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Apr 21 / Bill

Converged reflections on MC-WEA years and a beloved mentor

April 21, 2017

Dear family and good friends, partners in God’s mission, global colleagues within and beyond the international family of the Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance.

Part the First:

Allow me to interweave two themes of recent reflection (my most recent life change as they converge with some comments on my life-long mentor of 50 years, David Howard) as I engage and talk about the major crossroads in my life and ministry; as I open my heart to new dreams and visions; as I gaze into the future, peering at and pondering the mountain ranges before me and their more immediate foothills.

A poignant experience marks the essence and importance of this blog entry. This first draft I sketched out while sitting in a chair, the 8th floor, ICU room 8032 of the Williams Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida, USA. As I key in these words, my eyes are on my dearest friend and colleague, 89 years old, mentor for 50 years, Dr. David M. Howard—the man who shaped by life so significantly and who invited me into that peculiar world of WEA after his career in Latin America, IVCF-Urbana, Lausanne. He sleeps, numbed from the most recent medical procedure.  I watch and pray, remembering. Next to him, brooding over and caring for him is his beloved wife, Janet, herself a veteran lifer servant whose strongest years were invested in Indonesia.

(Fotos: the two of us circa 1971……facial hair gives date more or less. Dave and Janet (both having lost their first spouse) on their wedding day. In Ft. Myers hospital room).

About two weeks before Dave had a serious fall, hitting his head, requiring brain surgery to deal with hematomas and bleeding. He sleeps, this godly, humorous, global citizen of the Kingdom of God in Christ. Janet is away for a break and it’s just the two of us.

(Honest to God: I pause because Dave just awoke and said, “Hello Bill!”. I’ll be back later.)

Shift gears in my changes…..

The prime reason for these transitions comes is marked by the conclusion last December 31, 2016, of my 30 years on the staff team of the Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance. But it really started with David.

The October MC 2016 Panama Global Consultation (theme—polycentric mission) celebrated and witnessed another well-done MC leadership transition, from Bertil Ekstrom (a decade serving) to David’s installation as executive director of the MC. That was the public announcement and it was a strong, diverse and healthy gathering.

I had started in that position (back then it was called executive secretary—and my first duty under chairman Theo William’s was to write the minutes of the MC gathering in Singapore that June 30, 1986) as a naive 46 old with zero knowledge of WEA. I had never heard the terms “network” or “networking” or “synergy partnerships”.  But I learned.  I was mentored by Dave Howard (Singapore) Theo Williams (India), Wade Coggins (USA), Stanley Davies (UK), Ray Windsor (New Zealand), Reuben Ezemadu and Panya Baba (Nigeria).  And others.

(Fotos: Dave and wife Phyllis; documents and paper table mats from Singapore, June 1986; WEA 8th General Assembly).



I kept the paper place-mat in the Novotel Orchid Inn in Singapore that breakfast of June 29, 1986, with the very rough dimensions of this new position, names of the then ExCo, and a page from my calendar (the old Seven Star Diary format—pre-electronic stuff….and I have ALL the years of those dates! In my desk drawer!)

And as you see, I have a collected of diverse business cards that mark the seasons, changes of life and modified titles that supposedly gave me identity. I have no card from 1985-1990 (the four desert Russellville, AR years); perhaps I had none. The verticle one is my present one; my NGO ID.

My own MC leadership season came to its healthy conclusion in June 2006 in South Africa when Bertil assumed the position.

(Photos of South Africa 2006)


Last year’s transition from Bertil to David put me at a mature age 76. That’s three decades serving the MC. That a long time!  One down-side of this new reality means that I no longer will see most of my colleagues and friends face to face, and this may be a loss in part for all of us. Community runs deep and cannot be created rapidly.

(Photos of Panama 2016)

I do continue as an MC Associate, with the privilege of making my annual contribution to keep that unique sea-going, community-network-alliance afloat, especially with David Ruíz as our skipper. In time he will build his crew to serve with singular creativity into the MC’s preferred future.

As I gaze into my own future I see the Hand of God, I see release, I see a new chapter, I see diminishing strength, I see myself down-shifting, I see medical offices, I see myself on the latter laps of the race, I see naps. God has indicated to me that I will not climb over this last mountain range set before me; rather, I have heard the Voice saying that I will rest at those foothills, for there and then I will have served my generation and then I shall “permanently change my own address”. I see a lot, so hang on until the next entry.

Part II next, retaking the narrative of change and mentors.

Mar 6 / Bill

The Great Litany–a most rigorous soul scrubbing for the first Sunday of Lent

  This ceremony marked the beginning of this Sunday’s morning services, a serious time of repentance. It was sung-chanted, and as the procession wove it’s way through the rows of our worship center and congregation in an extended figure eight design.

My only comment is that when this finished, the entire congregation was quiet before the Lord and his people. It was powerful.  I will be intrigued to see how many read through the entire Great Litany.

May God richly bless you in this Holy and Heavy Lent.


The Great Litany

Celebrant: Dear People of God: the first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. Throughout the season of Lent, the faithful are called to bring to mind the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. And now, as a mark of our mortal nature, let us kneel or stand before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

O God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful,
Have mercy upon us.

