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Blog – Renita

  • "Church begins on Monday...

    "Church begins on Monday...Sunday is garage time."

    This is a quote from a Kenyan Marketplace Minister.  This is one of many analogies that we hear about the need to change how we define the Church.

    She went on to describe that Sunday is the day for the vehicle (ourselves) to be refueled, have oil changes, or minor repairs.  But being the light of Christ begins when we leave the building and become the Church scattered, shining the light in places of darkness, which desperately need the light.

    Others say that church is like a cell-phone recharging place.  If we don't turn our phone on after recharging, if we don't use it, what good does it do?  We can come back and recharge each week when the Church gathers, but we need to actually use the phone during the week.

    Or church is like a warship rather than a cruise ship.  The purpose of the warship doesn't take place on the ship - it is where-ever the war is being fought.  Soldiers come to the ship for rest, healing, fellowship, and for new orders.  A cruise ship's purpose of rest and fellowship is found on the ship, but the ship ceases to exist for customers as soon as they step off the ship.

    And so on.

    Bishop Berrings, myself, and colleague Steve KennedyLight bulbs relating to this were going off this week with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, where the Senior Bishop, Bishop Berrings, called his five bishops together from the various regions of Tanzania, along with some other key leaders in the church to hear the message of Discipling Marketplace Leaders.  And now they are ready to disseminate this throughout their denomination. We thank God for this open door and positive response.  We also met the head of this denomination who oversees the work throughout Africa and he too was very interested in seeing this in other countries as well.

    Recently one of our faithful prayers of DML had a vision while praying about this work.  He saw Christ hovering over the Marketplace, beckoning us to come.  As we prayed about this and asked God to reveal His message to us in this vision, it became clear that at times we feel like we are bringing Christ to the Marketplace.  But He is already there.  He beckons us and invites us to join Him, with arms wide open.  In DML, we say that Christ has redeemed the Marketplace and we are to reclaim it, but we (or maybe I) sometimes feel like there is such darkness or abandonment of the Marketplace by the Church that we actually need to bring Him there.  And of course, that is not true.  We need to continue to look (and we do find!) for where He is already working and join Him in that work.

    We also need to remember that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  If we had to bring Christ to the Marketplace, that would be a heavy yoke.  But when we are invited to join Him where He already is shining the light, it is much easier.

    May God continue to grant us wisdom and discernment to find those partners in the faith, to grow the light of Christ in the Marketplace!

    I am now in Kenya, where this week we will have the opportunity to present this message to about 100 vicars from the Anglican Church of Kenya, Kitale Diocese.  We are very excited to be able to present each of them an Africa Study Bible.  Thanks so much to all of you who contributed to these Bibles - I know they will provide great meaning to these pastors as they minister the word of God!

    The bishops, pastors and church leaders in Iringa, Tanzania
    View from the 12-seater plane - Tanzania is a beautiful country, with more animals per square mile than any other country in the world!
  • The Brevity of Life: A Little Too Close for Comfort

    I landed in Addis Ababa at around 7 am on Sunday morning, after a 14 hour flight from Chicago.  That plane was quite full and fourteen hours is a long time to be in such close proximity with so many people.  You hear stories from people as you wait to board, as you stand in line, as you wait to take-off, when you land, and when you de-plane.

    Once in Addis, all of us in transit headed wearily to our next gates to wait for our next flight.  The same woman, who had pushed by people getting on and off our plane, was pushing ahead again.  What was her hurry?  The young man who shared that he had put his life contents in storage to spend one month in Kenya to see how it worked out strolled to the gate with the young woman he had been talking to - I don't think they were together though.  The mom with the very busy and very cute little two or three year old daughter (who spent much of the flight squealing and laughing - which is SO much better than crying) hustled to the gate as well.

    Gate 8 was the flight to Nairobi, Gate 9 was my flight to Dar Es Salaam.

