Pursuit of Percipience

the blog that nobody reads which I write to silence the voices in my head

Tag: missionary

Ten Things Your Missionary Will Not Tell You (Reblog)

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Having been a missionary myself for nearly a decade, I can relate to this article written by Joe Holman. Give it a read…..

Ten Things Your Missionary Will Not Tell You
Joe Holman

1. Sometimes, most of the time, living in another culture is hard.

Your missionary will talk about the joy of cross cultural missions and going into all the world. What they won’t tell you is that it isn’t fun most of the time. I was first exposed to this while on a short term trip to Ghana. I was invited to a missionary going away party. A nurse from Canada was returning to her home country after serving on the mission field….get this….for 40 years. She had come to Ghana as a 20 year old and was now going ‘home’. During the conversation I asked her how come she was saying that she was going, ‘home.’ If you have lived for all of your adult life, slightly over 40 years, in Ghana and only visited Canada every four years…then isn’t Ghana your home? She told me that no matter how incorporated you are into the culture, no matter how good your ministry, no matter how accepted that you are by the people…you are not one of ‘them’.

I have now been in Bolivia for 8 years. I am fluent and have a great ministry here. I love what I do. But I am not at home. I am not a Bolivian. I do not share their cultural history or family ties. When I go to someone’s home to celebrate a birthday or wedding, I am the white guy. I am the stranger. I am the foreigner. When they begin to laugh about family memories or tell stories about relatives, I just smile at the right time. I do not belong. When I go to ‘La Cancha’ our market place, children stare at me. I had a man visiting us from the States tell me when we were there, ‘This is weird, we are the only white people in sight.’

It gets old being a stranger. It is hard to not be in the group. It isn’t fun to always be noticed.

2. It is lonely and your friends and family from the States have forgotten you.

You won’t ever see this in a mission letter. We will tell stories of fun things and great times. We will be upbeat and happy and post photos of our family Christmas party.

You won’t have us posting videos of us crying or hear us complain about missing friends, but we do; and the harsh thing is that they do not miss us. When we were planing on going to the mission field, we interviewed 10 different missionary families. We talked to people who were single, married, married with kids, and older missionaries. I asked them a question: “What is the hardest part of being a missionary?” Their answer, all ten of them at separate occasions without any knowledge of what others had said replied, “Loneliness. After the first year people totally forget about you. Even your best friend now will not continue communicating with you.”

We decided to fight against this and using Facebook and social media, along with monthly communications and blogs, we knew that we would stay in touch with our friends. What surprised us was how quickly they did not want to stay in touch with us. Oh, we understand that their lives are busy and we have moved. The truth is, that understanding why something happens does not mean that it doesn’t hurt. This goes along with the first thing…not being part of the culture. We don’t feel like we have a home but we do feel like those from our previous home have forgotten us.

3. We are normal people.

People think that missionaries are some super christian. We are one step up from being a pastor, and if you are a missionary pastor then even the Apostle Paul envies your spirituality. You won’t be reading in a missionary letter, “This week I did not spend hardly any time in the Word, got mad at my wife, yelled at my children and was jealous after seeing photos on Facebook.” We won’t report that, but it is the truth. We are normal people seeking to honor Christ even though we are weak and fragile vessels. We sin, repent, sin, repent, and then repeat. We are like you.

4. We never have enough money but feel guilty asking for it.

Missionaries ask for money. We have to. We put it in terms like, ‘opportunity to support’, or ‘be part of the blessing’, or ‘looking for monthly partners’.

What we want to say is, “We are dying here! Please help us! We need money!!”

We can’t do that. We have to appear above money. We need to make it seem like money is something that we could probably use, but no big deal. We are walking by faith and trusting God to provide..that is what we need to display. You see, we don’t want it to seem like all we want from you is your money. It isn’t, but in all honesty we do need money. We need it for our family and for our ministry. We just hate asking for it, and you hate hearing it. So, we keep quiet or couch our needs in spiritual terms.

Another part of this is that we really struggle with being judgmental over money. This just happened this week. I posted a need for our ministry. We would like to purchase some additional dental equipment to help with our evangelistic dental ministry. We need $700. At the same time, a friend of ours in the States who sings occasionally at coffee houses posted that he wanted to raise $4,000 to make a CD. We had $210 donated. He received $4,300. Really? I am not saying that he should not do this nor that it was wrong for him to raise money for it, but really? He got $4,300 to experiment with a CD and we could not raise $700 to help the poor hear about Jesus through dental missions. Really?