O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God,
Have mercy upon us.

Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses
of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins.
Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast
redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy
preserve us, for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts
and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory,
and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want
of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the
deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness
of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and
flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from
violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity
and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection
and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in
the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

We sinners do beseech thee to hear us, O Lord God; and that
it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy Church
Universal in the right way,
We beesech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to illumine all bishops, priests, and
deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of thy
Word; and that both by their preaching and living, they may
set it forth, and show it accordingly,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to send forth laborers into thy
harvest, and to draw all mankind into thy kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace
to hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of
the Spirit,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to bring into the way of truth all such
as have erred, and are deceived,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us a heart to love and fear
thee, and diligently to live after thy commandments,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee so to rule the hearts of thy servants,
the President of the United States, and all
others in authority, that they may do justice, and love mercy,
and walk in the ways of truth,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to
bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners
and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are
desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the
bountiful fruits of the earth, so that in due time all may enjoy
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us, in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of
heart as thy servants, and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by
reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all
women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the
widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all
who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy
presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who
are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue
us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to forgive our enemies, persecutors,
and slanderers, and to turn their hearts,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to strengthen such as do stand; to
comfort and help the weak-hearted; to raise up those who
fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant to all the faithful departed
eternal life and peace,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to grant that, in the fellowship of all the saints, we may attain to thy
heavenly kingdom,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee to hear us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.

O Christ, hear us.
O Christ, hear us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Kyrie eleison.
Christ, have mercy upon us. or Christe eleison.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Kyrie eleison.

When the Litany is sung or said immediately before the Eucharist, the Litany concludes here, and the Eucharist begins with the Salutation and the Collect of the Day.


Mar 2 / Bill

Is anyone out there? My voice is returning

Good friends, “out there”,

Major changes in my life and ministry. The prime reasons is the result of the conclusion last December 31, of 30 years on the staff team of the Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance. I started there when I was 46, and ended when I was 76. That’s three decades. That a long time!

As I gaze into the future I see the Hand of God, I see release, I see a new chapter, I see myself on the latter laps of the race. I know I will not climb the mountain range set before me; rather, I will rest at the foothills for there and then I will have served my generation and “permanently changed my address”.

And one clear implication of this change calls for me to reactivate the blog as my primary voice-platform. Facebook postings will primarily refer people to the blog. It is here that I will float some of my reflections, and especially the first pieces of my memoirs–reflections of a global pilgrim. I am eager to do this.

But I was just wondering if anyone is still out there, and if so, pop me a quick note. I am not expecting much action there, but it’s a start.

Soon, The Global Pilgrim, aka El Vidente


ps.  The selection of photos goes back to the beginning, circa 1986 and years after.  Only one for the ending, but a good one, the three MC executive directors over these 30 years.

Aug 19 / Bill

Organizations that I affirm who minister in the vortex of Iraq and merit our investment.





August 20, 2014

Good friends,

A number of you have asked me what organizations I recommend for prayer and financial investment in relation to the current massive and tragic crisis in Iraq.

Such as this one:

Can you please direct and help me formulate a response for our church to the events going on in Iraq.

1.We are praying but how can we pray intelligently?

2.How or where can we additionally help? Is there a place(s) we can give to support any relief effort? I’m not easily finding places to do that.

3.How else would you recommend responding?

Below you will find a list of organizations that I trust in terms of careful stewardship of resources. I thank Mindy Belz of World Magazine for her help after I wrote her for her ideas.  I have listened to some ten different voices and the list I send you gives healthy diversity.  I don’t know all of the organizations equally, but I trust them.

How to pray? Just think about it!  Make it relevant, real, truthful, applicable, and encourage your congregation to invest in any or more of these.

Yes, I know some of them are primarily from North America. Forgive, but that’s my current world. If you know of others you trust, let me know.

Blessings as you discern what God wants you-us all to do here.



Organizations that I affirm who minister in the vortex of Iraq and merit our investment.  It’s a nasty, massive and very complicated Iraq crisis.  Bill Taylor, WEA Mission Commission; TaylorGlobalConsultThe first four are the closest to “the ground” and have long-term relationships and credibility. Three of them are church-based     ** Rev. Andrew White’s mission in Baghdad;  While Rev. White is Anglican, “The Vicar              of Baghdad”, his relationships are very broad and solid.     ** From the Evangelical Anglican Mission Networks     ** Many Iraqi Christians have found sanctuary in AG churches in northern Iraq. Select “46” for “class”              and type “Christian Refugee Assistance” in the comments section.     ** Partners InternationalPI has my highest respect for their commitment to believers in Iraq, and in particular the Kurds.   I have personal reference from friend-colleague who works with PI and has been there countless times.     **  


** Samaritan’s Purse

** The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

** Open Doors

** Servant Group International

** Global Aid Network, the relief arm of Cru


For a powerful interview:


This is the recent report I received  last week from Partners International

August 12, 2014


Dohuk has welcomed 700,000 refugees, Hawler 500,000 and Suly 200,000. Most refugees have been sheltered from the scalding heat in school buildings and construction sights. Relatives are being welcomed as much as possible and as much as their floors can spread mattresses. Help has been pouring from all sides!!

