An old joke says: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your future plans.
At the OPEN Connect in Bangkok last month, one of the primary issues we were dealing with was pushing for reality in missions. We want to confront history and traditional patterns of doing ministry. We believe we can do missions better; more efficiently, more effectively, more godly. Two recent emails from B4T team leaders we mentor speak of new believers. Another speaks of a co-worker’s charity organization (NGO) being summoned by the government to explain their religious activities. The world is changing and becoming better requires us to upgrade, so as to meet the challenges that come with these changes so that every tribe, tongue and people has a real opportunity to know the Way, the Truth and the Life. So how do we plan for these changes? How do we lead in the midst of change?
One OPEN worker writes; I want to add my encouragement to [he named various OPEN coaches] and others who have taken the risk to be among the early adopters of what God is leading us in. As with technology early adopters, we pay too much, don’t get the best refined products and struggle to make it work. However, unlike tech early adopters for who there are few benefits beyond bragging rights, you get to be a part of the early fruits of seeing people who for the first time open the gospels, hear the “good news” in their own language and embrace a hope that was once out of reach but for a few early adopters who risked.
Being among the first to try anything new often leads to misunderstandings. Stuart Briscoe said, You can always tell who the leaders are, they are the ones with a back full of arrows. Leading in the midst of change has its rewards (hearing or Muslims coming to Jesus, and comments like the ones above). But it also has its critics. And as more mission agencies and new organizations are stepping up to fill the gaps we’ve been advocating change for, should we merge efforts? Step back to focus on the overseas workers? What is God’s plan?
Thank you for standing with us in pushing for reality in missions seeking to be better at what we do. Change is in the wind.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.