Faculty

New biology professor integrates faith and science

No Comments » Written on September 21st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Feature, General, Programs

For the true scientist, faith is something that must be simultaneously held at arm’s length and embraced. Being in a field where knowledge is tested, retested and tested again forces the scientist to stand at a certain distance from what he or she knows. Some scientists who are perched in that place see faith as a distraction, or at worst a limitation. Some, however, see their faith as precisely the force that gives them courage to delve fearlessly into the mysteries of life. Dr. Sarah Gall, chair of the biology department at MU, is this latter type of scientist. Read the rest of this entry »

Campus Happenings, Fall 2016

No Comments » Written on September 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Newsletter, Pray For MU, Programs, Students

Dr. Derek Chinn selected as interim dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary

Dr. Derek Chinn, who directs the seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program, assumed his new role on August 1. “I’m going to work closely with my colleagues to pursue what God is calling Multnomah to be in our rapidly changing society,” he says. Chinn takes over for Dr. Roy Andrews, who served as seminary dean for the past three years.

MU community raises support for family of Khen Tua Tang

Khen Tua Tuang was getting ready to start his second year of the Global Development and Justice program when he was tragically killed in a car accident on July 28. He left behind his wife Huai and their young daughter ZemZem, who will need tremendous financial help in the months ahead. You can support them by contributing to the Khen Tua Tuang Family Fund here.

Multnomah announces arrival of new student center

MU is excited to introduce The Den, a student gathering space opening in January 2017. The industrial-style lounge will serve as a living room for commuter students on weekdays. During evenings and weekends, it will be a go-to spot for general student events. The Den concept was born thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor and the creativity of various university employees and student leaders.

Business students volunteer in Italy

MU’s business program has forged an on-going partnership with Kingdom Ministries, a local nonprofit that equips ministries in Italy by connecting them to volunteers who can serve in their camps, English classes and city festivals. Five business majors interned in finance, marketing and project management roles to promote, arrange and fund this year’s summer camps. “They’re getting experience they won’t get anywhere else,” says Kingdom Ministries co-founder Andrew Stone. The interns’ work culminated in a trip to Italy in June.

Athletics Department adds indoor track and field

The Athletics Department is happy to announce the addition of indoor track and field to its sports lineup, which also includes outdoor track and field, basketball, cross country, golf, volleyball and soccer. Stay connected to our sports teams by visiting gomulions.com.

Global ministry trends and issues, part seven: Unreached people groups

No Comments » Written on September 2nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Feature, Missions, Theology

This is the seventh post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog. Read the rest of this entry »

MA TESOL students run Bible camp in Japan

No Comments » Written on August 31st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Programs, Students

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This month, a team of MA TESOL students and professors led an English Bible camp for college, high school, junior high and elementary students in Kobe, Japan. In addition to preparing English lessons for each day of camp, the group also planned games, rallies, campfires, worship services and special activities. Team members spent a week before the 12-day trip studying Japanese culture and taking a collaborative approach to camp planning.

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The team worked with Pastor Akinori Taniguchi of Youth Harvest Church, which offers English Bible Club classes throughout the week. For Taniguchi, TESOL is a way to engage his community, build relationships and share the gospel. “Churches in Japan are small, and the work can be discouraging,” says MA TESOL Director Kristyn Kidney. “Our collaboration with this local church allowed us to support, encourage and pray over their workers.”

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It also allowed them to richly bless their Japanese students. “They had a lot of fun, and they learned a lot of English,” says Kidney. “We saw first-time professions of faith. We saw campers memorizing scripture together and discussing the meaning of the verses. We even saw some attend church for the very first time.”

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But the campers weren’t the only ones who were impacted. “It was amazing to see how God spoke to our team members through this experience,” says Kidney. “Some discovered new confidence in their teaching as they relied on God and found him faithful. Others felt a new tug on their heart to connect their TESOL training to overseas missions.”

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The theme for this year’s camp was Great Discoveries. “Both campers and our team discovered a great deal about language, friendship, and love of God,” says Kidney. “We delighted in getting to know them, teaching them English and seeing God work in their hearts.”

Youth Harvest Church has invited the team to return next year.

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Global ministry trends and issues, part six: Children and youth

No Comments » Written on August 30th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Press Releases, Theology

This is the sixth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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This week’s focus has been the primary issue for me as a practitioner and researcher in life. Children and youth continue to experience pressing needs in our world today. I think particularly of those affected by global poverty and other factors that have led to an increase in children growing up in circumstances that put their lives at risk. One-sixth of the world’s children are living in crisis (Douglas and Steffen 349).