This morning the Yazidi families received a week supply of food. 5000$ worth of medication has been purchased and sorted. I have been working at the Assyrian Union locations for couple of days (450 families are occupying two school buildings and a preschool floor). 40 prescription lists have been refilled, ORS in sippy cups were a big attraction  (dehydration prevention was part of Farrah’s job), dippers, soap, detergent, wheel chairs, and disinfectants given out as mobs of ladies pushed and shoved. Another group of doctors handed out medication at the Syriac Catholic Church in Enkawa. 

The cities are now calm, relieved that borders are contained and trying to resume normal daily life.

Thank you for your support.


Kurdish Christian Leader


From the Evangelical Anglican Mission Networks

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq and Syria are being slaughtered by the Islamic State (ISIS).

Gruesome videos produced by ISIS are appearing on the internet showing beheadings and public displays of dismembered Christians. In many places Christians have been crucified by the ISIS.  Some videos show Christians being forced on their knees to renounce their faith and convert to Islam—only to be summarily beheaded following their “conversion.”





That is why I have composed a Plea to our government and the international community on behalf of victims of ISIS barbarity.  I ask you please to read my plea and consider adding your name to mine on the website we’ve established for this purpose:  We need to let our elected representatives know that we care about Christians and others who are victims of persecution abroad and we expect our own nation to be in the forefront in defending them when we can.

We are not the world’s policeman, but as disciples of Jesus we believe in doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Without jeopardizing American lives, our nation can help the suffering Christians of Iraq at a time when they are facing possible annihilation.  What we can do for our persecuted brothers and sisters, we must do.

Yours gratefully,

Robert P. George,

McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence

Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions

Princeton University


Finally, from Bill again.  If you want some disturbing images, here you go.   





1. Iraq images

2.  Christians in Iraq             q=christians+in+iraq&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ivHvU4INg4DKBKbdgsAH&ved=0CFEQsAQ&biw=1584&bih=890

3.  We had never even heard of the Yazidi people.  Now?

Nov 14 / Bill

Reflections on a desk, mine own, verily, a stream of consciousness……

Reflections on a desk, mine own, verily, a stream of consciousness……

November 14, 2013

My beautiful desk, the speaking one

My beloved friend my work desk, she is loaded with significant stuff; she sits 180 degrees opposite my computer desk, exactly 29.7/8ths inches away from each other—they sometime talk to each other but they are both humble and made of wood, the computer one of Arkansas oak, sturdy, functional, with no photos this time to reveal its practicality—but it does not talk to me anyway.  My other one, she does.

I have a marvelous chair that swivels so smoothly between the two. This evening I was gazing at her with gratitude, with its graceful curves, a diagonal slice (to give strength to the cut) of the original log which I saw in a lumber yard in Guatemala City the year of our Lord 1970, when I was 29 years old and my wife five years less, that was owned by some Italians and asked them if I could buy a slab and they said yes and charged me $8.00 because there was a crack in the heart of the slab and I got my Guatemalan carpenter to fill it with the sawdust of the wood.

So with a warm heart, I took a photo of it, my hard-working wood friend and fellow-servant-colleague. I estimate that, if I count the yearly rings rightly, it was perhaps some 33 years old when cut from the forests. This noble slab of red ash with the bottom supporting structure and four drawers (that slide so gracefully without metal or whatever makes drawers move today—surely not Ikea) of Guatemalan mahogany, it has stood the test of time, traveled far and wide, following its owner in humble submission.

As I contemplate it, I see many things resting on it this evening: my Ott lamp, supposedly saving my eyes; my great world globe, a gift of my family last Christmas; some of Phaedra’s unique Celtic cross cards, soon to be used with the gift of some of her encaustics; my newish Mac, a replacement last month of the new lemon I purchased Mac (or do you call it an Apple?) a year ago–stacked on some books, rather precariously; a glass with the remnants of some soda water mixed with weak sangria; my now-empty espresso cup and saucer, the afternoon treat of some wonderful Costa Rican mild coffee; a little blue rubber globe to exercise my trigger finger on the right hand—but I think this actually  gravitates it; a couple of sticky notes telling me what the priorities of today are, and now they graciously slide to tomorrow’s list; a file folder under the cards, holding the Power Point and notes from the webinar I just gave today on “Sorrow and Blood” to the Missio Nexus great commission network; a stack of “financial” items I must deal with some day; a shelf of files, books and other stuff that I am supposedly reading; a stack next to it with the same intention; and barely seen, three of the Ender’s Game series; my wallet and VW car keys, two priority possessions; a couple of stacks on the right, one concealing some South African coffee, the other with a ESV Study Bible open to the take-no-prisoners little epistle-book of Jude, and a mailer I must put in the post tomorrow with my 40 year old bullwhip, asking my new friend John Stem who is making the new one to see if he can repair this even if it’s too short but I can use it to teach the skills to my grandsons—these traditions must be passed through the generations, right?; and under it all, beautiful, natural red-tinted wood that I love to touch, to slowly run my hand over its delicate veins and textures, the top smooth and the underside rough, like it came from the lumber yard that day so many years ago in the middle of the Guatemalan rainy season.

