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Aug 29 / Bill

The missional spiral—my global community; my local community

The missional spiral—my global community; my local community

August 29, 2010

This month has significantly juxtaposed my two worlds—the local and the global, hence the “glocal”.

Early August found me in England on a very specific assignment (with a lovely sidebar in Cambridge along with my colleague, Matt Fries, in a visit with our delightful friends, Rupert and Liz Charkham).

Rupert and Liz

I have written earlier about this trip in the previous posting. The Global Roundtable was facilitated by the Mission Commission and quietly held at All Nations campus north of London. The group of 40 from 17 nations met for 4 days to listen to each other (as we told our stories) and to the Spirit, to pray, and only then to begin considering some of the challenges of ministry in partnership as we engage the future. It was a remarkable time, building strong relationships based on vulnerability and ask the empowering presence of the Spirit to anoint us anew. It was my privilege to bring the first Bible reading, on the subject of “Being renamed” by the Lord for a new work. It came from my own experience, but clearly from Scripture (many re-namings there!) and from a sermon my son, David, preached at Hope Chapel earlier this year.

These women and men are my “faith, tribe, clan, family” for we share unique features core to the Christian faith, but we have all been globalized by God’s historic mission on earth. The staff team in particular are a family to me, and though we may differ strongly in many ways, we are family at the end of the day.

Global servants at work

Prayer and shared life marked the week. The UK days ended with the MC staff meeting to deal with some key issues as a team and ministry.

Global servants interceding

Friends and colleagues: Reuben Ezemadu (Nigeria) with Peter Tarantal (South Africa)

The All Nations Global Roundtable

It was great to share this time with Matt Fries, who attended the Roundtable on his own rights, as a growing global servant and also one who leads a small family foundation. We laughed together, prayed together, visited pubs (The Pickeral Inn, where C.S. Lewis had his pints with his colleagues), spent personal time with our hosts, the Charkhams, and walked all over Cambridge centre…followed by the week at All Nations.

You gotta hand it to those musicians--but is he shy?

Matt in memory of C.S. Lewis

I returned home August 16, grateful but frankly exhausted, struggling with a digestive problem (what, from the UK also!!!???) and jet lag. But it is always good to come home—to have a place called home; to return to my beloved wife of over 43 years with whom I am privileged to serve the living  Christ—locally and globally.

Then this past Wednesday my local community (a portion of it) met in my home for the last of 6 nights of meeting together. This group of 13 men mean so much to me. I started this kind of “community of men” last year, and I invite about a dozen Christ Church (our church in Austin, ( younger (a flex term) men to my home for 6 extended evenings—to tell our stories and pray for each other; to read and mull over Henri Nouwen’s book, “The Return of the Prodigal” and to conclude meditating over Rembrandt’s painting (probably his last painting before his death) of the same title. God met us in powerful ways. This summer my very good friend, Dr. Tim Harstad, shared the leadership with me.

The Eucharist at Christ Church

We wound up the summer community with final sharing (three impressions of the book; two take-homes from our sessions; one “this I shall do”). Tim shared from his excellent paper on transformational discipleship; Yvonne spoke on the “spiritual journey” and then played the piano—one of the first times she has played for a group in recent years. We ended the evening late (the last person leaving after 11 PM) but are profoundly grateful to God for the privilege of using our lives and our home for this purpose.

The Fourteen at our home (minus one on honeymoon)

My local spiritual community is Christ Church, an Evangelical Anglican church. Yvonne and I are so thankful to be part of this growing congregation—we have seen it grow in 4 years from about 50 to over 300. We see people with no faith come to faith; others with dormant faith come alive; others seeking something sacramental, liturgical, historic and huge (related to the global Evangelical Anglicans). And missiologically, the great blessing and irony is that we are under the spiritual leadership of the Anglican bishops of Rwanda. What a privilege!

Saturday evening Yvonne and I met with our church “Encore” group, the elders of our congregation–by age. We shared life and food together, we talked about our future as a group and prayed.  And today we worshipped in the fullness of the sense–rooted in Scripture, empowered by the Spirit, led into community and service.  All part of that local, grounded fellowship known as our local church.

The icing on the cake came with the personal commitments of this week—meeting Monday for a few hours with the missions pastor of a large Dallas church who needed wisdom in his challenging task; talking with the father (and grandfather) of some future missionaries headed to Africa who is frankly struggling with their decision; sharing life (and Chinese food) with my dear friend, Tom  Sánchez, missions pastor of a supporting church; Thursday AM (too early) with my local accountability group (deep friends in life and ministry) with two peers; lunching with a couple headed into long-term missions; and today having lunch with another long-term friend and member of our support team. And countless emails and some very thoughtful telephone calls.

This is part of the mentoring call of God upon my life—at a local level.

And in between, I finished my editorial work on the marvelous new issue of Connections: the Journal of the WEA Mission Commission, focusing on the vital subject of Arts in Mission. See this web site (to order a bunch of copies) for the beautiful cover and superb content—from both Global South and North. I am so thankful for the incredible investment by my gifted co-editors, Robin Harris (OM arts and ICE, the International Council of Ethnodoxologists– and John Franklin (Imago, Canada,

This is part of the writing call of God upon my life—at a global level

We are praying for significant sales and distribution of this unique journal. We are printing 1000 copies for the South Africa Lausanne Congress on world evangelization. John leads a seminar on arts in mission and I shall join him for those sessions. I am also on the congress staff as a result of my role on the international selection committee.

I so thank God for the way this month has integrated my two worlds—the local and the global—the “glocal”.  It is a high honor to serve both realms—in a marvelous missional spiral.

Cross-cultural Last Supper


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  1. Alex Araujo / Aug 31 2010

    Great to review the ANCC week through your eyes. It was great to have fellowship with you and the ‘tribe’.

  2. Bill / Sep 29 2010

    Yes, Alex, that was a remarkable week together. Something deep happened in many people. Bill

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