Five Hopes for 2018 | Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largehopesfor2018By Shane Bennett

One of the funnest parts of January for me is the opportunity, sometimes, to help launch a Perspectives course by teaching lesson one. On the first night of class, it’s all hope and possibility. And since the odds of being the best speaker are slim, I’m happy to be the first!

The hope that infuses the Perspectives material and flows through the missiology that undergirds is what I find so encouraging, even invigorating: God is doing something huge for his name! And that work for his name not only involves cleaning, reclaiming, and restoring us, but even inviting us into the amazing honor of joining in his purposes. It’s staggering, really.

I want to blow on those embers of possibility in both you and me today by sharing five big hopes that I have for 2018 and asking to hear some of yours.

1. Substantive shifts in the global refugee situation

I hope that 2018 sees life turn toward good for many of the most gut-wrenching refugee situations. How great would it be for Syrians to begin to return home, accompanied by a massive reconstruction effort?

For the Rohingya I hope and pray for resolution that I honestly can’t even imagine. In my wildest dreams I don’t see how this situation can get better soon. But trusting God’s power to be superior to my imagination, I pray he’ll make a difference.

I also pray for the hundreds of thousands of would-be migrants to Sicily now marooned in Libya. In mid-2017 Italy partnered with a Libyan militia to hinder northward migration. While successful and good for Sicily, this has cheapened the lives of many who now suffer unimaginably in Libya.

Finally, I hope my country, the US (you hope for yours!) will act toward refugees in ways that honor God. It’s hard to see how we go from here to there, but again God can make a way.

2. A growing wave of young, smart, global entrepreneurs

Last weekend I watched a sharp documentary called Poverty, Inc. Depending on what you’re up to your ears in, it might make you sad. Or it might anger you. Or, if you’re like me and watch it with a radical young couple bent on honoring God and changing their part of the world, it might fill you with hope. Jesse and Jessica live in Liberia with For the Lamb. They’re starting a compressed-earth block company. They’re dreaming about their business helping Liberians and, even better, helping Liberians help themselves.

I’m dreaming about hundreds of Jesses and Jessicas from the US. From Europe. And even better, from Senegal, Syria, and Singapore… wisely and bravely stepping into situations where the enemy has stolen, killed, and destroyed, with their arms and minds full of the abundant life of Jesus.

I’m hoping they will be joined by hundreds of women and men skilled at PTSD counseling and training others. Few of the 65 million currently displaced people in the world will escape without some deep wounds.

3. A shift in sentiments toward Muslims

In 2018 I hope we see a measurable shift among Americans toward Muslims, both American Muslims and others. I’d like to see Christians on a grand scale trade apathy, anxiousness, and anger for connection and love toward Muslims near and far.

When God told Abraham that he and Sarah would be a conduit through which blessings would extend to all the peoples of the earth, that pretty much included everyone. And when Jesus hung out and laughed with Samaritans, he was showing us, among other things, how to interact with Muslims and others who like them. I would love to hear what you might be doing to make this hope real or what you think might need done.

I’d also like to invite you into my small, but growing effort called Muslim Connect, a super-short weekly email designed to help us think like God about Muslims and love them like Jesus does.

4. A fundamental increase in generosity

After way too long being way underfunded, I’ve hired what’s known in our tribal parlance as a Partnership Development Coach. Turns out this guy, who works as part of Stewardship Ambassadors, is not primarily going to help me talk people into giving to my ministry… he’s going help me help people grow in obedient generosity, and apparently that starts with me. You can imagine my surprise, as well as my hope for a broad-based increase in generosity throughout the global church and beyond.

What I hope to see grow in my own heart, an openness to gladly share of the good stuff God has given me, I hope to see grow in all of our hearts. Most of you, I’m guessing, are starting on a higher floor than me. But many of us have some room to grow.

