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Missions 101

The 14 Worst Types of Missionary Newsletters

Jul. 20, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Christmas-Missionary-Newsletter-from-Lets-Get-Together

From Amy Walters at SEND.

1.    The Banker. Nothing but support updates and requests for money. Oh, and maybe a story about visiting a church and asking for money. “It’s not too late to join our team.”

2.    The Paper Cut. Focused mainly on the long, paperwork-filled process of getting legal documents, like visas or residency permits. As boring and painful to read as the actual process of gathering the documents and waiting in line. “The officials did not accept our documents (which is very normal for the first attempt, although it was over very small mistakes). However, to get a second appointment would mean waiting the next day in a long line (this whole process has been full of long lines all over the city for different steps) to see if the quota is still open. So, the next day Leon* waited in line for 5 hours, only to find out that no, the quota is closed. This means that we cannot apply for the temporary residency until after the New Year.”

3.    The Cluster Bomb. No communication for months and then a sudden rush of updates. Often this happens when the missionary needs something, like more support or home service is coming. “At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we will give another report about how wonderful our time was on our recent trip!”

4.    The Itinerary. Basically, a long list of activities, locations and events in paragraph form. The audience feels tired after reading it and bouncing from one place to the next. “We were able to combine visits to see Kim’s* father in Pennsylvania, children and grandchildren in Lynchburg, Virginia and Buffalo, New York to meeting friends and attending a new career conference in Ocean City, New Jersey.”

5.    The Treasure Hunt. Mostly filled with cultural tidbits and mundane details. But buried somewhere deep inside, like in a sidebar or at the very end of a long letter, is a great ministry story. [After nine paragraphs about other things] “Praise God for a girl in my class who has now received assurance of salvation.”

6.    The Novel. Anything longer than three pages. This usually happens because the missionary hasn’t written in months. “And one more thing…”

7.    The Christmas Letter. Almost entirely made up of family updates, with little or nothing said about ministry. Added bonus: long description and pictures of a recent family vacation to an exotic location. “Another family invited us to join them at a nearby resort.”

8.    The Cliff Hanger. A desperate call for prayer or help that is not followed up and resolved in the next letter.“Ended up in hospital, trying to find what’s going on. Our life here is but a moment, so easy to take it for granted.”

9.    Generic. As boring as the title, either from lack of interesting details or mainly focusing on day to day stuff. So general that it could be cut and pasted into anyone’s newsletter and still apply. “While at home, I did a lot of cleaning, sorting, and washing windows.” 

10.    The Shock & Awe. Too much going on, from too many different styles of fonts, to too many colors and clip art and photos and graphs and sections. The eyes don’t know where to look first. “Above: My fourth great-nephew and I pose for a comical photo on Thanksgiving Day.”

11.    The Snooze & Blah. No pictures. No colors. No graphics. Just words.

12.    The Judge. A negative assessment of the host culture, either subtle or blatant. “Is it possible to be both different and wrong?”

13.    The Gory Details. Goes into great detail about something incredibly gross or personal, like a recent surgery or explosive illness. Also could include pictures. “We could admire the iron in our toilet bowl.”

14.    The Bait & Switch.  Teases you with the promise of a great story but instead gets sidetracked with related but unimportant details. “So we landed in [the city], got in a van and rode out to join the teen camp that was starting the next day. 10 days later we took part in the English camp. The time at the camp definitely got us back into life here quickly.”

She offers to helpful tips here.

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VICE NEWS: The Rise of a Caliphate

Jul. 19, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Vice News has some interesting videos from embedded reports with ISIS. These are pretty chilling, but give you an idea of the mindset of those who are fighting for the Caliphate.

 

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The Training of Immigrant Christian Leaders

Jul. 18, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Last year I spoke at a TGC-Twin Cities event at a Presbyterian church plant that also hosted an Ethiopian congregation. A few weeks later I ran into a friend who was trying to help a Hmong speaking congregation in the Twin Cities. These two situations caused me to pause because we have been working on translating our curriculum to Amharic and Hmong to teach abroad while at the same time we have immigrant church leaders in the US, who for a variety of reasons can not access theological education that is available to them.oc-pastors-conference

On top of this I have been researching migrant church movements as part of PhD research.  

These two things made wonder whether TLI could help immigrant and migrant pastors in the US and Europe by providing training for them in their own language. The statistics are staggering and have led some to call it the "Great Commission in Reverse." Just in Minneapolis, MN we have 90,000 Hmong, 77,000 Somali, 37,500 Liberian and 25,000 Oromo. Or take London, where there are more non-English speaking churches than English speaking church. Or Athens, where up to 20% of the city are non-Greeks.

We now have 29 US Staff. We have the teachers and church partnerships to be able to do this.

We want to appoint someone whose focus would be to direct this specific kind of training and get like-minded churches involved in cities in the US and Europe that would continue training. This could also be a wonderful way to foster partnerships between English and non-English speaking churches that worship in the same city.

