The Facilitator Role in Cultural Context

Is the idea of an “M” assuming the role of a facilitator in mature fields based on American cultural values? Could it be that such a role would not be seen as desirable in many host cultures?

This disturbing question hit me as I listened to the recent Missio Nexus webinar led by Craig Ott on “Teaching and Learning Across Cultures” (Webinar: Teaching and Learning Across Cultures - Missio Nexus). He suggested that most Americans value a facilitative education in which teachers facilitate a learning process in which learners actively process information and discover knowledge for themselves. That value conflicts directly with beliefs about education in many parts of the world that value the teacher as the expert who delivers knowledge to learners who passively receive information from the teacher and try to master it. The difference in world views is illustrated from his handout below.

Any American who has tried to teach in a culture more collectivistic than our own (virtually everywhere in the world) easily relates to Ott’s observations and knows the frustration of trying to get learners to engage in the process when they are expecting simply to receive the wisdom coming from the teacher. Ott’s webinar then offers some suggestions for increasing student engagement but fails to dig into what we should do about the conflicting values.

GP has been promoting the facilitator role as the preferred approach for M’s in phase 4/5 fields. But have we simply been promoting an American value and ignoring how host cultures would have us to position ourselves? What is the alternative?

I’ve only questions right now. I’m hoping you have some answers.

 

Write comment (1 Comment)

Confident Solutions vs. Cautious Support

You are a bridge every pastor and church needs. The Global Wesleyan Church is the unapologetic home team. While there are a few outliers, most Wesleyan pastors would love to have an exciting missions partnership opportunity with our Wesleyan tribe in the bullseye. You can be the one-stop shop every pastor and church needs to provide a substantive answer to the 4th Quadrant of the Acts 1:8 missional mandate of any NA Wesleyan Church.

 The mistake we sometimes make is in how we frame the starting point. Read that last sentence again. Don’t miss this. In the words of Donald Trump, “It’s HUGE!”

As GP M’s we are sometimes tempted by the genuine humility of cautiously inviting support. This is not wrong, but it is not best. NA Pastors are like the rest of us – mildly self-centered ☺. If your contact with them is about how they can help you, then you are just piling on one more expectation to an overworked, underpaid, margin-lite Kingdom servant.

You know an encouraging truth that in any given moment they may not. The truth is that YOU can play a role to provide a need, fix a problem, check off a box, “plus up” their leadership, amplify their mission, etc. (you get the idea). When you confidently offer a solution, you are already halfway there. Rather than partnership being about how they can invest in your ends of the earth vision, make the opening offer about how you can invest in what THEY need as a pastor of a local church to have a compelling and eternity-altering global impact.

Another small hack worth developing is to use second person language. “Deep down, you want a missions program that engages and excites your congregation. You’re the kind of leader that cares about our global Wesleyan tribe and that’s why we’re honoured to give you the kind of partnership opportunity that will ignite your ‘glocal’ leadership equity with your flock.” Pastors are like everyone else, they appreciate it when others believe in them.

At the end of the day, God did not call you as a cross-cultural servant to only impact the ends of the earth. He has raised you up as a bridge for us all. You care deeply about your North American sisters and brothers and how you need you to inspire and engage them in mission. So, bring on your confident solutions!

Write comment (0 Comments)

Turning the “NO’s” into “YES’s”

A Pastor’s Perspective on Church Partnerships

It must be a tremendous challenge to live in two complex and ever-changing worlds at the same time: the ministry you are called to, and the process of raising funds to accomplish it. You probably feel like you are bouncing back and forth between your ministry hat, to your fundraising hat, and then back again. I am guessing that you didn’t start out in ministry because you love fundraising, but you have probably come to terms with it being a necessary part of the process. One of the biggest challenges is how you raise support has changed over the years. What you used to do, you can’t always do now. What used to work doesn’t always work now.

How can I help? Well, when you were seeking support, you are likely going to talk to a pastor like me. I am the one that will initially say yes or no to taking the next steps in presenting your ministry to others for support, so this is an opportunity to hear from the other side of the phone or email inbox.

