Archives For politics

What is at Stake?

December 2, 2018

When we returned to America as a family 18 months ago, it came as a surprise. Coming into my role as a missions and local outreach pastor, I did not have a set strategy or preset plan.

I had to come with the eyes of a missionary to my “home”. I was a stranger in my own land.

Here are few things I observed about America as I returned, coupled with some thoughts on how we can interact with this reality.

1. The World is Flat.

No, this is not a conspiracy theory, rather an observation of all the traditional missions needs. Issues like poverty, human trafficking, and pain are not “over there, international” issues, but are present right outside our door. Missions no longer requires a passport, it can be done in our own communities.

America, Meet the World

March 28, 2016

Hello America. Meet the Rest of the World.

Note; This is not a political post but one of identification.

The closer we get to the election in the United States, the more comments, eye rolling, and jokes I am hearing as an American living overseas.

My journey as an American in missions has spanned over 25 years. When I began, everyone loved and warmly welcomed Americans. I can remember being in the Philippines and everyone shouted, “Hey Joe” at me, referring to G.I. Joe. It was with warmth and not derision.

The looks of disbelief started with the war in the Balkans and increased with the invasion of Iraq.

Upon moving to South Africa under Bush II, I often wished I could change my accent. Things improved remarkably over the last eight years under Obama. His African roots may have had something to do with this.

Thriving in Babylon

June 18, 2015

I live in South Africa. Our president has multiple wives, has had numerous trials for corruption and other crimes, and it has been proven he used millions of public money for his personal house. Even so, compared to some other presidents around the world, ours is a saint.

The multitude of Facebook comments from America reflect a similar frustration with politics and leaders. I would argue whoever occupies the White House is “not that bad” compared to many world leaders, but the frustration remains. In fact, it seems to be despair at times.

Dr. Larry Osborne’s new book, Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture addresses this sense of despair by looking at the life of Daniel.

8243414267_693ab68c51

Daniel saw his beloved city, Jerusalem,  destroyed and was taken captive to a pagan land of Babylon. He was made to learn its culture and religion. Daniel thrived in Babylon by having a different perspective. He faced evil and endured physical hardship, knowing God had a plan.

The movie Saving Private Ryan is set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. The story follows a group of soldiers searching for a companion who is missing in action. The journey leads the group to discover the soldier is defending a strategic bridge. The mission of the enemy is to blow up the bridge.

Destruction of bridges is a strategy in warfare.
It cripples transportation and communication.
It isolates and dis-unifies.

None of us actively engage in strategic bridge destruction.

But in our teams and ministries, we need to ask a key question.

Are we bridge builders or bridge bombers?

The body of Christ is skilled in dividing ourselves.

Theologically
Culturally
Politically

We blow up bridges over the gray areas of life Scripture does not specifically speak to.
We create islands of isolation with those who think differently.
We seek unity through political party membership more than Christ’s commands.

I recently took a teaching trip to the United States. These journeys become times when I reflect on life as a missionary. Being away from the field gives you pause to evaluate, both with positive elements as well as areas of stress.

There are several factors of missionary stress which are apart of everyday life. Stepping out from under these pressures can reveal their impact.

Here are two stresses I feel relief from when temporarily stepping away from the foreign field. 

1. The pressure of doing things in a different way than comes naturally. You are able to relax more without worrying about simple things you normally take for granted like wording or offense

2. The greatest “relief” I feel is not thinking about crime and safety constantly. Living under this causes you to realize you live in a persistent state of tension.