Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Types of Workers

There are two types of workers you can partner with or hire. One is very helpful; the other not so much.

Some people need you to hold their hand. Not just in the beginning. Not just for encouragement through difficult times. But always. They can't get anything done unless you hold their hand.

Do you understand what I mean by "holding their hand"? I mean you have to watch them constantly. You have to tell them what to do at each juncture. You have to say, "Here, do this," or, "No, don't do that." You have to direct them continuously. Perhaps they do very well when you direct them like this, but without your oversight, they wouldn't know what to do. If you leave them to do it by themselves, chances are things are not going to be completed. They will run into some obstacle and the work will halt until you come and tell them what to do. If you are fortunate, they will tell you when they've reached a stopping point. If you are not fortunate, they will wait for you to come and notice that things are stuck and to tell them what to do.

There is always a reason or person to blame with these kinds of workers. When the job is not completed or the goal is not reached, they will be very good to blame this obstacle or that, or blame another person, or, in many cases, blame you. They will always have a host of good reasons why it was impossible for them to be successful.

The world is full of these kinds of workers.

The other kind of workers are those who just need you to set them up, point them in the right direction and clearly communicate the goals you are trying to reach. Then they go after it. When they face obstacles, they immediately think of ways to overcome them without bothering the boss, yet still keeping the goals and values in mind. When they don't know how to overcome a particular obstacle, they come back and ask you for your help and advice. When you give them help and advice, they jump right back on it and tell you not to worry about it--they got it taken care of.

In the end, this kind of worker brings in results. They produce something from their efforts. They aren't just all talk and excuses. They make progress.

This kind of worker understands the concept of RESPONSIBILITY. And they are the ones who are going to get promoted. They are the ones who you never have enough of.

In terms of teammates in ministry, I definitely want to work exclusively with those in the latter category. Certainly some employees or volunteers will be those you have to continuously direct and that's okay. But if people are partners, they absolutely need to be people who have the initiative and motivation to produce results. If they always need you to hold their hand and do things for them, they are holding the work back.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stick with me...

Okay, I hope I don't lose all of you on this...

It occurred to me the other day when I was taking a shower.... The People (those who live here in The Location) would probably be described by those who study such things as pre-modern. Of course, The Location, like all countries, is a complex society and you could describe certain segments of the population and mostly modernists, and even a few as post-modernists. But the average, paddy and upland farming families--along with those who sell things at the market and drive motorcycle taxis--would best be describe as pre-modernists.

What are these three things? (Pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism) Endless things have been written about this subject and the more you read the more confusing and boring it becomes. But to gain a basic understanding of these three concepts you have to begin by describing modernism.

Modernism is the idea or worldview that assumes the existence of absolute or universal truth. In physics, we call this the Grand Unified Theory (GUT)--something that physicists assume exists and once understood will tie everything they know about the laws of our physical world together. In philosophy and religion, it is the existence of a "meta-narrative"-- a story or a system of thought that explains how the world works--and how those who don't agree with this system of thought fit into it as well. Modernism lends itself to science, unity, reason, "progress" and the pursuit of objectivity.

Post-modernism is basically a reaction to modernism and the idea that there is universal truth. Truth is relative. There are no over-arching "meta-narratives" that explain everything. It is the rejection of objectivity as an absolute possibility and the embracing of subjectivity. Therefore, post-modernism lends itself to the creative arts, diversity and plurality.

Pre-modernism would describe, then, societies who have yet to embrace modernism. Basically, pre-modernism exists where there tends to be ignorance of scientific explanations for social and physical phenomena. Understanding of the world is obtained through mythology, legend, proverbs, and oral histories handed down from previous generations.

Post-modernism lends itself to individualism; modernism lends itself to the idea of progressing toward universal conformity; and pre-modernism lends itself to tribal grouping.

So, what does all of this have to do with missions?


Most Christian missionaries would be firmly in the modernist camp. Kind of a necessity, really, if you believe you have a universal gospel (which acts as a meta-narrative) you want all peoples to accept. Evangelical missionary work is the epitome of belief in absolute truth. But there are obstacles when we seek to share this message with people in each of the three worldviews.

When speaking with post-modernists we often appeal to the idea of absolute truth as if they believe in such a thing, only a different one, when in fact they don't even believe in the concept of there being one narrative that is true for all people.

When speaking with modernists we find that they have often rejected religion as an antiquated and superstitious approach to life.