    Right after they had boarded for their flight to Nairobi, we were called to begin boarding our flight.  Once we were all on the plane, we sat and waited.  And waited.  We were told that we would be waiting for about 45 minutes.  I thought it a bit strange as I didn't see a line of planes waiting to take off, and we were staying right in the place where we had boarded - not taxiing up the runway to get in a queue.

    But we finally started moving and I did my best to read another paper for my dissertation before catching a few winks.

    Once in the airport in Dar Es Salaam, my phone began buzzing.  I love that my phone knows enough airports that it just automatically connects (as I'm always on airplane mode when I travel and have to rely on Wifi).  After clearing immigration, I waited for my luggage and checked my phone.

    Breaking news from BBC:  Ethiopian flight from Addis to Nairobi crashed and there are no survivors.

    I immediately felt sick.  I had just seen those people.  Just stood next to them.  Just talked to some. Just overheard some of their conversations.  And now, they are dead.  Gone.  Pictures from the crash site show absolutely nothing left from this plane that was less than four months old, and had only been airborn for this particular flight for about six minutes.

    And then the thought occured that it could have been my plane that crashed.  The plane that crashed had just flown in from South Africa that morning.  So this wasn't a regular back and forth flight.  It could have just as easily been assigned to Dar Es Salaam.

    And I start thinking about Michael.  And my kids who have already lost their dad.  I have never feared planes - I actually enjoy turbulence as its a bit like a roller coaster ride - and I would be happy to go down in a plane (as opposed to the slow decline my poor father is experiencing).  But I would have an issue with leaving my kids parentless for the rest of their lives.  Or Michael as a widower.

    As I drove in the taxi to the guest house, I had to keep telling myself to stop thinking about it or I was afraid I would have to tell the driver to pull over so that I could be sick.  Once in my room, I let myself think and process and grieve.

    I'm now thinking that we were waiting to take off because the news of the crash was getting to all pilots and maybe they had to wait to rule out terrorism before letting more planes fly.  (In hindsight, I'm a little uncomfortable that we only had to wait 45 minutes...)  I wonder if the flight attendents knew and had to keep a brave face, knowing their colleagues just died - or whether they were not told.  It seemed to get out on the news pretty quickly.

    And I think about those families from 33 different nations receiving this news with horror, unbelief, and fear.

    And then my mind shifts to the team of people that are joining us in Kenya in this next week, many of whom will take that same flight from Addis to Nairobi, and some of whom will be coming to Africa for the first time.  

    The brevity of life.  We all know it.  We all lament it when we hear of such tragedies.  But every now and then it hits a bit close to home.  Close enough to create some discomfort in the heart despite the logic in the head.

    We recognize how quickly life can just be over.  We know that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  We know that we have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

    The sound mind reminds us that Ethiopian Airlines has a very good track record of aviation safety.  This plane was only four months old (that is troubling for other reasons) - this was not negligence.  Love says that we continue to do what God has called us to do despite the risk.  The power of God reminds us that He is in control - we are to be obedient.

    Please pray for the families who lost loved ones as well as the team that will be traveling from the US to Nairobi this week.  And please pray for the investigation team that is going to be looking into why two new Boeing 737 Max have crashed shortly after take-off in the last five months.  Answers will make us all feel a bit safer about traveling.
  • Replication...and a request for Africa Study Bibles

    On Saturday, I leave for a longer trip (six weeks) to East Africa, starting in Tanzania, then to Kenya, then to Ethiopia.  It feels like I just got home...in part because in some ways I did just get home, but also there was a good amount of travel while I was home these past three weeks.

    As the schedule for DML continues to intensify and the requests from churches and schools grows, it can feel overwhelming at times to try to figure out how we are going to replicate ourselves so that we can build capacity in local leadership and not have to respond to each request.

    And then I get up in the morning and find a couple of dozen pictures from our partner in Ethiopia, Yoseph Bekele, of the many churches and pastors that he has been speaking, teaching, and preaching to in the last few weeks.  And it is so encouraging, because I know that he is SO much more effective than us in that he speaks Amharic and there is no need for clunky translation.

