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All about the #GrowCampaign

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 05:54
By now you’ve heard we’re preparing to plant a new ministry in inner-city Sydney. You’ve heard that Sydney is home to one out of five Australians. You’ve heard that 40% of Sydneysiders were born...

The Churches of Vienna

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 03:21
There was not world enough and time to visit all the significant churches in Vienna, not even all of the ones in the old city. So we had to settle for a few. Let’s start with the one our friend and former student Christa Abhar took us to for a delightful Mozart Requiem concert….. The [Read More...]

Oscar Muriu: On Humble Incarnational Ministry!

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 02:35
Urbana, as you may have heard, is “the largest student missions conference in the world, Urbana is a catalytic event held every three years, bringing together a diverse mix of students, alumni,...

Choose well. Invest wisely. (Reimagining Short-Term Missions)

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 00:55
It's possible you already know of my distaste for short-term missions. I haven't really been shy about it, and if you've been around here for more than like five minutes, you know I think they're often more harm than good. If you've read any of the series I wrote about short-term missions, then you know I believe if they aren't done well, they can be a terrible waste of resources, a gross misrepresentation of God's #Blessing, an unbalanced act of mutual exploitation, and a dependency creating, dignity killing, Western Colonial clusterfluck. Among other things.
This weekend? My church is sending a short-term team to Cambodia.
I'm dead serious, you guys.
We're sending seven upper-middle class suburbanites half way across the world to do like four days of work with a ministry focused on the prevention, rescue, and restoration of victims of sex-trafficking. And, oh, it's going to cost around $30,000.
I don't know about you, but I think that's more than a hell of a lot of money. That's like ten hells of a lot of money. Honestly, that is so much freaking money to send seven freaking people overseas for a freaking handful of days to work in an area and a culture and language they don't know a freaking thing about.
It sounds just like the kind of short-term mission I love to hate, and if you were to stand up and shout, “BUT YOUR HUSBAND IS THE MISSIONS PASTOR! HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?!” at your computer screen, that would seem totally fair.
I've spent a lot of time and energy and words talking about how messed up I think short-term missions are, but I haven't shared much about ways we could do them better. That's kind of not cool and I'm sorry. But the team we're sending off to Cambodia this weekend? Well, I actually think they're a pretty great example of a better way of doing this thing. So, yes, we are spending 30 grand to send seven white people overseas, and, yes, I do approve whole heartedly (not that my approval matters, but you know what I mean). I will be cheering every second of this trip on so hard, and here's why:

First of all? We're not sending a single volunteer. NOT ONE.

This is huuuuge. I haven't quite figured out why we're so afraid to tell people "no" when it comes to missions. We have no problem choosing our leaders and representatives in other areas of the Church, but in missions we'll take pretty much anybody who can raise their own hand and their own support, pat them on the back, put them on a plane, and call them “Called”.

Isn't that kind of... I don't know... weird? ...Seriously. Isn't it?
I hate to break it to you, but it's kind of the Church's job to appoint and direct leaders and missionaries, like, it's in the Bible.
Jesus chose.
The apostles chose.
The disciples chose.
And we choose all the time.
That's why I think it's so weird that if I so much as hint at the idea that maybe we shouldn't let just anybody who feels led become a missionary, people go all caps on my ass - “HOW DARE YOU, YOU WHORE OF SATAN, GOD CAN USE ANYONE TO DO ANYTHING AND WHO ARE YOU TO DECIDE WHO CAN DO WHAT?!” And then they levitate off the floor and their head spins.
But... We already do this all the time. Most of usdon't go to churches who let anybody who feels like it get up and preach on Sunday morning. We don't let the first guy to jump on stage with a tambourine lead us in worship. We don't let every volunteer who walks through the door feeling “called” hold our babies on their lap, or - God forbid - count our money! We are constantly making decisions about who should do what within the framework of the church, but we balk at the idea of choosing our missionaries.
Jesus appointed those he sent.  And I think maybe He did that on purpose. 
In the midst of looking to replace the familiar model of sending short-term missionaries to far away places where ministries have created (often unnecessary) opportunities to accommodate well-meaning volunteers, my Missions Pastor Husband learned that our partner in Cambodia had multiple couples whose marriages were suffering under the strain of their work, so he asked if a marriage retreat could be beneficial. When the answer was “YES!!! PLEASE, OH, PLEASE. WE NEED A MARRIAGE RETREAT!”, he didn't make an announcement or post a sign up sheet on our website. Instead, he wentabout choosing a team. Nobody was forced into becoming a short-term missionary, they were simply invited to be part of the team, and they were told why they'd been invited. Not everyone was eager to join, and not everyone accepted, but in the end, he appointed an experienced couples retreat planner, two Marriage and Family Therapists (one specializing in trauma and PTSD, the other in Men's issues), a Pastoral couple, a leadership development expert, a child care provider, and a few other leaders from our marriage ministry. There are 11 people total, but only the 7 bodies essential to the event itself will be traveling to Cambodia -- because round trip airfare to SE Asia is hella expensive. 
Which brings me to my second thing.
The second thing I love about this team is that $30,000 is a crapload of dough, but not so much when you consider what it's bringing to the spiritual, emotional, and marital lives of the 35 people who will be served through this event.
That's about $860 per person to bring professional mental healthcare, personalized written materials, pastoral care and guidance, a kids program, and a desperately needed long weekend away for this group of Cambodian and North American couples and their children. $860 to empower the people best suited and equipped to do the hard work of rescue and aftercare in SE Asia. $860 to refresh their weary souls and to build up their marriages to withstand the mind-boggling demands of their work in the weeks, months, and, hopefully, years to come. 
As far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty meaningful and significant use of funds. And it's a damn good reason to send 7 suburbanites to the other side of the world for a weeks work. 
To top it off, our short-term team took care of almost all the preparation and administrative elements from here to avoid creating work for the people they aim to serve. They booked the hotel rooms and conference space, they planned and prepped the kids activities, and they had all the materials professionally translated and printed in Khmer and English, so all the attendees have to do is show up and be cared for. I love it.
It all just makes so much sense, you guys!!
Part of why I'm so excited about this team is that we came off the mission field after cinco años in Costa Rica with a passion for God's mission to the world, a heavy sadness for the scope of brokenness in the missional movement, and a big dream of leading the Church we love in a different direction; one that honors God, and empowers people, and makes sense - all at the same time. So, from day one in his role as a missions pastor, El Chupacabra has been intent on finding better, smarter, healthier ways to fulfill the Great Commission, pursue Justice, and help our church community engage in the Gospel with depth and meaning, both locally and globally.
Sending this team out into the world feels like a little step toward realizing that dream. 
Short-term missions can actually be done well!
...I hope. 
We'll see. I'll let you know if it ends up being a total disaster... but I really don't think it will. 
God speed, Lakeside!

