In This Issue:
+ Notes from the Field
+ Typical “Logs” on a Short-Term Mission Team
NOTES FROM THE FIELD
This autumn has been a busy season for Peacemaker Ministries on the international front! Our travels began in September with a trip to Frankfurt, Germany to participate in a conference for seminary leaders from around the world. Since then, members of our staff have taught peacemaking on three other continents, touching people from every continent and various walks of life. There is a rich diversity in the people whom God has allowed us to serve these few months; but we continue to marvel at the incredible unity of purpose that God brings to this diverse group. That common goal is to see Christ glorified as we, his church, grow in our peacemaking skills and witness, and in our love for the gospel of peace, which makes this all possible.
Since we are in awe of how God has been working, we wanted to share a few highlights with you :
ê Ken Sande, President of Peacemaker Ministries, shares about his experience in Germany in early September:
One of my highlights in 2008 was a conference in Frankfurt, Germany, in which Overseas Council brought together the presidents of 110 of the top seminaries in the non-western world. I thrilled to meet so many incredibly intelligent, talented, and educated Christian leaders who were also gifted with such humility, graciousness, and disarming humor. Laughter is truly the universal language! I was inspired by the other keynote speakers, including Louis Palau, and challenged to hear many seminary leaders describe the way God is advancing his kingdom in their lands in spite of enormous resistance and persecution. These leaders were deeply interested in learning how to train pastors to be effective peacemakers, so Chip, Molly and I were able to spend hours talking with them about practical ways to apply biblical principles of conflict resolution in their particular situations. We have more invitations for follow-up training than we can presently handle, so please pray for us as we seek to discern God’s priorities as we team up with seminaries that will be equipping the leaders of the church of tomorrow.
ê Later in September, we descended on Charlotte, North Carolina for our annual Peacemaker Conference. Here are Molly Routson’s impressions:
This year at the Peacemaker Conference in Charlotte, NC, we had the privilege of hosting people from more than a dozen countries–lawyers, pastors, lay people and cross-cultural workers. One highlight of this conference for me was the wonderful networking meeting hosted by staff members Bob and Susan Barrett on Friday morning. More than 70 people came to share about their interest in peacemaking overseas, and it was a huge privilege to see people connect with others who were interested in their regions, with the goal of developing synergy and encouraging one another in their work!
My second international highlight was hearing Rev. Dr. Victor Nakah share as one of our keynote speakers. Dr. Nakah is from Zimbabwe, a country that has been featured prominently in the news recently because of record-setting inflation. He presented a powerful message that was framed around his own story of reconciliation with family members who are part of a different tribe–a transformation from enemy to “beloved son and pastor” in the eyes of his in-laws. The crux of Dr. Nakah’s message was that loving our neighbors is like loving God; as John tells us in 1 John 4:20, we cannot claim to do one without also doing the other. Because of his own experience loving someone who was against him, Dr. Nakah could speak firsthand about how Christ’s love transforms us into peacemakers who love those who are not like us, or who do not like us. “To be a peacemaker, we must first experience being loved by Christ with a deep, unshakeable love. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? We must be struck by the fact that God loves us! This must grip us and hold us and fill our minds. When you wake up, say ‘He loves me.’ In the mid-day: ‘He loves me.’ At bedtime: ‘He loves me!'”
ê In October, Bob Barrett spent three weeks working with a mission organization in the Philippines. Bob shared the following:
After three days in training on Managing Conflict Biblically, it was wonderful to see the many participants begin to apply the principles in their lives. As we were conducting a second three-day session of teaching on coaching and mediation, it was a privilege to lead several mediations that addressed longstanding hurts and conflicts. The participants started these mediations without much hope. But God was present in hungry hearts and we saw powerful reconciliations. Later, one of the leaders said, “I have watched God do one miracle after another through this week.” Even more encouraging were discussions with various ministry teams of how they were going to be teaching in the young churches that they were working with and how they were already praying about particular conflicts that needed God’s power.
