Saturday, September 20, 2014

On the Road: "Simple Superstars of East Africa"

I am thrilled to publicly announce one of the biggest trips thus far in the history of Trinity International -- "Simple Superstars of East Africa"!

Coming in November, a handful of Trinity teammates will be traveling to Ethiopia and Uganda with our dear friend, Wilbur Sargunaraj for what is sure to be an busy and fruitful several days of work.

The highlights and goals of our trip are as follows:

  • To host 3-4 "Simple Superstar" community concerts feat. Wilbur Sargunaraj to bless children and families impacted by poverty, HIV/AIDS in both Ethiopia and Uganda.  Local leaders from our ministries Goh Bright Future and Endiro will help us facilitate this.  In most cases, these concerts will include free meals for members of the community.
  • To investigate opportunities for potential international or local workers to "MoveIn" to needy communities as well as to secure part or full-time employment.  The need for more laborers in this mission field is critical and we hope this trip will enable us to develop concrete plans for mobilization.
  • To record multiple short films and music videos which will highlight our East African children's work, raise awareness of the opportunities and challenges presented by global migration, and to honor some cool aspects of East African life and culture.  Films will be used specifically by our East African ministries (Goh Bright Future and Endiro) to raise awareness and to mobilize prayer and laborers.  The diaspora short film will be premiered at Manila 2015: Lausanne Global Forum on Diaspora Mission
  • To study more carefully diaspora South Asian Hindu and Muslim populations especially in Uganda and opportunities to minister among them.
  • To facilitate greater collaboration between our Ethiopian and Ugandan ministries in order to share best practices and resources.  We hope to see more church planting result in Uganda and more self-sustaining mission practices in Ethiopia.
Financial Needs for the Trip [GIVE NOW]:

We need to raise a large amount of money in a very short time in order to make this trip possible.  The team that is going will include myself along with teammates originally from India, Bhutan, Ethiopia and Uganda.  It will be a fantastic, multi-cultural team.  Here is a breakdown of the costs:

Air Travel (5 persons):      7300
Community Concerts:       2000
Lodging:                             500
Vehicle Rental:                   400
Sound mixing/recording:    Donated
Video recording/editings:   Donated
Total:                                   $10,200

Raised thus far: 10.2% ($1050)

That is a large amount of money that we need to raise very quickly.  Please give your gift of support today.  We have well over a thousand people who follow our ministry, pray for us, and have been blessed by our work in the past.  If everyone gives even a very small amount, we will be well on our way.  Give now here!

[Note: Your gifts of support are made to Trinity International Baptist Mission a licensed 501c3 charity. Your donations are fully tax deductible and you will receive a giving record. Our online giving is secured by PayPal.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Knowing the Migrant Savior

("Turn to Clear Vision", by C. Lorance)

I'm thinking about what it means to "know Christ".  

I think we (Western, evangelical types) tend to mean by this a kind of emotional and intellectual adherence to certain theological positions/statements.  Maybe even really loving those truths and singing songs about them and stuff like that.  But, the Incarnation and Crucifixion were more than mere theological realities ... they were lived experiences of Lord Jesus.  The migrations and the sufferings of the Savior are a part of who He is (kind of a big part) and I am wondering if "knowing" Him in these things is even possible for the perennially comfortable, albeit theologically orthodox crowd who has never known the loss of displacement, the pain of culture loss, and the agony of physical torment.  Is there a sense in which one who knows nothing of orthodox confessions of faith or acceptable theological systems may nevertheless "know" something of Jesus, and that quite intimately, because they too were a migrant and they too suffered?  

Look at the Crucified Foreigner, pierced and bleeding impossibly far from home.  Does he look more like a suburban evangelical shopping at the local Lifeway for just the right Jesus fish to stick on his late model Camry or rather like the Syrian Muslim woman who was survived rape, torture and an impossible trek through the desert to bring her children to the relative safety of a refugee camp in Jordan?  I'm not saying that she knows enough about the Savior.  I'm just saying that maybe we don't either.  I'm just saying that perhaps there needs to be a bit more give and take in mission than we tend to allow for -- that the objects of our proclamation may themselves have something important to proclaim about Christ which we ignore to our own peril.