This population represents some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Street-living and working children, child soldiers, gang-affiliated youth and others are in desperate need for mission praxis that is informed through best-practices in the field (best practices are models and approaches that derive from research and agreed upon standards from experts in the field). In the least developed areas of our world, children comprise 41 percent of the population (Payne 113). In some countries, that percentage rises above 50 percent, yet so often our mission training programs focus on the other half of the world’s population.

Scripture speaks boldly about the importance of children. Noted researchers in children’s spirituality focus on several biblical narratives where children are involved (Scottie May, et. al 39). One such story is the reunification of Esau and Jacob. When Jacob responds to Esau’s question about, “Who are these with you?” Jacob joyfully responds, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant” (Gen. 3:5). Other biblical passages from the N.T. are noted as well. The authors argue that “not only is the presence of Jesus’ teaching on children in the Gospels significant, but the emphasis in those teachings heightens their importance . . . understanding what Jesus says about children is at the heart of being a true disciple of Jesus” (39).

Given Scripture’s clear emphasis on recognizing the importance of children, understanding the risks they face is important.

Statistics reveal the need for caring for these young people:

• Two million people between the ages of 15 and 24 die each year globally from preventable diseases.
• 20% of adolescents experience mental health problems every year.
• Interpersonal violence kills about 565 young people between the ages of 5 and 29 every day.
• AIDS or AIDS-related illnesses account for the deaths of more than half of young female Africans (Payne 119).

Global development and mission organizations will continue to look for qualified candidates that are well-rounded in their skills and training. Local churches are critical to engaging with young people on the margins as well. “From the perspective of a missional engagement with children at risk, there is no replacement for the establishment of churches among every group of children who suffer the atrocities of a fallen world” (Pocock, Van Rheenen and McConnell 75).

Yet to care for these children, churches and agencies must move beyond a mentality that holds to a myopic approach to transformation that divides physical and emotional needs from spiritual realities. Spiritual conversion is critical for transformation, but a holistic approach that is focused on proclamation and formation, demonstration of compassion, restoration and development, and finally, confrontation of injustices will be critical to addressing both individual and structural issues that continue to contribute to the vulnerability of at-risk youth and children (Castellanos 136). Another way of saying this: We need to couple Word and Deed in our missional models for engaging with youth and children.

The implication of the abovementioned statistics recognizes the need for people to be trained through interdisciplinary programs that prepare caregivers from the fields of theology, business, psychology, sociology and health professions. General practitioners will continue to provide care as they launch programs that respond to the needs of at-risk children around the world. Combining the disciplines above will lead to robust programs that care for the whole child (thus bringing together the spiritual and physical realities).

One such example of a program that seeks to bridge both Word and Deed are found in some child sponsorship programs. Johnson and Wu, in citing a recent Christianity Today article describe the powerful effect that child sponsorship programs are having on vulnerable children (181). Sponsorship programs need not only passionate people trained in child survival practices, but business and marketing backgrounds as well. Happily, we have seen some Multnomah students from our programs going that direction. Children and youth also need pastors who are willing to open up their churches to serve those most vulnerable in their community. Academic programs that are multi-disciplined can provide the essential training that is needed for this type of ministry.

The need for partnerships and interdisciplinary approaches is critical for preparing future workers among this population of young people. Internships and practicum opportunities, as well as working with organizations that understand best practices, give students the opportunity to put into play what they are learning in the classroom. This is a critical piece for preparing younger generations in mission engagement. As a student at Multnomah in my undergrad, interning with a nonprofit organization in Colombia played a critical role in my vocational calling. It was that interplay between theory and practice, the classroom and field work, that eventually led me to full-time work in Latin America upon graduating.

Children and youth are clearly seen prioritized in the ministry of Jesus as he places the child in the midst of His disciples (Matt 18:12). It is time that our academic training institutions follow His example and provide programs that focus on those most vulnerable in society.