Ah, if the wood could speak, what would it say, having recorded the conversations, and listened into the prayers, and the silent thoughts spoken into the cosmic arenas of the Triune God in a number of countries—Guatemala, her home country; the Northern Tundra’s of the USA; the hidden midlands of Arkansas; the Republic of Texas—probably her burial place or we put it in the will to pass to another generation? Who would want her? Ah, they will compete for her, I know!!

Speak, desk, for your owner is ready to listen.  I am quiet.  It is night. Winter has finally arrived in central Texas. Are you an it, or a her?  Hmmmm, these are metaphysical questions of ontology and epistemology, and perhaps a solid dash of axiology—ethics and art.

It’s late. These musings must come to an end. And they do!

The two of us in my SETECA office, Guatemala, 1982

Nov 8 / Bill

Broader strokes of the brush on the “Sorrow and Blood” canvas


Detail of astonishing painting in Glocuester Cathedral, England

November 8, 2013

Good global friends,

Here are some good news pieces on the book. We are amazed that it is the 3rd best seller for William Carey Library (after the two Perspectives texts).  For more information, go to

Monument to Rowland Taylor, one of the "Bloody Mary" English martyr, 1555

Christian Post had asked me for an interview early in 2013, and I was finally able to complete it about ten days ago.

The last issue of Mission Frontiers has a four-page interview also which I will post separately.

On November 14 I will do a webinar with Missio Nexus, the North American Great Commission network on our book. Our fellow writer, Marv Newell is the host of those striking conversations and he expects “80-100 computers” on line.  We shall see, but thank you for your prayer.

Continue to pray for the distribution AND reading of the book. We are in process of the translation-adaptation into Spanish, Portuguese and Korean.

Thank you again for your vital contribution to this unique resource anthology.  Please feel free to circulate this email and the news items.



Oct 14 / Bill

Part two: Surprised by the bargain with God—the back story of the church-based study course “Misiones Mundiales

Part two: Surprised by the bargain with God and with more family life to narrate the real and parallel story of my most intimate community.                      

Ha! Was I ever surprised after my bargaining with the Almighty!

Before we had even returned to Guatemala 8 months after that fateful November 8, 1982, SETECA had agreed to establish a new Missiological Center. Well, at least five hurdles to go. The first (yes, the very first) weekend back at our church, El Camino, Dr. Abel Morales, lead elder of our church (who later would leave his medical practice to study world missions at DTS and return to teach at SETECA), welcomed all of us with a massive hug and then said to me, “OK, Guillermo, in your absence the Spirit has been working to give us a heart for missions. Will you help us on the local church level?”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh……………!  I started to get a bit nervous, but obviously I said “But of course!” And I joined a highly motivated small community of El Camino leaders who represented the demographics of the congregation—with much more faith than I.

Within weeks the seminary curriculum was changed to include the missions course, and God had already raised up a young mission enthusiast on the faculty, a former student of mine, Jorge Morales (who years later would leave Latin America with his family to serve as missionaries in Spain).

Then within months the lay leadership training program of SETECA, called CLASE (Curso Latinoamericano Sistemático de Extensión), asked me to craft a short, ten-lesson course on world missions for the local church.  Called “Misiones Mundiales”, my co-author was Dr. Eugenio Campos (who later got his DMin from TEDS in world missions). I adapted some of my TEDS course materials into Spanish, and Eugenio did the harder historical chapters.  The work-book was released in 1985.

Uhhhhhhhh.  Now four down; two to go. This was not what I had bargained for!

In 1984 SETECA held a world mission conference (in part responding to an undeniably clear work of the Spirit of God amongst the student body that had fully awakened to its potential and future role in the historical and global mission of God.  To be honest, the faculty and administration (and I in both) were late to the Holy Spirit on this one. In all fairness, we were not the only ones late, for the global mission movement in Africa, Asia, and Latin America had few European or North American mission advocates.

For strange reasons, the international mission force was marked by a high passion for evangelism within cultures or national geographies, but seldom traveled further out—geographically, culturally, linguistically. The speakers God used in that seminal conference included Drs. Bong Rin Ro of Korea, Tokunboh Adeyemo of Nigeria, David Hesselgrave of TEDS, Dr. Emilio Antonio Núñez and Norbert Schmidt of Germany. Ro and Adeyemo also spoke at our local church missions conference.  And the response was radical in both seminary and church.  God the Spirit had exploded our world before us.  It was an astonishing time to be alive in global mission.

I well remember at some point perhaps around 1980 that a young woman student had came to my office for counsel, sharing her heart’s dreams.  She was a dear heart, but not the strongest academic student at SETECA (actually she met her entrance pre-requisites as a graduate of a household appliance repair vocational school in El Salvador.  So she said, “Don Guillermo, the Lord has called me to be a cross-cultural missionary and I want your guidance.”  My guidance?  “Woman!”, I wanted to say, “there is no mission agency for you and I just don’t think this is the Spirit speaking to you.”  THAT’S what I said to myself, whereas to her I stated, “Dear sister, we must talk and pray about this. Perhaps it is a bit early to think this way?”  To which she responded, “When the Spirit calls, I must obey.”