    Then I get up another day and I find a dozen pictures from our partner in Liberia, Lisa Travis, who feels so led to speak about DML that she has gone beyond Liberia to Sierra Leone to teach a number of groups there.  And I see the smile on her face as she teaches and have heard from her about the need that DML meets in her heart in serving the Lord, and it makes me smile.

    So let me share some pictures with you from both Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

    And you can join us in thanking God for protecting Yoseph's life - he sent me an email with pictures on Wednesday in which he had rolled his car yet emerged without a scratch.  The subject line of his email?  "It is God."

    One of the groups Yoseph spoke to recently in Ethiopia.
    I love to see the DML materials in Amharic.  But we also use nesting dolls to illustrate the point about how we are discipled toward family and membership in the institutional church, but not toward how to be the church in the workplace or the Marketplace.  I love that Yoseph has turned the dolls faces away, just as we do when we teach it.  
    Another large group of people getting the message that Work is Worship!
    Yoseph is in the center of this group that he recently trained.
    His car, which was able to protect him, as he uses it to serve the Lord.And now some pictures from Sierra Leone:

    This woman is pointing out which maize is able to glorify God, as we remind ourselves that we are to preach the gospel to the whole creation.  I love Lisa's smile on this picture as she seems to be thoroughly enjoying teaching.
    Lisa teaching in Sierra Leone.
    Lisa with one group in Sierra Leone.
    Group work and Bible study is an important part of our workshops.  We need to ensure that what we are being taught is Biblical!Lisa with another group in Sierra Leone.

    I do have a request:  On March 21 and 22, we will be working with the Kitale Diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya, with about 80 pastors.  We have been asked by the Bishop if we could bring Africa Study Bibles for each of them and we are looking for people who might want to contribute for one or more Bibles. This Bible, printed by our friends at Oasis Publishing, has study notes focused on the leaders in Africa.  Most of the notes were written by African scholars to help leaders see Christianity with fresh eyes. 

    I would like to invite you to join me.  Our target is to raise $2,000 for 80 Bibles ($25 per Bible and includes shipping and handling).  There are two options:  
  • First you can send a check to ICM, PO Box 129, Monument CO 80132 and include a note that it is for "Discipling Marketplace Leaders - Africa Bibles - #609045.
  • The second option is to go to here and follow the prompts.  Please select Discipling Marketplace Leaders in the dropbown, and in the comment box put in "Africa Study Bible".
  • If/when you donate PLEASE drop me a note telling me how much you donated.  This is very important for tracking purposes.  Below is some comments about the Africa Study Bible:
    God's Word through African Eyes.
    The Africa Study Bible brings together 350 contributors from over 50 countries, providing a unique African perspective. It's an all-in-one course in biblical content, theology, history, and culture, with special attention to the African context. Each feature was planned by African leaders to help readers grow strong in Jesus Christ by providing understanding and instruction on how to live a good and righteous life:
    • Over 2600 notes explain the Bible, inspire readers to apply truth to everyday life, teach Christian values and doctrine, and more.
    • "Touchpoints" and "Proverbs and Stories" give African perspective on the Bible and also show parallels with African wisdom.
    • A narrative timeline highlights God's work in Africa.
    Thank you for your consideration and for being part of the team:  teaching, training, and discipling leaders!
  • Muddy Water

    This past Friday was the second Work as Worship Retreat, put on by RightNow Media.  While I was disappointed that my church decided not to participate, I was thankful that across the country more than 11,000 people participated in many local churches.  I'm additionally excited that RightNow Media is partnering with Discipling Marketplace Leaders to replicate the Work as Worship Retreat in the countries where we are working in Africa in May of this year.  It is a great event to explore the concept of doing work as an act of worship, and it then opens the door to go from that event to the next step with people in discipleship.