5. We feel like our children are getting shortchanged by our choice.

You will see cool pictures in my newsletters of my children helping do outreach, being in the jungle, washing orphans, or having a monkey on their shoulder. It all looks so cool. But the truth is, we feel like our kids are suffering because of us. This is compounded by Facebook. Just this week I have seen photos of kids playing football, music lessons, dance, debate, camps, concerts, movies, lock-ins and taking college classes at the community college while in high school. My kids do nothing like that. I know that I can post all the cool things that my kids do, but I simply cannot compete with the options that you have. I find myself fighting jealousy, envying and coveting.

6. I took a great vacation but I cannot tell anyone.

One of the neat things about social media is how we can share our lives with others. Pastors can go on cruises. Friends can go to some wonderful island. Family can travel Europe. They can all brag about their time and post photos on Facebook and social media sharing their joy.

We can save up money. Live on a budget. Spend less than we make. The, after five years of frugality take a much needed vacation. What do we hear? “I should be a missionary, then I could take cool vacations.” Or, “Is that where my donations go?”

Real example. My father passed away and after the initial burial and settling of the estate, I found myself with $19,000 of unplanned income. We prayed about it, and decided to tell the kids that grandpa wanted to bless them. So, with MY INHERITANCE, while we were in the States on a planned furlough, we rented a home outside of Disneyworld and after vacationing there took the whole family on a cruise. We received several snide comments and one donor quit giving to our ministry.

My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year. We did something really fun to celebrate. Here is what we did. We told our kids, “This is on the downlo. Do not say anything about it to your friends and do not put anything on Facebook. We don’t want anyone judging us.”

How stinky is that? You can share your joy, we feel like we have to hide ours or people will think and/or say that we are somehow taking advantage of our donors. We would love to post photos of our fun and have you just say something nice…but we can’t.

7. We hate being judged by a standard that our judges do not follow.

Every missionary that reads this will scream “Amen!”, When we meet with mission committees, churches, sending groups and donors they always ask us very specific questions. I have NO problem with that. What drives me bonkers is when someone NOT doing what I AM DOING judges me because they don’t think that I am doing enough of what they are not doing.

The best example of this is when you meet with a missions committee and they ask us about our evangelism. I share how, this year alone, we have shared the gospel with over 2,000 people (true story) outside of the church walls and have baptized 35 adults. The committee talks a little and then says something like, “We are concerned about the follow up of the converts and why so few have been baptized. We would also like to hear more about your evangelistic endeavors. What do you do and how do you do it?” Then, after sharing what you do and how you do it, they have critical comments and corrections about methodology.

The problem is this. The church that this mission committee is a part of hasn’t baptized 35 adults in the last 10 years and does not have a single planned evangelistic event on their church calendar. I often want to say, “We have baptized 35 adults and shared Christ with over 2,000 people…what have you done?” , or, “That is a great idea on evangelism, help me put some flesh on it. How did you guys implement this in your church?’ or, “What do you do for follow up after your community evangelistic event?” I can’t, but I really want to. It is honestly difficult to listen to armchair quarterbacks who have never suited up critique the game that I am participating in.

Another example of this is how people who are doing nothing to help the poor criticize us for how we help the poor. They tell us what we should do, what we should not do, how and when and to whom we should do it. They tell us of the latest book that they have read and/or the latest sermon that they heard. They do nothing themselves, but they know exactly what we should do and if we don’t do it their way, then the threat of cutting support is dangling over our head.

If someone who is actually doing the ministry has advice, input or corrections then it is infinitely easier to accept. It is when we are told what to do by someone not doing anything that we have to constantly check our hearts and put a guard on our lips.

8. Saying good-bye stinks…and it is not the same in the States.

This happens to missionaries our age. Our lives become one of a constant good-bye. We are saying good-bye to fellow missionaries leaving for the States. We have to say good-bye to our children. Denise and I now have four kids living in the USA while we remain in Bolivia. When we visit for furlough and see grandpa and grandma, we have to say good-bye again to go back to the field. It stinks.

I was invited to speak at a mission conference in the States. The church was a little over an hour from where my 24 year old son lives, so he drove down to see me. After I preached, I went to my mission table in the hall and was chatting with people, passing out prayer cards, shaking hands, etc. My son and his girlfriend came to say hi, and after a few minutes my son hugged me and said, “Love you Dad, see you in….what…two years or three?”

