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Mission Blog

Sharing thoughts and experiences from experts in mission across the world.

Welcome to the joint blog of Echoes International and GLO. Sharing thoughts and experiences from experts in mission across the world, we aim to examine the issues facing mission today, and challenge existing views about cross-cultural mission.

Current Articles

A Conversation With…

I love to eavesdrop …Recently I overheard this exchange between two people on the way to a church near you. They had been looking at the new Echoes International web site when one asked:

What does a missionary look like?

That’s easy! Middle-aged, wearing conservative clothes and the serene smile of someone who has everything sorted as they sail through life full of the joy of the Lord…

What do they do?

As the spiritual elite, these “special forces” of the Kingdom go to remote places where mere mortals like us tremble. They win famous spiritual victories that they describe in carefully understated language in their ‘prayer letters’.

Remind me: what are ‘Prayer Letters’?

They are the old style posts that we skim over in our busy life here “at home” far removed from the Mission Field where God’s crack commandoes live.

Why do they go?

Lots of reasons, I suppose. Some still take literally the so-called ‘Great Commission’ to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus said something about that as I recall…

Realising it’s rude to eavesdrop, should I come clean and try to explain?

Where should I start?

How can I not speak of the glorious privilege it is to serve the Lord WHEREVER He puts each of us as His messengers to spread the Good News and share the love of God?

Summoning my small share of courage, I clear my throat and begin…by re-running their questions

What does a missionary look like?

Like you!  Some of the photographs on this Echoes International site do show middle-aged people (and yes there are more serene smiles than is statistically probable) but trust me; they are (mostly) regular people like you! There are some younger people in the photos too.

It might surprise you but EACH of God’s children is on Mission for Him: Look in the mirror!

It is a glorious privilege to serve the Lord wherever He puts us

What do they do?

Whatever God gifts them to do wherever He places them. Check the opportunities section on this site to see the range of work undertaken…

Remind me: what are ‘Prayer Letters’?

All right. I must admit that all too often they are indeed ‘the old style posts that we skim over in our busy life here “at home” far removed from the ‘Mission Field’ where God’s commandoes live.’

But that’s due to the fact that we have a distorted idea of the ‘Mission Field’ and where it is. Here’s an idea: sit down and write the leaders of your church a letter about how you are serving Him in your daily grind and how they might pray for you…

Why do they go?

They are obedient. Os Guinness explains it well in his fine book “The Call”. There is a ‘universal call’ by God to everyone, everywhere to repent and trust the Lord Jesus for salvation. Once we do that there is then an individual and personalized ‘call’ to serve Him wherever He places us with the gifts and resources that He entrusts to us. We hold them on an accountable receipt and will one day give Him a report.

I will go back to the message sent by the Commander-in-Chief to His forerunner John as recorded by the historian Luke in chapter 7.22-23.  Troubled lest he had misunderstood the mission of Jesus, John is told by the eye-witnesses sent by Jesus: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed it is the person who does not fall away on account of me”.

The Lord Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom and demonstrated it as the Old Testament had predicted. God’s Mission goes way back beyond Victorian empires to the foundation of the world (at least).  His call to you is unmistakeable, insistent and current.

These are thrilling days in the world of global missions. The pioneers of the modern missions movement would never have dreamed of what we are seeing. They sowed the seed of the gospel faithfully and very often courageously in the continents of Latin America, Asia and Africa and in our lifetime, we have been seeing the fruit. These are days of harvest in many parts of these continents. Not only is the church growing rapidly but there is a growing cross-cultural missions force being sent from these churches.

It’s all testimony to the mercy and power of our God, and to the devotion and courage of missionaries and their supporting churches over the years. But please don’t get the wrong idea. If you believe the task of mission is complete or almost complete you have got the wrong idea. If you believe there is no further place in this task for missionaries form the UK, apart from sending funds you have got the wrong idea.

“The mission of the church is missions.” – Oswald J Smith

The modern mission’s movement was born as the church saw a world lost without Christ. A burning passion which resulted initially in prayer was born. For example, the small Moravian community in Herrnhut in Saxony commenced a round-the -clock ‘prayer watch’ that continued nonstop for over a hundred years.By 1791, 65 years after the commencement of that prayer vigil, that small community had sent three hundred missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Where is that enthusiasm and passion for mission in our churches today?

When I was a child I remember missionary prayer meetings in many churches, missionary conferences where the passion for mission was encouraged. Today it is difficult to find churches with any prayer meetings, and missionary prayer meetings are virtually non-existent. If we understood all that our gracious God is doing around his world we should be flocking to prayer meetings to worship him for his grace and goodness.

What has gone wrong? Do we think mission was something for the previous century? The job is now virtually complete. Or do we feel the responsibility has been passed to this growing church in other parts of the world?

The reality is that we need a new missionary movement from the global church to see the job we were given by our master completed. He was very clear, the last words on his lips before he left this earth were that ‘all peoples’ must hear the good news.