    Francis Chan started the day talking about watching people washing clothes in muddy water or even drinking muddy/murky water.  He reflected on how that muddy and murky water must be doing something or people wouldn't be using it.  Somehow it is cleaning the clothes.  Somehow it is relieving thirst. But that water can't be doing all it could do, were the water to be clear.  He was comparing it to his teaching, which is like muddy water, as opposed to hearing directly from the word of God, which is like clean, pure water.

    I felt that way about many of the speakers of the day.  And also about myself.  Much of what we do is presenting muddy water.  It can do some good - it can accomplish something - but nothing like the penetrating word of God.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." (NLT)

    And that is what I love about the message of DML.  This is not a new message or our own ideas but it brings us back to what God intended in the beginning.  We present it through the medium of muddy water, but we point to the pure water of life that will cause people never to thirst again.

    1 Corinthians 3:4 says this though:  "For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another says, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere human beings?" Paul is pointing to something greater within each of us who have agreed to follow Jesus.  He is challenging us to understand that we are not to behave like mere humans, as we have been given the Spirit of God which exists in and through us, manifesting to speak to the common good.
    1 Corinthians 12:7 reminds us that "to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."  To each one.  Not just to those who work in churches.  Not just to those who work in Christian non-profits.  To every person.  We are to remember that we are to demonstrate the spirit and power of the Living God, not acting as mere humans.  We are not to do this with arrogance however, as 1 Corinthians 1:17 and 2:2 says, but with fear and trembling.

    Francis Chan also shared the story of when he started his first house church and watched it grow from 10 to 20 people, from 20 to 50, from 50 to 100, then to 1000, then to 2500, then to 5000.  As they reached capacity in their building, growth began to slow down, to maybe 100 people per year.  He said this about that time:  "People were coming to church but just sitting there.  And it was costing a fortune to have them just come and sit there.  I had a sales force of 5000 and we were making 100 sales per year.  If I was in the workplace, I would be fired because I'm a terrible sales manager.  I'm spending a fortune on running this church for 5100 people but I'm not getting a return on my investment."

    I read recently that in the last twenty years, the institutional church in North America spent $530 billion dollars on itself and didn't increase the percentage of Christians by even one percent - some even argue that the percentage is decreasing.  Globally, the percentage of Christians in 1970 was 33.4% and by 2018, it was 33.0%.  Now, just as the population in the world has grown, the number of Christians has grown from 1.1 billion in 1970 to 2.4 billion in 2018.  (By contrast, the percentage of Muslims in the world grew from 19% in the 1970s to 27% in 2018.)

    A return on investment in the church.  Members as part of the sales force of Jesus Christ.  Can we talk about such terms with the institutional church?

    I think we can and I think we need to.  The message received on a Sunday morning needs to be turned into application and transformation throughout the week, otherwise it is simply information.

    What would happen if churches were more intentional about discipling people to do their work as an act of worship?  I am talking about real discipleship - not just preaching on the topic once or twice in a year.  Many pastors and church leaders say they do this for their members, but many members I talk to do not agree.  It is rarely reflected in official programming of the church and even more rarely reflected in the budget (which is where the church's real commitments can often be seen).

    Churches spend a lot of time helping to develop our personal relationship with God and with others, both of which are very important.  But our relationship to work and the creation was part of the curse as well and the workplace is where we spend most of our adult lives.  This relationship needs to be restored.  Christ has redeemed it - we need to reclaim it.  To not speak to this issue in our churches in an intentional way is causing a great gap and lost opportunities.

    Muslims have figured out how to integrate their faith and their work.  There has not been the same dichotomy between what is sacred and secular.  For Christians, it's not too late for us to begin doing this more intentionally as well.

