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Setting the stage for the historic prayer meeting with the five students who gathered under that haystack to find refuge from a storm in August 1806 was a little booklet written only a decade or so earlier by William Carey. The booklet was entitled:
“An Enquiry Into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen.”
Carey was a cobbler and lover of maps. He was homeschooled and he made several world maps out of leather which hung in his shop where he made shoes. In that little booklet, Carey asks:
“Are Christians under an obligation to help transform societies that live in intellectual, moral, social, political, and spiritual darkness?”
This profound question provoked at least one elder in his church while listening to Carey’s presentation. The elder said:
“Young man, if God had wanted to save the poor heathen, he would do it himself and he would not need your help.”
Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi have written an excellent little book about William Carey entitled: “The Legacy of William Carey: A Model for the Transformation of Culture” (formerly: “Carey, Christ, and Cultural Transformation: The Life and Influence of William Carey”). I am referring here to what I have learned from the Mangalwadi book.
Carey was known as the Father of Modern Missions because of his work in India and his written appeal to the institutional Protestant church of his day to respond to the Great Commission. Carey is mostly known for his commitment as a missionary to India, but few have understood that commitment or his understanding of the gospel and its power to reform society, Hindu Indian society as well as the powerful East India Company (a precursor to multi-national corporations). Though largely still unreached today, Carey had an incredible impact on India.
William Carey began his life work as a cobbler in England. Educated by his parents and a life-long learner, Carey developed a true concern for the calling of the Church to obey the commandment of Christ to preach the gospel to every creature. His understanding of that calling became personal as he endured the opposition of Church leaders and his own wife and set sail to serve God’s purposes in India for over 30 years.
What most do not know about William Carey is the extent of his work and vision for Christian missions. Mangawadi writes:
“He was a pioneer of the modern Western Christian missionary movement, reaching out to all parts of the world; a pioneer of the Protestant church in India; and a translator and/or publisher of the Bible in forty different Indian languages. Carey was an evangelist who used every available medium to illuminate every dark facet of Indian life with the light of truth. As such, he is the central character in the story of India’s modernization.”
Today India is the largest democracy in the world. What most do not know is that this simple cobbler from England was much more than a clergyman. His vision for the church and his understanding of the gospel to transform culture included nearly every arena of society, every sphere of influence.
Carey was not only a preacher and translator; he was a botanist who published one of the first books on science and natural history in India. He was an industrialist who developed the first indigenous paper for the publishing industry in India. He was an economist who introduced the idea of savings banks in India. He was a medical humanitarian who campaigned for humane treatment of lepers. He was a media pioneer who built the then largest press in India. He was an agriculturist who founded India’s Agri-Horticultural Society in the 1820′s, thirty years before the Royal Agricultural Society was established in England.
Carey was a translator and educator, a professor of Indian languages at Fort William College in Calcutta. He was an astronomer, introducing India to the scientific culture of astronomy, which made it possible for India to devise calendars, study geography and history, and plan their work and social order.
Carey was a library pioneer who started lending libraries. He was a forest conservationist who wrote essays on forestry and said that as the gospel flourishes in India, “the wilderness will, in every respect, become a fruitful field.” Carey was a crusader for women’s rights who was the first man to fight against the ruthless murders and widespread oppression of women, which was virtually “synonymous with Hinduism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”
Carey lived the life of a missionary, not hidden behind the confines of a church structure busying himself with merely religious duties. Carey was a public servant and moral reformer; Carey was a cultural transformer.
This man, his writings, witness, and work, is what inspired five students in a new nation, the United States of America, to pray and fervently seek the Lord for the people of Asia and for their own fellow students. And history continued to unfold…
BTW- Do you know what happened to that church in England where one of the elders told Carey to sit down?
That church is a Hindu temple today.
Wikipedia strongly espouses verifiability and a neutral point of view, but critics of Wikipedia accuse it of “systemic bias and inconsistencies”. They say “favoring consensus over credentials gives undue weight to popular culture” in its editorial processes.
From a vantage point of a missionary, I see an important similarity here to the argument that laity, those lacking credentials from a church denomination or seminary, have no business leading a church plant or Missional community. The argument goes like this: “Those untrained leaders could lead their people into heresy or false doctrine.” That was a major concern of the early church.
If reliability and accuracy are really the issue, and not the status of “experts,” then it’s worth noting that “an investigation in Nature (scientific journal) found that the science articles they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopedia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”.” In this Nature article, Alex Bateman and Darren W. Logan write:
“Ten years ago, it would have been inconceivable that a free collaborative website, written and maintained by volunteers, would dominate the global provision of knowledge.”