Many years later my Brazilian-based friend and colleague, Barbara Burns, would share with me the story of Najua, a student of hers in the Antioch missionary training center—this would have been in the early 1980’s also.  Najua had a very “colorful” background as a street kid and out of that context had been radically saved, only to become a radical missionary to her former “people group”.  So in the class one day, Najua stated, “The Lord has called me to be a missionary in Albania.”  Barbara said, naturally, “But Najua, that is impossible.  Albania is the most violently Marxist anti-God country in the world.”  To which Najua responded, “But the Spirit has called me to Albania, and to Albania I shall go.”

It’s a long story that has been written down elsewhere, but later Najua served with a team of Brazilian missionaries “next door” to Albania for years, traveling clandestinely into the country, learning the language, running the gauntlet of secret police, and witnessing serious miracles of God. When the Iron Curtain collapsed, and in Albania it crashed down, she was one of the few Brazilian missionaries who already spoke Albanian. And they moved to Albania.

Update: I recently asked Barbara what Najua was up to now, and she write, “Najua is starting a Bible college in Albania. She never quits.”

OK, back to Guatemala. My experience with this lovely student left me dumbfounded.  And that was before we spent that trial year at TEDS.

Update on that student: she served for some 15 years in one of the worst war-torn areas of Guatemala amongst the Maya people, contextualized to the max, and became a sainted missionary woman. The last time I saw her she was now headed to North Africa.  Oh, the lessons God has taught me!











At some point, perhaps in late 1984 or early 1985, Wade Coggins and Theodore Williams, now President of World Evangelical Fellowship (as WEA was then called) made a second visit to Guatemala. Again, Theo’s impact and challenges at and beyond SETECA were profound.  He directly spoke to the Guatemalan leadership about starting their own, national mission agency, and about dreaming into the future for a Guatemala-based mission training program-center. And so it came to pass.

My goose was cooked!  In other words, I was stunned.  God had met his side of my “long-term bargain” within the first year of our supposedly-long return to Guatemala. I had no other option but to realize that our life in Guatemala was soon coming to an end, but I had no idea it would come so soon.  For it would be the summer of 1985 that we would say our permanent, multiple, tear-saturated farewells to Guatemala, to our church, to SETECA, to our friends, and significantly, to the new house we had constructed. The children would say farewell to their teachers at the marvelous Austrian-Guatemalan Institute and our church, Centro Bíblico El Camino. By that fall we would be living in the frozen tundras of the USA—again teaching at TEDS, again supposedly long-term.

Aug 31 / Bill

South Africa report and impressions

August 31, 2013


A Continent in a Cup of Strong

Good friends and global partners,

How can I bottle the majestic glory of Africa’s Victoria Falls in a cup?  No, I was not able to visit that magnificent world wonder but it remains a dream of mine.  However that analogy illustrates the challenge as I report on the two-week trip (July 24-August 9) to South Africa.

Old to New

The marvelous cataract rush of experience, emotions, thinking, preparation, speaking (16 times), face-to-face engagement, and personal mentoring was beyond expectation.

My incomparable hosts, Lydia and Adriaan, as we partake of an incredible meal

South Africa has powerfully impacted me each time I (alone or the two times with Yvonne) have visited that unique nation. Always at the top of my “preferred nations to visit”, this time I discerned again the favor of the living God upon South Africa. Its unique blend of the races, languages and peoples; its incredibly diverse geographies and ecospheres; its global buffet of food (including some of the hottest spices and unusual dishes in the world!); its tangible evidence of the Gospel of God and its power to transform; the irresistible work of the Spirit calling devoted South African Christians to radical mission—within its national peoples, needs, opportunities, and from there spiraling out to the continent of Africa and then to the world.

The Nation Maker--awaiting his Future--and a nation wonders


I was encouraged to hear of the “return of the exiles”, a turn-around of the exodus of citizens who post 1994 feared they would not have an opportunity-laden future, and hence left—for England, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, among many places.  They are returning, in spite of the challenges, and the difficulty of the racial quota system for university studies and careers.  A growing number of thoughtful Black South Africans is concluding that the reverse discrimination—affirmative action—does help them and they want to win on their own merits the right to study and work.

South African Peter Tarantal, OM leader, WEA MC Chair, Friend and Colleague

My assignments gave me a packed schedule, thanks to my dear friend Adriaan Adams (of Afrikaans background, married to the very gifted Lydia—daughter of my trusted senior colleagues, Willie and Lydia Crew).  I had spent months in preparation, knowing that I would be stretched.  Thankfully, upon arrival Adriaan told me that the four church speaking tasks had cancelled—to his chagrin and my gratitude!  I was grateful to stay in a quiet guest home where I could retire, refresh, try to sleep and breakfast.

So here were the assignments:

The Praying University of Pretoria Missions Week Team

1.  Meeting the Friday evening before the UP mission with their leadership team, sharing some of my journey, the ideas I had for the week as speaker, and then praying. What a remarkable group of students.  I am honored to know them.

2.  Serving as prime speaker five nights at the University of Pretoria annual missions fest.  The U.P has had a historically powerful role in the nation, and some 54 Christian student groups operate on campus—half of them church discipleship ministries. The World Mission Team is a student-led movement (great memories of my early-life-work with Inter-Varsity, another student-led movement).