5. Movements

Finally, I’m hoping that in 2018 we see God’s hand extended to continue gathering a great harvest. Recent research shows a growing number of multiplying movements to Christ particularly among unreached peoples. One observer has charted well over 600 movements in which multiple streams of disciples have reached four generations deep. This means someone following Jesus who leads her friends to him who then lead their friends to him who then lead their friends to follow him. Additionally, he sees thousands of movements that are emerging but have yet to hit the four-generation mark. What might we see as they mature?!? This is huge!

To give legs to both number four and five above, I’d like to give you at my expense a free copy of Stubborn Perseverance, a novelized story of a movement to Christ in Southeast Asia. It is both gripping and instructive. It will fill you with hope and wisdom for what God is up to in our day. To claim your free copy enter my name and email where it asks for the name of “your generous friend” (Ha!) Free print books are limited to the first 100 and only to the US. Kindle or pdf versions are not limited either in number or by geography.

I would love to hear your hopes for 2018 or your thoughts on mine. Respond to this email or post them on our website or Facebook page.

12 Ways to Pray | Practical Mobilization

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12 Ways to PrayA friend relayed the story of a young boy in London attending his first-ever nativity play at school. When it was over, she asked what he thought.

“I liked it. It’s a great story. But I have one question.”

“Sure. What is it?” my friend asked.

“Why did they name the baby after a swear word?”

Ah, Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, for some. For others a source of pain. For many others little more than a day on the calendar.

As believers we have an opportunity to partner with God to increase the impact of Christmas in our own homes, in our towns, and really to the ends of the earth. As you celebrate, will you join me in lifting prayers for the nations? Many peoples are presently facing unique and challenging situations. Many who work with under-evangelized peoples find themselves with fresh but perplexing possibilities around Christmas.

Here are a dozen ways to pray in the days leading up to Christmas. And here’s a bit of cheer: In a rare moment of restraint, I refrained from framing these totally around the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and asking you to start at the beginning and pray through them all with each additional prayer request!

1. Ask Jesus to show up in dreams and visions.

When he came to Earth the first time, it pretty much caught everyone off guard. Ask him to visit in dreams and visions and once again surprise people, giving them reason to look for answers, to reach out to Christians, or to read the Bible.

2. Pray for correction of conception misconceptions.

Ask God to help many Muslims, starting with your Muslim friends, understand the miraculous nature of the birth of Jesus.

Pray for an end to lies that say God and Mary had a carnal relationship and baby Jesus was the result. (Read more.)

3. Remember school daze.

Pray for non-Christian kids navigating the craziness of Christmastime at their schools. Your schools may celebrate Christmas or they may be carefully secular, but either way it’s hard to miss the holiday hullabaloo.

Let’s empathize in prayer with kids whose cultural faith precludes Christmas. Pray for teachers as they love and guide these kids.

4. Consider Christmas in the worst possible conditions.

Let’s intercede for the Rohingya people who will pass Christmas under siege in Burma or in relatively safe but deplorable conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Up to 600,000 have fled there for their lives.

Few Rohingya celebrate Christmas, but only in their dreams can they be home for these or any other holidays. Let’s lift them up.

5. Seek fresh hope for Syria and Iraq.

Rejoice that full-scale hostilities are coming to an end in Syria and Iraq. Pray for fresh hope with the year to come.

Pray for the rebuilding process, for many believers to answer the call to help reconstruct these countries, and for the kingdom of God to grow wonderfully there.

6. May wise men and women still seek him.

Ask God to move in the hearts of many academic, political, and business leaders to seek the life Jesus offers.

Pray particularly for the leadership of Saudi Arabia where fresh reforms are being implemented and staggering ones are promised.

7. Pray for peace where cultures meet.

Pray for peace in cities where Christian neighborhoods border Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim ones… where Christmas celebrations will happen just a block away from fervent followers of other religions.

Pray not only for peace, but also winsome, loving proclamation of good news and great joy.

8. Lift up those dear to us gathered near to us.

Back in our own cities, let’s pray that tons of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others receive and respond to kind invitations to share in Christmas gatherings. May extra places be set, gifts thoughtfully purchased, and welcome warmly extended.

For many of us, Christmas is decidedly, and understandably, family time. May God give us grace to stretch the definition a bit this year.