So then, should an “untrained” leader draw together a group of Christ’s followers and attempt to demonstrate and declare the gospel of Jesus by making disciples from within their specific people group, their neighborhood, workplace, or school? Could such a group represent an authentic church gathering?
For centuries leadership of churches has been left to “experts”, those with credentials, degrees, and funny hats. Concern for this issue was pronounced during the recent post-colonial period, after WWII, when newly independent nations opened the opportunity for multiplied thousands of new independent churches which resulted in the greatest expansion of christianity in history, especially the Global South (see Inter-Varsity article). Many attempts to train the multitudes of new church leaders in Africa and China, through programs based mostly in the West, such as TEE (Theological Education by Extension), could not keep up the pace of church growth at the end of the 20th century. At issue: what would come of these “younger” churches? Would they slip into heresy and error?
Perhaps a little humility is required as we respond to these questions. The church in the West has not been without error, despite her theological “maturity.” The early church had error, the Medieval church had error, and the Protestant church has had error. Some error is difficult to perceive from a purely Western mindset. What could be wrong with promoting individual choices for Christ, reducing the gospel message to “three steps” or “four laws”? Well, getting “saved” for heaven is not the kingdom message Jesus preached. And it’s not the gospel message Paul preached. Salvation is much more comprehensive, and not just a private decision. The West has exported this erroneous gospel message through the modern missionary enterprise for more than a century.
Examining the laundry list of error in Western theology would require several other posts, so let’s just humble ourselves long enough to accept our brothers and sisters in the now Majority church of the Global South, not as immature “younger” churches, but as full fledged churches.
Like the world of Wikipedia, we now live in a new, “flat” and globalized world (See Thomas Friedman’s popular book, ‘The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century’), where information, correction of error and validation of facts now spread instantaneously around the world. Whether we are ready or not, it is time to consider our ways, to search the Scriptures for understanding the way to reach our new world.
Jesus did not make it complicated and neither should we. It is simple to experience community with those you already have an affinity, a similar culture. People who already share interest and time together are more likely to worship together and work together on a mission of Kingdom expansion.
This is the approach to missions and church planting in India put forth in the 1930s by Donald McGavran, the late missionary statesman who coined “Homogenous Unit Principle“, groups which can be a culture or language, a tribe or caste, a clan or geographical unit. McGavran was studied church growth, proposing a church which is not sending mission so much as it is itself sent. With so many different cultures in India, McGavran saw the need to encourage many cultural expressions of church. The different people groups should not be forced into one church cultural mold, like your neighborhood mega-church. Could it be that McGavran’s approach would also now be appropriate for churches in the Western world?
Lesslie Newbigin, another great missionary statesman, spent over 30 years living as a missionary working with the Church of South India. When he returned to England, Newbigin noticed something: the Western world had become as pluralistic as India, with new “faith” in materialism. (See Newbigin’s book: The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society.) The West, especially Europe with the USA not far behind, had already lost much of its “Christian” heritage. Once vital Church structures in England are now nightclubs with names like “Ministry of Sin.” Newbigin saw the need to not only continue to send missionaries around the world, but also to receive missionaries to re-evangelize the post-Christian West. He suggested the formation and structure of Western churches require a new reformation in order to reach our Western society with the gospel. He and many of the leaders in world missions today, contend that the Church in the West must again become primarily a missions station sponsoring Missional communities among the people groups in our cities. The Anglican Church is championing “Fresh Expressions” of church formation for the communities in which it has been established for many hundreds of years.
What am I proposing? Three things:
- First, I propose we learn humility, perhaps unlike or feeble attempts to humble ourselves in religious services, temporarily weeping at the altar and then returning to our comfortable lives behind our TVs, in our over-sized houses, and compressed lifestyles. We must humble ourselves, relinquishing our supposed rights to power, privilege, and too often prestige.
- Second, like Wikipedia, we should learn to trust every believer to gain access, participate, and contribute to theological conversations. We should trust those with a desire to be a witness to their community.
- Third, we should flatten our church hierarchies, eliminate the exclusivity of church “membership”, and commission believers to “go” into their world to plant simple church communities.
