007

I am Ginger!

Here's a funny video from Catherine Tate about being a red-head. When I was young I got teased. Now I am glad I stand out from the rest.

Gingers for justice


Also see wikipedia red-head

Friday, March 09, 2007

Negrito's Guestmap

i would love to hear from you if you read this blog.
Click on the "View my Guestmap" in the side bar and leave me a greeting.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Where is God & What is He Doing?



When we arrived in Guayaquil in 1998 I asked myself the question “Where is God?” in the midst of the busy, noisy, dangerous city. I found him in worship with other believers (although I didn’t understand much Spanish at that point), in smooth sailing through government bureaucracy, in the few silences that a busy city affords, in the Word, in good music. But where was he when some kid bit Isaac on his arm at the church crèche our first Sunday out?

More than anything I found God in the grace and kindness shown to us by others: missos who shared their house with us for 3 months, hugs from my kids, a drunk who put his own life in danger to stop the traffic when the buggy Caleb was in fell apart in mid street, the woman who translated for us at the kindergarten, offers of hospitality. These acts of kindness are just that – human. Yet they speak of a designer who is supremely kind. They are also incongruous with an age and city that is dehumanizing, violent, selfish – tainted by sin & depravity. Why do people choose to be kind when they can be selfish? It is God’s image in them, whether they choose to believe in him or not it is undeniably his trademark.
Where is God in the place that you are ministering? I encourage you to look for him today.

After a while I began to ask another question. “What is God doing?” You see, mission is firstly God’s mission, Missio Dei, in which he invites us to participate. I began to see God working in people’s lives as they shared their journey with me. This gave me opportunities to join God in what he was doing in them and in the wider community. I was challenged to move beyond my comfort zone and not just “do my job”, but to truly be a co-worker with Christ
(1 Thes.3:2) to minister to those around me.

Henry Blackaby & Claude King in their excellent study-book Experiencing God put it this way:

1. God is always working around you
2. God seeks a continual love relationship with you that is real & personal
3. God invites you to join him in his work
4. God speaks by his Holy Spirit, the bible, prayer, circumstances & the church to reveal himself, his purpose & his ways
5. God’s invitation to join him in his work always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires confidence & action
6. You have to make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing.
7. You get to know God by experience when you obey him & he does his work through you.

The challenge of that famous verse John 3:16 is that God is already working in the world. As we allow him to open our eyes to what he is doing & our ears to hear his voice, our obedience will lead us into exciting experiences of him as he works in us and in those around us.
What is God doing in your location today? I would love to hear from you if these thoughts cause you to ponder. We are on a journey together & I would love to learn from your experiences.

Finally Here


Hola & Kia Ora from NZ.
OK. After much delay, I have finally made the jump from blog reader to blogger. YAY! I hope to upload a variety of thoughts, links, even vids that will be of encouragement to SIMers and others around the world.

btw I am enjoying using google reader as my RSS reader. Why don't you try it? Then if you subscribe to my blog you will know every time I update here. I use it to keep up-to-date with news, friends' blogs & even theological debates.