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Jun 16 / Bill

On the attrition of our longer-term mission force: Posting 1: Of stories and icebergs

June 16, 2017

Posting 1: Of stories and icebergs

A story

How can I forget that young missionary family in Latin America? He was a missionary kid who had returned to his beloved region with a younger wife and a little girl, and his wife expecting her second. He had dreamed since age 8 that he would be a missionary, and having made that decision, it turned around and shaped his own life. Her radical decisions were made as she finished high school, with the commitment “Anything, anywhere, any price”. When she fell in love with that guy, it meant for her truly leaving home and family, language and culture, the known for the unknown, the orderly for the disorderly. In some senses, she was the “true missionary” just on personal cost. All love.

Finally, for him, after three years of Bible school, a university degree, four years of seminary, and a term of staff ministry with Inter-Varsity, they were off “to the field”, to his “home and language”. Little did he know what he would encounter when his idealized expectations faced reality, or that his dreams would be torpedoed in their first term. Nothing that happened to them could have been found in the “small print of the life-contract” of mission service. He had never heard of the term, “toxic leader”. He had never experienced anything like that before, and from a former friend. Towards the end of the first term he was absolutely worn down, and on the cusp of throwing in the towel and facing a defeated return to his “passport culture” (certainly not his “home country”). He was on the precipice of failure and shattered dreams. Ironically his wife, with no cross-cultural experience, lived her life out of a calm center, focused on God’s character. He was neither calm nor focused anymore.

Late one night during the worst of that personal and vocational darkness, the doorbell rang. The political situation in that nation was delicate (an understatement as we lived under martial law with curfews). People were not out on the street after 10 PM. To his astonishment he found outside the barred gates of their home a greatly respected veteran mission leader who at that time lived in the USA. “What are you doing here in Guatemala? We had no idea you were coming here.” He simply stated, “I have come”, and said no more, refusing to explain his pithy statement. So into the house he came, kissed the wife, looked in on the sleeping little one, then sat down, and simply asked the young worker, “How are you doing?” The TCP husband broke down, and with his wife sitting alongside (she calm), told his painful story in tears. The veteran listened. He discerned the deeper cries. The couple was six months away from a two-year study leave. The veteran asked whether he could hold on that long. Yes, they thought they could.

The veteran spoke healing and promise. Gradually, new perspectives of hope came into focus. Humanly speaking, God used this man to “save” that young family from being an early case of crushing attrition. Saved by the unannounced random appearance of the mission society president, also known as a beloved visionary shepherd.

Of icebergs and attrition

We all know something about icebergs, those floating ice masses, broken off from glaciers, their largest portion under water, dangerously hidden from view. Missionary attrition reminds us of icebergs. We tend to see only the top-side visible evidence—i.e., missionaries who, for whatever reason, have permanently left cross-cultural service. During 1993-1997, it was my privilege to play a role in a 14-nation study of attrition through the leadership of the Mission Commission, World Evangelical Alliance. Following the research, in mid 1996, a select group was convened at All Nations Christian College in the UK, and in 1997 the book, Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition was released.

Our MC leadership team had been reminded again and again of the hidden dimensions of attrition—for example, the “real” reasons why missionaries leave, or the invisible culture of the mission society/agency that clearly affects attrition positively or negatively. We also suspected there were significant differences between what we called then the “Older Sending Countries” and the “Newer Sending Countries”. We would discover significant insights in the Korean study of first term workers. We developed new categories, such as “preventable attrition” and its counter, “unpreventable” or “painful” attrition.

In this series of posting

I want to engage some of my own reflections on missionary attritions. It will start with the introductory thoughts. We will define some key terms. We will summarize those 1996 findings again. We will visit the broader study on retention and best practices that we did a decade later under the team led by Rob Hay (most recently) of Redcliffe College and the 2013 key book, Worth Keeping: Global Perspectives on Best Practice in Missionary Retention.

The first strands of this series comes from my introduction and involvement in the watershed book, Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures for Missionary Attrition, which I edited and WCL published in 1996. But as I read and re-read that introduction, I realized that I had changed, the world had changed, and thus our writing to address these issues must change.

