Chandler Im is Director of Ethnic Ministries at the Billy Graham Center.
Lessons from the Network
God is doing some great things in the ethnic community in North America! Whether he is wooing those of different cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds to himself or using those of other backgrounds as voices calling their community to Jesus, God is at work!
For the past four years, I have served as facilitator of Ethnic America Network (EAN), a 70-plus evangelical organization made up of denominations, mission agencies, and churches. EAN’s mission is to promote the cross-cultural advancement of the gospel while also highlighting intercultural unity in the Body of Christ in the USA and Canada.
Recently, I have reflected on what I have learned in this position as facilitator. Three lessons come to mind.
- Put "who" before “what”—always. Human relationships need to always come before products, projects, events, end results, etc.
- "How" is as important as “what”. How to process or handle matters, especially regarding critical decision-making issues, is as important as (and sometimes more important than) what we are doing.
- Without # 1 and #2, networks, coalitions, and organizations will gradually lose their membership and impact. You can gather leaders with similar mission and vision under a common banner, but without practicing #1 and #2, the network will lose its partners and its influence and vibrancy.
Will we all step up to the challenge of focusing on who and how instead of the end product and methodology? I pray the answer is yes.
Posted December 18, 2012
Chris Castaldo is Director of the Ministry of Gospel Renewal at the Billy Graham Center.
Finding Salvation This Christmas
I was working in the mall during Christmas time at age 17. Part of my job involved obtaining various products in the warehouse for store clerks. The size of this room was astounding. Nearly a football field in length, not only was the room cavernous; it was filled wall-to-wall with boxes.
On one occasion, I found myself at the rear of the warehouse opposite the door when someone turned off the lights. There I was, with 9,000 boxes between me and the light switch. Did I mention that there were no windows in the warehouse?
Indeed, I couldn’t see an inch before my face. I know what you’re thinking, just find an aisle and walk toward the door. Yeah, if only there was such an aisle. Boxes were haphazardly piled everywhere.
I remember vividly how I felt during the 40 minutes of winding my way around the room: isolation, fear, dread. It was a defining moment.
Have you ever felt that way? Lonely, fearful, hopeless?
After the 34th minute, I crawled around a pile of boxes, and there, in the distance, I saw a dim sign which said, “Exit.” I knew that below the sign was a door and beside the door was a light switch. At once, a new sensation emerged: hope.
In the New Testament is a Greek word translated “exit.” It is the word that we render “exodus.” “Exodus” is the way God saves lost people. It is divine light shining into darkness. Consider, for example, the words of Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”
What does this little story have to do with Christmas? Everything. Jesus stepped into history and said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
You may not realize it, but you and I desperately need the light of life. Because of sin, we stand condemned before God, stuck in the worst conceivable form of darkness. This is where humanity lives apart from Christ.
The good news, however, is that Jesus died for lost people such as we. Christ hung between heaven and earth on the cross to suffer in our place, taking upon himself our punishment. Then, to demonstrate that his sacrifice was acceptable, God raised Jesus from the dead. And now our Savior lives and is calling all of us to follow him in faithful obedience.
As I said, it took me forty minutes to meander though the warehouse of boxes before finally reaching the door. I made it to the exit; I made it to the light.
Some of you are reading this and thinking: I know darkness.
Jesus Christ—died, risen, and reigning with the Father—is the good news. Now with this message you are confronted with the bright hope of Christmas. Don’t remain in the darkness of sin; entrust yourself to the light—to the person of Jesus Christ.
Posted December 12, 2012
Roy Oksnevad is Director of Muslim Ministries of Wheaton College
How to Avoid an Anemic Church!
I am often asked to speak in churches on ministering to Muslims. One of the topics people ask when I teach on Islam is why there so much persecution against Christians. Statistics >> tell us that 163,000 Christians die every year for their faith. While this might be true, we also need to realize that persecution is not just against Christians, Jews, or other faiths. Over 90 percent of the 11 million Muslims who have perished since 1948 have been killed by fellow Muslims >>
Another attitude people talk about is the violent side of Islam being the true side of Islam. The real story is that a vast majority of Muslims are moderate, pious people who suffer more from terrorism and violence than non-Muslims. Ninety-three percent of Muslims do not support extremist views of terrorism >>
|Weekly Jihad Report
November 17-23, 2012
|Jihad Attacks 39
|Suicide Attacks 6
|Dead Bodies 126
|Critically Injured 450
|Monthly Jihad Report
|Jihad Attacks 209
|Dead Bodies 911
|Critically Injured 1,464
Since September 11, 2001, there have been 19,992 deadly attacks >>
There are two types of people who seem to have caught our attention: those who have lived under the oppressive hand of Islam, and former Muslims who are very negative about their past. Both groups have an agenda of exposing what they perceive as a hidden reality of life under Islam and the hidden agenda to take over the world. These groups seek to warn the Western Church of the “real” Islam. Read more on this >>
Persecution is a real issue facing the Church, and Islam is one of the great persecutors of Christians worldwide.
But there is a dilemma: Does talking about this topic stimulate Christians for evangelism? If I do not talk about persecution, am I ignoring a very real issue by not being a voice for the voiceless?
How do I talk about persecution without scaring Christians from witnessing to Muslims?
And so I find myself wrestling with this question: What is my understanding of persecution? Does persecution fit into my theology and understanding of the Christian life? How I respond to persecution and talk about it needs to fit into my understanding of being Christian. When we use persecution as the face of our relationship with Islam and Muslims, we create Islamophobia.
But how does Jesus talk about persecution? Indeed, Jesus’ birth caused a great persecution of baby Jews (Matt. 2:13-18). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls those who are persecuted “blessed” (Matt. 5:10-12). Three quarters of Jesus’ teaching on evangelism in Matthew 10 is on persecution (vss. 1-12 are on methodology; vss.13-42 are on persecution).
Evangelism without teaching on persecution creates anemic, weak, and timid Christians. Jesus’ teaching on the end times speaks plainly about persecution. In Revelation 6:9-11 we see that when the martyrs cry for justice, “they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”
However, we are not to lose hope. Jesus’ response to persecution is, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 6:33).
Posted December 5, 2012