9. Pray for new neighbors to find ancient truth.

Intercede for servants who volunteer or work full time to help refugees resettle in America or other nations.

Pray for wisdom as they host Christmas parties, deciding what to include, what to say, and what to avoid. Pray that they’d arrange joyful celebrations that appropriately honor Jesus as the main point of the party.

10. Bless the hands that prepare your holidays.

Do you realize that many, maybe most, of the gifts we purchase this Christmas and the decorations arrayed to help us celebrate were made by Chinese people?

As we wrap, open and adorn, let’s pray for the hopeful blessings of Jesus to be known in fresh ways among those through whose hands passed the material we now hold.

11. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts not cause Uncle Fred to go ballistic.

Jesus was provocative. There’s just no way around it: His birth. His life. His death. His insistence that his followers hear and obey his teaching!

Let’s pray that around Christmas tables all over this year, conversations would take place that put the teachings of Jesus front and center. Pray that many would consider afresh the relevance of his words to immigration, the refugee crisis, travel bans, and the billions presently beyond the direct touch of the gospel.

12. Remember for beautiful feet propped up before foreign fires.

Ten of my good buds and their 15 kids will celebrate Christmas in Sicily this year. You could do worse, certainly, but tears will be shed both here and there at the distance between them and the rest of their families.

Would you join me in praying for the Catania crew and the thousands of other ambassadors among the nations who will celebrate Christmas away from home? Pray also for their families.

Many tears will fall in lonely silence, seen only by the Father who knows what it’s like to have a kid away from home on Christmas.

Subversive Mobilization

Props for our Publisher

Could I ask you a favor? Missions Catalyst’s unsung publisher, Marti Wade, is a rock star. If you had to read what I write before she “helps” it, you would have stopped a long time ago! Marti works on every edition of Missions Catalyst we publish. She does so with excellence and grace. If you’ve enjoyed Missions Catalyst, it’s in large part due to Marti’s diligent editorial oversight.

If you’ve received value from it this year, please take a moment and shoot her a quick thank you. You can reply to this email and it will go directly to her. If you want to get her chocolate to feed her soul or an Amazon gift certificate to feed her book habit, you can email me for her address.

Mobilization & the Noble Sport of Curling

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Curling

Sweeping Someone’s Path to the Nations

By Shane Bennett

Check me if I’m wrong on this, but I believe only one sport involves something being thrown, shot, hit, or swatted, after which the players extensively manipulate the course of the object. None but noble curling.

You’ve seen it, right? One person slides a giant rock down the ice while two more people crazily sweep a path before it? Of course it’s far more subtle, sophisticated, and, if you’re into curling, more beautiful than that. In fact, curling is known as “chess on ice.”

So how about curling as also a great metaphor for mission mobilization?

For the sake of brevity, I’ll overlook some of the most obvious possible parallels… that missionaries’ heads can be as hard as rocks! That many popular missions destinations are so crowded we have to knock others out to stay there?! That Canada has won more curling championships than any other country. (O Canada!)

No, here’s what I’m thinking: A curling team or “rink” consists of four members. The one calling the shots and coordinating the effort is called the “skip.” Let’s say we’re actually praying the way Jesus told us to pray in Luke 10:2, asking “the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest,” and our Skip, the Lord, actually says yes and does so.

The stretch of ice between the launch and the bull’s eye is long, slippery, and fraught with obstacles. Mobilizers are like sweepers, receiving instruction from the Skip and sweeping faster and slower, lightly and vigorously, all to end of helping the stone arrive at its most strategic point.

Last month’s Practical Mobilization column talked about how to find potential missionaries in your midst. This month, let’s think about the influence God may have us use to help them as they go. How do we sweep?

I assume you know people who overdo it. We—I mean they—assume they “know God’s will” for someone else or speak and act as if the thing they are doing is pretty much the only thing God is into these days.

It’s important to note: The Skip calls the shots! It’s the Skip’s job to see the whole ice. The sweepers implement the strategy of the Skip, not the other way around.

