Many churches throughout the world support cross-cultural workers in some way or another. Some pay, some pray, some visit. But what are key ways that your church can support your ministers serving in other countries or among other cultures?
My wonderful wife, Sharon, has written on this topic for the blog at New Wineskins. I have encouraged her to share about it at her blog, though she’s not one for blogging much. So I’m sharing it!
Here is one idea, but read the whole thing for other ideas too:
Write Us Back. We send out an update email once every 1-2 months, and it means something to us when people write us back. Everything from “great insights, we’ll be praying for you” to in-depth responses – we love it all. It communicates to us that people are reading about what we’re doing, and they care. One of the things that I’ve learned in our time in ministry is that people want to know that they matter… to God and to others. Missionaries, as it turns out, are no exception.
First, I admit I’m approaching this book as a scholar of religion and theology.
L’Engle has taken a very obscure little chunk of the biblical book of Genesis—the first book in the Bible—and has filled these verses (6:1–8) in with imagination and fantasy.
The main characters of this book are Sandy and Dennys, who are transported back to the time of the Noah and his family. They are surrounded by seraphim (good angels) and nephalim (angels who have rejected El, which is the Hebrew word for ‘God’) and friendly mammoths and vanishing unicorns.
But I hesitate to call the book ‘Christian fiction’, because while its author was a devout Episcopalian Christian, there’s nothing preachy about the book at all. The first time I read it was when I was…maybe nine? That was before I knew anything at all about Christianity, having been raised in a pagan family. I don’t remembering being turned off at that time. Here I am three decades later, an Anglican priest, and it was still not preachy—like that time when one of the twins says that if El would let one of their friends die in the flood, then he did not like El much.
The choice of the two main characters is also a strength. After the first three books I was a bit tired of Meg with her mousy brown hair and drama and Charles Wallace with his enormous intellect and inability to connect to regular people. Sandy and Dennys are smart but practical, they get human interactions in a way their siblings do not.
So read the book and enjoy that the author can step out of her previous pathways. Enjoy her use of of other characters. Enjoy that this book is much more settled in one place and time than the previous three books.
Enchanting, profound, elegiac, epic, beautiful. As a man with a PhD in Divinity and professor at a seminary I will tell you that the missiology and anthropology of religion in this book is penetrating and deep. As a priest and pastor I found it incredibly moving, sometimes to the point of tears.
Anyone interested in the history of the West of the USA or missiology should read this book or listen to the audio version.
This was a hard book to find here in Madrid. Neither of my two (American) library systems had it as an eBook or mp3 audio book. That was odd when the Elijah Bailey (Robot) series and Foundation series are easy to find.
This is an enormously ambitious book. It is much more than meets the eye. In this book the author is trying to marry two distinct and quite different universes into one. For people who know the universe of Caves of Steel and Foundation this is the uniter, this is the book that explains how R. Daneel Olivaw can appear in certain of the Foundation books and the pre-history of psychohistory.
But Asimov’s other concerns are quite interesting and relevant and even prescient, one might say. What happens with the Spacers who are all very comfortable and really have no need for self-betterment at this point? Nor do they have any need for fanciful things like procreation. The robot economy will do everything they need for them. Well, it’s not quite Brave New World, but it’s getting there. (The big difference is that Spacers are somehow immune to vices like drugs and alcohol. How can they resist these temptations? Asimov has no answer because his philosophical anthropology is in the end deficient.)
And the Settlers who all hail from earth: they remain stuck in a sort of nativism in relation to earth. Ergo, earth must be depopulated, but not too fast. (Again, this explains why no one knew were earth was in a much later book.) Is this Asimov’s humanistic effort of people to get past nationalism? If it is it doesn’t sound preachy or condescending as do so many authors when they try to address contemporary political issues. (Yes, Hunger Games and Divergent, I’m grocking you. Oh, and of course the infamous book The Martian by Heinlein.)
As to characters, D.G. and Gladia are amusing, but Daneel and Giskard are by far the most interesting characters.
If you really want to appreciate this book read the Elijah Bailey (Robot) books, then all the Foundation books, and then, finally, this one.
Authentic religious conversations challenge worldviews. They must. But for a conversation to be authentic and have the capacity of causing a person to examine their worldview you must first earn trust and respect. That is why personal relationships characterized by honesty and compassion are indispensable. Within those relationships one can then pose questions that will help your Muslim friend to scrutinize her worldview.
So, let’s imagine a country where the Communion has no presence. Let’s imagine a country where having a Bible is against the law and where citizens who become Christians might be executed. Let’s think about a place where there is not a single church building. In the words of John Lennon, “It’s easy if you try.”
What would establishing a missionary diocese there look like?
My wife and I have been in full-time Christian ministry for some 14 years now. I presently serve as pastor at the Anglican cathedral in Madrid. My main work has not been as a congregation pastor, but I’ve done a lot of teaching at churches throughout the USA and other countries as well. I’ve had many, many opportunities to see what is working and what is not working. I’ve seen that in everything from home churches to megachurches. I’ve seen it across denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Pentecostal—you name it.
A ministry partner of mine bought this book for me and my wife, Sharon. We slowly read it together over two years or so. But we did read it. We just finished it last night.
I’m excited about this book. I want to recommend it to everyone in church leadership and especially for pastors. I want to recommend it to people from every single denomination. Yes, yes, he’s not sensitive to liturgical realities, I get it. But still there is so much to learn and apply from this book.
The author’s main goal is to tell you how to create a church that is welcoming to unchurched people. He gives you pointers on sermons, ministry, leadership, and basic nut and bolts things like welcoming people and music. There is a load of useful stuff in here. Also, his writing style is easygoing and very readable.