[Oh yeah, I'm blogging again.]

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Help Fund South Korea Trip for the Global Diaspora Network


Last night, Katherine and I booked our tickets for our upcoming trip to South Korea to attend the annual advisory board meeting of the Global Diaspora Network.  Of course, we booked out tickets in faith that the Lord will provide the money we need to pay for the trip. Indeed, already, we have gotten a sponsor from Korea who is totally sponsoring Katherine's ticket.  Praise the Lord!  Another $2000 will be enough to cover my ticket and to cover additional in country expenses for our week-long trip.

Ready to give?  Give now by clicking here!

Here are some details of our trip:

I have been serving with the GDN since 2011 when I was appointed as a Diaspora Mission Catalyst at the very first board meeting in Paris, France.  In that capacity, I have been seeking to catalyze mission to, through and beyond people scattered from everywhere to everywhere.  I teach, train, write, speak, mobilize, provide consulting, write and edit, and do a number of other things.

As we move into this year's board meeting, there are a number of purposes that Katherine and I have in mind.

1. Katherine is serving as a the prayer coordinator for the movement and has been for the past year.  In that capacity, she has been seeking to mobilize and inform lots of prayer around the world for the work we are doing.  The entire board is eager for her to attend her first meeting so that she can encourage us all and be encouraged by us.  We also believe that personally sitting in on our deliberations will help her tremendously in crafting prayer requests and mobilizing prayer in 2014-15.

2. I am serving on the editorial team which is working to produce a comprehensive compendium (big book) on diaspora missions and missiology that we hope will fill an enormous gap in the Church.  We anticipate this book becoming a prominent resource in most Christian graduate schools and seminaries in the years to come as well as being utilized widely by mission agencies and local churches who are working among diasporas.  The editorial team is meeting during this board meeting for a progress check and to make key decisions in route to releasing the book in 2015.

3. In 2015 in Manila, Philippines, the GDN will host a major international forum on diaspora missions which
will bring together 400 selected leaders from around the world to collaborate on what God is doing in the migration of peoples from everywhere to everywhere.  In addition to presenting and providing general leadership at the Forum, I am in charge of the team which will plan the three evening sessions.  The content of these sessions in particular and the evening sessions in particular will be major points of discussion during our Korea meeting.

4. Katherine and I will be meeting with our friend, Wilbur Sargunaraj to discuss several upcoming projects and to make a couple short films on cultural intelligence and South Korea.  The $2500 goal for fundraising includes some money to offset his expenses in coming to Korea.

I also should just add that Katherine and I haven't gotten a chance to travel alone together in forever.  I think the last time we did a trip like this was before we got married.  So, the timing is right for us to get away and have a totally new cross-cultural experience together.

In light of this, I hope you will consider this trip a worthy investment in the Kingdom of God.  Many of my readers have supported me through the years on various trips.  I hope you will do so again this time.  As always, the gifts are 100% tax deductible and you can give quickly and securely right now using our online giving center.  While you are there, you may want to also support the next East Africa trip which is scheduled for the summer.  It is a major event.


Many blessings!!!

Mail your support to:
Trinity International Baptist Mission
112 Horizon Circle
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bhutanese Take On Technology Abuse and Relationships in the Short Film "One Day"

Today I want to commend a group of young Bhutanese creatives who are seeking to make a positive difference among the Bhutanese refugee global community through film-making.  The short film entitled "One Day" is clearly a beginning effort by a group that is just becoming acquainted with the medium.  However, they take on a very important issue (i.e. how social media and technology impact personal relationships) and they do so with clarity.