I want you to know that I have a huge heart for missions and the work you are doing. I believe in you and your mission. I want to say yes to every phone call I receive, but obviously, I can’t. So what is the difference between a ministry I get to say YES to, and a ministry that I simply can’t? A big part of that decision is made by the fundraising aspect.

You see I don’t like fundraising either, but as things have changed I am now the one who will communicate a new global partnership to the mission board, congregation, and online community for support. I am trying to raise support, but I need a partner! I need your help.

I want to help you raise the support you need to accomplish your goals. I want the people in the congregation to respond because I believe it is a critical part of spiritual growth and maturity. It’s not easy though, so I am much more likely to say YES to missions partnerships that have…

-A cause the congregation can get excited about People used to be willing to give to a person they believed in. Now, most people are only willing to give to a purpose they believe in. They are no longer moved by WHAT you are doing, they are moved by WHY you are doing it. People are living a fast-paced life and are bombarded with messaging all week long. It is challenging to get their attention and communicate anything to them. This is why your mission has to cut through all of the noise, get their attention, and compel them to respond. The good news is that people want to be a part of something that is making a difference. You want them to hear your mission and say, “This has to change, and I have to help.”

To say YES - I need to be able to communicate your mission in a quick, clear, and compelling way.

-Consistent content that can keep people excited about your mission Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. Even if I can get the congregation pumped up and excited about your mission in a moment or a service if I don’t keep that mission in front of them consistently their excitement and support will quickly evaporate as it shifts to the many other cares and concerns of life. People want to travel, experience new cultures, and make a difference on a global scale. You have the opportunity to take them there and help them experience all of that. Take pictures, videos, and design content that can transport them there. Help them experience what their brothers and sisters across the world are experiencing and help them live the life of purpose they were created for. You will get a handful involved if you share your mission during a service. Can you imagine how many you will get involved when you share your mission with them all year long! When you invite them into the story consistently, it becomes personal to them. It might even become so personal to them that they begin to raise awareness and support on your behalf. Just recently my daughter and the girls in my neighborhood did a lemonade stand, but instead of keeping the profits, they donated it to one of our global partners because they understood the cause and it was fresh in their minds so it became the first place they wanted to help when they could.

To say YES - I need to receive pictures, videos, stories, victories, and updates consistently to quickly post and share with the congregation.

-Numerous ways for people, and the church, to help and see wins

One of the biggest challenges in connecting people with global initiatives is that everyone is in a different place spiritually and financially. It is good for everyone to take a step forward, but we don’t always offer a step that is accessible. We currently work with a ministry that has done a great job at inviting people into a significant meaningful step no matter where they are and what they have to give. You can give $1 and provide a meal for a malnourished child, $50 to send a love/food basket to their home and family, $480 to sponsor a child for a year, $1,500 to take a trip to see and love on these children, $12,000 to build a kitchen to feed children, $15,000 a year for three years to plant a new church and build a kitchen to feed children. As a pastor, I get so excited about all of these options because there is an exciting step for EVERY person - a baby step for a first-time guest, a medium step for someone new to giving to global causes, a big step for an individual who is experienced with missions, a small step/big win for a church, and big step/HUGE WIN for a church to celebrate with the congregation. This makes your ministry applicable and accessible to every person, committee, the congregation I share it with.

To say YES - I need to have opportunities for everyone to get involved. Baby steps, big steps, big leaps, and HUGE WINS.

Unfortunately, I can’t take away the need to raise support for the amazing work that you are doing for the kingdom. I wish I could because I believe that you are fulfilling a calling to do something that very few are willing to do. I want to see you succeed in raising the support you need to accomplish the goals you have in this ever-changing landscape of ministry and fundraising. Though I can’t remove raising support from the equation, maybe I can turn some “no’s” into “yes’s” to help you keep that consistent support growing.