I started crying and people graciously walked away form my table. I realized that I was not going to see him again for at least two years. This week, three days ago, my wife took my 19 year old to start college in the States. She called me from her hotel room weeping and said, “It doesn’t get easier. I hate this! I hate this!”

Now here is where the second part of my point comes in to play. Friend will say, with totally god intentions, “I understand, my son left for college this week also.”

It is not the same thing! Your son/daughter can come home for the holidays and on school breaks. They may be able to snag a $100 ticket and bop in for a three day weekend. At the most they are a quick flight or short drive away. We live on another stinking continent. When we say goodbye, it isn’t “See you on break”. It is “See you for a few days in three years.” My son Jacob moved to the States and was living on his own. He had not been there long and called us and after talking I let him know that he needed to go to the hospital because I thought that he had appendicitis. At the hospital he let us know that it was, and they were doing an emergency surgery.

It took my wife three days to get there. She could not hop on a plane and be there before he left the hospital. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I knew that when the phone call came telling his children to come say their good-byes, that I would not be able to be there. I knew that I would miss his last words, not be able to minister to my family and probably not be able to attend the funeral. It is not the same thing as living in the States. It isn’t.

I would say that out of all the negatives to living on the mission field, this is the worse one. Saying good-bye.

9. Going to the States [or, my home country] is hard.

You would think that returning home on furlough is wonderful. Every missionary looks forward to it. It is the focus of the year that it is going to happen.

That is partly true. However there are two things that your missionary will not tell you. One you probably already know. Logistically it is difficult. Most missionaries don’t have a place to live, a car to drive or a plate to eat off of. All those things that we need in everyday life, from pillow cases to car seats, we do not have. We have to find short term solutions and we HATE borrowing stuff. We also do not want to live in your basement. We want to be a family with our own privacy and family time.

We also want to visit and spend time with our donors and churches, but making that happen is so hard when we have donors in 12 different states. It isn’t cost feasible to spend $1,200 to visit a church in Arkansas that gives you $25/month. But you want to and think that you should. The logistics make home assignment difficult.

The second thing that you probably do not know is that it is hard emotionally. Why? Because we discover that we have changed and that you no longer really want to be around us. I wrote about this one time. Let me summarize that blog here. A man from the land of Blue became a missionary to the people of Yellow. He struggled because he was a Blue man among Yellow people. However, after a while he began to truly understand their culture and become partly assimilated. One day he looked in the mirror and saw that he was no longer Blue, he was now Green. It made being in the land of Yellow easier. Then, after many years, he returns to the land of Blue. To his dismay, no one there in his homeland of Blue wants to be with him because, well because he was a Green person in the land of Blue.

After being on the mission field you are a different person. People perceive you differently. Even people who were friends are no longer friends. They have grown without you. They have had different experiences without you. You are no longer ‘one of them’. When you return, people want to shake your hand and say that they missed you, but they don’t want to be with you. They are also worried that you are going to ask them for money. We actually asked a person out for dinner, a person who had been a friend before going to the mission field. Their response was, “We don’t have any money to give you.” They REALLY said that!

After being in my home church, where I had been a pastor, and was now feeling ostracized, I shared my feelings with a staff member of the church. He told me that he knew why people avoided us. I asked him what it was. He said, “You intimidate people. Not by what you say, or what you do, but by who you are. We look at you and your choice and we feel guilty for being materialist. It is easier to avoid you than it is to repent of our love of money.”

I don’t know if that is the reason or not, but missionaries feel unwanted. We may think that you appreciate us, and we really are grateful for your financial support, but we feel like you don’t want to be our friend.

10. I constantly feel like I have to prove myself to you.

You, whether an individual or a church, give us money. You support our ministry. Like it or not, I now feel like I have to justify to you that giving us money is good. I have to prove myself and my ministry over and over again. My newsletters are not to let you know what we are doing..they are far more than that. They are items that I am entering into evidence as proof that you are making a good investment. And….if a period of time goes by where we don’t really have anything BIG to report….we feel like a failure and live in the fear of you giving your money to someone who deserves it.