I hope you will watch "One Day" and share it with your friends.  Also, I encourage you to visit the YouTube Channel of Tassie Bhutanese Entertainment and encourage these youth.  Personally, I believe that Bhutanese-Nepali young men have a natural penchant for the creative arts and that this may be a very significant sign of hope for their future.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the unique genre of Nepali cinema, you will find certain things rather shocking.  For example, their is a rather unexpected scene of violence that non-Bhutanese viewers may find laughable or otherwise unappealing.  However, I found that it rather fits very well into what I've come to expect in Nepali films and is actually a kind of powerful symbolism to communicate the destruction that social media sites can wreak on family relationships.


Monday, January 20, 2014

On Muslims Coming to Christ

I've recently read through a wonderful series of posts over on the Circumpolar blog (one of my absolute favorites).  In the series, Warrick Farah, one of the brightest missiological minds hiding out with me in cyberspace*, explores the phenomenon of Muslims coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  His series is super insightful and a true must-read for those involved in missions among Muslim peoples.  Rest-assured, I will be passing it around to my teammates.

Here are few of my favorite insights from the Circumpolar Series:

1. "Conversion" to Christ tends to be a gradual and incremental process for Muslims.  Here's a quote from part 1 of the series: 

The overall experience of Muslims, however, is that conversion is a gradual process that takes place over many years (Haney 2010, 68Larson 1996a;Teeter 1990, 307-308). Gordon Smith notes that Muslim conversions to Christ “do not tend to rest or pivot on a decision or a particular act of acceptance. Rather, it has been well documented that these conversions are slow and incremental” (2010, 84). Qaasid cannot point to the moment of his conversion, but he knows he is a disciple of the Messiah. Thus, conversion is a process that transpires over months or years. The sometimes apparently sudden decision to “follow Christ” is only one essential step in this process.

I hope that this insight will be an encouragement to those who have become discouraged because they haven't seen "fruit" in their ministry among Muslims.

2. Farah points out in part 5 of the series that identity is a much more complicated issue that the typical debate surrounding "insider movements" and contextualization.  I think there is a lot of room to develop this idea further, but the fact that the series at least raises the issue is very helpful.  Here's a potent quote:

Identity is far more complex and dynamic than is unfortunately portrayed by many evangelicals on all sides of the issues. Layers of identity abound for people in every culture, and belonging to multiple traditions is a reality in today’s globalized world.

I would hesitate more than Farah does in quoting Rebecca Lewis and Georges Houssney in a way that makes them appear to be equal opposites in the debate on insider movements.  Positions aside, the level of argumentation and research simply isn't the same between these two.  I'll leave it at that.

3. I love the insights related to Muslim women coming to Christ.  Farah guesses that 80% of Muslims who come to know Christ are men and calls for much more research and evangelistic emphasis to be directed towards Muslim women.  Wow! That should deeply encourage all kinds of women who have been considering missions.  You are needed!  I should also point out that the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today is the Syrian refugee crisis (expected to total 4 million externally displaced refugees by the end of 2014) and that this has heavily resulted in the displacement of Muslim women.  There is a heavily female human tidal wave of Syrian refugees now flooding the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.

Farah's most compelling insight in part 7 of his series is that Muslim women who come to Christ are greatly influenced by stories of Jesus's affirmation and positive treatment of women.  This clearly calls for missionaries to emphasize such stories in their evangelism of Muslim women.  

[*By the way, if you haven't noticed, there is a tremendous amount of really great missiology that is being done in the non-traditional realms of blogs and other social media outlets.  As traditional missiology publishers struggle to transition from print to digital/online formats to keep up with the times, a solid cadre of excellent missiologists have produced and are producing truly top-notch resources that are being heavily consumed by all manner of missionary practitioners.  Besides ... ah hem ... myself ;-) ... I love reading CircumpolarIndigenous JesusTallSkinnyKiwiThe Long ViewThe World is Our NeighborhoodAcrosscultureFaithful Witness and Missiologically Thinking.  You have any favorites that I've missed?] 

[Photo by Rifqi Dalgren]