Practical Steps

  1. Perfect your “elevator pitch” - write out the mission you are called to so it can be shared in a quick, clear, and compelling way.
  2. Commit to taking 1 photo, 1 video update, and 1 story every week - post on your social media channels and/or share with your ministry partners
  3. Brainstorm and write down opportunities for everyone - a baby step, big step, giant leap, and a HUGE win.
Write comment (3 Comments)

How to Engage a Weary Pastor

I don't know where I first heard it, but the longer I live the more I believe that it's true, “The world is run by tired people.”

To say it in a more contextualized way, “Most churches are run by tired pastors.”

No doubt there's been a massive amount of effort that has been given in recent years to the health, development, and care for the souls of pastors.  But even with this effort, most pastors have a desk that is cluttered with stacks and piles and they find themselves feeling scattered and weary.

Pastors have decision fatigue, and they’re emotionally exhausted. And some have full-on burnout.

When a pastor is tired they often catch themself coming and going. They come across as being disinterested when in reality they really do want to be interested.  When a pastor is tired they're not able to give the energy that is needed for the things that they care most about.  Lots of things suffer when a pastor grows weary.

I think most pastors genuinely want to make a difference globally in the far and hard places. But the weariness of daily ministry often becomes all-consuming and takes away from intentional thought and action toward global realities.

Most of my pastoral colleagues love what God is doing around the world, but they feel a pinch in their spirit. They want to be in a deeper relationship with work and workers globally, but relationships are hard when you're weary and they’re really hard when these relationships are being maintained in a wide geographical scope.

So what's a missionary to do when the pastors that you are banking on for support and encouragement are weary in the battle?

1. Look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

I think Paul is on to something when he says that, “...each of you should look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:4

When you engage with the pastor, ask the pastor how you can support and pray for them and their work.  Reach out to them intentionally, just to say that you are celebrating and thanking God for them on that day.

Many years ago Dr. Jim Dunn told me that if you want to get certain things done in working with people you have to, “hold their baby.”  What he meant by this was that everyone wants their baby to be celebrated. Go out of your way to celebrate the pastors that you have contact with and take the time to “hold their baby”.

2. Intentionally pray for the pastors and churches on your support list.

The simple act of making a spreadsheet of all those who are partners and praying for them specifically is a gamechanger. Praying for them is good.  Letting them know that you are praying for them, is great!  It is possible to pray for a number of people by name and the gift that it is to people is truly valuable.

One of the ways that Dr. Wayne Schmidt has curried such great favor in the North American Church is his diligence in prayer.  I have watched Wayne in so many settings where he leads the conversation by saying, “I prayed for you by name today.”  This simple phrase brings a calm wind into the room.

3. Weary pastors want to be asked for help. 

Most often when a pastor is contacted by a missionary it is to ask for money.  I would recommend widening the ask.  If there is a situation that you are facing on the field or something that you are trying to personally navigate, ask one of the pastors on your support list for their input.

Most pastors, even weary ones, would find great energy and joy in giving thought in prayer and some level of discernment to the challenges you are facing. For me personally, I can say with confidence that I find energy in helping solve other people's problems, somehow it makes my own problems that much easier! 

There will be more to come in this series of posts on what pastors wish missionaries understood about the North American Church, but for today I will sum up this simple lesson up in this way.

Weary pastors need fellow travelers to pray, encourage, support, and involve on the journey.

 

Chad McCallum is the Lead Pastor of the Hayward Wesleyan Church in Hayward, Wisconsin

Write comment (2 Comments)

Maintaining Interdependence

In a recent blog I suggested a possible metaphor for consideration as we move forward in developing a better plan for facilitating the work of missions. It was based on the idea of an electrical grid that interconnects systems. The word was interdependence. In an electrical grid these means if you are short on electricity then you can depend on me to help you from my supplies and vice versa.

The key word here is interdependence which is based on creating links and structures that allow all those connected to depend on each other easily and freely.

As I reflected on this word ‘interdependence’ I began to realize that it is an essential part of all that exists. Let me explain briefly.

God as trinity – Each depends on the other to complete their existence. Each has a defined identity and complete access to each. At the same time this interdependence does not diminish nor add to what each is within the trinity.

