Do Anglicans care as much about mission(s) as evangelicals?

A few weeks ago I was asked to write on whether Anglicans value mission as much as evangelical Christians. That article was published today. Here is an excerpt:

Matter matters. Anglicanism is firm—in all its traditions—on this point. God made stuff, and it was good. God in his sovereign election has elected certain primordial pan-cultural things to operate as portals of his own saving presence and activity.

These things are humble: wine, bread, water, hands, man-and-woman, oil. All of this flows from and to the proclamation of the resurrection of all flesh. We don’t become angels. After our death our souls long to be reunited with our bodies in the new creation.

Anglican mission is not ashamed of this. Indeed, it is a great strength because the fundamental sacramental principal—that matter matters—is deeply ingrained in every human. Though yes, some of us in the West have somehow managed to deceive ourselves and believe the contrary.

The sacrament is the symbol that effectuates what it means; God binds himself to the sacraments, though he is not bound by them.

Read the entire article at Anglican Pastor. And also check out my previous video interview at that website from 2017.

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Baptism for the ex-Muslim Christian

I have lately been working on a book on pastoral care for Christians from a Muslim background (CMBs). Rather than write everything and then publish the book, I’m taking a new approach: publishing sections gradually while seeking feedback and comments. So here is my first installment. Do let me know if you have any comments or questions or advice:

(These were originally published as blog entries at New Wineskins: part 1, part 2.)

House Churches and bishops during the Apostolic Period

I’m enjoying reading an article by Nicholas Taylor in the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal. I particularly enjoyed his reconstruction of how house churches eventually became congregations that were not just members from one family and the associated slaves or servants, and also of how the local house churches leaders eventually gave birth—early on—to having one house church elder with oversight over other congregations, which is to say a bishop:

It is clear that congregations were, or rapidly became, more than simply the household at worship. As well as itinerant Christian missionaries and other travellers who might temporarily attach themselves to a Christian congregation, and avail themselves of the hospitality of the householders, cities attracted disparate and displaced individuals who, for whatever reason, had temporarily or permanently lost their roots in the household to which they had belonged. If these were converted, they might have attached themselves to an existing church and household, or perhaps have formed a church of their own, apart from the patronage system of household and city. Churches may also have been formed of more than one household, particularly when a person of wealth and status was able to provide a degree of protection and access to Christian teaching not available to a poorer household.

It is precisely at the point at which a church moves beyond the parameters of the household that the emergence of distinctive, defined, and titled forms of hierarchy and ministry should be sought. The most powerful householder in a city or town, who would almost certainly have hosted gatherings of the church, either in his own home or in a public building rented for the purpose, would at this point have emerged as bishop. (p. 32, Volume 2:4, Winter 2018)

The entire journal can be downloaded through academia.edu.

La Misión Cristiana entre los Musulmanes

Hace unos meses escribí un capítulo sobre el futuro de la misión Cristiana entre los musulmanes para un libro cuyo propósito era celebrar 25 años de ministerio y trabajo para Anglican Frontier Missions. El nombre del libro es Shadows from Light Unapproachable.

Aquel capítulo fue escrito en inglés, pero quise publicarlo también en español. Aquí está la materia de parte de Escritorio Anglicano:

Parte 1

Parte 2

Partes 3 y 4

Celebrating 25 years of ministry for Anglican Frontier Missions: *Shadows from Light Unapproachable*

Shadows from Light Unapproachable:

AFM’s Silver Anniversary Book

Tad de Bordenave, ed.

We are familiar with shadows and signs of God’s work in many places in the world.  The focus of this book, however, is on shadows overlooked or not recognized. These shadows come from the Gospel spreading to each and every ethnic group. Shadows of Light Unapproachabledraws the mind’s eye to behold the beauty of the searching love deep in the heart of “Light Unapproachable.”

The book traces the origins, the people, and the continuing foundations of Anglican Frontier Missions at its 25th year. I open my chapter with this brief profile of AFM: “The passion of AFM is the humbled and amazed awe before the slender glance we have of the love of God. The direction of our path is to those who do not yet know of this love.”

CoverThe ensuing chapters describe the way this missionary society has served God’s vision. They cover the basic questions of who,where, and how.

For the who, three chapters give transparent stories of ordinary people called into this ministry. One traces a couple’s very surprising call to Nepal. Another describes the strategic efforts by a creative husband and wife to plant the first church in a remote population. A third gives the adventures of a couple carrying out pastoral care for the missionaries in very far-flung areas.

The where takes us to about a dozen countries and ethnic groups within them. The dominant religions in these are Buddhist, Communist, traditional religions, Hindu, and Islam. Missionaries recount their challenges, their persevering efforts, and the support of God directly and through his church.

The how comes in two ways. First, we are given deep insights into the major religious forces of today. One who interacts with Muslims and teaches Islamics gives a clear analysis of Islam and Muslim goals. Two workers in India tell of their strategies among ethnic groups in highly resistant areas of that great country. We read of the remarkable missionary expansion of the Diocese of Singapore, initiated about the same time as AFM.

The other section on howcomes from three essays that uncover what are called “the treasures of Anglicanism in the world of frontier mission.” These chapters show the application of the plain essences of our tradition and the enormous advantages they bring to the world of church planting in frontier settings. These chapters will increase our appreciation for what may be familiar in our tradition but will become more valued in this new light.