ê In mid-October, Vice President of International Ministries Chip Zimmer traveled to Manila, and here’s the report he brought back:
The Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) launched its Peace Builders ministry with a day-long conference on October 12 in Manila. More than 2,000 people attended the event, which one conference organizer characterized as “overwhelming, unprecedented and unexpected…the Lord is really blazing the trail and I can’t help but feel very excited to be part of his plans.” The conference included morning plenary talks by Bishop Efraim Tendero, the head of the PCEC, Chip Zimmer from Peacemaker Ministries, and Peace Builders leadership team member Marc Castrodes. The afternoon was divided into workshops on topics ranging from reconciling marriage problems to avoiding court to building a peacemaking church. Peace Builders leaders report that the most satisfying aspect of all was reports they received from conference participants who are already putting into practice what they learned. Writes Winnie Salumbides, “But what we treasure the most are testimonies we’ve received of people reconciled, convicted and transformed while attending the conference itself. I personally heard of two marriages which were tremendously helped by the seminar we had.” The challenge now for Peace Builders is to follow up on the requests for training and conciliation services that have come in as a result of the ministry launch.
ê At the end of October, Chip, Molly and intern Caleb Dunn traveled to Ecuador to teach a group of Latin American Christian lawyers.
The Latin American Christian Lawyers’ Network was founded to support national lawyers’ networks in their efforts to create fellowship for Christian lawyers and to equip them in the many ways that they can impact their communities through their profession. Peacemaker Ministries has participated in each of their seven annual conventions, bringing training and resources that they can carry home to their own countries, and they have embraced peacemaking as one of the core initiatives of the network. This year, we taught a day’s worth of workshops designed to deepen the lawyers’ understanding of the role the heart and idolatry play in conflict. Through teaching, discussions and demonstration role plays, we explored how a coach or mediator can gently lead people to recognize their own idols. It was exciting to see many people really grasp the heart of the issue; and it was even more exciting to participate in discussions about how they can bring their passion for peacemaking back to their churches all across Latin America.
ê Finally, Executive Vice President Gary Friesen travelled to Seoul, South Korea to spend a week with our partners at Korea Peacemaker Ministries.
The main purpose of my visit to Seoul was to participate in Korea Peacemaker Ministries’ annual Peacemaker Celebration Dinner. It was a delightful dinner and we had the opportunity to hear a number of speakers including a Supreme Court justice, the chair of their new conciliation ministry, and three testimonies, including one from a North Korean refugee.
Aside from this banquet, a highlight of this trip was my visit to Handong University Law School. During the day I was there, I spoke in an undergraduate class (they have about 3500 undergraduate students) attended the student chapel, met with faculty, and led an interactive forum. My time at Handong Law School was the most fun I’ve had in a while. The students were engaged, passionate about the gospel, and multi-national. They have students from something like 15 countries, including several from Africa, central Asia, the US, and throughout East Asia. Because they are a graduate school many who attend are already practicing attorneys with influence in their own countries. The graduate law degree allows them to become professors and leaders in several places that are closed to typical gospel ministry. I had a long talk with a Pakistani 3rd year student who was going back after he graduates this year to take a high level position in an influential NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). They also have graduates in countries that are otherwise closed to typical missions opportunities, such as Vietnam and China.
I came home thankful for our partnership with KPM and impressed with the way that they are working to bring peacemaking to Christians and their churches in South Korea.
Isn’t God good? We know that many of you prayed for our trip to Germany, as we sent home several trip reports and heard back from many of you. We rejoice to know that God is working in and through all of us, and we look forward to an ongoing partnership with you in this gospel labor!
TYPICAL “LOGS” ON A SHORT-TERM MISSIONS TEAM
Last year, more than two million people from the United States participated in a short-term mission trip. Many of these trips take place during the spring or summer, which means that the next few months will be filled with the initial planning for next year’s trips. The following article was written as something to think about as you begin planning for your short-term mission.
by Molly Routson, Assistant to the Vice President of International Ministries
“I can’t believe she’d do that! Here we are serving God in Honduras, and she wants to make it all about her. If she has her way, she’ll ruin the whole trip!”
If you’ve ever been on a short-term mission trip, you’ve probably experienced conflict. We like to say that “Where two or three are gathered … there will be conflict;” this is true whether we’re at home or overseas.
Just like at home, the Four G’s are a helpful framework for working through a conflict situation on a mission trip. Although some of the causes of conflict are different, the gospel still holds the key to reconciliation in these situations. When we approach these conflicts with the perspective that they provide opportunities and that we are called first of all to take responsibility for our own contribution, we often see God working in our own lives and the lives of the people with whom we are in conflict.