God and man – By choice God has made this an interdependent relationship. That may sound a bit egotistical but think about it. God has chosen to depend on us to carry out his plan. In doing so we are created to be dependent on him for resources, counsel and more. Obviously God can act outside of our involvement and does control all that is happening and yet at the same time his main channel of action is through us. He has created an interdependence by the vary nature of how he created us.

Jesus and Church – Again we see the fact that God has chosen to limit his action and depend on us to carry out the mission of the church. Jesus is the head and we are the body. He is dependent on us to carry out the plan and purpose of the church and we are dependent on him for direction and more. Along side of this is the idea of a body. All its parts are interdependent. It cannot function properly when this fails to function.

I realize that in some ways I may be oversimplifying this but that is the point. We need to get down the basics that allow creation to function, our relationship with God to function, the church to function, and the church as well.

Now let’s apply this to mission work, more specifically when a person from outside arrives to live and serve in a culture not their own.

From day one there is a need for the development of the structures that allow for this interdependence. There will be times when the flow is clearly more in one direction. That should not surprise us. When a person arrives they are highly dependent on those around them. They depend on the host people to help them learn language, learn culture, learn to live and so many other areas. But they do this in order to build the relationships and structures that will allow the dependence to shift and be able to supply what they have to their hosts.

Now is when things become hazy. There is a great danger that can develop. And unfortunately it happens all too often. The person who has come to share the good news begins to forget how dependent they were and allows the host to become more and more dependent on them. Sadly they forget that they are still dependent on their host in so many areas of life. They will always need help with language, culture, and planning. What happens though is that this becomes undervalued and of no importance to the mission. When in fact it should remain central.

If we lose sight of our dependence, it is possible that we will treat their help as something owed to us because we have more knowledge, more resources, more advanced skills, and so on. Suddenly we are in the world of ethnocentrism, and we may never let them stand on equal ground with us. This behavior and its impact will vary from place to place.

When we began to lose sight of our dependence is when things get complicated. The more the visitor rejects or ignores the local resources and undervalues its value the less likely there will be interdependence. So now when it comes to ministry and development all becomes dependent on the visitor with little concern for what the host may have of value that could be used to provide needed resources.

What development that does occur is to maintain what has been brought in from outside. This means local resources are disconnected and this creates a false view of what really can be done unless we have help from outside. In effect instead of using my power generator you buy your own and bring it to my country. On top of that your generator needs special fuel that is not available locally and so it must be brought in as well.

Now we find ourselves trapped and struggling to figure out how to facilitate the process of turning things over to them because we have not involved them in the process, not built connections to their world, and have no way of accessing what they have because there are no links, no adaptors, and no interest in connecting.

The only way forward will be to go back and maybe have everything dismantled and retooled before we can become interdependent correctly.

What we need to learn is how to build on and develop the dependence we had in the beginning so that it can be a key source in how to move forward. Instead of looking outside we look inside and let them do the work of looking outside. They have a better idea of what may function anyhow. Our task is to let them define how they want to be dependent on us as we learn how to continue to be dependent on them. Interdependence works that way, both working to access what the other has in a way that benefits both and grants the best level of access, the free flow of resources in both directions, that honors and respects what each has to offer.

We start out being dependent and then seek to be independent. This is wrong. Because it then forces them to become dependent on what we create. We need to learn how to continue to be dependent in a way that opens the door to interdependence.

There is so much more to explore in this. My hope is that I have not overly muddied the waters and that we can explore more fully how to become interdependent. How we can become a system or network that responds easily and quickly to each other to supply and receive in both directions the resources that will be needed to move forward in this new concept of world missions.

Write comment (0 Comments)

Host Culture Re-entry

We have all studied culture shock and reverse culture shock (adjustments on returning home). But there continue to be changes and unexpected events if one returns to the field for a second, third, fourth time. Every time it is different. You may be married this time, or have children at different ages, or be empty nesters. Your assignment may change. Even culture changes over time. Here are some thoughts for returning to the field.