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Works Cited

Castellanos, Noel. Where the Cross Meets the Street. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

May, Scottie, Beth Posterski, Catherine Stonehouse & Linda Cannell. Children Matter: Celebrating Their Place in the Church, Family, and Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 2005.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Pocock, Michael, Gailyn Van Rheenen and Douglas McConnell. The Changing Face of Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Global ministry trends and issues, part five: Human slavery

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part five: Human slavery Written on August 22nd, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Press Releases

This is the fifth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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As I return from Asia, cruising at 35,000 feet, I am reflecting on the numerous lives caught up in distinct forms of human slavery. It disturbs me greatly. This is an issue I wish we did not have to focus on, but the mission of God includes those who are victimized and invisible to most of us. “Estimates go as high as 27 million people being enslaved globally. Internationally, 600,000 to 800,000 are trafficked annually, 80 percent of these being women and children” (Steffen and Douglas 346).

The implication for a biblically based justice-mission among these populations is clear. Christ draws our attention to His mission and the fulfillment of Scripture in quoting from Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Freedom for those enslaved certainly involves a spiritual freedom, but a favorable reading of this text, in conjunction with the practices of Christ, would also lead us to believe that this passage should be understand holistically. Lives are transformed spiritually, emotionally, socially and in many cases physically as well. This notes a need for organizations like the International Justice Mission (IJM) and others that are seeking to work around the world, meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people victimized through exploitation and greed (Myers 3).

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Some examples of children and others enslaved are:

  • An estimated 168 million are caught up in child labor with at least half of that number enslaved and working in hazardous conditions (Johnson and Wu 48).
  • 700,000 children forced into domestic labor in Indonesia (Batstone 6).
  • The largest incidences of slavery in the U.S. are found in California, Florida, Texas and New York (Batstone 214).

Critical training resources and interdisciplinary programs focused on caring for those who have been enslaved are essential. Social justice and advocacy initiatives are also needed to target structural changes that might need to be confronted (e.g. bonded slavery due to debt). There is a lot of interest and passion among students to serve in these areas, but as Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert rightly point out, sometimes trying to help without the right knowledge can end up hurting those we seek to rescue or care for (21-25). Training programs must work hand in hand with organizations on the ground involved in this work. Partnerships between academic and non-profits are a recognized way forward to prepare students with both knowledge and practical experience.

“Christian researchers and practitioners have much to gain from greater interchange of ideas” (Judith M. Dean, Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith 6). This is especially true for those desiring to produce quality research and training that will target lowering human slavery indexes. The authors insist that collaboration at all levels between academics and those on the field are critical if we are to have success in reducing poverty and its demeaning results (33-47). As we work together, we build on local knowledge, and the results lead to better practices and career/vocational placements for our graduates.

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Works Cited

Batstone, David. Not for Sale. New York: Harper Collins. 2010.

Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers. 2012. Print.

Dean, Judith M., Julie Schaffner and Stephen L.S. Smith. Attacking Poverty in the Developing World. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic. 2005.

Johnson, Todd and Cindy Wu. Our Global Families. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015.

Myers, Bryant. Walking with the Poor. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. 2011.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008.

Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part four: Indigenous ministries and partnerships Written on August 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Missions

This is the fourth post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Here I am at a Global Mission Gathering.

This week I’m writing from Seoul, South Korea, where I’m participating in an international conference that has pulled together mission scholars from all over the world. With every region of the world and dozens of countries represented here, one gets the sense that the mission of God is being fulfilled. South Korea in particular is a good place to write about indigenous ministries and partnerships. There are more than 20,000 Korean missionaries serving around the world today. The percentage of Christians (representing both Catholic and Protestant churches) in South Korea is at about 32% with over 7,600 churches in the capital city (Seoul) alone.

Globally we note a proliferation of indigenous churches, ministries and global partnerships. This is often referred to as the growth of the majority world Church (see J.D. Payne chapter 3). As noted by African scholar, John Mbiti, today the Church’s center of power does not remain in places like New York, but rather in cities like Manila, Philippines. More and more people around the world are engaging in global mission. It is estimated that nearly 35,000 American Hispanic churches are increasingly becoming involved in global missions. The following chart highlights just a sample of the growth of international missionary movements:

Country Missionaries
India 82,950
China, PRC 20,000
Nigeria 6,644
Philippines 4,500
Indonesia 3,000
Ghana 2,000
Ukraine 1,599

These statistics reflect those missionaries serving more than two years and represent Protestant, Independent and Anglican missionaries. They also do not reflect the numbers of those who might consider themselves missionaries, but are living internationally due to diaspora.