Chris Royer begins his Introduction with Yogi Berra’s wisdom that if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else. In fact, as Chris goes on to say, AFM follows a vision that is not our own. He states this clearly in his final chapter, titled “Pressing Onward,” where he concludes with the hope and the future of AFM:

And so, AFM’s vision remains unchanged from our founding days: to mobilize the church to pray for and send missionaries to the largest and least-evangelized people groups and geographical regions, that churches might be established among all the 16,833 ethnolinguistic nations on our planet. Before this became our vision, it was Christ’s vision. And human history is marching forward toward the fulfillment of this vision: ‘With your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth’ (Revelation 5:9-10, New International Version).

Hallelujah!  Amen.

Shadows from Light Unapproachable (Northumberland Historical Press, 2018) is available through Amazon.com. Read the Table of Contents here. Download the press release here.

The above press release is by the Rev. Tad de Bordenave. I was privileged to contribute a chapter titled “The World of Islam”. Download the PDF here: Duane Miller The World of Islam.

Plantando un Ministerio en Árabe en Madrid

Llegamos a Madrid hace aproximadamente un año. Pasamos la mayor parte de los primeros seis meses instalándonos. Esto significaba encontrar un piso en agosto, un mes en que la mitad de la ciudad está de vacaciones y muchas tiendas están “cerradas por vacaciones hasta septiembre”. Esto significaba registrar a nuestros hijos en el colegio concertado en el cual realmente teníamos los corazones puestos. Además de todo eso fui a trabajar de inmediato a la Catedral del Redentor, donde sirvo como presbítero.

Durante este tiempo hemos sido intencionales para formar relaciones con la población musulmana significativa. Puedo caminar a la histórica mezquita de la ciudad en menos de media hora y tener numerosos contactos en toda la zona. Algunas personas del norte de África de familias musulmanas asisten a Redentor de vez en cuando, y pude obtener Nuevos Testamentos para ellos en su dialecto árabe y orar en árabe a veces durante el servicio, siempre en nombre de “el único Dios verdadero, eterno, consustancial e indivisible: Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo. “Esa es una fórmula que recogí en la iglesia ortodoxa local en Jordania hace mucho tiempo.

 

Pero todo el tiempo estaba preocupado de que no hubiera un solo compañerismo cristiano en árabe en todo Madrid. Considere los números: la Comunidad de Madrid tiene una población de 6.4 millones, y la ciudad de Madrid tiene una población de 3.1 millones.

Entonces algo sucedió.

Un querido amigo y colega que es ministro de las Asambleas de Dios regresó a España después de una estadía prolongada en los Estados Unidos: recaudación de fondos, ya sabes. Obtuvo un piso en el vecindario contiguo al nuestro, que es uno de los principales centros de presencia islámica en la ciudad. Comenzamos caminatas semanales de oración. Se unió a una iglesia en ese barrio, y el pastor estaba entusiasmado con la idea de llegar a los musulmanes con el evangelio. Redentor se encuentra en un gran barrio para llegar a los jóvenes seculares españoles, pero no a los musulmanes.

Sharon y yo somos competentes en árabe. Puedo enseñar y tocar la guitarra, ella canta bien. ¿Por qué no probar esto? Yo pregunté. Dan tenía conexiones con líderes locales, así como con un ministerio en el centro de la ciudad que llegaba a los musulmanes, y mi esposa y yo teníamos los conocimientos de idiomas. Pedimos al Señor puertas abiertas.

Un pastor local nos invitó a presentar un taller de un día para su congregación sobre cómo llegar a los musulmanes con el evangelio. El seminario bautista me invitó a dar tres días de enseñanza intensiva de verano sobre el tema de la comprensión y llegar a los musulmanes. Todos están disponibles en español a través de YouTube; conferencias similares en inglés están aquí. Una iglesia Evangélica Libre en los Estados Unidos otorgó algunos fondos para gastos esenciales de puesta en marcha. Comencé un sitio web árabe muy humilde para la confraternidad, pero necesitábamos algunas fotografías locales de alta calidad para producir algo auténtico. Un misionero que también es fotógrafo profesional se ofreció voluntario para hacer esto de forma gratuita; esto fue parte de su ministerio, explicó. Salí con él a recorrer el barrio y pude despues actualizar el sitio web con fotografías locales. Y un hermano de una ermita ortodoxa en España me dice que reza por nosotros todos los días. Lo único que tienes delante es el siguiente paso.

Si sueñas pequeño, incluso tus mayores logros serán pequeños. Dan, Sharon, y yo lo sabemos. Pero, ¿y si funciona? ¿Qué pasa si esto lleva a una comunidad de creyentes e indagadores de todo el mundo de habla árabe? ¿Qué podría hacer Dios a través de una comunidad que atrae tanto a cristianos exiliados como a conversos perseguidos del Islam? ¿Cómo sería para los estudiantes internacionales y los refugiados tener una comunidad a la que pudieran contactar en árabe con preguntas sobre Jesús, la Biblia y el cristianismo? Estamos construyendo sobre esta visión.

Nuestra primera reunión será la primera semana en Octubre, martes a las 19:00 horas. Ruega por nosotros, por favor. Ore por ideas dinámicas en el lanzamiento de esta comunidad. Ore por contactos adicionales, especialmente aquellos que hablan árabe, que puedan asociarse con nosotros. Dé gracias a Dios por un esfuerzo ecuménico como este; de lo contrario sería imposible.

[Publicado por primera vez en inglés en Covenant y en español en Escritorio Anglicano.]