When speaking with pre-modernists we tend to make logical points and give rational explanations of concepts when stories would communicate much better.

I could spend many posts just talking about missionary approaches depending on modernist worldviews.

But what hit me in the shower the other day was that where someone is at in terms of modernism (whether they are pre, modern, or post) has a lot to do with economics and wealth.

In places where there is widespread poverty (such as in The Location) people are mostly concerned with one thing: How are they going to make money. Poverty is an ever-present reality. The escape from poverty is more a dream and a desire than an expectation. People feel "the pain of poverty" that we are mostly unaware of in the West. Consequently, the focus of their minds rarely ventures away from the concern of immediate benefit. Exploring scientific theories and considering abstract ideas isn't going to put food on the table tonight, so why waste time doing it? Poverty and under-development, therefore, tends to hold people in pre-modernism. In fact, societies that we would describe as being predominately "pre-modern" are those that are undeveloped, poor and more tribal/traditional in nature.

In places where there is rapid development (think the USA in the 50's, or China in the present) there is economic hope. People can expect to make a good living if they just work hard. Opportunity exists. They are witnessing "progress" all around them. Children are growing up doing better financially than their parents did and living at a higher standard of living. This tends to a modernist worldview.

In places that have already been developed for a generation or more (think present US and Europe), the increase of wealth has stagnated. While children grow up relatively wealthy and don't have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from, they also grow up NOT doing better financially than their parents, and in many cases, worse. But because of being accustomed to wealth (and perhaps taking it for granted), people do not pursue occupations based on what they think their income will be, but more based on what ever fancies their interest. There is not a sense of progress and destiny, but a sense of "been there, done that" boredom. This tends to a post-modernist worldview.

Recently a Christian university professor visited The Location. As he shared about evangelism and how we bring people who are far away from God to become Christians, he described a spectrum of places people might be at in relationship to becoming followers of Christ. At one end was they fully accept Christ and submit to him as Lord and Savior. At the other end, however, he described someone as being atheist--not believing in the existence of God.

Here in The Location that is not really the spectrum. The far end of the spectrum would better be described as those who are disinterested in God as they are pursuing wealth.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fresh Roasted Koffi House Coffee!

We need to raise about $100,000 for the next phase of our work here in the Location. I could ask you to pray that God provides the funds. All good things come from him! He has always surprised and amazed us in the past.

Or, I could just ask you to fork over your hard-earned cash and maybe even put a layer of guilt on you to help lubricate the process. (Just kidding!) BUT rather than just asking people for money (though we're not opposed to offerings) we have another way we can raise the funds.

We need to sell about 8,500 bags of fresh roasted Arabica coffee (organic and shade-grown) from The Location.

We can ship directly to you around the world, but the minimum order is 50 bags. Our goal is to make 170 shipments of 50 bags each. The great thing is that we will cover shipping costs (with a few exceptions) and it usually takes less than 2 weeks no matter where you are. The price of the coffee? $12 for a 12 oz. bag.

What would you do with 50 bags of coffee? Here are some ideas:
  • Drink a couple cups every half-hour and get a lot of work done in those late hours when you can't sleep.
  • Use them for your coffee bar at your church or workplace.
  • Sign up 50 or more people from your church to each buy a bag.
  • Sign up 50 or more people from your SCHOOL to each buy a bag!
  • Have your kids raise $ for their camps and mission trips by selling them for $15-20 a bag (it is so worth it!)
  • Sign up 50 or more people from your place of employment to each buy a bag.
  • Convince about 5 grocery stores and coffee shops in your area to each take 10 bags to sell.
  • Convince about 5 other churches in your area to each take 10 bags in support of BAM.
  • Sneak it into your local Starbucks' coffee grinders to impress their customers with the improvement.
  • Open and dump all 50 bags of coffee in your bathtub, jump in, and let the aroma of fresh roasted specialty coffee (and the caffiene) osmosis its way into your body. (Just kidding, and yes, I know that osmosis is not a verb. Besides, 50 bags of coffee wouldn't come close to filling your tub. You might have to start at about 300 bags for that.)
So, if you want a pack of 50 or 100, just leave a comment with your e-mail address (I won't post it unless you want me to) and I'll e-mail you directly with more info.

