In this issue….
QUESTION OF ‘SILENT SPRING’ ELICITS WIDE-RANGING RESPONSE
Just as the seasons change from winter & spring to summer & fall, so flowed the wide-ranging responses to the recent Backpage editorial, “SILENT SPRING: WHERE HAS ALL THE HOOPLA GONE?
” You’ll recall that in my original editorial, I observed that there seemed to be a kind of “lull” going on out there — at least in some
circles — when it comes to large-scale missions mobilization. By and large, it seemed that many
agreed. What was notable
was the rationale behind the silence. (There were a ton
of responses. To read a compilation, send a blank email message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
and a copy of the 38K compilation will be automatically sent to your email inbox immediately.
In her 1962 book, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson effectively raised the national consciousness on all things regarding pesticides, ultimately forcing the government to ban DDT and spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. In addition, Carson’s book was instrumental in launching the “environmental movement.” According to many observers, it is one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.
Unfortunately, the little item in Brigada Today won’t end up making such a big impact. That’s a shame. First of all, it’s a shame because instead of dying birds, we’ve got eternally lost civilizations. Second, it’s a pity because it seemed we had such momentum going (95-99)! And third, it’s a shame because Rachel Carson became such a famous hero. By contrast, whoever heard of Doug Lucas?
THEORY 1: MAYBE THERE’S NOISE, BUT WE CAN’T HEAR IT
In this camp were the “it’s-becoming-international” crowd. These folks theorize that the reason it seems so “quiet” is because the mobilization is no longer USA-based — or perhaps because of security issues. Mark (Cleveland, OH) pointed to websites like http://www.jesusfilm.org
as proof that world evangelism is actually happening! Another friend in Eastern Europe wrote, “…I can’t tell you how exciting things are here! Not only that thousands are turning to Christ (though they are), but also seeing people from former communist countries dedicating themselves to serving cross-culturally. There’s a big pool of potential missionaries right here in Europe. How neat to see God’s hand at work!” A long-time friend (and former employee of AD2000!) wrote, “…Maybe things are silent because many people went to work among Unreached People Groups and aren’t so interested in loud mobilization efforts. That’s me. Maybe they are working in restricted access countries and don’t want to make loud noises less the authorities notice. …”
I’ll admit that I see some anecdotal evidence of this, now and then, but I’ll hasten to add that, in my travels so far, it seems this non-Western-based mission effort is, at best, “uneven,” in that there are still vast uncharted territories where no one is venturing to set up shop. And dare I say that it seems to mostly be happening in partnership with Western projects rather than totally in isolation of them. Do you agree? If this is the case, the implications are far-reaching. For… (and I know it’ll sound colonial and patronizing, so I’ll only mention the possibility) if we back off, then could it be that we’ll lose whatever ground we’ve gained in helping mission-receiving churches to become mission-senders?
The other side of this theory comes from the “now-it’s-a-grass-roots-affair” believers. These folks argued that the current situation is actually healthier, because instead of having to follow a vocal, motivational leader (like… maybe… Luis Bush???), churches and agencies (Western and non-Western) have caught the vision and they’re functioning in and near unreached peoples with high security — so no wonder I wouldn’t be hearing about it. Okay. Maybe. But in my limited experience, we hear feedback on the field side quite easily, even if we’re not hearing much on the sender-side of things. And on the field side, I must say, I don’t think I’m seeing throngs of new career-oriented cross-cultural witnesses. Lots of short-termers, maybe… in fact hordes of short-termers, in some cases. But, in some areas, I have to wonder who will become the five-year-folks — or better yet — the fifteen year folks — that we so desperately need.
THEORY 2: MAYBE THE MAGIC MOMENT HAS PASSED
These folks mostly sounded rather like realists. They basically “called a spade a spade.” Having heard lots of “noise” in the latter decade, they’re now wondering what’s become of it all. To these folks — and there were several — the huge groundswell of new full-time workers never really materialized. In its place are the short-term visitors who never really fully integrate. So long-term church-planting and leadership training, at least among the least reached, will suffer. “Jeff” wrote, “Three college grads who caught my missions obsession in 1995-2000 are now raising support and going [to work among unreached peoples]. But I notice that I am not mobilizing new folks as quickly. I have noticed an increased concern and sense of fear that missions is intolerant and destroys native cultures (typical mantra).” Rats. And lest we pat ourselves on the back too much about short-terms, another wrote, “We have had a summer intern program since 1989. For only the second summer, we will not have any this summer.” Yikes. Has the “magic moment” passed?