Another blog will reference the key people who have shaped my thinking on this topic. And I want to address how the entire set of categories and language of attrition has changed for today. We visit the issues for older-generation, mid-generation, younger-generation workers. We will examine how the global refugee migrations are affecting mission service, and the unique opportunity they offer to present compassion and justice, Gospel and Christian community, a true living out of the Nazareth Manifesto of Luke 4.

Why have I been mulling these issues over all my life? Well, my parents were cross-cultural workers, launched into Latin America in 1938. As I grew up I met other workers, saw them serve, and too many of them seemed (to a child) just to disappear. I never asked questions in those years. But I witnessed a lot. However, during the last 50 years I have pro-actively observed long-term cross-cultural workers come and go, but for many years I never asked the hard questions. I certainly was not aware of the underlying causes (unless they were really obvious to all). So my blog grapples with many case studies, personal observations, readings and the result of the two major WEA MC studies on attrition and retention.

A final personal note.

That young missionary of the first paragraphs? Yes, his name was Bill Taylor, married to Yvonne Christine DeAcutis Taylor. And the mission leader? His father, Dr. William H. Taylor, a visionary shepherd, a man of God. “I have come” has entered the legendary phrases of my life, and that was one of Dad’s preferred modes of speaking to me: short, pithy, unexplained aphorisms. He had NO idea of my brokenness in 1972, and to this day I have no idea why he made the trip to Guatemala. Had the Spirit spoken to him in a dream? Perhaps so.

Next post: probing deeper into attrition heart and reality

May 4 / Bill

Part two: Retaking the converged reflections narrative of change and mentors

May 4, 2017

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

So back to the reflections.

Thanks be to God, some five years ago Yvonne and I were led to start a wee ministry-non-profit entity called TGC, which would become the platform to carry us through approaching vocational transitions and into our own preferred future. The calling (life-long-term vocation) upon me now is to increase my role as mentor, to write (finally released to write my own stuff—with three books in separate crock pots, simmering), to consult, and to teach in seminaries as an adjunct prof (thanks be to God, that plate is rather full).  The gracious God opens doors.

One clear implication of this change calls 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: http://theglobalpilgrim.com/

My kids have been at me for some time to write down the stories of my life, and the stories I have told over the decades.  I am eager to engage that project.  I have a great section called “Sayings of my father”, who was great at dropping cryptic statements and never explaining them.  Great wisdom in these cryptic words, with a sample:

“Leave when people want you to stay instead of trying to stay when people want you to leave”

“Leave in a manner that they will invite you back”

“Never skimp on brakes and shoes”

“Your aunt (when she died) permanently changed her address”

“A washed car gets better mileage”

Huh? Why did he NEVER explain his sayings?

I do have the title of two chapters, say Ch. 36 and 37.  Chapter 36: “People I have met that I wished I had never met”.  And the content of that chapter is this: “That’s all I’m going to write about them”.  But Chapter 37: “What I learned from those people”.  Not that sounds like a fun, though delicate, task and you can guess why.

Further thoughts on my time with the MC—a vision, a dream

One central dream, though perhaps inchoate, drove me. Over the years it had been difficult even for me to understand my job (very difficult to explain even to friends, much more on an airplane), but it became a driving, intuitive vision: I longed for the Mission Community to become a global community of cross-cultural servants representing all sectors of leadership, ages, women and men. We would grow and hang together, we would learn from each other, we would stir and stimulate each other, we would become reflective practitioners in a world of extreme bi-furcated specialists.  We called it a community of reflective practitioners.  And while it was very challenging to accomplish, I gave it all I had for it to become a reality, at least in some senses.

The MC became much more, and I am so thankful to God for what it became under my friend and colleague, Bertil Ekstrom, and now under David Ruíz. http://mc.worldea.org/

And the organic chronos time reached its full kairos reality. So at midnight, December 31, 2016, the clock closed on my three decades of staff with the WEA MC. It was time. It was right. I had reflected on Acts 13:36 and Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch, where he roots the Great Story of Jesus Messiah in history, and references King David.

New International Version: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed”.