Because that second G–“Get the Log Out of Your Eye”–is so key, this article specifically examines several “logs” that we tend to develop when we are on short-term mission teams. From my experience, here are a few common heart idols to look out for in ourselves during a short-term mission:
Comfort. The desire for comfort becomes especially strong toward the end of a trip; we’re tired, have been making sacrifices all week, and we start to develop a sense of entitlement. “I haven’t had a caramel latte for two weeks … you’d think they could spare five minutes to pull over to that Starbucks so I could get one!”
Self-Righteousness. If we are not careful, our good works for the kingdom can become a source of how well we think we are doing in our relationship with God. Rather than remembering that our righteousness–before God and in relation to other people–comes only from Christ, we base our sense of self-worth on our performance on this trip. This often results in judgmentalism toward people who are not living up to our self-created standards. “I’ve been working twice as hard as he has all week; the least he could do is help us clean up tonight!” (And then we punish the people who do not live up to our standards through our words and our actions.)
Power. Ah, the inescapable pull of wanting to be in control, whether we are at home or abroad. “She thinks she can boss us around just because she’s been here before (or, because she’s the missionary, the pastor’s daughter, etc.); I’ll show her she can’t tell me what to do!” (Notice also how this statement is also assuming the motives of the other person!)
Being Right. “Our team leader has no idea how to do construction; they should listen to me!” This is an interesting statement because it might be true, but we have a choice in how we respond. We can gossip, undermine the leadership, and be a grouch, or we can make respectful appeals, trust God’s sovereignty in placing this particular person in leadership, and seek to encourage other people to respond to this frustrating situation in a godly way as well.
Your Agenda. Anything unexpected will interfere with our agendas, and mission trips are full of unexpected “interruptions!” Be warned: you can expect a multitude of things to go “wrong”–you’re in a country where people have different expectations and priorities, and things just don’t run like they do at home. If we insist on our agenda, we destroy both our witness to the world and our ministry to our hosts. Our purpose is to serve, and so we must consciously submit our agendas to that of our hosts. Listen to this candid exhortation from African pastor Oscar Muriu:
“Short-term experiences have their place, but they need to be more carefully constructed. All too often a church says, ‘We’d like to come for a short-term experience.’
“Then they say, in so many words, ‘We’re going to do A, B, C, D, and we’re in charge.’
“We want to say, ‘Guys, you’re coming as our guests.’
“Do you know that when the President of the United States travels, his people take over all the security of the nations he travels to? When he came to East Africa, the airports were completely taken over by Marines. The local policemen were moved out. The attitude was We don’t trust you. Your people could be terrorists. We’ll do things our way.
“Short-term missions tend to be like that: they come and completely take over the agenda, the programs, the life of the church. But that’s not the way you visit a friend.”
Whether we perceive that it’s our teammates or hosts who are disrupting our agenda, let’s recognize that God will have us accomplish exactly what he intends through each trip.
Fear of Man. One way that fear of man–or concern for what other people think of us–materializes is in the desire to impress our team, hosts, or others more than we desire to honor God. If you are a team leader and there are kids on your team who are acting up, will you discipline them because their actions are not honoring to God, or because they are annoying or embarrassing you?
The Cure for an Idolatrous Short-Term Missionary’s Heart:
As with many ministry opportunities, we can have a tendency to be extra-self-righteous–and therefore really difficult to get along with–in conflict situations on a short-term mission, because we are doing “God’s Work.” But so often, we (and I am speaking primarily to North Americans here) sacrifice the greater things–love, mercy, faithfulness–for the sake of a task-oriented agenda. Brothers and sisters, let us beware of how stress can often bring out the worst in us, and let us be quick to confess our sins to one another within our STM teams.
The good news is that, just like at home, God gives us the grace to repent and change. Praise God that he is merciful to sinners like us who are tempted to turn every opportunity–even a mission trip–into a way to glorify ourselves rather than God. Let’s close by remembering these promises from our gracious, long-suffering and forgiving God:
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).
 The African Planter: An Interview with Oscar Muriu. “The Christian Vision Project, Posted May 1, 2007″; accessed November 20, 2007.
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