Here are four ways in which we “sweep” laborers into strategic points in the harvest.

1. We encourage prospective long-term workers to persevere.

Most valuable things are hard to do. Preparing for career-level, cross-cultural service carries many normal challenges, plus the oddness of pursuing your career in a hugely different place with a new language and without tons of models. These days there is growing stigma on people who assume others should also believe things they believe. And if you raise support to do this? Yikes.

Sweep. “Keep at it.” “I’m with you.” “You’re going to kill this.” Sweepity, sweep, sweep.

2. On the other hand, sometimes they need to slow down.

A wise mission mobilizer knows when to go all yellow light on a candidate. This is hard for me, but you see a few people or a cute couple spin out and hit the wall and you may think, “Let’s don’t be cavalier about this.”

It may be time to offer more prayer, advice, and help in spiritual development. Perhaps basic discipling. This early investment pays out in long-term effectiveness.

3. A good mobilizer helps prospective workers wrestle with strategic decisions.

A good sweeper helps the rock follow the right path to the right destination. Again, under the guidance of the Skip, we help people consider where they might go and with whom.

If, like me, you’ve grown up in a western culture that specializes in individualism (“I think, therefore I am” and “What’s God’s will for my life?”), it might be particularly important to consider the “go with” parts of the equation. Whom do you go with in terms of spouse, church, team, and agency?

I don’t know every missions agency. There are a gazillion of them. And I’m a little biased toward my org, Frontiers, and Missions Catalyst’s publisher, Pioneers. But I like to imagine that I can objectively help people think about where they might fit. With a list of options longer than you find at the Cheesecake Factory, it’s nice to have a friend who’s familiar with the menu.

We can also help find training and mission experience for people as they respond to God’s launching. Take someone to their first Perspectives class if they haven’t been before. Help them think about a training internship like Launch Global or TOAG. Advocate for appropriate scouting and vision trips to potential locations.

4. And finally, smooth the ice of support raising.

Feeling adventurous? If the Skip instructs you to do so, you could buy their house or take care of their student loans! Maybe buying them a copy of The God Ask (or lending them your copy) is more your speed. Introduce them to people who might share their vision and significantly fund them. And always, pray and encourage perseverance.

Conclusion

Jesus said to ask the Father to send out laborers. I assume he did so knowing God would say yes. So, fellow sweepers, let’s grab our brooms afresh, listening carefully to the Skip’s commands and get some rocks on the button.

» Share your thoughts on this article on our website or Facebook page. Got this from a friend? Browse the archives and subscribe!

Curling image: Medyr/Fotolibre. Creative Commons License.

Subversive Mobilization: Invite a Muslim Family Over for Thanksgiving

Live in or come from America? We’ve got a big holiday coming in a couple of weeks. As I told readers of my weekly Muslim Connect email, Thanksgiving might be the easiest time to take a risk and invite a Muslim family to dinner. Gratitude is universal and pumpkin pie should be! If you’ve been feeling a nudge that direction, now is the time to make the invitation.

» Questions about how that might work? Post them here. If you do invite someone over, I’d love to hear how it goes.

Who Will Go? | Practical Mobilization

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goers

Who Will Go? Six Things You Can Do to Find Potential Missionaries in Your Midst

By Shane Bennett

Imagine this scenario: Your pastor stands on the stage Sunday morning and says, “Everyone point to the most missions-minded person in the building!” Do they look at you? Are fingers pointing your way? The odds may be pretty good if you are a Missions Catalyst reader.

Here’s why I want to paint that picture in your imagination: I suspect there are people in your fellowship whom God has in mind to serve his kingdom in a strategic, cross-cultural way. And I have a hunch that you may be an instrumental part of their activation.

If there were people at your church God was calling to long-term service overseas, how would you know? What might you do?

1. Pray.

Since this is always God’s work before it’s our work, prayer leads the way. Try this: Set a daily alarm on your phone for 10:02am. When it goes off, take a moment to pray in line with the instructions Jesus gave in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Ask God to raise up workers from your church. Then listen for any nudging he gives about particular people. Pray for your pastor, staff, and missions leaders. Pray for particular individuals in whom you see long-term potential.