Often we don’t feel like we are on the same team as you. We feel like you are our boss and it is time for the annual performance evaluation….and this year someone has to be let go. We are tempted to pad our resume and make it look better than it is. Instead of saying that we go to church, we say, “We are actively engaged in a local congregation”. We don’t say that we buy our fruit from the same seller every week, no, “we are building intentional relationships with those in the marketplace”. We may lead a Bible study but we call it, “engaging in a mentoring relationship with young married couples.” Look at what I just told you. I buy fruit each week, go to church and lead a Bible study. That does not sound worth supporting does it? I mean, you do that. But if I am building intentional relationships while mentoring young married couples as I am actively engaged in a local congregation…then maybe you will think better of me.

So, we say things that make us sound better, holier, busier than we are. We can’t say that we are living in the culture and doing what we can to promote Christ but it is difficult and we really don’t have much fruit to show you this year. That is because of numbers 4 and 7 above. We need money and you are judging our worth…and your evaluation will determine our money. This may not be true, but it is how we feel. We feel like we have to constantly show you that giving to our ministry is a great idea and you should keep it up. It produces a lot of pressure and emotional stress.

Read the original article here.

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White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions Revisited

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Life through the eyes of a SJW

What do you get when you combine feminism, leftism, and missions? You get the website: A Life Overseas. Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh there. There are some good articles on the site. It’s kind of like the Woman’s World of missionary blog sites. They do, however, give voice to what I think are some fairly stupid viewpoints.

There was once an article posted on the site which inspired me to write this: White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions. The Life Overseas article was written by a woman who was deeply offended when she discovered an Asian missionary to not be really Asian at all. The reason she thought he was Asian was because he used a pseudonym for security reasons. She had high respect for that missionary and his teachings. That is, until she found out he was a white male. Oh the humanity!

I criticized that article outright and called it for what it was: racist. The article was removed because, as this woman exposed the white man for not being an Asian man, she also compromised his security. Here is an excerpt from that article…

If you are an overseas worker in a certain East Asian country, you will have probably heard of [evil white missionary]. He is a theologian and missiologist who writes and blogs about contextualization. Many people I know read his articles, and as an Asian person myself, I was pleased that people were paying attention to an Asian perspective. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that…

[Evil white missionary] was actually a white man.

When I found out, I was shocked, but my shock quickly turned to irritation and my irritation to indignity.

Why is a white man posing as an Asian, and speaking as an expert on Asian issues?

And why does the Western church profess to grasp the inner workings of faith within a culture that is not its own?

Cultural Appropriation?

You can read my other article to see how I feel about “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation”.

But now, a new article has been posted on A Life Overseas written by the same author. And I think it might even be more stupid than the first one.

The author, calling herself Grace Lee, is now claiming the entire western missionary movement is racist. Her evidence: her hurt feelings.

Here’s an excerpt…

Something is rotten in the state of Western missions when the very communities that are meant to proclaim God’s inclusiveness seem to make people of color feel other and less than.

And another…

There was that time I heard about an all-expense paid retreat for women on the field. Excited about the possibility of a fun and relaxing trip away, I found the promotional video online and eagerly watched it. But my heart sank as the video only featured frame after frame of white women. I knew immediately that this retreat was not designed with me in mind. I was not even on their radar, much less on their screen.

So, basically what she is saying here is, “There were only white women in the video, and that hurt my feelings, and so therefore: Racism!”

Then there was the time that our missions agency was considering mobilization of internationals. Leaders from around the region gathered together to discuss the pros and cons of such an endeavor. I and other minority members expressed our apprehension of recruiting locals into a primarily white organization, citing concerns about expansionism and assimilation. I was thankful that we were given a voice in this decision. But I was mistaken. Instead of hearing our reservations and taking time to reflect on the alternatives that we suggested, a task force was immediately formed at the end of that meeting to move ahead with the plan.

I don’t know, maybe her ideas simply weren’t any good. The reader isn’t given enough information to develop an opinion. We just have to trust her that it was racism.

Her accusation is quite extreme: “Something is rotten in the state of Western missions…” And if you’re going to be making that accusation, you need some hard evidence to back it up. But you don’t see that in her article. All you see is her hurt feelings.

I can understand that the makers of the women’s retreat video were insensitive by not including any non-whites in the video. But, under what circumstances was that video made? Was it a high budget project filmed in the USA? Or, was it filmed by some missionary ladies with an iPhone in someone’s backyard? Maybe there were only white woman available.

Grace Lee provides no evidence of real racism. All she provides is her hurt feelings and a demand that the reader acknowledge her feelings as sufficient evidence. The real world simply doesn’t work that way.