1. Don’t just settle into the same routine.

Even if your assignment is the same, look and see what changes have occurred in your friends or ministry area. How has God been at work? Is there a new opportunity? Is there any different way your children can be a part of the community or ministry?

In successive terms. you will continue to learn culture and language bringing more helpful insights and also realizations of past errors. Apologize if you feel it necessary. Give yourself grace. Laugh. Remember the apostle Paul said, “I press on…”. None of us is perfect. Even in our own cultures, we make mistakes and learn new skills over time.

2. Give yourself permission to grieve loss.

Leaving family is not always easier the second or third time. Or it may be, but then it will be hard again when you have to leave your own children in your passport country. Sometimes ministry colleagues move on or pass away while you are gone from the field. Cross-cultural workers face loss in many ways, and it is healthy to find ways to say those goodbyes or express sadness.

You don’t have to always have a strong exterior. In a poor country, people may not feel they have a lot to contribute to a foreign worker. But when you are able to (appropriately) show an area of weakness, it gives them an opportunity to minister to you. 

3. How can you express appreciation or honor upon returning?

Every culture is different but consider if it is appropriate to bring a gift for your local colleagues or the top church leader. Early on we did not think of these things, but now we always bring a small item for the staff we work with at the Bible College and for the Church Superintendent. It can be something small they do not usually buy for themselves like a bottle opener/screwdriver tool or a plaque for their office. It could be a book or a pack of pens.

A second thing I was not conscious of in my early years was my lack of public affirmation of local leaders. Several times a year in church conferences, the leaders would publicly express appreciation for our coming to work with them. I would say something polite and sit down. But I began to realize that I needed to reciprocate and tell them that it was an honor working with them and express something specific that I appreciate about their efforts too.

I pray today that whatever season you are in that God would “give you complete knowledge of his will…. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need… May you be filled with joy.” (Colossians 1:9-11) 

Write comment (2 Comments)

Making Disciples or Marketing Jesus?

Few people start their missions journey as great disciple-makers. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us. So we look for training in how to share the gospel and how to disciple new believers.

Maybe it’s a class at your church or a video series from your favorite leader. Maybe you’re even studying to get a missions degree in college. Every training has a different approach, and we begin to build a suite of discipleship tactics. We learn punchy questions to ask and catchy methods to share truth. We practice and time ourselves so we can get our gospel pitch down pat.

“I was taught — albeit subconsciously — that our task as disciple-makers is to market Jesus. But ... you don’t market the King of the cosmos.”

 

Then we cross cultures and expect our gospel salesmanship to win the day.

But there’s a problem. It doesn’t work.

I know because I tried it. I earned master’s degrees in religion and cross-cultural communication. Then I arrived in West Asia and learned that carrying a burden to convey Jesus is a recipe for burnout.

In my studies, I was taught — albeit subconsciously through our American worldview — that our task as disciple-makers is to market Jesus. We learned strategies to market Jesus the way we would market a business. But while capitalism may be a great economic philosophy, it’s a terrible way to do missions.

You don’t market the King of the cosmos.

If I think my job is to deliver Jesus to a needy market, I might as well be playing cricket on a soccer field. I’m living in the wrong mentality, and I’m going to ruin the very relationships I’m trying to form.

But what if my role is not that of an entrepreneur but an explorer? What if instead of working to start Jesus franchises, I’m to discover where Jesus is emerging and draw as much attention as possible to Him there?

The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians that his work among them would not be complete “until Christ is formed in you” (4:19). We assume our job is to get the gospel message to [fill in the blank]. But it isn’t. It’s to nurture and grow what Christ is already doing, until that work is complete. Until Christ is formed in Galatia, London, Tokyo, and beyond.

“If I think my job is to deliver Jesus to a needy market ... I’m going to ruin the very relationships I’m trying to form.”

 

What does that look like, practically?