    We may do it with muddy water.  We should do it with fear and trembling.  But we should also remember that we are not "mere humans."  We have the capacity with our muddy water to point people to the Living Water.
  • A Tribute to Bob's Mom, Lucille Cain Reed Mosher

    As I travelled home from Cameroon on Sunday and Monday, I received a text message that Bob's mom, my mother-in-law of 29 years, was not expected to live long.  She had been given two weeks to live before I left for West Africa, and my prayer had been that she would last until I got home.  I got home on Monday night and on Tuesday morning drove through the snow/ice of a winter storm to Cadillac to see her.  I had the priviledge to sit by her side until she passed on Wednesday at noon.  It was an honor to sit with her, sing to her, read to her, pray for her, massage her feet, and wet her lips.  She was unconscious the whole time but I was told she could still hear.  In some ways it felt like a divine appointment that I was able to get back in time to have that precious time with her.

    As the family has decided to just have a visitation service for her, I wanted to share my thoughts about this woman and decided that since this blog has been like a journal for me, I would share it here.  Maybe someday my grandchildren will want to know about their great-grandmother.
    I met Lucille in 1990, the year Bob and I started dating and married.  At that time, Lucille was married to her third husband, Keith.  Her first husband, Bob's dad, died in a house fire when Bob was three.  They had four children together.  Her second husband was Bob's uncle and they had two children together.  Her marriage to Keith lasted more than 25 years.
    Lucille was a bit of an enigma to me.  She was a very giving person - always making pies and cookies for people, helping to rake their yards, mow their lawns, shovel their snow.  She loved garage sales and was always picking things up for her kids and grandkids, or for neighbors and friends.  It was Bob's belief that because she had received so much after the house fire and her husband's death, that she wanted to give back.   I think it was just also a part of who she was and it helped define her.  But despite her love to help, she was not your stereotypical loving, giving person - not one for much flowery emotion or sentimental conversation.  She was a very no-nonsense, direct woman (if you knew Bob, that's where he probably got it from), and absolutely disliked talking about deep issues or emotions (and if you knew Bob, you knew that drove him nuts).  Her favorite response when asked about her thoughts or feelings on things was "I don't care."


    Often, if we pushed subjects to deep issues, she would quickly begin crying.  Bob believed that was because she kept burying emotions without processing, and so it didn't take much prodding to get to the underlying emotions that were there.  I was privileged to do an interview with her when I was working on my MSW and I learned things about her that Bob had no idea about.  For a few minutes, I was able to lift that curtain to see the complex woman underneath.
    Her faith was also a subject of debate between Bob and I.  She certainly was not a fan of "institutional religion" but Bob thought that she might have a private faith.  She acknowledged a belief in God but didn't go much further from what we could see.  Again, as she wouldn't entertain discussions of a deeper nature, it was difficult to have a good understanding of where she stood.
    When Bob died, I wanted to do for his mom and stepdad what he would do if he was still alive.  And, even though I was in Africa much of the time, I tried my best to help out and visit as much as I could.  When I spoke to her on Tuesday, I shared what I thought Bob would say if he was there.  As I did, a tear came out of her eye.  I would love to think that she has now met up with Bob in heaven and that they are doing some catching up together.

    Hannah and Noah lost their grandmother on Wednesday.  I hope they haven't lost their connection with their dad's side of the family.  Please keep them in your prayers as they process this loss in and of itself, along with the possible complications.

    Keith, Lucille, and Bob - maybe all three in heaven, catching up together.
    Lucille with five of her six children (2005).  Her daughter Brenda had passed away the year before (2004), and Bob died five years later (2010).  She is survived by four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
  • Frustrated Eagerness

    "I want to tell you how this has changed me.  You need to hear the details."  She said this to me with an urgency, while sitting on the edge of her chair.  "The message that my work can be worship has been startling and invigorating at the same time.  I have taken it to my staff and they too are changing.  We had never even thought about the environmental bottom line before and now all of us are involved in caring for the environment.  But more than that, I want to teach churches about how to do better with their administration and finance.  They measure eve rything by the Great Commission, but do they not think that they will be held accountable for how they handled the money of the church?  They have not been trained in this and there is no accountability or responsible planning.  Can I use your materials to help train churches in my city?"

    She went on for about forty-five minutes with her ideas and her excitement.  She had been has been involved with Discipling Marketplace Leaders since July of last year but her understanding and her commitment to the message is deepening.

