Posts belonging to Category Missions



Baptist Pastor Speaks Out about Haiti Ordeal

Pastor Paul Thompson was one of the ten Baptist volunteers arrested in Haiti on kidnapping charges this past January. Laura Silsby, the last volunteer still in prison, was released yesterday after more than 100 days in jail. Now that all ten volunteers have been released, Pastor Thompson finally feels free to share his side of the story. From the Baptist Press:

Paul Thompson reads the media accounts describing the journey of him and nine other jailed Baptist volunteers in Haiti who are all now free, and scratches his head. He was there. What he reads is not what he experienced … “It’s radically different,” Thompson said. For instance:

– The 10 Americans did not, as has been alleged in some accounts, go through the streets of Port-au-Prince passing out flyers and going door-to-door looking for children, Thompson said. Instead, the 33 children they were trying to take across the border in a medium-sized bus came from two orphanages, and orphanage workers told them that none of the children had parents.

– The group was told multiple times before they got to the border that their documentation and paperwork — the source of the controversy — was sufficient, Thompson said. A Haitian child services official said as much, as did a Haitian policeman and an orphanage director who has extensive experience transferring orphans from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.

– The 10 Baptists were arrested in Port-au-Prince, and not at the border. They thought they would go free until UNICEF — a United Nations agency — got involved and pressed charges, Thompson says.

– They were arrested on Jan. 30, and not Jan. 29 as has been reported repeatedly.

Visit the Baptist Press website for the full story with many fascinating details.

Christian Missionary Growth in the Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented Christian growth around the world through global missions. Mark Noll highlights the following areas of rapid growth between the years 1800 and 1914 in his book, The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith. (pp. 40-42)

  • The number of Protestant foreign missionaries in the world grew from 100 missionaries in 1800 to over 21,000 missionaries by 1914.
  • The portion of the world’s population that was Christian grew from 23 percent in 1800 to almost 35 percent in 1914. This rate of growth represented the fastest proportional growth of the church since its earliest centuries — and over a period in which world population grew more rapidly than ever before.
  • The number of non-white Christians grew from 28 million in 1800 to 149 million in 1914. This meant that in 1914 the number of non-white Christians in the world was rapidly nearing the number of all Christians who were alive in 1800.
  • The number of languages with Scripture increased from 67 languages in 1800 to 676 languages in 1914.

For a great visual of this amazing growth, see the flash video map on the History of Religion.

Dr. Ralph Winter (1925-2009)

Missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter has died at age 84 after a long battle with cancer. Winter founded the U.S. Center for World Mission and revolutionized world missions in the late twentieth century with the concept of unreached people groups. Winter leaves behind his wife Barbara, four daughters, and fourteen grandchildren. Click here to read John Piper’s personal tribute to Winter.

You do not evaluate a risk by the probability of success but by the worthiness of the goal. – Dr. Ralph D. Winter

Missions and Evangelism (PTOM 4)

(This week and next I am sharing my Personal Theology of Ministry. Click here for more posts from the Personal Theology of Ministry series.)

The church is called to serve the world in love:

Therefore the church must be active in missions and evangelism. Our lives must be characterized by both the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). As a pastor I will actively share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, and I will encourage and equip other believers to do the same. I will encourage our church to be salt and light in the community in which we live so that others will be drawn to Christ by our message and example. I will also encourage the church to support missions around the world through prayer, financial support and personal involvement whenever possible.

Back to Table of Contents | Next section: The Holy Spirit and Prayer (PTOM 5)

Related post: Church Search

Culture, Conversion, and Post-Christian America

Jonathan Dodson explains how various cultures experience conversion differently and what that means for evangelism in the United States today.

Gospel change in some cultures is more gradual than instantaneous. The American Evangelical tradition of “deep consciousness of personal sin followed by a sense of joyous liberation” is not common to all cultures. Missionaries labored for years before they saw a single conversion, and even then, the conversions were sometimes very different than what they expected. Cultures that are more communal experience conversion differently that cultures that are highly individualistic. In many African and Asian cultures, conversions come in pairs or families instead of by single individuals. Not all gospel change happens identically, especially across cultures.

What these missionaries encountered “on the field” is beginning to occur in the U.S. Many church planters have a pre-Christian past that is very “Christian.” We inherited the evangelical, pietistic conversion experience of our forefathers. Like the conversions of our missionary forefathers, our personal conversion relied heavily upon a prevailing Christianized culture, common basic knowledge of God, sin, faith and Christ. But America has changed. We cannot assume our listeners possess the same knowledge and experience that we did, which is precisely why it is so crucial that we exercise pastoral wisdom through contextualization.

What do you think? Although the gospel never changes, must we change our methods of evangelism in order to share Christ with those in a post-Christian culture?

MAF Announces New Mission Planes

Kodiak 100

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) recently received its first new plane specifically designed for missions.

Manufacturer Quest Aircraft Co. of Sandpoint, Idaho delivered its first KODIAK 100, the first of the next-generation bush planes it produces, to MAF on Thursday. The plane is the long awaited result of the shared vision between MAF and Quest to design an aircraft that can run on jet fuel, which is cheaper than aviation gas (avgas) and in greater supply.

Most of MAF’s fleet is Cessna 206’s (C206), which need avgas that is often in short supply and costly in areas where the mission group operates.

Also, the KODIAK 100 can carry nearly twice the cargo – such as medicine, food or disaster relief supplies – of the C206 and will help MAF dramatically increase delivery while reducing operating costs.

“Aviation, in the minds of many, is the heart and soul of reaching the unreached peoples of the world,” says John Boyd, president and chief executive officer of MAF-USA. “Missionary aircraft can take people into areas where there are no roads. They can deliver food, medicines and other supplies when roads are impassible.”

