Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the importance of relationships

It's less that four months until we leave for Mexico - in fact today I was in at the CMS office and saw bookings made in our name! (That brings home the reality of things).

One of the questions that is coming up regularly as we visit churches is 'What are some of the cultural differences between Mexico and Australia?'

Of course there are many, but one big one is the importance of relationships - especially face-to-face relationships. Whereas in Australia we might be happy to send emails or speak on the phone to a work colleague or a friend, in Latin America it seems that face-to-face counts for much more than it does here. Of course this can be pretty inefficient, but it also means relationships that are formed are much deeper and perhaps can tolerate more??

A good example of this importance of personal relationships is seen in what I'm doing in a couple of weeks.

One of the groups MOCLAM (the organisation I am working for/with in Mexico) will provide training materials to is the CIEE - the Latin American coalition of IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). The CIEE has staffworkers and student groups scattered all over Latin America on hundreds of tertiary campuses. They want to use the MOCLAM courses to train their staffworkers - which is really exciting and a great opportunity.

In November, the national secretaries of each of the CIEE groups are getting together for a week-long meeting in Panama City - to discuss, among other things, training.

Grahame Scarratt and I are going to the meeting to get to know the people and talk to them about the courses and how we can help. Now Panama City is a long way away (8hrs flight from LA), it costs a lot to get there (especially with the $ the way it is) and the entire meeting is going to be in Spanish (which I don't speak). And yet it is really worthwhile me going - because face to face relationships are so valuable.

The fact that I'll only be able to participate in broken conversation and certainly won't understand the finer details that are being discussed doesn't matter. I'm told just the fact that people will get to know me and put a name to my face and all that sort of stuff counts for heaps.

If you're a praying type - perhaps you could pray that this would be a productive meeting, and that I'd have the energy I need to meet lots of new people. Also, please pray that many of the Central American folks will be able to get there, because their currency situation is very bad.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sydney Synod mission hour

I was one of the guests of the Sydney Anglican Synod last night - during their missionary hour.

You can read a report of the presentations here  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A great Christmas gift

If you're starting to think about Christmas (and hey, who isn't.....) then can I suggest a really great gift idea. The CMS 'Perfect Gift Catalog' has just been released, and its full of great gifts like

$5 for clothes for street kids in Ethiopia
$10 for training pastors in Egypt
$15 for training leaders in Cuba (my personal favourite!)
$25 for breakfast for 90 kids in Cambodia
$50 for training Aboriginal brothers and sisters in the Northern Territory

and there's stacks more.

If you'd like to get a copy and starting your shopping, go to and download the catalog.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Connect09 - an unexpected problem??

Connect09 is a fantastic initiative being promoted among churches here in Sydney. The idea is to encourage people to 'connect' with people around them - most of whom haven't yet heard about the great saving news of Jesus. Its a great idea - and seems to be taking off all over the place. From what I hear, churches, small groups, individuals are coming up with ways to share Jesus with their neighborhood. It'll be an exciting time next year - I'm disappointed that I won't be around to see it.

But I wonder if there is a slight problem (and certainly unintended by the organisers) with Connect09 that might be worthwhile thinking about? That is, with all the effort going into local evangelism, is there going to a forgetting of the world beyond our parish boundaries? Is the 'bucket of effort' going to be poured completely on our neighborhood, leaving nothing for those who work beyond our borders?

Perhaps this raises a bigger question as well? Is there a sense in which we build up our own churches, grow our staff teams, build better buildings and fit them with flashier technological gizmos - but forget about supporting mission?

Maybe there needs to be a clause in the Connect09 project briefing papers somewhere about the connections that are being made overseas and the need to support that work as well?

Of course if Connect09 'goes off' (and by the sounds of it that is quite likely in many places) there will be a whole lot of people who are keen for evangelism and service and who have found that if they give things a go, they might be able to do it beyond '09! 

It'd be a great thing if that 'giving things a go' extended for some beyond our borders.