Container Conundrum Part XIII: UGH.

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 00:30
Psalm 37:5:  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.   John 16:33: I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will...

A Holiday Season with Meaning: Giving Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh + the Family Stocking

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 21:57
*I was a bit hesitant to share this, simply because there are so many ways to celebrate Christmas in a Christ-honoring fashion that I didn't really know if one more was necessary. But recently, I've...

For the Days When You Can't Make the Pieces Fit Together....

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 20:57
I once thought my life would be all put together when I became an adult. And when I became an adult? I decided that it would be all neatly fitted together when I got married.... when I got to the...

Container Conundrum Part XII: Time is running out!!

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 17:11
Well, we ran out of free days at the port. That means we pay for each day the container is still there. The container is still there. We got the required paperwork on Wednesday from the Police and...

thank you, Lord

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 16:03
our ladies choir sings this songeach time it makes me crytheir rich voices raising up the precious words in the old hymnthey burst forth with "my chains are gone..."powerful

The Harvest

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:41

Trying not to give way to jealousy

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:40
It is weird dropping into a life in another place for only a year. I have to admit to struggling with jealousy (is that the right word?) on behalf of my kids. Perhaps it is more like regret? Here we...

What God is doing and where we're going

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:28
We wanted to give a quick update of what is happening with us the past few weeks. We are back in the U.S. now for the holidays to see family and friends and to update our ministry partners on what...

Day 19: Cheese

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 07:01
Today, I'm thankful for CHEESE!  This may sound totally lame to some of you...  But cheese is one of the things that I miss most while living in the Philippines.   It's not that we...

The Ephesos Museum in Vienna– the Friezes and Temple front

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 03:48
This shot looks down the wing of the museum from the Temple front back towards the bronze statue of the athlete and gives you some sense of the size of the hall, and the length of the friezes. These remains were transported from Ephesus to Vienna between 1878 and 1906. Our guide stressed it was [Read More...]

A New Project

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 02:07
photo by Jill Lowery For those who've been praying for the Mitendi Center and the court case, here is an update. In last week's post, I mentioned a need for prayer for Thursday's court...

Why I am still a missionary

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:00
I was experiencing God’s Word in a totally new, living, transforming way, when George Cowan came from Wycliffe. He presented a way to give to others for the very first time the Word that was...

Japanese gestures I brought with me

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 10:51
It's taken a long time to learn gestures in Japan. I'm still learning some of them, like how to indicate "me". But now we're in Australia I'm having trouble adapting back, especially for...

Crossing Paths

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:23
 Canadian Baptist Ministries’ Executive Director, Sam Chaise, preaching at the Africa Brotherhood Church, Starehe, Nairobi This past week, we had the pleasure of hosting our friends and...

Day 18: Wendel

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 05:01
Who is tri-lingual and can explain the grammar of the two most important trade languages in the Philippines? That would be our friend and Christian brother, Wendel. And we are super thankful for...
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