    She asked, "Are you okay with DML being used in this way?"  I answered, "This is not material that belongs to DML.  This is a Biblical truth from Genesis 1 and 2.  We don't own this.  This is for all of us, from our Heavenly Father to all of His children.  You should use this in the way that you feel called."

    She is the owner of a microfinance bank in Cameroon, with four branches in large cities.  She told me the story of the almost $50,000 she had to pay to be registered with the central bank, having to submit and resubmit documents over and over for whatever reason they could find to reject her applications, until she finally had to hire someone to do it for her.  She has no receipts for the $50,000 that she has paid.  But she can now do the work that she believes God has given her, to be salt and light to a people who are hurting and struggling in a difficult environment.

    Her home is in a city that has been closed due to a strike and she cannot return home until February 15.  All businesses have been forced to be closed for these two weeks.  She told me about the army trucks heading into her hometown while she and many others left prior to the strike starting.  News of shootings and killings trickled back to her each day while we were in trainings last week.  The stress of what is happening is just under the surface of the passion she feels in wanting to move forward with her calling.  Friday morning, news came to us that there were many arrests of Anglophones in Yaounde (where we were) as the trial of one of the separatists was getting under way at the courthouse.  Tension rose in the group, but especially with her.  She wants peace but also resolution.

    The tension of the "now, but not yet."  We see the potential to live out an aspect of the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," but we have to continue to deal with the fallen will of people around us.  We get excited to do our work as an act of worship, and then we are frustrated by those who prevent us from even going to work.

    Romans 8:21-23  ...With eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

    Here is a video that was put out last week about the struggle in Cameroon with the separatists.  It is a good video to watch to give an understanding of the challenges and how we can pray.  Thank you for reading and for praying.  We appreciate your support!

  • This Is Your Morning

    I have left Liberia and am now in Cameroon.  I am writing this on the road (Sunday morning) as we are traveling from Douala, the business capital, to Yaoundé, which is the official capital.  After conversations for the first couple of hours, I spent the rest of the trip going through my notes from Nigeria, Liberia, and Cameroon, and making the updates, changes, and reminders from workshops and presentations.  This is a regular must-do after each trip as we debrief and make suggestions for how to have continuous improvement to this message that God has entrusted to us.

    I read a comment that I had noted from someone in Nigeria at the end of a two-day workshop.  He said, “The Igbos (a tribe in Nigeria) have a saying that the time when you wake up is your morning.”  He continued, “I wish I had met DML before now, but now that I have woken up, this is my morning."It is a joy to continue to see the lightbulbs going off for pastors, church leaders, and businessmen and businesswomen.  The most common phrase we hear is, “How did I miss this?”  I love that this is a forgotten truth from God, our Creator, and not something that we made up or discovered. 

    In Cameroon, we held a microbusiness training in Douala.  It was supposed to be in Limbe, but the civil crisis has continued and it was declared that all people in the Northwest and Southwest of Cameroon were to strike from February 1-15 – that means no one should leave their homes, or they could come under attack (the map highlights in red the parts of Cameroon considered to be unsafe.  The goal from the Ambazonians is to take out the French leadership in those two areas.  They quickly changed the venue from Limbe to Douala, which is bigger and tends to be more peaceful, and then we were thankful to hear that they postponed the strike until February 5.  This allowed us to get out of Douala and into Yaoundé before the strike started.


    The microbusiness training is designed for members of churches where the pastors have already done the Thirty Days in the Marketplace, but about half of the group were also pastors.  During our introductions I heard a new theme which must have come from our Cameroonian trainers:  The Church focuses on the 10% of members money and not on the 90%.  We need to train our members not only on how to use the 90% but also how to use their time and talent to obtain the 90%.  
    In Liberia, I was delighted to meet my namesake whom we cared for during the first fourteen months of her life.  She is now 11 years old and a beautiful girl.  Below is a picture of Baby Renita and I in 2008, and then a picture that we took last week.


