EFCCM Podcasts are a Go!

,

I am pleased and excited to announce that a regular EFCCM podcast is going forward. Currently we are in production with the first three episodes. Called the BuzZ Online, the podcast will integrate with the existing BuzZ, our monthly e-mail update, and will tell stories from around the world with the EFCCM. The schedule for these is going to be a little loose, and will depend somewhat on availability of suitable content, the right people to chat with and demand from you, our listeners.

Look for the BuzZ Online to show up here on the blog very soon.

A Thought on Dignity

,

When it comes to missions, there is a resurging importance being put on social justice issues. That’s the practical needs stuff like poverty relief, education, disease prevention and medical assistance. In those efforts, we often hear the phrase “restoring people’s dignity”, but what does that really mean?

We believe that all people have been created in God’s image. That comes straight from the Bible. There is also much in the Bible about our responsibility to fellow humans (Jesus called them ‘neighbours’), and about what living in community really means. I assert that the opposite of dignity is oppression. There are endless ways that people can be oppressed. Poverty, disease, hostility and corruption are all ways that people feel it, and each need requires a different approach. Holistic ministry seeks to bundle many of those needs, and help communities address them together — it is something that the EFCCM is deploying in some pretty inspiring ways.

Sometimes restoring people’s dignity means simply acknowledging the suffering that people are going through. Western culture (seeping into so much more than the “West”) is so focussed on personal comfort and success that recognising the plight of others is a big step. But action is an important follow-up. It’s exciting to see where God’s calling is landing on people, and how they’re following it in some of the most extreme cultures, and most restrictive power structures you can imagine. Please pray for your missionaries: that they would continue to experience God’s provision and protection, and that they would continue on

Wisdom and Discernment Needed in Japan

, , ,

This update comes from Dale and Ann and family in Japan:

“Ann has continued her outreach English classes in Tomioka on a monthly basis while we discern God’s leading for our next step in that church plant. A few months ago the community center kicked us out. The simple solution is to find another facility–which the students themselves have offered. However, the key Japanese family in our church plant feels that community center’s denial of use indicates that God does not want us to continue with Ann’s classes. Please pray that we will have wisdom to discern whether and how we should proceed with our church planting in Tomioka city.

“In the meantime, two other churches have approached us about possible part time church planting with them. We are definitely interested in doing several simultaneous part time church planting projects. Please pray for clear direction from the Lord in discerning whether and how we might involve ourselves in a new church plant.”

These are weighty decisions that have a bearing on much of the direction of future ministry. Pray that God would prepare the way for them, and provide the facilities and resources that are needed too.

Kickin’ it Old School

, , ,

What mental image gets conjured up when you hear the term missionary? I’m willing to bet that we’ve come a long from a pith-helmeted David Livingstone hacking a path out of the African bush with a machete in one hand and a Bible in the other. Right? Well in some important ways we have, but in some important ways we haven’t.

Let me introduce you to Jake and Marg. They are a couple serving in Bolivia. Deep in Bolivia. Like right smack-dab in the jungle. (Below is a picture of a road that was flooded, and workers are clearing away the mud by hand.) They are teaching sustainable agriculture techniques, and are currently planning to add chickens and guinea pigs into the mix. This will improve the lives of the Quechua people, providing a more healthy and sustainable diet, while also teaching good stewardship of the land. The people of the village are often baffled by the foreigners’ ways of planting, and even more baffled when they demonstrate how successful (and delicious) the results are. This is causing exactly the type of curiosity that Jake and Marg were hoping for, and conversations and relationships are developing from it.

We’re starting to hear a lot about social justice in our world, and here is a practical example of it playing out. Jake and Marg have been very involved in agriculture in Canada for a long time, and recently decided to use their gifts in a missions context. Their work in Bolivia is rough adventure type stuff. They are facing the harsh realities of conditions in Bolivia head on, and God is giving repeatedly giving them new ways to help.

This is the humility of our faith tied tightly to the audacity of our calling. It’s old-school missions at its very best!

Intro to Teaching ESL in Japan

, , ,

The following is an interview that I conducted by e-mail with Anna, one of our soon-to-be-returning ESL teachers in Japan. If this sparks something in you, why not contact our office? Maybe you could join our ESL teachers in Japan.

How long have you felt the nudge to get involved with international outreach?
Outreach has always been to the ones around me. It wasn’t until I actually got to Japan that I realized the importance of sending missionaries across the world so God’s Word could be heard by all. After living in Japan and encountering my students here, it really hit me that some people are really hearing the Gospel for the first time and that they know nothing about Christianity!

What drew you to this opportunity in Japan?
Ever since I was 6 years old, I knew I wanted to teach; and I knew that I wanted to go back to Japan. Being born in Himejj, Japan, I’ve always had an interest in this country and the desire to return. However, as I was finishing University, I had some reservations about this goal; I was scared that it was my own desire to do this and not something God wanted. However, when I heard about this opportunity to serve God in Japan and doing what I love to do, I prayed for confirmation. Time after time, in my devotions, the theme of not being afraid but walking in faith jumped at me. So you can say that this direction to Japan began a long time ago.

What did you find it hardest to adjust to?
The language barrier was very difficult for me. At times I felt really out of place because everyone at the table would be speaking Japanese and having a good time, but I wouldn’t understand a thing. However, God provided me with an amazing housemate in February, and she really helped me in the area of fellowship.

What’s something you wouldn’t tell your mother about while you were there?
I actually tell her everything. Being apart for so long increased our conversational topics! I guess at first I didn’t want to let her know how much I missed home, knowing that it would only worry her. But the homesickness only lasted for a couple of weeks before I began to adjust to life here.

What part of this process took the biggest leap of faith for you?
Asking for my parents’ blessing to come to Japan to serve. My parents are non-believers, and it was only recently that my mother came to accept that I was a Christian. I was afraid that she would not want me to go, especially if it involved serving God. But, in fact, she was more relieved to know that I was coming under the church and knowing that there was an organization taking care of me.

How did you see God moving in your own life while you were there?
God showed me more than I could possibly imagine! Having left my comfort zone, my home in Toronto, I was very alone in this foreign country. I’m thankful for this solitary experience, because I’ve learned to depend on Him more and more each day. Recognizing my inadequacies in teaching and sharing the Good News effectively, I could not help but pray for wisdom and strength, and for the Spirit to guide me. He allowed me to see how hungry this country, and the whole this world, is. Seeing that there is less than 1% of Christians in Japan, there is urgency and reflection on my part as a follower of Christ to do more and carry out the mandate of making disciples of all nations.

How did you see God moving among the people you were working with?
There is a particular gentleman who told me that he was very thankful and at peace every time he heard the bible message! With this ministry, many people are hearing the Gospel for the very first time, and I’m glad that they do have the chance to hear it.

If I was heading out in a similar ministry, what advice would you give me?
Enjoy sharing your life as well as the Good News with the people around you. I had such a wonderful time teaching English and building relationships. Relationship-building is key. It’s a big step for the people to be stepping into the church for the very first time (to learn English), so the impression we give them is important. Learning the language wouldn’t be a bad idea, either! It would be good to be able to communicate with them even if it’s in broken Japanese/English—it actually makes it more fun to laugh at our mistakes and to make the effort to understand each other.

Would you do something like this again?
I would definitely do something like this again. Global missions is in my heart, the rest is in God’s hand.

What’s the next step for you?
I’m starting teacher’s college at the University of Toronto in September 2007. Upon graduation, I’m hoping to work with under-privileged children or in inner-city schools.