This proliferation of global involvement has changed the very nature of how we understand missions today. Bill Dyrness recently noted, “Missions is now mutual exchange among the multiple centers of influence and learning and resources traveling all directions…” (Borthwick 39). No longer can we refer to the United States as a missionary ‘sending’ country. The same can be said for many countries that have traditionally been ‘receiving’ countries of missionary involvement. Significant mission organizations that were once based in these receiving nations are now focused on sending out missionary candidates.

With these changes within global mission activities must also come a new order for partnerships. North American Christians and agencies must now consider sharing decision-making opportunities with those they traditionally considered ‘receiving’ nations. Pakistani missiologist, Michael Nazir-Ali, says “partnership in mission must mean partnership in the whole of mission. Churches in the global south need to be involved with the North in the identification and articulation of mission issues as much as in addressing them” (211).

Appropriate and contextual training will be needed for those going out to serve within multi-ethnic and international teams. Students of mission will need to understand the reality of multi-ethnic teams and global partnerships if they are to succeed. The training must include cultural sensitivity and competency in foreign languages (sometimes multiple languages). Preparing students for such action will need to be incorporated into new training courses in the U.S. and abroad.

Here at Multnomah, we continue to develop courses that will prepare students to engage with sensitivity with those from distinct cultures. This is needed in business, education, counseling, pastoral ministries and other degree paths, just as much as it is needed in Global Studies in today’s world.

 

Works Cited

Borthwick, Paul. Western Christians in Global Mission. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012.

Mandryk, Jason. Operation World. Colorado Springs, CO: Biblica, 2010.

Nazir-Ali, Michael. From Everywhere to Everywhere: A World View of Christian Mission. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. 2009.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013.

Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part three: Discerning globalization Written on August 8th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions

This is the third post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Globalization is an important issue for those concerned with global mission engagement. We are now far more connected globally than ever before, yet with globalization comes benefits and risks, and as noted below, opportunities for global ministry.

Defining globalization is no easy task. One author defines globalization as a slow process that began in the 15th and 16th centuries in northwest Europe. As the network of material exchange grew, so grew the world capital market. Ankie Hoogvelt notes, “This network developed over time into a world market for goods and services, or an international division of labour” (14).

As noted below, this economic reality in the twenty-first century has benefits and risks for the global poor. Merilee Grindle (2000) comments on the lack of equality in the distribution of globalized expansion of “goods, services, capital, and information that characterizes this process of change” (179). And we know from the teachings of Scripture, when the poor hurt, the Church is to hurt with them. This is most evident in the teachings and practices of Christ. Matthew 25:31-46 is one of the clearest examples of Christ’s calling for solidarity with the poor and those exploited. The Old Testament is filled with references for God’s heart for the poor. This often times is referred to as biblical justice. Because God acts justly toward the rich and the poor, we too are to act rightly and seek His justice for them. Proverbs 29:7 says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Scripture places emphasis on care for the poor given their place of helplessness in the midst of difficult situations that impact their lives. Noteworthy are laws concerning widows, orphans and foreigners among the Israelites. See Ex. 22:21-24; 23:9; Lev. 19:33; Duet 27:19. Such laws were presented to the Israelites to help guide justice among those who were living in precarious situations in society.

Also important to point out is the negative impact globalization is having on the planet. “Destruction of habitats and environmental pollution have been the fallout from some companies seeking to take advantage of business in a world that is more “liquid” and “light” (Payne 80). The consequences of these ailments will undoubtedly continue to demand that those who serve Christ in international contexts understand the complexity of our ecological systems and the negative impacts that environmental decay has on the very people they are called to serve. Environmentally sensitive missionaries will seek to mitigate harm caused by globalization’s impact on the environment.

As noted above, globalization must be understood economically, but we must also acknowledge the socio-cultural effects that our globalized world is having on cultures and societies. Globalization can also be understood as a societal process that impacts political, cultural and social arrangements in our world today. Take travel for example. As migration and travel increases, so does the sharing of ideas and culture. This is a distinctive of globalization in our world today and will continue to effect relationships into the future. Societal changes are taking place much faster today due to globalization.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas in Encountering Missionary Life and Work (where many of these trends are also discussed) make mention of the important shift in global theology and identify the need to become a learner of these changes within theological studies. This is what I would refer to as global theologizing. With this new opportunity for collaboration on globalized theology, come some challenges as well. There will be disagreements on contextual perspectives on theology, but with these differences there should be a pursuit of dignity and respect between believers.