When I lived in the marketing mentality, I walked out my door each day with a burden to deliver Jesus to everyone I met. Conversations sounded like this:

  • Let me tell you about…
  • You need to hear this…
  • You don’t understand about…

But when I walk out my door looking to catch a glimpse of Jesus anywhere I can, I’m eager, expectant, and hopeful. Now, conversations sound like this:

  • Your experience reminds me of…
  • See the glory of the King in…
  • Look how these connect — I think Jesus is chasing you.

One a way of obligation, and the other is a way of wonder.

Which will you choose?

This article was originally published at crossworld.org.

Write comment (1 Comment)

Adult Talk About the 5 Phases

One of my richest memories from childhood was gathering around my grandparent’s table for some dinner, birthday, holiday, event, etc. Gathered in as well was usually a whole host of people, including cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. Having grown up in a divorced family meant I had four different grandparent homes within which to make these memories. Each one was unique and continues to hold a special place in my heart.

Particularly on my mom’s side of the family, my uncles, aunts, and cousins all gathered in nightly for good ole stove perked coffee and store-boxed dessert after dinner. My grandparent’s home was continually a hub of activity and constantly filled with the aroma of coffee and the sounds of chatter and laughter.

If you walked into their single-wide trailer on any given night, you would look to the right and see gathered around the kitchen table all of the adults in the family, circled around their coffee and dessert. If you looked to the left, you would see all the children (and teens) gathered around the television in the living room. And, if we were lucky, you would see us with some of that night’s dessert as well.

There were not many “rules” to follow when it came to these regular, family gatherings, but there were a couple that I still remember today. One in particularly was the old phrase, “children are meant to be seen and not heard.” In other words, no matter how loud the adults got in the kitchen, we were not allowed to raise our level of talking, nor the television.

The other “rule” I remember quite fondly is “children do not belong in the kitchen because that is where the adults talk.” I still probably do not know everything that implied, but my take, then and now, is that children talked about childish things while adults talked about grown-up things; things which children had no business knowing about nor needing to be concerned with.

Why do I share such a memory with you? I know you did not come to this blog to hear about my childhood. You came looking for some nugget of truth pertaining to our GP strategy. The good news is that you have come to the right place. I am actually already doing that because during a recent conversation with one of our national leaders I was brought right back to my grandparent’s trailer and that second unwritten rule, “…this is where the adults talk.”

In the midst of this recent conversation, I was asked what I knew about the apparent lack of missionaries in the two Areas of Ibero-America and Africa. A rough paraphrase of their concern was that compared to years ago, there seems to be hardly any GP missionaries left in these fields. Mind you, being relatively “new” to the field (honestly, I am not sure where 6 years on the field actually ranks, but it seems short), I went into this part of the conversation having a certain impression. I was under the impression that in the same way that we as GP missionaries have been inundated with the “5 Phases” and all the nuances therein, our national leaders have also been a part of this same conversation all along.

Imagine my surprise when I started talking about the “5 Phases” and I had to be interrupted to explain what even that meant. As I shared to the best of my ability the vision behind the strategy, a description of each phase, and eventually why there are now seemingly less GP missionaries in these two Areas, imagine again my surprise when instead of what I shared being received with enthusiasm and acceptance, it was met with shock and concern. Perhaps that reaction was due to a poor level on my part of understanding the nuances of the “5 Phases”, or an inability to adequately articulate them in my second language. Or, perhaps the shock came from this being the first time this national leader had ever heard of the “5 Phases” or that GP had a specific strategy to reduce/eliminate the need for GP missionaries in any given field. While it could definitely be some of the first, I believe their response was largely due to the novelty of the “5 Phases” to them.

So, there I sat at the table with my friend having “adult talk,” and all I could think about was how long this national leader had gone being relegated to the living room with all the other “children”, while all the “adults” had been gathering at the kitchen table having “grown-up” talk.

As much as I am aware that there could have been many factors that led to my specific take-away from this conversation, I am also aware that this one conversation is not meant to be an indictment nor meant to be exhaustive in the sense that it is speaking for every leader in every country in which GP is actively engaged. But, this conversation does raise certain questions for me that I am not sure I have the answers for. What say you?