Did Grace Lee try to sign up for the women’s retreat and then receive an email stating that she was not welcome because she wasn’t white? That would be real evidence. But I assume she never tried to sign up because the promo video was enough to send her down into the pit of despair. I wonder what she would have found if she went to the retreat. A bunch of racist white women (who for some odd reason decided to be missionaries in non-white countries)? I doubt it.

You can’t expect equality of output where there is no equality of input. But that’s what SJWs demand: equality of outcome. We need to deal with injustices as we see them, case by case, individual by individual. To accuse the whole Western missions world of racism is complete nonsense. Historically, Christianity has been centered in the white nations, so of course there will be a larger number of white people in missions. Over time this will change, but until it does, falsely accusing people of racism, and slandering respected missionaries (like the not-Asian white guy mentioned above), will only cause unneeded, unnecessary division.

When one criticizes this SJW behaviour, the response is never, “I disagree with you and here’s why…” rather, it is, “You’re wrong and shame on you!”

Manufacturing false victimhood through hurt feelings trivializes the suffering of true victims by victimizing the trivial. If you want to make accusations of racism you need to provide real evidence (something that would stand in a courtroom) and only then can we stand together to denounce those guilty. Hurt feelings, generalities, and vague examples of what may or not be racism are not only insufficient, but will do much damage to the unity of the Church on the mission field.

In other words: grow up, develop a thicker skin, and stop being offended at everything. Oh, and having a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.

Further reading: “White Privilege” in Missions. Really?

Unconscious Bias…

P.S. If you believe you are guilty of white privilege, then never fear! There is an online course to cure you of your toxic whiteness. For only $297 U.S. you don’t have to be an evil white S.O.B. anymore! Click here to sign up!

The Higher Culture

scaleThe lesser culture is always drawn to the higher culture (or the perceived higher culture).

Christianity always creates the higher culture, and as long as Christians hold strong to their beliefs, that higher culture will remain strong.

Sin is the disease of the world and Christianity is the immune system. But what happens when a previously Christian society turns it back on its beliefs? The immune system becomes an autoimmune disease — which is worse than the original disease that society suffered from before Christianity came in.

Today in the west, progressive leftist ideology is seen as the new higher culture. It is nothing more than a counterfeit Babel though. Nobody 30 years ago was thinking that we needed things like gay marriage (as one example). But now, if you speak out against gay marriage you will be labeled a hateful homophobic knuckle-dragger who is stuck in the primitive wasteland known as “The Wrong Side of History” where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If Christians want to shape the future of the western world and plant more churches, they will have to rise up to the difficult call of creating the higher culture once again. It’s harder now than before. To bring a higher culture into a pagan culture is easier than doing it in a post-Christian culture where the blessings and benefits of Christianity are still enjoyed by the very people who are ignorantly rejecting its foundations.

 

White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions

white-priviledge-card

Never leave home without it.

Every once and a while I come across a bizarre negative attitude towards the white western missionary. I’m not referring to atheists or multiculturalists criticizing western missions; that’s to be expected. Rather, I am talking about missionaries criticizing other missionaries.

I’ll read or hear terms such as “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” being used by missionaries to criticize white missionaries and accuse them of things they are simply not guilty of: colonialism, white supremacy, and negative paternalism. They get upset at the fact that white missionaries will presume to teach, rather than learn, in non-western nations. They lament at how white missionaries don’t seek to empower the local peoples. In most cases, these accusations are are all unfounded.

Western missionaries have access to resources which non-western nations simply don’t have yet. Western Christianity is also older and more experienced. Of course westerners will come as teachers. That does not mean they don’t respect the native culture, are unwilling to learn, or are unwilling to empower local people.

The terms “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation” did not evolve in the common market of language and ideas. They come straight out of the minds of leftist, Marxist university professors. And they certainly have no place on the mission field.

I like this definition of “white privilege” from the Urban Dictionary:

The racist idea that simply being white benefits people in some unexplainable way, and that discriminating against white people is not only okay, but enlightened and necessary. The excuse some extremists use to justify pretty much any level of racism, as long as it is coming from people of color. A young American woman died because in college she was brainwashed into believing that her white privilege would protect her from being run over by a bulldozer.