Stephen and Douglas recommend becoming a “learner-leader” as we see globalization both critiqued and embraced (344). This is true for a globalization of theology and even mission theory. As missionally driven followers of Christ, we desire to see the effects of globalization translate into societal processes that positively impact all of God’s creation. This will sometimes lead us to advocate for policies and laws that seek to equally distribute the benefits of this phenomenon.

Mission endeavors will continue to be impacted by this global occurrence. One of the benefits, as acknowledged by J.D. Payne is the impact quick travel now has on those who work internationally. “Now we have the blessings of instant verbal, textual and visual communications with loved ones back home. Return trips are quick and practical” (80-81). For the most part, gone are the days of the missionary packing their worldly resources into their coffin as they wave goodbye to friends and family, never to hear from them again. While this is true, there are additional risks as well. The time one has to adjust and deal with culture shock must be mitigated. Member care is now a must for any organization that sponsors international mission trips or career placement. I often tell our students, if the organization does not have good member care, consider looking elsewhere.

Globalization and its results effect ministry in many ways. For some it creates an urgent need to care for those negatively impacted; for others, it creates some remarkable benefits in both access to goods and services. The Church must be vigilant to the needs of those negatively impacted, while leveraging the opportunities to impact our world for Christ.

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Works Cited

Hoogvelt, Ankie. Globalization and the Postcolonial World. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press 2001. Print.

Grindle, Merilee S. “Ready or Not: The Developing World and Globalization." In Governance in a Globalizing World, edited by Joseph S Nye and John D. Donahue. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2000. Print.

Payne, J.D. Pressure Points: Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson 2013. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work:     Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

A tribute to Khen Tuang (Tua Tuang) from Dr. Greg Burch

1 Comment » Written on August 1st, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Media, Students
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Khen with his wife Huai and daughter ZemZem.

Last week the Multnomah community lost a friend and fellow servant. Khen Tuang was killed in an automobile accident on Thursday, July 28, along with his friend Peter. Khen’s wife and daughter were also in the car accident and survived. Peter, a refugee from Myanmar, tragically lost his wife in a Thai refugee camp in 2008 — the couple’s three children are now orphaned.

Khen was part of the Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program at Multnomah University and was loved by his peers in cohort 3. He was from the Zomi ethnic group (generally known as hills people/tribe throughout Northwestern Myanmar) in the Chin state of Myanmar (Burma). Khen graduated from Bible College in Myanmar and was active in his local church. He had a passion to see peoples’ lives transformed through faith in Christ and community development work.

Khen was all in. He was fully committed to returning to Myanmar in order to serve those who suffered in his community. Khen was passionate about seeing everyone reach their full potential as people who have been made in the image of God.

This past year, while researching child poverty in Myanmar, he wrote, “The Bible commends us to take care of the oppressed, vulnerable and the poor. We, as a church, need to help eradicate, holistically, from a biblical perspective, child poverty, while we nurture and feed those who are hungry and provide shelter to the homeless.” Khen’s research and the topics he covered were often focused on those who were marginalized, such as refugees living in Portland and children living in poverty.

Khen also had a keen eye for research even in a language that was not native to him. This past semester here at MU in Applied Field Research, Khen flourished as he learned and applied common development research tools to help the Zomi refugee community succeed in transitioning to life in America. Working with a local Zomi congregation (along with pastor Muana Khuptong, a Multnomah Biblical Seminary alumnus), Khen formed a research group with a Guatemalan student and a South Sudanese student. Together they rose to the task of adapting these complex research tools to help identify resources and needs that are common to refugees moving to the Portland area. Over a 15-week period of time, they met with several refugees and developed a plan to provide additional support to this community.

Khen also loved his family. Even before he arrived in Portland, Khen told me that his family would not be able to join him during his first year of studies. As we discussed this, he communicated that it was going to be difficult for him, but that he would work out a plan so his wife and daughter could join him after the first year. And he did just that. Just a week before the accident that took his life, Khen —grinning — walked into my office with his wife Huai and daughter ZemZem. We talked about their plans as a family, and he asked me to pray for them, as he often did. As we were standing there, Khen removed his sandals and knelt down on the carpet with his wife and 2-year-old daughter following. I knelt with them and prayed a prayer of blessing over their sweet family. As they left my office, Khen, like he often did, thanked me profusely for the prayer. He was always so grateful.

Khen’s peers have taken it upon themselves to raise funds in order to help Huai and ZemZem as they face some difficult challenges ahead. Visit their GoFundMe site for an opportunity to support them during this painful time.