2. Search among the servers.

This is a little dicey, I know, because most of us operate with a scarcity mentality. (It’s not just me, is it?) I’ll never forget my former pastor saying to me, as God began a fresh global move in our church, “You can take whoever you want, but don’t take Brenda!” Brenda was his personal assistant. And, you guessed it, she was the first to move to Central Asia with her family!

Fact is, few people step into overseas work from sitting the pew and nothing more. Faithful service leads to more faithful service. The future long-term workers at your church are presently engaged in vital ministry. As God calls them out, there will be loss—for them personally and for the programs they’re serving.

I see no way around this. So we must tread carefully, leading with humility and empathy, never implying that “real service” is missions.

3. Launch some intro events.

This is the church equivalent to a fisherman chumming the water. Sponsor a cool event, or start a helpful study and see who shows up. The Embark Study from Frontiers is a crazy simple intro to God’s work among Muslims. Crescent Project’s Bridges program either as a seminar (which I would love to do for you) or as a small-group study with DVDs can help normal people shed their fear of Muslims with a little bit of knowledge and some comfort-zone-expanding homework.

I’m sure you can find similar intros bringing biblical insight but focused on reaching out to other populations. The idea is to provide a baby step of information and activity.

4. Take people to visit a Perspectives class.

Still hands down the best missions mobilization education going, Perspectives has been a huge factor in many long-termers’ stories. This week I’m kicking around Catania, Sicily with a great team of people exploring longer-term investment. Perspectives is a common and significant thread in the lives of most of the group.

Once people have a taste of the course, they’re going to want to attend. Lobby your church to fund a handful of scholarships, then invite people you choose to use them. Even better, consider hosting a course at your church! Enlist those you have your eyes on to help you coordinate the class.

5. Take a little excursion.

A tour of a local Hindu temple or a day at a refugee apartment complex will help potential goers get their feet wet. It will also provide a small chance for you to consider if you have your eyes on the right people. Brief forays like this can lead to longer domestic and overseas trips, building cross-cultural capacity and smoothing rough edges.

6. Connect them to people who can place them.

One of the best gifts a mobilizer can give to a potential goer is connection and open doors to people who can help them. You have some idea what organizations excel in given areas. You have a sense of what pitfalls and biases to be aware of. A timely introduction to a team leader or agency staff might significantly accelerate the process for a would-be goer.

Conclusion

Fair warning: Put these things into practice and you’ll run the risk of people saying about you, “God loves you and [your name here] has a wonderful plan for your life!” I don’t much care for that statement when it’s applied to me, but I’m not going to simply sit on the couch to avoid it.

Most of us are designed by biology and guided by our faith to operate best in community. And that means in part that we do better with trusted friends who encourage us, who will say, “Yes, I believe this nudging you’re feeling is from God.” Or, more radically, “Have you ever considered kingdom work in an unreached culture? I see potential in you.”

You don’t know God’s will for a particular person, but you have a sense of what he’s up to in the world. If you think someone in your church could play a part, take a risk and let them know.

» I’d love to hear what you’ve done to help people in your church become goers. Would you take a moment right now and share your good ideas and practices? Posting a comment on this Google doc will make your thoughts available to us all.

7. Bonus Tip

Here’s a final way to find long-term cross-cultural candidates at your church: Make them from scratch! Build them from a young age. Bring your kids to work with me and some refugees next year in a US city.

Granted, there’s enough hurricane clean-up to keep most of our youth groups busy for the next 18 months. Should God give you grace for it, though, I’d love to talk to you about a week-long, well-led, local-church-partnered short term that blesses refugees and equips your kids to tell stories of Jesus to people from all over the world, even the world two streets over from their house.

Yikes, I guess I do have a wonderful plan for your life!

» Learn more.

