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Aug 3 / Bill

Reflections on writing

Reflections on writing

Mulling over how to write something at a candlelight meal at Magdalene College, Cambridge

August 3, 2010

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, the Spirit’s “re-naming” of me started last November at the international ETHNE ( network gatherings in Bogotá, Colombia. One night during that consultation—celebrated in both Spanish and  English—I sensed the Spirit’s whisperings: “Your life is changing… and your strong role will be to mentor and write”. The next day, the word was. “This change will begin in your 70th year…and you are in it already.”

Back home I dialogued with Yvonne about these two words, and then early in January as I put the 2010 itinerary together it became clear that, for the first time in 24 years, my commitments were about 50% of the “normal” travel for the previous 23 years. Yvonne challenged me to be quiet for a season, to listen to the Spirit, and to ponder what I was hearing.  The confirmation came the following week as I dialogued with five international colleagues, sharing the calendar changes, and all five said something like, “Bill, your life is changing…..and you must mentor and write.”

So let me talk about writing right now.

IVP book signing at Urbana student mission convention, December 2009

I wrote in the first posting on this blog that I wanted to address some of these issues:

I want to reflect on both the inner and out landscape of life and ministry; about wisdom lessons; about the long journey towards God; about the seasons of a man’s life; about spiritual formation; about prophetic words for mission and the church; about the fullness of our Lord’s transforming commissions and commandments; about some of the controversial issues of mission; about younger and older leaders; about leadership transitions; about parenting and grand-parenting; about life in the latter stages of the Great Race; about finishing well; about authentic partnership in the global Gospel Cause; about what it means to listen, truly, to international voices of the people of God.

And this is the way things are unfolding………….

Last year, IV Press released Global Mission Handbook: A Guide for Crosscultural Service, IVP, 2009, which Steve Hoke and I co-authored. It was a massive re-design and re-write of our earlier book, Send Me! Your Journey to the Nations, (some 36,000 copies sold and still offered by William Carey Library). We designed it to answer the cluster of questions form those who sense some direct leading (‘calling”?) into longer-term cross-cultural service, or for those who have taken the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, or those who have attended an Urbana Student Mission Convention, or others who have a sense of leading-call into mission.

While there are many events, inspirational and motivational books out on missions, there is very little to bridge the gap, to help people prepare adequately, get to the field, persevere and finish well, regardless of geography or ministry.

The handbook is out and first major sales have taken place. Steve and I are now the ones doing most of the promotion, and actually, through my MC network of relationships we helped sell the first 3,500 copies.

Some gracious reviews have just come out, such as the one in Evangelical Mission Quarterly by our colleague, Dr. Doug McConnell of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies. We are looking for significant new sales paths to open, especially future missionaries, mission-minded churches, missionary training programs and mission agencies.

It is such great news to hear how my young South African friend, Adriaan Adams, is using the book in their ministry, Focus Team Leadership Training (, with university students on the path to cross-cultural mission.

And the event I speak at this October in Pretoria,

A batch of newer writing projects have come my way. They include:

First, a chapter entitled “Ethics and Accountability in the Mission Community” for the book on a similar title published by the Evangelical Missiological Society. This is the “second generation” product of a plenary I had given in September 2009 to North American mission leaders in Orlando, FL.

Second, editorial work to produce the marvelous, special “double-issue” of Connections on “Arts in Mission” that will be released in August.

It is finished, "Crucifixion series", Sandra Bowden

This is a stellar production; the cover is beautiful; the content is unique and powerful and global.

Third, both writing and editorial work on the major new book on Mission in Contexts of Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom, co-edited with Dr. Tonica van der Meer of Brazil and Reg Reimer, Canadian expert on persecution in SE Asia. Some may remember the Connections issue on this subject. This book is a massive project, with 85 articles by writers from 26 nations, and we plan to translate it into 7 languages. Some of the articles are now commissioned. I have just completed the final table of contents (after 15 different drafts).  We hope to release it in Spring of 2011.

Mission in contexts of suffering, persecution and martyrdom

Fourth, writing a series of articles this year for three journals (Mission Frontiers, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Evangelical Mission Quarterly).  Additionally, last week I completed a unique challenge, to translate David Ruíz’s (our Guatemalan long-term friend and MC staff colleague) closing plenary address for Lausanne (Cape Town, October, 2010). He wrote and will deliver his talk on partnership in Spanish but needed an official English version. My work serves as the basis for the translation into the other major congress languages. It frankly was a huge task!!

So the writing has taken off and requires much discipline, a focused mind, and a much better production schedule than is my norm.

Meanwhile I am in the UK from August 6-17, primarily participating in a “Global Mission Roundtable” held at historic All Nations Christian College just between London and Cambridge.

ANCC "Manor House" former Buxton residence

Yvonne and me at ANCC some years ago

My younger colleague and friend, Matt Fries, travels with me again, and we shall spend the weekend first in Cambridge, staying with Liz and Rupert Charkham. Rupert is vicar of the great Holy Trinity Cambridge Anglican church ( where Charles Simeon served from 1782-1936. The church dates from the 800’s.  It has been my privilege to speak in that church and I was surrounded by godly women and men who so impacted their nation, and the world through “The Cambridge Seven”

With Liz and Rupert in front of historic HT Cambridge

Mission history at HT Cambridge

Under Dr. Bertil Ekstrom’s leadership, the MC is facilitating this unique gathering of some 40 leaders of global mission task forces and networks, missional churches, national and regional mission movements, and a few others. We gather to listen to the Spirit and to each other, to sense the direction of the Spirit as we grapple with some key global mission issues, and as we discern now we can best cooperate into the future.

A last item on cross-cultural art, thanks to my friend Howard Morrison who pointed me to this web site. Enjoy and ponder….for you will see more of this marvelous series.

African Jesus healing, Vie de Jésus Mafa

More on that later and some near-future postings that take a look at mentoring.

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