If you know someone who might be interested in leading this, you can read the job description here.

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Persecution in the West?

Jul. 1, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Here is a picture painted for us by Philip Jenkins, showing one facet of persecution in Western Countries:

Coptic believer Nadia Eweida was startled at the blatant discrimination she encountered in her job at the national airline. While Muslim women around her freely wore headscarves to fulfill their religious obligation, she was forbidden to wear a cross openly while working. Even Jews and Sikhs received more consideration: the policy was directed solely and explicitly towards Christians. When Nadia complained, political authorities and news media were grossly unsympathetic. 

We might wonder why Nadia did not simply give up the unequal struggle, and move to a country like Great Britain, where Christianity is not just tolerated but which actually has an established national church. Why would she continue to tolerate the systematic injustice of an aggressive Islamist regime...

Oh wait, my mistake. Is my face red! 

It turns out that although Nadia Eweida really is a Coptic Christian, she was living in England at the time, rather than Egypt, and that her job was with British Airways, at Heathrow. 

Read the whole thing here.

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Dependency and Missions – An Indian Perspective – Part 2

Jun. 29, 2016By: Vijay MeesalaAuthor Bio

Editor Note: Monday we posted an article by Craig Ott that noted his caution on supporting national leaders and missionaries. Today's article continues yesterday’s post from Vijay Meesala, who works in India for ministry that seeks support for national Indian pastors and leaders.

I once received an email that read:

Hello Vijay, 

……..As for more churches and organizations for support… I will think and pray and let you know if any come to mind. However, I would also like to ask you if you have done your best to invite local churches in your area to contribute to your ministry. Please don’t be offended by this question…. But I want you and the churches of your area to experience the blessing and testimony of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

Here is how I responded: 

At the most fundamental level there is little comparison between the typical Indian village church and a Western church.  Below are some areas of comparison. (The following is from a Westerner who was involved in the mission work for more than 30 years and gained much wisdom from the mission):

 

Issue

Western Church

Indian Village Church

1

Cultural Hostility                     

Little or none                   

Much hostility

2

% of Believers Employed     

Above 97%    

40% full-time employed

3

Level of Education                   

Nearly 100% high school graduates       

Very low % educated

 

4

Care of Widows and Orphans           

Little/none care given        

Much care given

5

Economic Situation                   

Wealthy

Hand-to-mouth existence

6

Spiritual Development             

Reflects society more than Kingdom        

Prays, fasts, active in evangelism

 

7

Church Outreach                    

Self-contained                 

Involved in starting new fellowships

 

I'm sure there are many other areas of comparison. 

I hope you understand my heart; I am not saying these things to judge which churches are superior and inferior.  However, there is a general misunderstanding from the churches in the west that we (Indian and Asian Churches ) only and always seek help from the West.  Yet this is not accurate for all the churches.  Indeed, it is an exaggeration.

I am not denying the fact that there are many who seek Western help, including our own mission work, and receive enormous amounts of generous support from the West.  Praise the Lord!  I also want to acknowledge that there is a danger of being dependent on the West.  But that the Church in India or elsewhere is existing only with the support of the West and there is no local support is definitely not true.  In our context in Andhra Pradesh rural area, I estimate less than 25-30% of churches only receive help from outside India.

The support that we seek from the West is to enhance and further the work of God more effectively  and faster. It is also because more than 75% of the wealth is in the hands of Western Christians (according to some mission statistics).  Someone has said that if the Church in the West thinks that she is doing a favor to the churches in developing countries by giving money and other things, then that is not a biblical attitude but an attitude of worldly superiority.  The Church belongs to God and God will build His Church.  But by supporting each other I believe we are doing our part in God’s family.

For these reasons I firmly believe that the Church in India enjoys the joy of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 much like other Churches in similar contexts.  Believers in Indian villages give to the Lord out of their extreme poverty and they give it willingly as said in the Scriptures.

I hope to continue dialoguing about this, and I am willing to learn more as well.  I just wrote what is on my heart with much prayer and reflection.  These are my general feelings about the Church in the West but not against any particular individual or church.  Please let me know what you think of this.  I will be happy to hear from you.

My request is this:  Please does not generalize and make hasty decisions based on some past experiences or because someone said it was so.  Moreover, let the Western Church/Pastors/Mission leaders also examine themselves to see if they are too dependent and yet not seeing it, while they point fingers at indigenous missionaries.

One last thing, I am saying this with much caution and love: I am not sure if a Western Pastor/Mission Executive/Leader/staff of a mission of organization would continue to serve and minister in the same ministry/organization if/when he knows that the next months check/money/support is not going to come.  He would try to find another job placement because he has a wife and children.  (I am not seeking to generalize; there may be exemptions)….But I am sure that almost all the indigenous missionaries I personally know of in Asia or Africa would continue to serve the Lord no matter what may come…may it be persecution/famine/or anything.

Please do not mistake me for being harsh….  I would be happy to hear from you and learn as well.

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