Imagine if Jesus could once again become the main focus of conversations and life in your neighborhood, your workplace, and on a your campus, perhaps it would also be possible for the message and works of Jesus to fill an entire city. No, I am not suggesting we merely “unite” churches (which tend to be organized in a competitive business model anyway). Unity is not something we create, it is something the apostle Paul exhorts us to “preserve”.
This vision for a new church-planting movement in our neighborhoods could only be realized if everyday believers, people like you and me, choose to go on mission in our sphere of influence, planting the church where you are through non-formal gatherings in homes, workplaces, and campus dorms. Of course, those with the status as “experts” may resist this missional movement for various reasons. But I am confident that the leaders whose hearts belong to Jesus will cheer ANY effort to reach our world with the good news.
The hard part is this: We have to renew our thinking, repent of our fixed cultural habits, and begin to walk worthy of this calling. Church is not just something you attend…it’s something you are. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you; that’s true of every believer. The good news is within us.
We need break our individualistic mindset in order to see our world is not just one big community of individuals. It is hundreds of people groups, small communities put together to make up your city.
So I am proposing ‘simple churches’ or missional communities to be formed by two or more believers among these people groups. Missional communities are incarnational in that they arise out of and focus on the communities they desire to reach. Imagine multitudes of new small groups of believers in Chicago, LA, and New York, and in university campuses, businesses and suburbs in your area… Leaders need to find courage to once again be the church and release a new generation of churches in their most localized and organic form. This is what I propose: Form simple churches that are “Wiki-Missional.”
Run!” “Keep going!” “You are almost there!”
If you are like me, that is what these final days and hours of 2010 feel like. The year has been chock-full, jam-packed, and well, overflowing with ministry, travels, and fruitful activity.
To all our friends, thank you for supporting our family serving with Youth With A Mission.
“Keep going!” Yes, I still hear that. Do you? As we come to the end of 2010, I need to ask you for a favor. Would you take a moment to make a contribution, ANY amount, to help us finish the year and extend our ministry in 2011? This year-end request will help us overcome a personal shortfall this year AND help us get a good start in 2011.
“You’re almost there!” There it is again. A call to finish strong. Would you help? You can also forward this note to a few friends who might also join our team of supporters for 2011. Would you do that too?
“You can do it!” In response, and as we reach our goal of $10,000, we will sponsor the full school tuition for an emerging missionary in Latin America to take the next School of University Ministries & Missions.
As you may know, our work is with university students. It is no surprise to us that students all over the world want to be spiritually equipped to respond to God’s calling to engage issues of global human need, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water, and children at risk. Since 1989, we have prepared and sent students from nine nations and over 100 universities to integrate their field of studies serving long-term projects that minister to the poor and needy in 34 countries.
“Run!” To expand the work, we began a training course for YWAM staff. With the help of our nine member international team, we started the School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM). We launched in Delhi, India in 2004 with 24 participants from nine nations. Since then, the 12-week course has run in Thailand, Korea, the USA, and three additional times in India. Our most recent school had participants from Madagascar, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, India, and Korea. To date, we have trained over one hundred of our YWAM campus ministry workers in 32 countries.
“Don’t stop now!” The next course is scheduled to take place in Cartagena, COLOMBIA in January 2011. Our goal as a ministry is to provide full tuition scholarships for all qualified Latin American YWAM staff who enroll. By faith, my family and I are granting one full scholarship. But we need you to help right now. Any gift will help.
“We’re with you!” The love and support of family, friends, church communities, and some former student interns have helped us keep going after over 25 years of living by faith and serving Jesus’ mission. Thank you. Truly, we could not do what we do without your support. God bless you!
Your help is so appreciated!
“Almost there!” Donating through our online donation site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also one of the most efficient ways to support our fundraising efforts. All gifts are income tax deductible and are requested with the understanding that SMC has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds. If you prefer to give with a check by mail, send it payable to “YWAM” with a separate note “for the Henry’s” to:
YWAM-SMC, PO Box 6412, Madison, WI 53716
Many thanks for your support — and don’t forget to forward this to a few people and ask them to join our support team in 2011 too!
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Cor 9:24
Follow this link to our secure online donation page. Thank you!
Scientific advances are the fruit of discovery, however the need for direction is just as great for a poor society as it is for an advanced to society. While “technical reason” guided the first cultivation of embryonic stem cells in a lab at UW, the “reason” provides “means for ends, but offers no guidance for the determination of those ends.” (Tillich 1988:6) ”Progress is measured in terms of growth, scientific and technological progress, and the amassing of means.” (O’Brien 2001:16) Madison is mostly affluent and comfortable. With an average two-thousand-two-hundred-square-foot single-family home in Madison costing over two hundred thousand dollars, Madison was rated “One of the Most Secure Places in the Country.” (Farmers Insurance Group, June 2004) That security and comfort may have negative effects, a population averse to risk-taking and entrepreneurism.
