Archive for January, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me is actually the best book I’ve read in a long time. OK that’s not saying much because I don’t read many books, but it was good.

It’s the story of two men in America – one a rich white art dealer who calls himself a Christian, and the other a black man who starts off life in virtual slavery and has a very tough existence on the streets.

The book is written by the two men, in roughly alternating short chapters, and is a fascinating spiritual journey for both of them. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but it is amazing to see God working in and through both of them, through suffering, joy and heartbreak.

I think one of the reasons the book really resonated with me was because of the parallels with what I have experienced in cross-cultural mission. The rich man starts off by thinking he is doing God and the homeless people a favour by giving a few hours a week to help out at a shelter. He has many struggles about the material difference between himself and the homeless people, while they have a hard time trusting someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to live on the streets.

But gradually a friendship is formed, and as it continues the rich man realises that in fact those he is ministering to, and his friend in particular, have spiritual insights that leave him feeling like he’s really the one who is poor.

I have to say the story did make me cry (happy and sad crying in roughly equal amounts), which doesn’t happen very often! And it made me realise once again that God involves us in mission to people who are very different from ourselves not just to bless them, but even more than that to teach us more about who he is.

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Communication, Communication…

Thursday 8 January 2009

Ernest Goodman at Missions Misunderstood has written a post to help missionaries know how best to communicate with their supporters in the 21st Century, and has some good pointers.

Be creative in your communication. Post photos. Upload videos. Record a podcast. Publish a comic book. Produce a weekly online radio show. Make an iTunes music mix, print t-shirts, put together a desktop widget. Do something to insure that your relationship to the people who support you is interesting, relevant, informative, and encouraging.

Speak prophetically into what’s happening Stateside [MW: or in the UK, Kingdomside?]. There is a broad conversation among churches and church leaders about being missional. (Missional, in case you’re not familiar with the term, refers to an intentional Christian lifestyle that incarnates the gospel into one’s cultural context. It’s the opposite of “attractional” ministry and “forrays into the world” mission trips.) Of all the voices in the missional conversation, few (if any) belong to missionaries. If you’re not participating in the conversation, you’re missing a huge opportunity to speak into a massive and influential Christian movement. And the movement desperately needs the influence of those who are planting churches cross-culturally. read more

Posting regularly on the Wycliffe UK blog has made me realise how powerful it is when missionaries overseas post text, photos, videos etc of what God is doing in different parts of the world. For us here in the UK it often feels like we don’t have much exciting to communicate to people, but we can still be giving people a global perspective on the worldwide mission of the church.

If Laura and I become involved in a Bible translation project in Tanzania in the future I think that communicating what God is doing to partners worldwide needs to be a very high priority in our work, and social networking (internet permitting) has a huge role to play.

Now all we need is a video camera…