• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

What’s your method?

Truc’ is one of those all-purpose words in French.  It means a thing, an object, or just whatever it is you can’t think of the name for.  If you are at the hardware store and you’re looking at a piece of electrical equipment, but can’t remember the exact word in French, you can simply ask how this ‘truc’ works.

20180628_093648.jpgI have found it helpful to have a ‘truc’; some ‘thing’ that provides me a way to keep working on my language ability.  It’s a small notebook where I write down any new word or phrase that I hear, its definition and perhaps a simple example of how to use it in a conversation. The purpose of the little notebook is for me to keep learning so that there will be clarity in the Gospel message I share with French people.

It’s a method or technique that works for me.  It may not work for you.  However, you may have other ways, a ‘truc’ that has helped you in ongoing language learning. We would love to hear what that might be.

Watch your language

My mother used to tell my brothers and I, “Watch your language”, whenever a word thatWatch-your-language-1868661-ralphiesoap_super came out of our mouths that was not helpful or something said that would not build up others.  She didn’t primarily use that phrase because of bad language, but because of unhelpful or damaging language we were using.

When we live and minister among another people group other than our own, we need to ‘watch over our language’.  What I mean is we cannot accept a ‘global understanding’ of another’s language.  We should not settle for just passable language acquisition.

The apostle Paul writes in the context of our teaching and disciping: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).  We are to ‘work hard’ as an athlete does in all our efforts and work, including language acquisition.

When do not make this effort, we create a context where the Gospel message might be truncated; where our ‘language’ potentially ends up hindering the clear communication of the Gospel message in another cultural context.

Many of us have experienced a similar situation when we talk with someone from another culture who is trying to speak in our mother tongue.  If that person’s language skills are just okay, we find ourselves struggling to understand the real content of their ‘message’.  It feels like we are missing something, and we end up using reductionist language in order to continue the conversation.

Two principles should guide us as we seek to ‘communicate well’ with others.

First, remember that language acquisition is a lifelong project.  I still remember learning the word for ‘apple core’ while running with my teammate, David. He saw an apple core on the ground, turned to me and said “Do you know the word for that in French?”  I didn’t, but I learned it that day.  And I had already been in France for over seven years.

Second, regularly ask others for help.  If language acquisition is a lifelong project, then we should not slow down the learning process.  When your teammate, your national co-worker, or another friend encourages you to speak more in the national language, your language ability and your capacity to share the good news will grow and deepen.

The ‘long arm’ of God

touch-of-God-gives-life-to-the-soul-400x320I have always been fascinated by the verse in Isaiah: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” (59:1).  It’s a poetic way of stating that God is not limited, in any way, from doing what pleases Him.  What delights Him most is when His creation attributes glory to Him.  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it: “And in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him.”  God’s desire is that in everything we do, we bring glory to Him (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Here’s the rub: despite our best intentions something often stands in our way from turning all praise back to God.  The prophet Isaiah goes on to say in the following verse: “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and you sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (59:2)  It’s our inability to do what we know we should do. It’s the separation we experience when we know we have brought shame upon our Father.

Yet, we often ‘plough on’, believing that the weight of the good things we will do for God will compensate for our warped heart motivation.  We don’t stop to consider what might be ‘going wrong’ in our hearts.

The extraordinarily good news is that Jesus broke down that ‘wall of separation’ and restored us to live in community with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Father ‘delighted in bruising His Son’ so that His glory now covers us in robes of righteousness, giving us access into God’s presence.  The ‘long arm’ of God has reached down, and reaches down again each day to draw us back to Himself: to experience His forgiveness and to give us a heart to offer back to Him our thanks and praise.

Earlier this year, I ‘gifted’ the World Team Global community the challenge of impacting two unreached people groups this year in some significant way. We have had good conversations so far about who those people groups might be.  However, prayer is our first, and continual, step in this process.  Join me the 7th of June at 15h00 Paris time!

 

Join me for five (5) minutes for a ‘worldwide concert of prayer’ this coming Thursday at 15h00 Paris time. Wherever you might be at that time, would you stop and simply pray:

God, show us what people groups, among whom we currently work, that You long for World Team to impact this year?

Spread the word to others that they might join us for 5!

Gifting the challenge – HOW?

One of the other questions that has come up when talking about the ‘Gifting a Challenge’ project is: how are we going to identify the two people groups on which to focus and the indicators for determining impacthow bis

It’s a great question.

In the first series of online forums, we asked two questions:

  • Which one or two UPGs (that WT is working with) would you suggest we focus on and the reasons why?
  • What 5 markers would demonstrate concretely the impact of our efforts among those one or two people groups?