THEORY 3: MAYBE THE BEST IS YET TO COME
There were at least a couple of starry-eyed optimists who felt (at least said
) that we now stand on the brink of what could turn out to be the greatest decade of missions of all time. These observers point to the perspectives classes (with enrollment at new highs, I might add), the tons of short-termers (already mentioned), international participation (mentioned above), and patient seed-sowing among mission-sending churches. Bit-by-bit, they build a strong case for believing in the tomorrow of world missions. As an example to this group, Dennis (Portland, OR USA) writes, “Perhaps we’ve been motivated enough for a period of time and need to apply some of the theory for a while and then move to the next level where we will need more education/motivation/whatever. I think that we know all we need to know to do what God wants us to do at this time for our particular church anyway. I don’t know how much impact our congregation will have on fulfilling the Great Commission but we seem to be starting to understand that we do have a part.” And Tom wrote from Houston, TX, “I wonder if we are in a sort of “pregnant pause” right now. Perhaps God is on the verge of initiating something new that will demonstrate His power and grace to a waiting world. He did say that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Oh, that it would happen in our cities, in our nation and in the nations of the world. Perhaps this is just a time for some of us to catch our breath before the next big wave.” One very encouraging Brigada
participant described the ongoing (rather amazing) mobilization in his congregation, then closed by adding this… “Here’s to a veritable flood of emails like this one, that will encourage your heart, and help you to see that we are ringed about with mighty warriors of God who are standing all around us, and joining with us in the battle that not only rages on, but has already been won. This is not a silent spring at all! All around me I hear the roar of battle, and the praises of newly-born children of God!”
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE?
Do you have access to the web… or do you know someone who would assist you? If so, head on over to our Brigada-Today poll at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brigada-today/polls
. Mark one of the choices and let’s see what the 10,000 or so Brigada-Today
audience believes? The poll closes June 9th (two weeks). More on this possible phenomenon later…
HARVEST TIME FOR JAPAN?
Harvest Fields Ministries has begun a campaign to recruit 200 church planters for Japan and 50 for the island nation of Taiwan. Harvest Fields is also looking for an Area Director for each country. Contact email@example.com
or write: Harvest Fields Ministries, PMB 170, 610-A E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65807 USA. Meanwhile, Team Expansion is praying God will raise up workers for Tokyo in particular. If you’re interested, write to info@TeamExpansion.org
and/or visit the Team Expansion website at: http://www.teamexpansion.org
Prospective recruits can begin with the summer in Tokyo during 2002, at which time they’ll help with church growth research and outreach.
CALL FOR WHITE PAPERS
Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) is accepting paper proposals for the 2002 annual conference Feb. 21-23 in Louisville, KY at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference theme is “Refining Responses to New and World Religions in the 21st Century.” Proposals should address issues relevant to cults of Christianity, new religious movements and world religions. Papers will be evaluated on the basis of relevance to issues of missiological importance. Papers demonstrating up-to-date research, familiarity with and use of primary sources, the integration of history, theology, the social sciences and strategies from a soundly evangelical missiological perspective will be given primary consideration. Proposals shall include an abstract of not less than 250 words and must be postmarked by September 30. Please send all proposals to John Morehead at Watchman Fellowship, P.O. Box 227, Loomis, CA 95650-0227, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
. For more information about EMNR visit http://www.emnr.org
NEW IDEAS FOR BIBLE TRANSLATORS
Here’s a resource (Thanks Keith!) which may help Bible translators. It’s The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals The Hebrew Source Of English
, by Isaac E. Mozeson, 2000. According to the author, Hebrew may be the source and key for all languages. Those outside of American need to put .us
on the web addresses and email, after .com
. http://www.hebrewworld.com/theword.html http://www.amazon.com
for reviews http://www.swrc.com
for past audio broadcast and book; http://www.cftinet.com/~mordecai
for author’s web site, and email, email@example.com
TRANSPLANTED AND CONTEXTUALIZED CHURCHES
The article “Transplanted and Contextualized Churches” is the subject for this Monthly Missiological Reflection by Dr. Gailyn Van Rheenen. This is a timely topic because many missions churches, like banana plants in a cold climate, are unable to reproduce and need special care just to survive. You can read this article at http://www.missiology.org/MMR/mmr17.htm
You can subscribe to future Missiological Reflections at http://www.missiology.org/MMR/subscribe.asp
CORRECTION FROM LAST WEEK ON “MISSIONPREP”
Well, I had heard that “dot com” companies were dropping like flies, but this is ridiculous. Earlier, “CROSS-CULTURAL TRAINING IN TORONTO THROUGH MISSIONPREP
“, we neglected the “dot com” in the URL! The proper address should be: http://www.timcentre.com/missionprep/
Please pardon us for any inconvenience! (Thanks for catching it Chris!)
PRAY ‘ROUND AFRICA
Have you heard about 2001PRAY? Time to get involved. Check out their website www.2001PRAY.org
. According to one researcher, this is one of the biggest prayer efforts for Africa in the 20+years out here. (Thanks Larry!)
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