Global business is salivating over the millions of potential consumers in India and China. Not surprising, those two nations have been the top two in numbers of foreign students studying in the USA, and the UW has been among the top ten hosts for international students. Since early in the 1970s, the Chinese government has been sending their future leaders to prepare for a consumer focused market economy. Do citizens appreciate the comfort, security, and opportunity Madison, Wisconsin offers?
I was fascinated when I recently read how Christian persecution began locally as early believers refused to participate in pagan rituals. Freedom to worship was supposedly protected by Rome. It was a time of relative peace, depending on who you were. Special protections were available to Roman citizens and wealthy landowners in occupied territories. Most everyone but Caesar was taxed, however, even the emperor had to pay tribute to the gods. So why did persecution of the early Christian Church become Roman policy?
The early church practices were very different from local religions in the Roman Empire. The early Christian believers were not isolated ethnic groups worshiping their pagan gods or ancestors. They appeared very different to Roman observers. Their multi-ethnic character and their rapidly spreading distribution made them look like one of two things; they were either a merchant class marketing something throughout the Roman empire, or their were fomenting political revolution. As evidence emerged that these people were declaring a new ruler, Jesus of Nazareth, a peasant Jew who was publicly executed and rose from the dead, the Romans became alarmed. Their political and economic system relied on the ultimate worship of only one god-man, Caesar. This growing movement was worshiping Jesus as Lord!
Most of us know Christians were persecuted in Rome. However too few appreciate how fierce that persecution became and how much it occurs today.
Do Christians experiencing persecution today? Many Western Christians do not experience persecution or martyrdom to the extent that they did in the time of Paul. On the other hand, believers around the world may be experiencing more persecution and martyrdom than any previous period in history. I can’t be sure, however. I’m not sure how well documented are the persecutions in the 7th and 8th centuries, particularly toward the Church of the East.
Consider one of the more recent persecutions of Christians in Orissa, India. This is a briefing from Wikipedia on the total damage:
“According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence affected in 14 districts out of 30 and 300 Villages, 4,400 Houses burnt, 50,000 Homeless, 59 People killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 Priests/Pastors/Nuns injured, 18,000 Men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 Churches destroyed and 13 Schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages.  Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in relief camps.  Some of the tribals even fled away to border districts in neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh and took shelter in churches of those districts.”
Dear friends in India are helping hundreds of Orissa refugees right now. You too can help by sponsoring an Orissa Christian for discipleship training.
I want to mention how stories of persecution are close to home for me. First, I must help end the rumor that Youth With A Mission was attacked in Orissa. See this official message for further clarification.
As a YWAMer, I learn of persecutions against our missionary community and fellow Christians around the world. Persecution and martyrdom, such as occurred in Orissa, has not occurred in the West in recent years. But there is persecution. It’s just not reported as such. To find out about it, we may need to read reports from other than secular sources.
In Dec. 2007, two of our Youth With A Mission staff and three others at New Life Church were gunned down in Colorado. The murders were committed by a young man with mental disorder, according to the reports. The response, on the part of the YWAM community, was to forgive and pray for the gunman’s family.
Today, I believe we need to prepare to respond to persecution. The more we are given to Christ’s mission, the more we will experience and taste persecution. Paul’s example in his letter to the church in Philippi, is useful for us:
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
How can a small community of Christ followers serve as a catalyst of a new, broad-structured, international missions movement for the 21st century?
Answer: By creating collaborative partnerships among ministries and leaders in university communities building “bridges” of community transformation.