Primo Mission Leaders, University of Pretoria

It was mid-winter, and cold; Tuesday evening I had five layers on my upper body, and students sat with blankets around them to keep warm. The worship team rocked, the dance and music teams were creative, the audience excited, and I knew deep in my bones that God was going to show up.  And He did!  I developed a five-part series with these following components to each talk:

  • A mission story, most from Africa, illustrating the arrival of the Gospel to Africa, or the price paid to follow this radical new Jesus.  The story then pointed to some key lessons.

David, Zimbabwe child immigrant, street kid, transformed young believer leader

  • An applied Biblical exposition—from Genesis 1-12 through Revelation, progressively revealing the eternal heart and passion of God for his creation, for the nations, for his called-out people and for his Gospel.

Worshipping and Interceding Students On the Line!

  • A series of five thoughtful questions that we must ask all faith and non-faith systems. Depending on their answer, we can determine which one points to the Eternal Truth of the Living God: the mystery of creation, the human personality, the brokenness (that “sickness unto death) of the human being, beauty and truth, and justice-injustice.
  • A clear set of take-homes for each night, building as the week went on.

The last night.  Just before dinner with the leadership team, they prayed for me. It was sweet, tender and powerful. I then anointed each with oil (I travel with oil for these cases as they emerge), and asked them to set sentinels on the perimeter of the ampitheatre during the entire 2 hours of the final service.  I was deeply stirred as I spoke, witnessing these young sentinel believers, interceding for their fellow students called to radical discipleship and decision.  I know they stood alongside the invisible perimeter of God’s angels, defending against the attacks of the enemy and calling on God to reveal himself.

Veteran leaders

Southern Africa Emerging Leadership Cream

Jeanet Sibanda, key South African Younger Mission Leader

3.  Engaging with a small team of younger and emerging South African mission leaders as they considered the challenges before them as a generation, engaging and providing mission leadership.  I spoke twice, but it was more just being present, knowing God was doing new things. Adriaan led the sessions, convened by WENSA (the South African mission network) and MANI (the African mission network).


4.  Speaking to church and mission leaders on “Sorrow and Blood: Christian Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom”.  I had taken about 40 copies of the book and all were soon sold.

Sorrow and Blood in South Africa

5.  Speaking in three extended sessions with younger and emerging mission leaders in South Africa. Some of them were members of Adriaan’s team at the FTLT, others were students, others from Operation Mobilization SA, others in various vocations, all thoughtful and committed.  My assignment, thanks to Adriaan, was “If you had known when you were 25 what you know now, what would you have done differently?”.  Hmmmmmmmm.  That’s an interesting spin on my personal history, and it required that I return and review life to see what I would have done.  There were some lessons that could only be learned through experience, simply through maturing, through learning from mistakes.

Mission Commission SA Communications Team, + 1

But with the perspective of hindsight, I could tell them things to avoid to look out for, and to incorporate early on.  Some of these lessons were personal or related to marriage; but others were more theological and ecclesiological.

6.  Investing one-on-one, or one-on-two, or one-on-five, those more intimate interactions of life-on-life, of shaping and mentoring.

Jaco and Nadine--growing depth of relationship

This probably was my prime purpose in going to SA, and I was thankful upon departure that God had met me, had met us.  It is so clear to me that the hand of God is strongly on some of my younger friends, and I am eager to walk parallel and alongside them as they-we discover and embrace the future.

Brumilde and Hendré--choice and gifted servants, on Adriaan and Lydia's team

Whilst in SA I also discovered that God was opening a new dimension to TGC, and that was the creation of a category “TGC Associates”, key individuals invited into a more direct relationship with me under the purposes of TGC—to mentor, to shape, to build, to reproduce.  I am certain that God will provide the further wisdom and financial resources to make this happen. Already one case study has emerged and I want to walk into this unique opportunity.

Select Friends All

The final full two days were spent with Lydia and Willie Crew, my dear, long-term SA friends.  Nobody has been as generous to us as they have, in the sharing of personal resources and time, in the opening of doors for SA ministry, in the privilege of filming in 2000 a series of lectures that have become part of the “Live School” curriculum—now in English, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Swahili & Korean.  The near future includes French, Portuguese & Spanish.  Example: some years ago a former colleague from Guatemala ministry years wrote me from the Ukraine, telling me that as he entered this small church, he found me teaching in Russian!!!!!  This Live School is a grass-roots but sophisticated program of mission training focused on the less-reached peoples of the world.

I returned exhausted but profoundly satisfied that I was doing what God wanted me to do, that I was in his place of blessing, that I received much more than I gave.

Tangibles taken home from South Africa 2013

With deep appreciation to each of you, and especially to my South African sisters and brothers.



Aug 16 / Bill

On truthful reporting from Egypt, a word from SAT-7

August 16, 2013

Good friends and global colleagues,

Today I was geared up to continue the reflections on “Misiones Mundiales”, with the parallel growth of the mission movement in Latin America and in my own understanding.

The dominating narrative, a Muslim Brotherhood protestor symbol

But clearly, this is the word to share today, from perhaps the most respectful Christian media ministry serving the Middle East, SAT-7.