Jesus and His Passion for a Big Kingdom | Practical Mobilization

Missions-Catalyst-no-tagline_largeJesus and His Passion for a Big Kingdom

By Shane Bennett

Driving Merchants from the Temple

Driving of the Merchants from the Temple, by Ippolito Scarsella.

If God’s job is to make his sheep fat and happy, he’s not too good at it. I think about believers in the Caribbean and the US suffering the effects of Harvey and Irma today, Mexicans dead in a massive earthquake, and Christians persecuted in the Middle East. Not to mention potential believers like the Rohingya of Burma who are fleeing for their lives in the hundreds of thousands.

If his job is to radically remake everything, I wonder why he’s so slow about it. Realizing, however, that the fundamental unit of the “everything” getting remade is the human heart, mine and yours, I sadly acknowledge I’m part of the slowness.

Alongside the long list of things I don’t understand and the timing issues I don’t get, one thing seems pretty clear in the Gospels: Jesus inaugurated and relentlessly lived into a vision of a certain and vast kingdom of God—a new reality in which outsiders become insiders, evil is pushed back, justice becomes the norm, and as N.T. Wright brilliantly summarizes, God “puts all things to rights.”

God’s job, then, is to bring about that kingdom. Jesus, by the way he lived, the things he said, and the places he hung out gives us both a framework for what the kingdom looks like and a model for participation in it.

I’m particularly encouraged and re-centered by some of the key biblical ideas highlighted in the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course regarding this:

1. Jesus called himself the “Son of Man.”

While this carried messianic allusions for his Jewish listeners, perhaps it also provided accessibility to non-Jews. At least it lowered some of the walls of exclusivity raised by Jewish-specific titles like Son of David and Rabbi.

2. Jesus hung out with outsiders.

Matthew tells us Jesus went and lived in Capernaum, fulfilling scripture (Matthew 4:12-25; Isaiah 9:1-2):

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

This also put Jesus nearer to the nations. While messiah-seeking Jews could come up from Jerusalem to encounter Jesus (as Matthew says they did), Gentiles found him teaching, healing, and driving out demons right in their own back yard! The presence of the kingdom of God had come even to them (Matthew 4:24-25).

3. Jesus gave Gentiles access.

When Jesus cleansed the Temple, or as I like to say, “wreaked havoc on the holy hangout,” he was not teaching us that Girl Scouts can’t sell cookies in the foyer and realtors should leave their business cards at home on Sunday morning. Instead he was rolling back a situation that prevented access to God by Gentiles. He re-opened a path for the glory God deserved and wanted from the nations (Matthew 21:12-17; Isaiah 56:7-8). Can’t you just hear him shout it?

“For my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations.”
The Sovereign Lord declares—
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered.”

4. Jesus passionately advocated for care for outsiders.

We see him in action healing a Roman soldier’s slave (Luke 7:1-10) and driving out demons from the daughter of a foreigner (Matthew 15:21-28). We hear his words of scathing rebuke (Luke 4:24-26). Were there not widows in Israel? Were there not lepers in Israel? Yet God had sent the prophet to foreigners!

5. He worked long and hard to build global, kingdom understanding in his disciples.

I particularly love how Jesus agrees to spend two days in a Samaritan village (John 4:39-41). Poor disciples! Jesus was leading them into the very places they promised their moms they’d never go! This is such a cool model for us to both go and take others into important situations that are beyond our realm of comfort.

Our Response

What can we do to grow in alignment with Jesus on this? How can we see and live out the kingdom he envisioned? The answer could be as big and diverse as the cosmos, but here’s one thing that hurts and one thing that should be fun:

First, realize that we may have more in common with the religious leaders Jesus was smacking around than the outsiders to whom he showed such lavish kindness.

It’s possible this is just me and not you, but give it a little thought. If you’re reading Missions Catalyst, odds are you’re an insider to the things of God and to the current Christian culture. Our enemy would love to build a mindset in us in which we thank God for our special status and cluck our tongues at those gays, Muslims, liberals, etc. who are outside looking in.

Second, give up on this generation and focus on the next!

