Thursday, October 4, 2012

Answering 7 Common Objections to Long-Term Missions

During almost 500 meetings I set up to raise support for service in Germany, I glimpsed a snapshot of current evangelical sentiment towards long-term, cross-cultural ministry. Many exciting things are happening today in the evangelical world, whether in short-term ministry, church planting, or expanding our social consciousness. Yet I cannot escape the conclusion that a major change in the tides has come to the evangelical world regarding missions. Time and time again I encountered intelligent people, both laymen and pastors, who argued passionately that long-term, cross-cultural work is "no longer the way God does things."
The arguments have come from many corners, but regardless of the source, the next generation of long-term, cross-cultural missionaries seems to be listening. I regularly hear about people who have been, in essence, reasoned out of their calling. Anyone who cares about God's mission to the nations should be interested to address the ideas being used to deconstruct 20 centuries of missionary precedent. So let me briefly introduce the most popular objections and offer an alternative way of looking at each of them.
  • "It (long-term, cross-cultural missions) destroys foreign cultures."
In contrast to the way that American capitalism, franchising, and media encourage people to wear the same things, watch the same shows, and worship the same cultural idols, Christian missionaries have historically been at the vanguard of linguistics, studying local culture, and contextualizing the faith in a truly native way. Like any other branch of Christian ministry, international missions work has endured embarrassing and lamentable chapters. But in many cases Christian missionaries are some of the few people interested in preserving a language, even a whole culture, in the midst of the homogenizing effect of globalization.
  • "It's based on outdated theology."
If missions no longer concerns us, we must think (at one level or another) the gospel itself is no longer necessary or urgent. But to the extent that we think the spread of the gospel is no longer necessary or urgent, we are no longer truly Christians.
  •  "It's unnecessarily offensive."
The Prince of Peace himself offended people when he preached the gospel. Of course, Christians sometimes offend others by sheer rudeness, and where that happens it should be rebuked. But if your version of Christianity does not offend your non-believing friends, even when articulated civilly and sensibly, you have good reason to ask whether it's really Christianity you're explaining.
  •  "Short-term teams can do the same thing but more efficiently."
In every other field of human endeavor---whether medicine, accounting, or teaching---we think a person needs education and experience to do their job well. But it is increasingly popular to assume that everyone---no matter their commitment, education, or experience---can do equally well in explaining the gospel to people of a different culture. This is a kind of insult to the unevangelized. This view testifies to our belief that people outside our neighborhood or borders are somehow less sophisticated, or more easily appealed to, than we would be. Real work takes real time, and real people deserve our long-term attention.


Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

The gold you see in the photo above was not found in a river or a mine. It was produced by a bacteria that, according to researchers at Michigan State University, can survive in extreme toxic environments and create 24-karat gold nuggets. Pure gold.

Maybe this critter can save us all from the global economic crisis?
Of course not—but at least it can make Kazem Kashefi—assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics—and Adam Brown—associate professor of electronic art and intermedia—a bit rich, if only for the show they have put together.

Kashefi and Brown are the ones who have created this compact laboratory that uses the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans to turn gold chlroride—a toxic chemical liquid you can find in nature—into 99.9% pure gold.


Where Do You Stand?

Faith Based Organizations to Lead Cross-Continental Bike Tour to End Poverty

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 4, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Cyclists are signing up for the ride of their lives next summer, taking God's message of hope to the streets.

The Sea to Sea 2013 Bike Tour is a nine-week, 3,900-mile cycling trek across North America designed to raise awareness and funds in support of those living in poverty around the world. The tour is hosted by the Reformed Church in America, Partners Worldwide, and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) -- an agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America

The tour begins June 21, 2013, in Los Angeles and ends nine weeks later in New York City. Stops include Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Toronto, and Montreal. Organizers expect this will be the largest bicycle tour to ever cross the United States and Canada, and applications are already coming in. Riders have the option of going the full distance or registering for one to five week segments.

The challenge includes nine weeks on the road, cycling an average of 68 miles per day, and resting only on Sundays. Each rider is also required to raise at least $10,000 toward the cause.

The 2008 tour, which rode through the U.S. and Canada, sent over $1.5 million to local, national and international agencies fighting poverty.

"We have been able to make a difference in fighting poverty, locally and abroad, before. But there is so much more to do. The needs today are greater," said Claire Elgersma, chair of the tour's steering committee.

Funds generated through the tour will be used to support new or ongoing initiatives in the areas of business and community development, and will provide people around the world with access to clean water, immunizations, and other vital medical services. Additionally, 35 percent of the tour proceeds will be distributed to local programs that assist the poor.

For more information about Sea to Sea, go to

Christian Newswire