New Living Translation: ”This is not a reference to David, for after David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors, and his body decayed”.

English Standard Version: ”For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption”,

I had served the purposes of God for the MC in my own generation. Thanks be to God, I have not yet died, so there are new arenas, new frontiers, old dreams to envision anew and bring into reality.

So a formal farewell to my global colleagues in the MC’s different layers of leadership. Stay fresh! Keep your vows to God and your family. Stay young. Be curious. Question. Mentor (why is it that relatively few mission leaders mentor? This befuddles me) while you can. Love deeply and well. Finish well.

A personal note.  In February Yvonne and I participated in a unique study tour in Israel under the capable hands of Shoresh Tours, with a strong focus on the hebraic roots of our faith. From Dan to Be-er Sheva, from the Jordan to Caesaria Maritima, with our singular teaching-guide, Rev. David Pileggi, rector of Christ Church Anglican, Old Jerusalem, with 36 years in Israel and an MA from Hebrew University.

We continue learning, growing cutting new grooves in our brain. Glory!

Back to Dave.

It was my honor to sit at his side that March day in Ft. Myers. As the day went on and he came out from under the drugging of yet another procedure, his memory keen and sense of humor clear, we talked and reminisced. I had taken with me a Spanish Bible and hymnbook (the very old Christian Missionary Alliance translated-adapted one into Spanish that shaped Evangelical hymnology and liturgy—inside the back cover was a characteristic “Order of Service” which was flowed faithfully (slavishly?) all across Latin American in those decades into our own ministry in the 70’s and 80’s.

Dave and I started in 1967, and before leaving home I found the little Urbana 1967 “Missionary Hymns” hymnal (no praise songs in that era!). I left it with him. He in turn gave me one of his old Bibles, significantly a Spanish one (the old Scofield Spanish Study Bible—the first such work of its kind in Spanish and it shaped both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal streams in Scriptural study), with the notes of his having read that Bible three times. This is one of Dave’s spiritual disciplines that I have never been able to match! The Bible is now treasured in my office next to my father’s prophetic old shoes—memories of life well-lived.

Dave’s request was to read Psalm 46 and then 91 in Spanish. They naturally led into some hymns haltingly sung, some of them from the beloved Guatemalan song writer don Alfredo Colón of fame for his years spent at Christian radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. We prayed, laughed, talked. We shall see each other again, of that I am now sure. The geographic venue of that next gathering may vary, and that’s just fine.

Good news on Dave Howard’s health. The day I was present with him and Janet, March 23, was his last in the ICU, and the next day he was moved to a rehab center next door, and a week later home. It was a delight to chat with them some days later and we pray David is en route to full recovery.

Soon, The Global Pilgrim, aka El Vidente

Bill

 

 

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
unprepared,
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
Temptation,
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
them,
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.

Bill

 

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; http://frrme.org  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. https://giving.ag.org/Give/Details/1a1a0e13-612e-4d3d-94b2-80b231a7fac4.     ** 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.     ** www.iraqrescue.org.  

 

** 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryyb9LHkYXY

——————-

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

August 12, 2014

Friends,

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.

Blessings

Kurdish Christian Leader

———————

From the Evangelical Anglican Mission Networks

https://americananglican.org/current-news/brothers-sisters-slaughtered/?utm_source=Weekly+update+August+8%2C+2014&utm_campaign=august+8++2014&utm_medium=email

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.”

———————

From the MANHATTAN DECLARATION team:

 

 

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: www.iraqrescue.org.  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  https://www.google.com/search?q=iraq+crisis+images&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ve_vU47GI5WvyAT__oKQDw&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=1584&bih=890

2.  Christians in Iraq               https://www.google.com/search?        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?

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=6vDvU-yaCYH4yQSf34Bw&ved=0CB4QsAQ&biw=1584&bih=890&q=yazidi%20images#imgdii=_


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 http://www.sorrowandblood.com.

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.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/sorrow-blood-resource-anthology-chronicles-centuries-of-christian-suffering-persecution-and-martyrdom-107839/page2.html

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.

Soon,

Bill

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.

Bill