What I found interesting was that there a fair amount of convergence in the answers given to these questions.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised since it’s something many have been praying about for some time.

The HOW, I believe, is discovered by gathering people from the WT Global community to enter into conversation with one another and asking the Lord to lead us as we talk.

We need you to work this process further.  I hope you’ll join us on one of the next online forums.

Information on times and the link will be sent soon.

Gifting a challenge — Why?

Earlier this year, I gifted this challenge to you, to us as a World Team Global community: “To concretely see, observe and identify the impact of our efforts among two people groups.”  After holding two online forums earlier this month, I realized that the ‘why’ behind this challenge may not have been clearly communicated. the-challenge

So, why did I ‘gift this challenge’ to you, to us?  Three reasons come quickly to mind.

First, God calls us to declare His glory to the nations as a community.  When the apostle Paul reminds us of the fact that we are the recipients of the ‘mystery hidden for ages’, he calls us to join him in teaching, proclaiming, declaring that mystery to the nations which is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:24-29).  The ‘you’ in this text refers to us as a community; a community called to take up this ‘challenge’ to declare Him to the nations.

Second, such a challenge binds us together in new ways as a global community; uniting our strengths and resources towards accomplishing together something that we could not accomplish alone. By nature, we are focused on the ministry to which God has called us.  However, when we lift our eyes off that local ministry for just a moment, we gain a greater perspective of what God is doing in our part of the world as well as many other parts of the world.

Finally, other ministry initiatives would be the natural fruit of taking on such a challenge.  As our hearts are ‘warmed’ by seeing the impact of the Gospel in concrete ways among two unreached people groups, many in the WT Global community will naturally propose other projects to other unreached peoples.  As we see God work, we are spurred on to trust Him to see the Gospel impact other peoples and nations.

No challenge is by nature ‘easy’.  Having each other to ‘spur one another on’ is our best next step for addressing any challenge.

Join us for another series of online forums where we will further discuss this challenge.  Information on times and the link will be sent soon.

Going ‘national’

Our World Team Ministry Framework highlights the ‘guiding principles’ by which we WT Ministry Framework Jan 2016live and minister as a global community.  One of the ‘guiding principles’ that is a new addition from our previous list of ‘values’ is: incarnational.

The descriptor for this guiding principle is as follows: “As cross-cultural workers, we intentionally surrender our rights to our home culture, language, and ways and embrace those of the host culture. By this, we seek to model Christ, who emptied Himself of the privileges and powers of divinity, taking on human form, in order to carry out His mission.”

Many voices were raised in favor of adding this guiding principle to our list.  The more I have mulled over it, the more I have come to understand why Ray and others kept putting it in front of us as so important.

Living incarnationally pushes us back to the example of Christ (Philippians 2).  Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, chose to take on cultural forms, language and habits.  He expressed himself with words that others could understand, in cultural forms that made sense to the people he was addressing.  He made the effort to ‘be like us’ and to accept this world as his ‘home’.  Yes, his ultimate ‘home’ was not here. Yet, he did not make others around him feel that he was keeping himself a stranger to the world in which he found himself.

The word that I find the hardest in this descriptor is: surrender. Not many of us like the sound of that word because it strikes at our feeling of entitlement.  We have seemingly ‘sacrificed’ a lot to go cross culturally, and believe there should be some small return as a result.  However, God asks us to lay it all down.  In the process of that surrender, we will experience blessings and benedictions we would not have shared otherwise.

One blessing that surely stands out is the experience of deep friendship in Christ across cultural boundaries; discovering that God has truly broken down the barriers that separate us from one another.

Praying ‘online’

onlineprayergroupsI was part of an ‘online prayer’ meeting this past Wednesday.  Sounds kind of strange and impersonal.  However, seeing everyone’s face around the virtual table and being able to mobilise people from three different regions of the world to pray was a definite encouragement and certainly a plus to spend this time praying ‘virtually’ together.

Our prayer facilitator shared a brief word from the Scriptures, emphasizing how prayer is not something we should do out of duty, but out of a sense of opportunity to meet together around the possibilities that our great God has for His work and people in this world.  Now the first part of that insight is something we all know, but it was that second piece about ‘opportunity’ that stood out to me in a new way.

We were given the opportunity to have our awareness raised as to what God was doing in one part of this world and raise our voices to pray for that part of the world, joining others around the world in that work.

The World Team Day of Prayer is one such ‘opportunity’ for us.  Maybe we should re-name that time to something like: Join the WT Prayer Opportunity?  No matter what we might name it, there is plenty of room for innovation and taking our global prayer points and praying them with our teammates, our larger team, or even virtually with people from different parts of WT.

However, it’s done, it’s our opportunity to ask God will to fulfill His mission through His Church and His people in the world.