Sunday, July 11, 2010
THE PRAGMATICS OF A JESUS CRISIS
THE PRAGMATICS OF A JESUS CRISIS
Over the last few months I’ve assertively began our fund discovery portion of furlough. It’s been a thrilling journey. I’ve traveled through a multiple of states, spoken at a several churches, and enjoyed receptions in a variety of cities. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed renewing friendships face to face. Also, we’ve been surprised at the generosity of many. For instance, a few weeks ago I spoke at a small church who I treasure, but who I had not seen in years. This small church surprised me with the generosity of a $4,000 gift and a thoughtful discussion of how to recruit more personnel for our growing ministry. While many are going through an economic season of recession, God’s people are displaying their deepest character. We are a generous people of faith.
While in this fund discovery season two questions have come to mind. The first is, “Why?” The second is, “What do we need to do today?”
I love to wrestle day after day with the important “Why?” question. Our generous character sometimes grows weary. Academicians call it “Donor Fatigue,” and document that it has been growing since the 1980’s. Sophisticated fund raisers learn to market a little better each year to stay ahead of donor fatigue, but in their cynicism remark, “It is all about the slide show.” The result has been a series of well marketed crises. You’ve read and seen them. Is it AIDS, malaria, water, mosquitoes, education, micro-finance, livestock, orphans, vulnerable children, refugees, food, etc? Which developmental marketing jargon will finally solve the world’s problems and release the developed world from corporate responsibility?
I've been at the missionary game for 17 years. I've participated in the jargon jiggles. However, I find our root problem to all the trendy issues of development is poverty. Until poverty cycles are broken children will continue to die when their immediate solution would only cost a few bucks. Poverty goes deeper than simple answers to complex problems by rock stars. The issues are rooted in generations of broken, non-existent, or dysfunctional systems or institutions. Providing lasting solutions means we have to invest in building lasting institutions. Only then will cycles be broken. These institutions vary from government policy to small businesses to schools and churches.
In order to build these institutions we need passionate disciples of Jesus of Nazareth committed to being salt and light. We've got a world-wide Jesus Crisis. It may be horribly simplistic, but I believe in the deepest part of my being that it is time to get back to that old fashioned formula of simply asking people to follow Jesus. The Jesus Crisis is the real one. He is the answer to the “Why?” question.
The privilege of our call is that we become the answer. Jesus followers gather with other Jesus followers in churches. Churches are meeting points of humanity. In church we learn to find answers in community discussions and labor to turn our ideas into reality. Friendships at church result in new ideas and institutions. Churches do not control these institutions. Instead, healthy churches retain their prophetic voice. They speak to the institutions so that those institutions are faithful to their covenants with the communities they serve. Then over the course of years the root problem of poverty is addressed. Children sleep at night without being bitten by mosquitoes. Their needs for nourishment and education are met. As they mature they start businesses and lead their communities. The world we live in will always have problems. However, when God’s kingdom reigns on earth His people’s actions are the solution. We hope the institutions we build will survive and bless generations. However, the only institution that will last for eternity is Christ’s church. Investing in the church is the ultimate institutional investment.
I can’t believe God has entrusted our faith community with the answer to the why question. Surely, He could find a better answer than Jesus expressed through us, but that is how it has been done since Jesus walked this earth.
Now, the question, “What do we need to do today?”
I’m sure I’m not the only missionary / development worker you know. Nor do I represent the only church or Christian organization who puts information in your mail box. However, it does seem that God created an opportunity far out of the ordinary in Kigali in which he has used us. We have landed in a place where out of the one of the previous century’s greatest tragedies God is building a new city. For some reason, we’ve been given a great amount of responsibility in that task.
We’ve had a season of health struggle, but now are ready to return. In order to return we need more to be part of the community that sends. Can you help today?
It comes back to those old historical ideas. Paul wrote about them. In order to go one must be sent. History tells story after story of those who labor on a field supported by those in a distant land (that some consider “home.”) With the heroic efforts of the on field laborer was a community of heroic and sacrificial senders.
Thank you for considering this request. It has been a delightful journey the last few months.
Imana ikurinde (May the Lord Stay with All of You),
P.S. If I can answer any further questions or visit face to face, please feel free to call at 405-464-7385.