Sunday, June 22, 2008

Between Macedonia and Kenya, in Chicago

I write this sitting at the annual meeting of the American Society of Missiology in Chicago, Illinois, listening to missionaries and missiologists discuss the mission of God in the world today. Caught between the mission experiences just enjoyed in Macedonia, Kosova, and Greece, with 18 (now seasoned) mission volunteers, and anticipated mission in Kenya, beginning July 5, I reflect on what God is actively doing in the vast and vigorous world in which we live.

God is not "finished" with the mission work in Macedonia and Kosova, as at least one has said. On the contrary, God (despite the the contentions of some) continues on, moving actively and robustly in Albanians, Macedonians, Bosnians, Serbs, Turks, and Roma. As the 18 Balkan mission volunteers have experienced first-hand, Muslim peoples are responding to the salvation good news found singularly in Jesus Christ. The hope and forgiveness assured through the cross is being enjoyed by some in the Balkans. But God's desire is not completely fulfilled. Rather, God desires that all people share in the intimate relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.

I have read my students' reports about their mission ventures in the Balkans. A common theme permeating the reports is the love and hospitality and authenticity and transparency of the people whom they have met. Believing that all love begins with God, can we not assert that this love and embrace and warmth and truth (little "t") began with the work of God? Furthermore, the absence of such values and qualities demonstrates not the failure of God to work, but rather the cultural disobedience and self-absorption we experience in the West.

We look forward to Kenya, and seek your prayers for our mission there. The LORD has blessed us richly with indigenous Kenyan students, and eight of them are potential graduates. I wish to thank many, many persons who have contributed to the financial needs and prayer needs of our missionaries. Always, I am thankful to our home church, the First Baptist Church of Plainview, for consistent and abundant support.

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