Mmmm... I can smell that fresh pot brewing already with all the essesence of this exotic and enchanted land coming together in your delicious cup of coffee!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Response to Anonymous

In a recent post I related a comment and series of questions an anonymous poster left on one of my blogs. I asked you how you might respond. (Thank you, all, for the hundreds of responses you gave me! :-) ) Well, I don't lift my words up as the perfect response by any means, but I thought I'd share what I wrote. Here it is:

Dear Anonymous,
It all depends on your worldview and whether or not you believe there is absolute truth. If religion is simply a product on the market like shampoo, then who's to say one brand is better than the other. Only a salesman who is trying to sell you his brand, but in reality, many are just as good as others. It appears that faith to you is this--it is something to make you happy.
My worldview is that there is only one Creator God--only one God who created the world, and only one way to know him--through Jesus Christ. If we don't put our faith in Jesus then our sins will eternally seperate us from God. If we accept the gift of Jesus, then we will know God and be safe forever. I want all people to know God and be safe forever. It is that simple.
It is also not correct to call these "my beliefs" as if they were my idea or originated with me. Everything I believe or teach comes from the Bible, which I believe comes from God. So, it is not me placing my personal thoughts or beliefs on them, but it is propogating the message of the truths that God gave to us.
You said that faith is the most important thing one can carry with them... faith in what? Faith is only as good as what it is attached to. If someone has faith in the Titanic to bring them safely across the Atlantic, their faith isn't going to help them when the ship hits the iceberg and sinks. What is important is the One to whom our faith is attached.
If we say that all religions are good, then we are basically heading towards atheism, because the teachings and claims of all religions are not compatible--it is impossible for them all to be true. I believe in Jesus Christ because I heard his message and I believe God revealed this to me.
The message of Christ is grace, not works. It is not us reaching up to God, but God reaching down to us. I believe this is unique to Christianity and demonstrates a God who truly loves and values us--despite our pride, selfishness and sin.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How Help can Sometimes Hurt

Did you see this article on  I wish more of us would understand these dynamics.  I witness this stuff first hand as The Location is not a lot unlike Haiti.

You can read the article here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Responding to Anonymous

On another blog I manage to ask for prayer for an unreached people group, I got the following message from Anonymous...

"Reaching out to X people"? In what way? Is there something wrong with the original religion that the X people have always carried, that is part of history? No disrespect AT ALL to ANY RELIGIONS out there, NOT AT ALL, I have faith myself, I think faith is the upmost important thing one can carry along with them in their life, so my question I guess is, why feel the need to place your personal thoughts, beliefs, and values on others if you are happy with your faith?

I don't want to get into a debate at all, but I do feel a response is appropriate.  I have responded by saying some things, but I want to know what YOU would say.  How would you respond to Anonymous?

I look forward to your input.  Thanks!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Guerrilla Lovers

My friend Vince Antonucci wanted me to relate to you that his new book, Guerrilla Lovers, just came out! Vince is also providing all kinds of cool guerrilla loving resources for individuals and churches at

Monday, January 25, 2010

Marked Man

I know about five foreigners who have been kicked out of The Location because of Christian witness since the time I first moved here.  All five of them worked in the same province.  Some of them are back in The Location in different provinces.  Some are gone indefinitely.  But all of them ran into problems in the same area. 

This area is the hotbed of opposition to Christians in The Location.  This is also where VK was arrested and jailed for "human trafficking."  Though he was released briefly, he was re-arrested and put back into prison.  He remains there to this day. 

What I've just learned today, is that I have been named.

I suspected this was the case after VK named my worker and my worker and I were called into the police together.  I was away so he went without me.  Since I've been back I haven't yet been called in.  But I've been told that my name is now "loud" in that province.  And I've been warned to lay low for a while.

VK's arrest is completely unjustified and he should be released immediately.  At the same time, he did several things he could have done differently that would have completely avoided this whole situation.  VK made three major mistakes:  One, he lied to us about the people he was sending to work with us.  One of them was not one we wanted.  Two, he disrespected his village headman by sending one of the young men even though the village headman refused to sign that man's documents, which would allow him to go.  Three, he announced openly at his church and elsewhere that these two young men were "going to study the Bible."  We had told him to emphasize that they were going to work.  We told him about the Bible studies we do, but there was no need to mention it to anyone else.  Apparently VK thought he could get away with it and that it would impress others in his church. 

Pray for VK.  Pray also for me and my family.  I need to remember that it could all end any day and that we might be called someday to walk away from everything here in The Location.