That Western media and so many governments have simply swallowed up the Muslim Brotherhood narrative is profoundly disturbing, and makes one wonder where historic common sense has disappeared to.  My own government has no idea what to say, much less do, and constantly spins the news for the sake of self-preservation…..and other agendas.

More of dominating narrative

Have we heard the story of the young Jessica Boulous, 10, was killed last Tuesday in Cairo after attending a class at the Ahmed Esmat Street Evangelical Church?

Jessica-Boulous, courtesy of Boulous family

Read more:

And in the last two days the number of churches, Christian centers, residences and believers attacked is unprecedented.

Coptic church destroyed, the look of dismay, but of hope


All we can ask is that we pray thoughtfully and with godly aggressiveness!!



For immediate Release

Understanding the present situation in Egypt
Dr Terence Ascott, CEO and Founder, SAT-7 International

Nicosia, Cyprus – 16th August 2013

Many of us involved in Christian ministry in Egypt are appalled at the misunderstandings about the situation in Egypt being propagated by even normally balanced international media like the BBC, and the way it has, in general, portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as the victims of injustice.

So, on behalf of myself, Ramez Atallah (General Secretary for The Bible Society of Egypt), Pastor Fayez Ishaq (part of the leadership team at Kasr El Dubarrah Evangelical Church), other ministry leaders in Egypt and the leadership of Middle East Concern, please allow me to paint a bigger picture of what has been going on the past year or so:

Yes, former President Morsi was elected “democratically” in June 2012, but only by the slimmest of majorities, and only 13 million people (out of a total population of 83 million) voted for Morsi at all. And yet he took this as a mandate to do as he wanted, with awinner-takes-all attitude. His new government was not inclusive and he quickly appointed former Muslim Brotherhood leaders (some with previous convictions for violence or incitement to violence) to serve as regional Governors or government Ministers. In November 2012, he illegally gave himself new sweeping powers to act without censure, and rushed through a new pro-Islamic constitution despite the protests and boycotts from liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians, and then he refused to call for new elections – as had previously been agreed to do after a new constitution had been adopted.

And, of course, the economy was very poorly managed by the new Ministers, whose only apparent qualification for office was the fact that they were Muslim Brotherhood loyalists. By the end of 2012 the country’s infrastructure had begun to fall apart, electricity and fuel supplies became unreliable, prices for basic commodities soared and Egypt struggled to get much needed international financing.

By the 30th June 2013, on the first anniversary of Morsi’s election to office, the Egyptian people had had enough! Perhaps as many as 30 million people came out to demonstrate against Morsi continuing in office – this included many who had voted for Morsi a year before and, even if the figure of 30 million cannot be independently verified, it is clear that the number of people on the street was far more than the number of people who had ever voted for Morsi. But, unlike the President of any normal democracy, he refused to go, or even seek a renewed mandate through new elections – confirming to many that the Muslim Brotherhood were just using the new democracy in Egypt to establish a theocracy.

In a situation like this, the last line of defence for democracy is the army. They alone have the power to re-start the democratic process and, by (very) popular demand and with due notice, the army did step in and remove the former President – to the absolute delight and relief of MOST Egyptians!

In the past 6 weeks the Muslim Brotherhood has occupied a number of public spaces, to demonstrate for the reinstatement of the former President (currently being held by the army and facing charges related to abuse of power, including substantial material and intelligence support to Hamas). Unlike the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square by demonstrators in January 2011, and again at the end of June 2013, these Muslim Brotherhood occupations were dominated by calls for violence against the army, the police, the liberals and, specifically, the Coptic Christians in Egypt – all resulting in the violence witnessed on 14th August, when police stations, hospitals, private and public property were destroyed. Many Christian churches (at least 40 so far), homes and businesses were also attacked, as well as a monastery, three religious societies, three key bookshops belonging to the Bible Society in Egypt, three Christian schools and an orphanage.

The Coptic Orthodox Pope, HH Tawadrous II made a statement about the attacks on churches this week, saying that “this had been expected and, as Egyptians and Christians, we are considering ourchurch buildings as a sacrifice to be made for our beloved Egypt”. Other church leaders have made similar statements, stressing that church buildings don’t make the Church but the church is the Body of Christ, made of people who have their faith in Him, and that is getting stronger as it passes through these challenging times.

It is also important and encouraging to note that some Muslims went to protect churches and that, in return, many Christians then sent messages to their fellow Muslim citizens saying, “buildings can be rebuilt again, but you are priceless, so stay safe, and don’t worry about the churches”. And the Egyptian government also announced yesterday that the State would take the financial responsibility for the rebuilding of damaged churches.

The Muslim Brotherhood have been, and remain very effective in portraying themselves as the victims to the media, pointing to how Morsi had been “democratically” elected and that the army “coup” was a major setback to the country’s democratic progress. They have known what buttons to push with the Western press and this seems to be the version that most of the World is hearing – but it is not a version of truth that resonates with the vast majority of Egyptians.

And, while the loss of life these past few days has been most regrettable it has not only been Muslim Brotherhood supporters that have died, and there has been scant reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to destabilise Egypt, its calls for violence against the government and its supporters; and there has been a total lack of reporting concerning weapons that the Brotherhood had in the camps and used against the army as it sought to dismantle the sit-ins.