I’m kidding. Let’s not give up quite yet. But I want to invite you to build kingdom-minded kids by sending your youth group with me next year to connect with refugees. It would be a little bit like when Jesus took his guys to hang out with the Samaritan woman and her village. Let’s spend a week in a US city, learning about the refugee situation, connecting with a local church, working hard, and authentically serving an unreached refugee community.

Sound like a step in the right kingdom direction? Let’s talk.

» You can also comment on our website or Facebook page.

Memorial for Hall-of-Famer Bill Dickson

Good people pass from this life every day, most without the recognition they merit. May that not be the case for Bill Dickson, a long-time Global Mapping International staffer and member of the broader community of people working hard to complete the Great Commission.

Bill Dickson died in a car crash on August 2. He worked in the background of a growing movement, logging hours that were long, challenging, and largely unsung. LightSys, the organization with which Bill most recently worked, issued a press release about his life. Here’s an excerpt.

Bill is best known for his pioneering work using database technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and digital publishing for the cause of global mission. Bill was instrumental in supporting hundreds of organizations globally in their use of technology in the early days of the digital era. Some of those included the International Mission Board, World Vision, Lausanne, COMIBAM (the Latin American mission association), The CoMission (an effort to engage the former Soviet Union when the Berlin Wall fell), MANI (Movement for African National Initiatives), and many others. He also helped create the digital versions of products such as Operation World, Peoples of the Buddhist World, the North American Mission Handbook, Operation China, and The Future of the Global Church.

His passion for missions can best be summed up in his own words:

“I believe that we have an enemy who likes to muddle communication and confuse efforts to take news of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. I believe that good research, done cooperatively, is like turning on the lights in a dark room, and that instead of stumbling over each other in the dark, Kingdom workers can develop trust and begin moving together with clarity and purpose.”

Thank you to people who financially and prayerful support people like Bill. Their work isn’t flashy, but strategic almost beyond measure.

» Read or post memories of Bill.

Helping Kids Help Kids at School

America is going back to school. Little munchkins are buying notebooks, boarding busses, and beginning a new year of education, fun, and tribalism. Cliques are forming and re-forming in the primordial ooze of public schools. Some kids are wooed, others cautiously invited in and too many are overlooked, marginalized, and excluded.

You went to school, right? Were you the same color as most of your classmates? One of my friends, a tall, fair, redhead, arrived for the first day of ninth grade in her new school to find a classroom otherwise entirely filled with students of Pakistani descent. Her teacher arrived, noticed her, and said, “You must be the new girl!” She replied, “How’d you guess?” It’s a challenge to be different.

Thousands of variables affect group formation and insider/outsider status in our kids’ schools. As followers of Jesus, maybe we should be concerned about them all. We should definitely take pains to keep kids from being mistreated because they happen to be Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. In fact, maybe we should encourage our kids to extend a hand to such kids.

What can your little Jesus kids do about this? In ascending order of social riskiness, they could…

  1. Keep their cute little mouths shut! Simply don’t join in when kids are being made fun of for the color of their skin or the religious situation they were born into. (They’ll do what they’ve seen at home!)
  2. Sit by the kids no one wants to sit by. Talk to them. (“I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”)
  3. Invite those kids to into their group. “Sit with us.” “Be on my team.” “Do you have a group for the project yet? Join ours.” (As a bonus, overlooked smart kids will help your kids’ grades!)
  4. Defend them before the “popular” kids. (This is gonna leave a mark!)
  5. Invite them to dinner at your house! (Stock up on halal snacks!)

Are there Muslim students at your school? Download this one-page primer for your kids. Take a quick look before you give it to them because you may want to yell at me, “Dude, what are you? 100 years old?” If you want to amend it for others to make it better, let me know. Or simply adapt it for your kids; you do know how to cut and paste.

If, during the first couple days of school, you’ll simply greet the mom in the burka or say hey to the dad with the odd name, your kids may get the picture and behave the same way. Unless they are thirteen, in which case they will just do the opposite of what you say and do!

» Other thoughts about this topic? Comment on our website or Facebook page or email Shane.