The following action steps are what our ministries are attempting in this new season of development. Our plan is to serve as a catalyst with YWAM Campus Ministries creating “bridges” of community transformation by:
1. Committing to a coherent set of learning outcomes, a core curriculum, for all School of University Ministries & Missions (SUMM) participants, and in seminars. All SUMM participants will develop an understanding of the 21st century mission field.
a. The school will emphasize YWAM’s commitment to the Christian Magna Carta. Participants will learn how to facilitate a spirit of collaboration in response to dramatic shifts in the Church globally and extraordinary economic and societal crises.
b. Mobilizing students on cross-cultural, serving-learning experiences is an integral part of YWAM’s discipleship of students in every campus ministry location. (See: Field Ministry Internships)
c. Designing Seminars & Conferences, which target and rally university communities for mobilization toward effective ministry addressing Global Human Need. (See: Human Development Index.) These desperate needs, including poverty, corruption, children at risk, HIV/AIDS, malaria, human trafficking, and impure water, are targeted as “giants” which we are confronting with “smooth stones” in our Slingshot Camps. Slingshot is a discipleship camp with an intention of training young people in how to live and share the gospel. This Slingshot is built on the concept of David’s five smooth stones defined as:
(1) Identity in Christ
(2) Intimacy with God
(3) Integrity in Life
(4) Influence in the world, and
(5) Involvement in Missions.
2. Recruiting and Dispatching Volunteers: Field Project Interface and University Community Interface. These staff assignments will be limited to those who have completed the School of University Ministries & Missions (IDM/HIS 313 & 314) -or- a YWAM staff with a Four-Year College Degree and Student Ministries Leadership Seminar (IDM 501).
If either Field Project Interface or University Community Interface serve in locations where there is no YWAM team or ministry, they must have a minimum of two team members working together. All SMC staff require a two year commitment.
A. Field Project Interface: A minimum of two Field Project Interface, serving as SMC staff, will live and work in a YWAM Campus Ministry community in the developing world with the task of coordinating field projects for student teams, particularly Field Ministry Internships. Field Project Interface will assess community needs (health, education, economic, family, environment, etc.), create partnerships with churches and ministries, and interface with the YWAM host when student project teams travel and serve in their location. Field Project Interface will have a particular liaison role with the SMC preparing for summer teams, drawing up project plans for students to gain academic credit, and assisting the SMC to apply for project grants.
B. University Community Interface will partner with existing YWAM ministries and campus ministries, facilitating collaboration and adoption of a whole community in the developing world. University Community Interface will recruit outreach teams for field projects in a single developing world community, drawing from the resources and personnel of a single university community, including churches, student organizations, and Christian faculty and staff.
3. Emphasizing “Community Bridges” – a collaborative and transformational approach to ministries. As a catalyst of transformation, we are building “bridges” of engagement between university communities and developing world communities. The SMC will work with Campus Ministries and associate ministries and churches to remove barriers of collaboration that get in the way of transforming students’ lives and transforming whole communities.
The Community Bridge approach will broaden the radar of any single student organization or church ministry in the university community to focus resources to accomplish far more than any single organization could.
This community transformation approach will require a model, an example, to stimulate a long-term commitment of two Christian communities in two university settings. Emphasizing collaborative field projects to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and fulfill the Christian Magna Carta.
4. Creating a robust “Community Bridge” Model between one YWAM campus ministry/university community and one developing world community, preferably where we have another YWAM campus ministry. For example, YWAM Kingsway Maryland, with campus ministries at the U. of MD and Johns Hopkins, is developing a “community bridge” with a series of integrated projects to serve Delhi, India.
5. Making Grant Funding requests for Integrated Community Field Projects. Today’s foundations and major donors are more apt to assist collaborative efforts. Our Community Bridge approach to YWAM Campus Ministries will help us raise funds for projects, especially projects such as pure water, education, micro-business development, HIV/AIDS awareness, Malaria prevention, and Children at Risk in the developing world. Funds raised through SMC grants will be designated to the respective field projects, possibly allocating a portion for Field Project stipend for housing and travel, YWAM Campus Ministry expenses, and student team expenses.
6. Increasing the size of the SMC International Team of facilitators through rapid regional development. As the School of University Ministries & Missions trains workers on every continent, SMC Regional Teams are being formed to foster Community Bridges and Collaborative Networks.
7. Establishing New Call2All Students Networking Forums to bring together a wider collaborative movement of university ministries and missions mobilization Working collaboratively through international and inter-agency partnerships, cross-disciplinary teams, and campus-wide partnerships including faculty, staff, and students, the SMC will focus our catalytic training and resources on building bridges to serve whole communities.
A YWAM Campus Ministries International Celebration is already scheduled for 2010. Currently collaborative activities are underway through the new Campus America Wilder Project.
A new Call2AllStudents web site is being developed to serve the broader network of ministries. These efforts will culminate in periodic Regional Call2All Forums beginning in 2012 that present testimonials, instruction, and models with the best practices offering Christian communities tools to serve some of the world’s most vexing social, environmental, and economic challenges.