We are grateful to have known you, Khen. The world is different because of you.

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Khen (far right) with his pastor and friend in front of MU.

Global ministry trends and issues, part two: Discerning the terms

Comments Off on Global ministry trends and issues, part two: Discerning the terms Written on July 20th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Theology

This is the second post in a series of articles on global ministry trends and issues presented by Dr. Greg Burch, Director of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice program and Chair of the Global Studies Department. You can read more articles from Dr. Burch on his personal site, The Burch Blog.

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Beirut, Lebanon.

Recently while traveling in a creative access country (generally a country where missionary and evangelism activity is restricted), I was reminded of the importance of not using terms like missions and missionary. The use of these words in some contexts can land a Jesus-follower in jail or even worse. While traveling throughout this country, I spent some time considering the use of these terms in our world today.

Mission literature has also found it necessary to review some of the very terms that often accompany our global church activity. Mission and missions are two distinct words that have caused much confusion for younger generations. “Within mission discussion since the 1950s, terms have developed in such a way that it can be confusing to the uninitiated. Essentially mission (without the s) and missions (with the s) are used to indicate different things” (Moreau, Corwin and McGee 69). The two definitions, as laid out by Scott Moreau, Gary Corwin and Gary McGee are helpful as we explore terms. Missions is understood as the “task of making disciples of all nations. It is seen through the work of mission agencies, churches and missionaries around the world” (70). The specific emphasis is on cross-cultural ministry in international contexts.

Mission, on the other hand, has been used in recent years in a broader sense and typically refers to “everything the church does that points toward the kingdom of God” (70). While these definitions are helpful to clarify what we mean in engaging in a specific kingdom activity, I find it more more helpful to use terms like cross-cultural (or even intercultural) ministry to specifically identify when one is involved working in a community other than one’s own cultural group.

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Crossing a river into an indigenous village in the Caribbean highlands with my son.

Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas explore the idea of whether or not the term missionary is even appropriate in our day and age (34-35). One of the primary concerns with the use of the nomenclature is the negative connotations associated with it internationally. It is frequently connected to ideas like colonialism and imperialism. Whether justified, or not, the authors raise concerns and ask the question, “since the term ‘missionary’ has negative connotations for a large segment of the world that the Christian church is trying to reach, and is not found in God’s sacred storybook, should another term or phrase replace it?” (Steffen and Douglas 34). While there are no conclusions here, the raising of the question from prominent missiologists demonstrates the shift occurring within the field of missiology and missions today. Similar to the sentiment expressed above, Raymo and Raymo also bring into question the usage of the term “missionary,” especially as it relates to the millennial generation (28-29).

Essential to our exploration of terms is the Latin expression Missio Dei. Missio Dei is a common term used by both ecumenists and evangelicals. It is defined by Moreau, Corwin and McGee as “a comprehensive term encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on the earth” (71).

David Bosch rightly acknowledges that, “Mission has its origin in the fatherly heart of God” (240). Mission that resonates with this generation of cross-cultural workers must be understood from this perspective. For to separate mission from God leads us to charitable intentions, yet lacking the power for true transformation in the heart of the goer and receiver.

Charles Van Engen appropriately contends, “We cannot have mission without the Bible, nor can we understand the Bible apart from God’s mission” (37). The Bible is the main source for missions and must be understood as a means of contributing to the ultimate task of the Missio Dei. Scripture plays a role in defining unchanging truth to a changing context.

Steffen and Douglas note that, “Christian witness is always lived out in social environments influenced and shaped by local and global economics, politics and religions” (343). These are critical topics that demonstrate the importance of an interdisciplinary understanding of the field. As Van Engen notes, “Theology of mission, then, must eventually emanate in biblically informed and contextually appropriate missional action” (25). It must not remain static or purely theoretical. This need emphasizes the place of an appropriate contextualization to each of the explored trends and issues that follow in the coming weeks.

 

Works Cited

Bosch, David. Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1980. Print.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary Corwin and Gary B. McGee. Introducing World Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2015. Print.

Raymo, Jim and Judy Raymo. Millennials and Mission: A Generation Faces a Global Challenge. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2014. Print.

Steffen, Tom and Lois McKinney Douglas. Encountering Missionary Life and Work: Preparing for Intercultural Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2008. Print.

Van Engen, Charles. Mission on the Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996. Print.