  • Do/should we share our “5 Phase” strategy with our national leadership? If so, at what point and how do we begin doing that?
  • How could we get to a Phase 5 field and still have national leadership thinking that they are “losing” missionaries instead of seeing their work as having been naturally transitioned to national leadership? What went wrong and how do we “fix” it?
  • Do our national leaders see our strategy through the same healthy and life-giving lens that we do? If not, whose perspective needs to change and how?

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for contributing your thoughts to the above questions. I am not claiming to have all the answers, nor any for that matter. I just believe it is time to make sure that everyone is at the kitchen table together.

Write comment (1 Comment)

Connecting the Dots – Diaspora, E2E, Facilitators

I have been reflecting on these terms and trying to understand how they relate. Here is what I have come to understand.

Diaspora – let us begin with a very basic understanding. Diaspora is any group or person who has been relocated from where they originated to live in another place. This occurs for a number of reasons.

  1. It can be forced. This took the form of slavery, indentured labor, and today falls under the heading of human trafficking.
  2. It can be cause by outside forces. These are in the form of disaster, war, political and religious oppression, and ethnic conflict.
  3. It can be for economic reasons. To improve ones economic situation, to gain a better education, and to find more opportunities for skills already possessed.

This is a basic overview but it leaves out one critical category. It leaves out the diaspora that is caused by changing one’s religions belief. This is actually what happens when a person converts from one religion to another and in that moment the person becomes part of a type of diaspora without changing their physical location.

The most common example of this is when a person becomes a follower of Jesus and is given a new citizenship. Paul uses this concept in Ph 3:20 in stating that our citizenship is in heaven. We are called to focus on the things of heaven and not the world (Co 3:1-3). We can see this in the promise of Jesus that he is preparing for us a place in heaven and that we are not to focus on the treasures of this world. There is much more that could be said and so many more texts that can be used to help us see this but these should be enough.

So what does this mean? It means that when you choose to become a follower of Jesus you become part of the diaspora of the family of God in the place where you are. There is no need to relocate physically for this to happen. It is a transformation at an emotional and spiritual level. (See Paul’s comment about being transformed, Ro 12:1-2). As a result we have become displaced in relationship to the world and have before us the task of sharing with everyone around us. This is the heart of mission.

This action of going can be going to those in our immediate sphere of influence, our former culture. It can mean go to those that were part of our former culture who are near us and not so near, but now different (Jerusalem and Judea), the diaspora of the world that are in our sphere of influence (Samaria). And going to those of the world far from us (world).

Going to the world can take several forms as we are beginning to understand. We can use many means to get there. This is a second act of being the diaspora of the kingdom of God.

  1. Employment – using our skills to gain access to other parts of the world.
  2. Business – we can use our business to gain access to other parts of the world (marketplace multipliers).
  3. Humanitarian – we can offer humanitarian resources as a means to gain permission to enter another world.
  4. Cross-cultural ministry – we can become short to long term residents in another culture with the specific focus of evangelism and discipleship.

So E2E is defined as everywhere to everywhere. That is a great concept but in the light of the definition of the body of the church as the diaspora of the kingdom of God to the entire world that is not enough. It suggests that I have to leave a place to go to another place. And while this is true in all situations and contexts, my near neighbor, the other person is another place, we tend to think of this in terms of from here to a far place on the map. A place with an international border or significant cultural border between us.

With the idea of diaspora above I believe we should begin to think in terms of Everyone to Everyone. That will get us focused in getting everyone involved and helping everyone to see that we all are responsible to proclaim and disciple and baptize, and teach the entire teaching of God to everyone we encounter no matter where we/they are.

Now for the facilitator concept. This means that no matter who we are or where we are we need to facilitate this process. Further that everyone of us has something to contribute. Since we all are going we all can facilitate the process, either at a local level, regional, and international level. In fact if we are not willing to let someone from outside our sphere of influence the freedom to facilitate what we are doing and us them then we risk becoming egocentric and ethnocentric, a problem that has plagued the church for far too long.