I understand, and agree with, the idea that missions is not about introducing western culture into non-western nations. There are few things I dislike more that hearing Hillsong music being sung by locals in their own language, when there own native music is so much more beautiful. But, I’ve met many missionaries, and I’ve never met one who was trying to push western culture into their host nation. (In fact, when I do hear the Hillsong music, it’s because the youth in the church wanted it – Hey you guys! Stop trying to appropriate sub-standard Australian worship music!) Many new missionaries come with western ideas, which they try to implement, but they soon learn what doesn’t work and they adapt. This whole idea of “white privilege,” “white supremacy,” and neo-colonialism is, in most cases, not true. (By the way, western culture is indeed moving in on Asian nations, but it’s anything but the missionary’s fault. Blame Coca Cola, Pizza Hut, or Ariana Grande.)

So first, let’s address the “white privilege” claim. All who live in the west are privileged – the rich and the poor – the natives and the immigrants. No other culture in human history provides the opportunities, safety, and freedom that the west provides. And this privilege did not fall from the sky. It is the result of centuries of hard work by all the men and women who built the western nations. It is the result of Christianity (which is really the elephant in the room when it comes to white privilege). Historically, the western nations have been predominantly white, and although that’s still true, it is changing now.

I live in Cambodia, but spent most of my life in Canada. There are many races and cultures in Canada, and all of them are privileged to be there. Many first generation immigrants do very well for themselves. That’s true today and it’s true historically. Good culture creates privilege. It’s nothing negative and it’s nothing to feel guilty about. Yes, privileged people can use their advantages to oppress others, but is that what white missionaries are doing? Do western missionaries misunderstand the host culture simply because of their privilege? That’s strange reasoning. Is a doctor only fit to heal people if he himself has suffered their sickness?

Where you start in life is not necessarily where you’ll end up. The decisions you make today determine where you’ll be tomorrow. Snapshot views of cultures are meaningless if you ignore the past and the future. Missionaries, white and brown, enter into other cultures, and bring their privilege with them, to create new opportunities for the native peoples – opportunities which include both the spiritual and the physical. When Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more,” was He trying to make His listeners feel guilty? Or, was He telling them to use their “privilege” to the benefit of others?

Western privilege is a direct result of Christianity. What would you expect to happen to a culture which adopts the Christian faith and submits to Jesus? Poverty and war? The missionary’s job is to expand that culture to the nations. Yes, some cultures really are better than others.

As for “cultural appropriation”, I’ll start by posting this video to show how stupid that idea is…

In the video the black girl is angry because the white guy has dreadlocks, which is a black hairstyle. It’s obviously stupid and the girl is just being a bully. This is an extreme example, but extreme examples best illustrate how stupid some ideas really are.

If I see a Cambodian wearing jeans and a t-shirt, should I be upset that he’s trying to appropriate western culture? If I learn the Khmer language and dress in Cambodian traditional clothes at a wedding, am I wrongfully trying to appropriate the culture? I though we were supposed to learn to understand the culture. What if I marry a Cambodian woman? I did, by the way. And have kids who are half white and half Asian? Which we did. Now I’m really confused.

Ideas like cultural appropriation only work to divide rather than unite. Just like calling racism where there is none. Just like labelling privilege as negative and something to feel guilty about. Like using broad meaningless terms such as “systemic racism” or “white supremacy”.

frostIf we are going to combat things like racism, we can’t just use broad terms like “systemic racism”. Which systems are racist? Who, in those systems, are making them racist?

Protestors often don’t have the answers to those questions. They just know that racism is everywhere, and it has to be stopped, and it is the result of white privilege. But when asked where specifically the racism is, they don’t know.

When I saw this picture, posted by Christian author Michael Frost on Facebook, someone in the comments posted a picture of the KKK in a church with a banner saying, “Jesus Saves,” in the background. So, a decades old photo of white racists is an example of systemic racism today? Can we have a more recent example? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but you can’t fight your enemy if you don’t know where he is.

I sincerely hope that the leftist, Marxist ideology which is corrupting much of western culture today doesn’t find a home in the mission field. We are above racial distinctions out here. Our racial differences are merely a background reality – it’s not a forefront issue. Don’t make it one. We work together, missionaries and locals, to build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

My article here is far from perfect, and as I think about the issue more, I’ll probably add more. For now I’ll just publish it as it is (no one reads this blog anyway).

August 27, 2016 ~ A Brief Addition…

Something else came to mind that I wanted to add.