In closing, can I ask for your prayers for this important country – the largest in the Arab World, with the largest Christian Community in the Middle East. Please pray that:

·       The current violence will end soon
·       The effective rule of law and order will be re-established for the benefit of all citizens
·       There will be effective protection of church and other property against attacks by extremists
·       Egypt will be governed for the benefit of all its citizens, with people of different persuasions able to live alongside one another peaceably
·       Egyptian Christians will have opportunity to play an increasingly prominent and effective role in addressing the needs of all Egyptians and helping to bring healing and reconciliation in the country

Jul 15 / Bill

Surprised by the global-hearted Spirit of God

Part one: birthed anew, Spanish, church-based study course “Misiones Mundiales”, and in addition a few notes on our family pilgrimage                               July 15, 2013

Last month I received notice, and photos, of the release of the workbook on missions that I had first co-written in 1984.  My then-co-author was my friend and colleague, Dr. Eugenio Campos, Nicaraguan born missions teacher at Seminario Teológico Centroamericano in Guatemala.

This small missions handbook was produced in the last months of our 17 years in Guatemala, and was a kind of a departing “gift” from me to the Spanish-speaking world.

However, there is a very significant back-story that returns to two key dates, one remembered only by the year, 1981, and the other one a very specific date, November 8, 1982 (strange how I can remember some dates, but not all of them are as momentous as this one). My long-term mentor, friend and colleague, Dr. Emilio Antonio Núñez, had begun to circulate in broader international arenas, and through the World Evangelical Fellowship (of which I knew nothing at that time and never in my wildest dreams would I have considered that I would have spent so many years with this global network) had met mission leaders from Africa and Asia. He invited two of them to visit us in Guatemala and challenge us beyond our borders: Dr. Theodore Williams of India came with Dr. Wade Coggins, at that time head of the USA EFMA mission network.  Later I discovered that both were also leaders of the WEA Mission Commission. Both Wade and Theodore would become dear friends and mentors to me in my early years of service in the WEA Mission Commission starting in July, 1986. (Both of them have passed into the Other and True World now).  In 1981 Wade (a former missionary in South America with the Christian and Missionary Alliance) came primarily as Theodore’s translator but also as an “interpreter” of what God was doing in the world.

From Theo (as we later called him with affection) we in the SETECA community first heard of what was then called “Third World Missions”. His compelling stories came from the emerging mission vision and force out of India and the broader contexts of Asia and Africa.  Theo’s message was simple: the fullness of the global Great Commission is for all of the church in all times and around the entire world of peoples, cities and nations.  I honestly don’t think I had never heard of that before, and at the time it did not resonate in my heart and mind.

But it would explode in the Fall of 1982.

The November ’82 date marks the point when I was teaching an “Introduction to World Missions” class at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.  The 1982-1983 year was really a trial to see whether we would sense the Lord’s direction to teach full-time and long-term at TEDS. But it was exactly on that date, one day after my birthday (perhaps the clue as to how I could remember the date) that the class topic was “Third-World Missions”(now called “Global South mission”).  I so remember quoting the statistics that had begun documenting the growth of the mission movement from Asia, Latin America and Africa, from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s.

As I exulted in class over what God had been doing around the world, the crushing blow hit me and I am convinced the Holy Spirit spoke to me: “But Bill, neither you nor your colleagues in Latin America and at SETECA have done anything to contribute to this movement of mine.” I believe it is Henri Nouwen that once wrote (a loose quote), “Some times the most significant thing that happens when the preacher preaches is that he is converted by his preaching.”  And that certainly happened to me that November.

I actually did not know what to do, other than to return and report my encounter with the Lord to the family. We were ensconced that year (and the very same place from 1985-1986) in a very small two bedroom efficiency TEDS campus apartment (where in February we had ¼ “ of ice on the INSIDE of our windows.  But we were also surrounded by, and suffered together with, international students and their children, godly servants from Asia and Africa who had traveled to TEDS for advanced study. So that wee apartment had become a doorway to heaven in so many ways, and some of those friendships flourish to this day.

As I reported my experience to Yvonne and the kids, the outcome was clear, “We are returning to Guatemala.”  The small living room reverberated with cheers and happiness, because we all really wanted to go back.

HOWEVER, over the subsequent weeks I had made a deal with God (before having to tell the TEDS dean that we were returning home), and in essence bargained with the Spirit:  I would leave Latin America permanently but only on condition, that six changes would have to take place.

First, that SETECA’s leadership would establish a Missiological Center to serve as a holy and passionate advocate for God’s heart for the entire globe.

Second, that the school would change the curriculum to include world missions classes.

Third, that a Latin American faculty colleague would co-write a small work book on world missions for the Spanish-speaking local churches around the world.

Fourth, that our church, Centro Bíblico el Camino would grow a heart for cross-cultural mission, starting in Guatemala but extending to the world.

Fifth (and now I was getting into really high caliber territory) that we would see the first Guatemala-born and driven mission agency.

And sixth, that we would see the beginnings of a parallel missionary training center in Guatemala.

Ha! I just knew that this deal with the Almighty would guarantee us another ten years of service, life, growth, enjoyment of our new home and happiness in Guatemala.