We need everyone, or at least a very broad representation, at the table for the facilitating process to work. If not then we risk becoming the very thing we seek to overcome, egocentric and ethnocentric, with the process depending on our direction and guidance, a serious error to avoid. In fact our name Global Partners should be a constant reminder of this. We should be partners, equal partners in the process of facilitating. A network of partners that responds, not just with needed resources, but critical insight and partnering as well.

Think about it this way. If we truly want to be facilitators on a global scale and truly understand our status as the diaspora of God then should we not be open to calling people from other countries and cultures and sending them to the diaspora of this world, those three groups listed at the beginning of this short paper. For example. Find a person in one of the Muslim ministries who has become a follower of Jesus and sense a call to go to the Muslim diaspora. Then send them to the Detroit Project to work or to some other Muslim community in Europe or the USA or even another Muslim country.

We actually see this happening in the Hispanic community. I know of several from Ibero-America that sense God calling them to the USA to work among this diaspora. I have been reluctant to accept this. I don’t like losing good workers in the region. But then I am reminded that Antioch took their best, Paul and Barnabas, and sent them as diaspora workers. I truly believe God honored this and that God replaced them with other capable leaders to carry on the work.

And now all three are connected. We all as followers of Jesus, members of the family of God, have become the diaspora of God to the world. We all have the mandate of the E2E, everyone to everyone, and the key work of facilitating this process and being facilitated in it as well. Facilitating cannot happen if we don’t accept and understand the other two. E2E is not possible if we don’t understand who we are in this world and how that knowledge allows us to truly facilitate the process of mission. And if we are truly the diaspora then we must do and be what the other two imply.

Write comment (2 Comments)

Language Learning in Diaspora Ministry

I opened up the door to the lobby and greeted the next patients back. The greeting, however, was not like my usual one. “Marhaba, Kiifkum ilyawm (Hello, how are you today?)?” The husband and wife both met me with smiles! The husband laughed and repeated a joke he said the last time we met, "Hah, this guy knows Arabic. We cannot speak bad about him because he will know what we are saying!" We laughed as we walked back to the patient's room to get checked to see the doctor. 

 

The wife was the patient that day, and her husband was there to help translate for her. This time, the interaction between the patient and me was different. She made more eye contact and started to speak with me in Arabic about how nice the weather was outside. My Arabic is very basic, and I asked her to teach me what word she uses for "weather." She told me the word she uses, and I told them what word I know for "weather." They approved of my vocabulary, and we continued on with the appointment. Throughout the conversation, there seemed to be more comfortability between me and the couple. We joked, laughed, and parted in a friendly matter. 

 

This is one of many interactions I have working with Arabic-speaking patients. I've seen God move when I’ve attempted to speak Arabic to patients and show them I am trying to learn their language. Since living and working in Dearborn, a respect and desire to learn more about different cultures and languages has grown in me. And, even though I work full-time as a nurse, I am still able to connect with and bless the diaspora community.

 

The willingness to learn another language, such as Arabic, and understand another culture, has been a meaningful way to connect with this people group. There is an openness from patients when I am able to use their native language. Asking questions like the origin of their name or if they speak Arabic has sparked unique conversations with patients in a setting they might not always expect, a doctor's office. The Lord has used the opportunity to learn a new language to bridge the gap between cultures. I have learned so much from the stories of the patients I come in contact with. My eyes have been opened, and I now recognize that I have the ability to impact a community, even in my workplace. 

 

Learning a language is a simple way that God has been able to use me in my work setting to connect to the diaspora. Sometimes it can be overwhelming when we want to serve, but our time is very limited. The reality is, we all have an opportunity to connect with the diaspora if we choose to live intentionally. A simple way you can build a bridge is by learning a language, discovering a culture, asking questions, and hearing stories. Being limited by time, opportunity, or resources does not need to keep you from impacting a community. Imagine the kind of transformation that can come from those moments of impact. My hope is that this might be an encouragement to those who want to reach out but feel limited by their current job, location, or circumstance. Know that God has put you in the place you are for a reason, and everyone has the ability to positively impact a community for Christ.

Write comment (0 Comments)