I think it is apparent to all now that the center of Christianity is shifting away from the west and toward the south and the east. If you need statistical evidence of that you can read Philip Jenkins’ work The Next Christendom. Here’s a quote from the first couple of pages of that book:

We are currently living through one of the transforming moments in the history of religion worldwide. Over the last five centuries, the story of Christianity has been extricably bound up with that of Europe and Europe-derived civilizations overseas, above all in North America. Until recently, the overwhelming majority of Christians have lived in white nations, allowing some thinkers to speak of ‘European Christian’ civilization…

Over the last century, however, the center of gravity in the Christian world has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa and Latin America. Today, the largest Christian communities on the planet are to be found in those regions. If we want visualize a ‘typical’ contemporary Christian, we should think of a woman living in a village in Nigeria, or in a Brazilian favela. In parts of Asia too, churches are growing rapidly, in numbers and self-confidence. As Kenyan scholar John Mbiti has observed, ‘the centers of the church’s universality [are] no longer in Geneva, Rome, Athens, Paris, London, New York, but Kinshasa, Buenos Aires, Addis Ababa, and Manila.’ Whatever Europeans or North Americans may believe, Christianity is doing very well indeed in the global south — not just surviving but expanding.

This doesn’t mean that western Christianity is doomed to destruction; perhaps we’ll see a revival sooner than we think. But, I believe it’s safe to say that Christianity will grow much more in the south and east before it makes a comeback in the west.

Perhaps in the future, Asian missionaries will travel to the west and do the very same things western missionaries do today, but better. They will have matured in the Christian faith far beyond where we’re at today and they will be greater teachers as a result.

Some Atheist Brief Book Reviews

19280426All God Worshippers Are Mad 

A short and stupid book. I give it one star out of five because it was only $1.99 on Kindle. I can’t decide if the book was written for 12 year olds, or if it was written by a 12 year old. For example… His first argument against God is basically summed up as: “In order for God to create the space/time universe, God’s existence can’t depend on space/time. My human brain can’t comprehend that. Therefore there is no God. Booyah!”

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Why I Believed 

He’s got a couple of decent Dostoevsky-type arguments against faith/God, but most of what he says follows a “I just don’t want to believe anymore” kind of thinking. Christianity is a faith which requires engagement. If you choose not to engage it you will grow cold towards it.

 

4420281Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes 

I’ll come back to this book for the language sections. Everett is a talented linguist. He had no business being a missionary though. I don’t think he ever fully understood what Christianity is. His descriptions of the faith show he never moved beyond a Sunday-school understanding of it.

 

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God Needs to Go 

It’s hard to get into one of these books when it starts out with a straw-man argument; which this book does. In fact, this book is one straw-man after another — falsely representing Christianity and then attacking that false representation.

He makes a couple good points against prayer (or, what I would call the misuse of prayer).

Atheists often argue that morality is based on the evolved sense of the common good. While that might be true for economy, it is not true for morality. Morality is not the same across the world. A westerner being accepting of a transgender person is doing so because he believes it is loving to do so. That belief of loving acceptance stems directly from Christian morality. A Buddhist in Thailand who is accepting of a transgender person is not doing so out of love; his acceptance and noninterference is based on karmic justice. A Buddhist would be less inclined to help the poor for that very same reason, whereas a westerner would be more inclined to help the poor based on Christian morality.

The author states: “Except for certain religiously based societies, many of the secular nations display a sense of right and wrong that has allowed them advance in a positive way.” (page 23) “Certain religiously based societies” — every society is a religiously based society, including the ‘post-Christian’ west. A society’s morality is tied to its predominant religion. This is not hard to see. Western morality is based on Christianity, absolutely. If you don’t see that, you just need to do some travelling. A Buddhist nation’s morality is based on Buddhism. The same is true for Hindu and Muslim nations. If a person born and raised in a Buddhist nation becomes an atheist, his morality will still be based on Buddhism. (Although, Buddhism as a religion lacks the conditions to create atheists — which is a whole other interesting topic. Western atheism would not exist if it weren’t for Christianity.)

Then there are the usual arguments about slavery and God’s wrath and so forth. If you want to understand those issues in the Bible you have to understand two very important things: covenant and holiness. If you don’t get those two things, you won’t get the Bible.

And there are the attacks on biblical prophesy. Jesus said certain things about His return that supposedly didn’t happen. Well, there are plenty of books on eschatology to explain that. But if you’re not willing to study it out, then there’s nothing more to say. Reading Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14 will get you well on your way to understanding what Jesus said when prophesying about Himself.