There are various ways of defining people groups but according to the Joshua project their definition and research leads to the conclusion that there are still 7,035 unreached groups, and with 16,956 people groups in the world that means 42.1% remain unreached. We can only conclude from these figures that the Church of which of course I am a part has been disobedient to our Lord.

It is time for a new obedience and a new commitment to get the job done.

This is going to take strategic decision making for us both as individuals and as churches. We still need missionaries among people groups which may not appear on the unreached people’s group list, but the estimate is that less than 10% of today’s missionaries work among the unreached peoples and far less than 10% of missionary giving is focussed on these groups.

My challenge today is that as individuals, and if you can influence church programmes, also in our churches we need to make strategic changes. It may not sound sufficient in the light of our Lord’s command and the present situation, but I am asking that we begin to concentrate a minimum of 20% of our mission praying and giving on the unreached people groups of the world. It is a small percentage, but even this would make a huge difference.

You may wonder how to do that. A good start would be to look at the Joshua Project website, but if you are still struggling after that, write to me at peter.maiden@om.org and I would be happy to share with you suggestions of how you might get involved.

‘It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known…’ Romans 15:20
The apostle Paul

‘Someone asked will the heathen who have never heard the gospel be saved? It is more a question with me whether we – who have the gospel and fail to give it to those who have not – can be saved.’ Charles Spurgeon.

Most healthy local churches I come across are those committed to mission. That is because ‘the mission of the church is missions.’ – Oswald J Smith

Jump on the Train, Before it Leaves the Station

“Christians in the UK have to ask themselves a deeply searching question – do they want to board the train and get involved in global mission, or will they remain on the platform while God uses other people and methods to achieve his purpose?”

Two men are deep in conversation, sitting cross-legged on the grass on a sunny spring morning. One of them is African, the other from Pakistan.  Their conversation is warm but intense, as they discuss issues of profound significance to them both.  Occasionally their serious faces break out into warm smiles, and even laughter. They respect each other and treat one another with courtesy, but each clearly wants to convince the other of the rightness of his position.

The African speaks with a strong Lekki accent, placing his origins in Lagos state, Nigeria. He speaks with passion as the wind ruffles his loose fitting bright green Kaftan. The other man comes from Lahore in the Punjab.  He too tries to sound passionate, argumentative even, though he is unsettled by the knowledge and grace of his African friend.  On the narrow space between them lies an opened black book resting on a white cloth which the Nigerian placed there at the start of the conversation.  He points to the text repeatedly, quoting from it to his Pakistani friend.

There are several things about this setting which are important for us to consider.

Firstly, the conversation is in English even though it is not the first language of either man. Secondly the black book is a Bible which the African brought with him, in order to divulge its truths to his friend who is a Muslim.  Coming from a city with a Muslim majority and substantial Christian minority, the African is well accustomed to these kinds of discussions.  Most significantly of all this conversation has taken place in Highbury Fields, North London.

Just one conversation in a small park, but one that speaks volumes about the new world we now live in and the realities with which we need to deal.

The first thing to be stated is that the centre of gravity for Christianity has changed over the last few centuries. It used to be the case that Europe in general, and the UK in particular, was the heartbeat of the Christian faith.  Indeed, the UK is noted around the world for the missionaries who have left her shores to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.  Today, however, Christianity is weak in the UK and barely visible throughout much of Europe.  In other parts of the world the Christian faith thrives!  China, Latin America and Africa are now the epicentres of the Christian faith. Indeed, African evangelicals outnumber their European counterparts by ten to one.

Secondly, the mission field is on our doorstep. A city like London, with its 300 languages, one million Muslims and dozens of other belief systems, desperately needs the gospel, as does every other city throughout the UK and Europe. Thanks to globalization, immigration and multiculturalism, virtually every important European city is home to every major world religion. These religious systems rub shoulders with a heady cocktail of atheism, moral relativism and a heavy dose of both cynicism and apathy.

Thirdly, the gospel is being spread in a new way. Evangelistic endeavour is not just dependant on ‘professional’ missionaries who commit themselves full time to conveying Christian truths to people who have never heard. Today many ‘missionaries’ are actually African or Latin American or Korean business men and women, who have moved to new countries in search of work, and bring with them their passion for the gospel which they share with friends they make all over the world.

All of this demonstrates that this is an exciting time to be a Christian. We are part of a huge and growing church that is permeating cultures around the world, even in countries where conventional gospel ministry is not possible.

This, however, begs a big question.

Do these new realities spell an end to traditional missionary work? The answer is emphatically ‘no’!

There is still a huge need for conventional missionaries, including missionaries from the UK. Equally, there is a great urgency for UK Christians and churches to be mission-minded, whether or not they commit themselves to full-time mission work.

However, in this new world where God is doing mission in new ways, and Christ is still building his church, Christians in the UK have to ask themselves a deeply searching question. Do they want to board the train and get involved in global mission, or will they remain on the platform while God uses other people and methods to achieve his purpose?  Make no mistake, God will indeed achieve His purposes, even if it is done by Nigerian business men sharing the gospel with Muslim neighbours in North London.

The challenge for us is – do we want to be part of this great adventure in reaching this new world for Christ?

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