Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Day After Yesterday

It's been a whirlwind week for us. We traveled to Quito, Ecuador, which most of you know is somewhere in South America. It's actually just a few miles from the country's namesake: the equator. And that was where our business ended: at the Inti Ñan Museum. "Inti" is Quechua for "sun." "Ñan" connotes "path." So this museum is about the path of the sun along the equator.

The museum is a hands-on kind of place. There were a few interesting experiments demonstrating solar clocks, as well as some tests showing the different results about gravitational flow, as affected by the magnetic forces. For those worried about weight, come to the equator; you will instantly weigh as much as 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) less!

You know that sobriety test, where you have to walk with eyes closed, head tilted slightly up, arms stretched outward with your palms up? Well, you can't pass that one walking on the equatorial line! Not even with your eyes open! The gravity pulls you one way or another. I stumbled towards the north, Pam towards the south.

And yes, water flows out of a drain in opposite directions in both hemispheres. In the southern hemisphere, it flows clockwise; the north is counter-clockwise.

Even with all the fun we had, there were very sober reminders as to why we are in South America. There was a section that demonstrated several people groups that worshiped the sun. If this were not sad enough, there was a ceremonial outfit that was used in both sun worship and a Catholic celebration; it clearly demonstrated the blending (syncretism) of pagan worship with "Christian-based practices." It was a sad, sad sight to see, much less think about. Things of the world should never feel comfortable within Christianity.

This suit (seen above), though, shows a clear belief that mixing the worship of creation with worship of the Creator is acceptable for too many.

[Now, before you wag your head in dismay, check out your own church! What from the lost world influences your worship? That should be cleaned up, too!]

We are home now. It is good to be back. Yesterday was good. But now it is the day after yesterday, and life in this part of South America calls out to us. And we must answer, while it is still called, "today."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

IMB to Face Sweeping Changes

We're changing around the world. It's not a face job, either. The International Mission Board's (IMB) senior leadership, along with trustees, are seeking to do more than put makeup on a puffy face. The changes are intended to make us more efficient. They are supposed to enable us to expand and evangelize at a faster pace.

It's not the first time in the IMB's long life that they have changed. The more recent changes included moving from areas to regions in 1997-98. As a result, there are currently 11 regions through which more than 5,000 men and women engage the unsaved peoples around the world. Those men and women have largely worked in a team format; some teams were quite small and uniquely North American. Other teams were large and included both national believers and North Americans. Together, we sought to challenge the world with the gospel.

Now we are moving to 8 points of focus. These points of focus are to be called, "Global Affinity Groups." Most of them relate to the people groups in Asia; that is logical, since the majority of the world's population is there. But also included in the mix is the European Peoples and the American Peoples.

The groups will be led by Affinity Strategists, who will also have their team of assistants, just as regional leaders do. Within each affinitygroup there will be a varying number of clusters. Within each cluster will be a varying number of teams. Within each team...; you get the point.

Why am I mentioning this in my personal blog? Because I want you to pray for us. Some people will be asked to change roles. Some will take on more responsibility; others may have to take on less than they have right now. Some will have to move, though most will not.

Also, with change comes a disruption of our personal comfort zones. We have adjusted and acclimated to a certain lifestyle--complete with all the emotional and social implications, as well as physical comforts (or discomforts, in some cases). So when someone sends a note and says, "Get ready for change," one's heart can become unnecessarily unsettled. After all, the Lord holds us tightly in his hand. He is not at all surprised by what we are living and experiencing these days.

That's true about you, too. I don't and can't know what each reader faces. But I know this: nothing you face takes God by surprise.

Personally, we are encouraged by what we hear from Dr. Rankin and others. We feel the better days are still ahead, not behind us. Besides, in a world that changes as quickly as this one does, I am thankful to God for a discerning leadership that seeks to keep pace and stay on the cutting edge.

Thanks for praying.