Profits from the commercial sales of the aircraft will subsidize a portion of the cost for each 11th plane produced. The 11th plane will be delivered to participating non-profit Christian and humanitarian aviation organizations.

Christian TV for Kids in the Arab World

One hundred million children under the age of 15 live in the Arab world and at least half of them have access to satellite television. SAT-7 KIDS provides Christian programming for children in the Arab world 24 hours a day.

SAT-7 KIDS is the first and only Arabic Christian channel exclusively for children. This channel aims to make the Gospel of Christ available to an entire generation of young Arabs in a way meaningful to them. The channel airs original dramas, talk shows, educational material, cartoons, music programs and other shows that capture the attention of young viewers.

You can watch a live streaming broadcast of SAT-7 KIDS here. I enjoyed it even not knowing the language. (HT: 30 Days of Prayer)

Don Carson’s Overview of the Bible

Don Carson is conducting a two-weekend seminar aimed at providing an overview of the Bible and the gospel message, especially for those not familiar with the Bible.

Learning to evangelize men and women who know nothing about the Bible and who are bringing their own “baggage” or “context” with them does not require a super intellect or a Ph.D. in biblical theology. What it requires is learning to get across a lot of things that we Christians simply presuppose.

There are quite a lot of ways of doing this. One of them is to focus on a variety of biblical texts drawn from across the entire Bible and work through them with people. One might begin with Genesis 1-2: “The God who makes everything.” Genesis 3 becomes “The God who does not wipe out rebels.” We keep working through the Old Testament and eventually arrive at the New, coming to topics like “The God who becomes a human being” (John 1:1-18). The wonderful atonement passage in Romans 3 covers “The God who declares the guilty just.” Gradually the Bible becomes a coherent book. It establishes its own framework; it is the context in which alone Jesus, the real Jesus, makes sense.

This is similar to the method that New Tribes Mission uses with unreached tribes that have no Biblical framework to understand Christ, sort of a Biblical-theological approach to missions. (See post here on The Taliabo Story.) Here is Carson’s complete 16-point overview tracing the storyline of Scripture:

      1. The God who made everything
      2. The God who does not wipe out rebels
      3. The God who writes his own agreements
      4. The God who legislates
      5. The God who reigns
      6. The God who makes his people sing
      7. The God who is unfathomably wise
      8. The God who is coming
      9. The God who becomes a human being
    10. The God who grants new birth
    11. The God who loves
    12. The God who dies–and lives
    13. The God who declares the guilty just
    14. The God who gathers and transforms his people
    15. The God who is very angry
    16. The God who triumphs

Update: The lectures from the seminar have now been released in book form: The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story

The Taliabo Story

The Taliabo Story / Delivered from Darkness - DVDYesterday in church we viewed one of my all time favorite mission videos: The Taliabo Story. The Taliabo Story tells the story of how God used two New Tribes Mission families to bring the gospel to an unreached people group in Indonesia.

Stephen & Mary Lonetti and Darryl & Kyla Palmer went to live with the Taliabo people in order to share Christ with them. After four years of learning the Taliabo language and culture, they began to share with them the “great story,” beginning with God and creation in Genesis.

Working chronologically forward through the Old Testament, they taught them key concepts about God, man, sin, death, judgment, mercy, and grace. All of this was in preparation to teach them about Christ. After six months of teaching, they were finally ready to share with them about Christ’s death and resurrection. You will just have to watch the video to see what happened then!

Do you have a favorite missions video? Share about it in the comments. (You can purchase The Taliabo Story along with its sequel on DVD here: The Taliabo Story and Delivered from Darkness DVD.)

Click here for more Missions related posts.

Related post: Don Carson’s Overview of the Bible

Online Missions Trip

Online Missions Trip

Multiple churches from around the world recently completed an Online Missions Trip with the purpose of sharing the gospel on popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter. You can track the follow-up to the event here.

This sounds like a great idea if approached with wisdom and sensitivity. What do you think about reaching out with the gospel online? What would you recommend, and what cautions would you offer?

Missions as the Test of Our Faith

“Missions are the test of our faith that the gospel is true.”
    – Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 127

HT: Of First Importance

Building a Vision for World Missions

John Piper offers the following five points for building a vision of world missions in our church congregations.

  1. We must build our missionary vision on the Word of God. “When we choose and send missionaries, let us send those who can preach and teach the truth about God with an understanding of central biblical doctrines. The apostles built their lives and missions on these great truths. So should we.”
  2. World missions is God’s work through us. “We speak and we do. But in and through us God speaks and God does, or all is in vain. We rely on Him. Our job is to obey and be faithful and trust Him. Just as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6–7: ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.'”
  3. The aim of world missions is the worship of God. “The reason the universe exists is that creatures might have the joy of worshiping God. Therefore, missions exist where worship doesn’t. Missionaries are seeking to awaken worship for the true and living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.”
  4. The way to do world missions is to go to unreached peoples. “The way to do world missions is not to settle down with the peoples that already have churches (even if they are across the ocean), but to keep going to the unreached peoples until all the peoples are reached and have their own Christ-worshiping churches.”
  5. God calls some to be wardens of the mission who watch over it from home. “You have three possibilities in world missions. You can be a goer, a sender, or disobedient. The Bible does not assume that everyone goes. But it does assume that the ones who do not go care about goers and support goers and pray for goers and hold the rope of the goers. Paul was linked with many churches, and they sent support to him over and over again. So it should be with every church and its missionaries.”

These are all great points, but I especially appreciate the emphasis on the Word of God in missions and going to the unreached peoples. What are some key components of world missions for you?