  • Man Started By Resting

    On Saturday we left Nigeria and are now in Liberia, where we will do a DML workshop before I go to Cameroon and Dr. Walker goes to Egypt.  The Harmattan winds were thick in Nigeria as dust hung in the air, while the humidity in Liberia hangs thickly in the air.  I haven't been in Liberia since 2012 and I forgot how useless it is to do anything with my hair while I'm here - it just goes curly in the humidity.  Dr. Walker has never seen me with curly hair, while Liberians have never seen me without.  There have certainly been many changes in this country of nearly five million people in the past seven years.

    While in Nigeria, we were blessed to be with many pastors and church leaders, engaging in theological discussions and debates about the theology of work and the role of the Church in discipling its members to do work as an act of worship.  We spent this last week working with an excellent team of trainers, who will help carry this work forward in Kaduna, Jos, and Abuja, as well as other parts of Nigeria.

    Our DML team in Nigeria is led by Dr. Abraham Gaga and Freeman Okuru.  Both have been serving the Church and mission field for many years and are truly excited about the capacity of what DML can do to reclaim the marketplace (defined as the systems of business, government, and education) for Christ.  Both are implementing DML in their own church, which is always a great indication of someone who has taken this to heart and is able to influence leaders.

    Dr. Gaga led in devotions regarding rest and, as I have felt a deeper weariness of late, I listened to this reminder with eager ears.  He spoke some truths that went deep into my soul.

    First, he pointed out that God made man on the sixth day and then rested on the seventh day - something we all know - but he pointed out that man started by resting.  He said that we don't rest FROM work - rather, we rest in order to do the work.  He further pointed out that when we work without resting and listening, we may well work in vain.

    It fits into what we teach in that Sunday is the first day of the week, rather than the end of the week.  Resting and listening in order to work, rather than resting as a result of the work.  It's a subtle but important shift.

    I hope you are resting today to be able to do your work tomorrow.  And when you do your work, may you do it as an act of worship unto the Lord!
  • Back To West Africa

    This Friday, I leave for West Africa.  It feels like we just left there (end of November).  Christmas was such a busy time with family and the days just flew by!

    We will start this trip working with the Baptist Seminary in Lagos, where over 300 pastors and church leaders will attend our workshop.  We will then spend a day with the faculty and staff of the Baptist Seminary to explore how the Church can begin to shift from defining itself by its wall on Sundays to the people on Mondays.  We will then move to Kaduna, where we will have a similar discussion and workshop with the pastors and church leaders from the ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) Church.  Finally we will move into a Training of Trainers for the DML Nigeria team to train both pastors as well as business people.  We are praying that this will allow this work to go on in our absence.

    From Nigeria, we will move to Liberia.  It will be my first time back to Liberia in six years.  I'm sure many things will have changed.  I will only be there for a few days to do a two-day workshop with pastors and church leaders through REAP (Restoration of Education Advancement Programs), so there won't be a lot of time for visiting.  We squeezed this trip in following the two people from Liberia who joined the training in Ghana in October and are anxious to get this moving.

    From Liberia, I will be heading to Cameroon, while my colleague, Dr. Walker, heads to Egypt.  I will be starting my time in Cameroon in the city of Limbe, on the western coast of Cameroon, where we will be holding a two-day microbusiness training.  From there, I will move to Yaounde, where we will hold another two-day microbusiness training, followed by a Training of Trainers to help support the work of DML Cameroon throughout the country.

    Things seem to have settled down a bit in Cameroon in all but the Anglophone areas yet.  The Anglophone separatists have declared they are not Cameroonian but Ambazonian and have declared a new currency with for that area.  The President of Cameroon appointed a new Prime Minister yesterday and we will wait and see whether this will be a good thing or not.  Please continue to pray for this region and its ongoing struggles.

    During this trip I will miss my son's birthday (he lives in Washington DC so I wouldn't normally see him anyway) and also my husband's birthday.  This will be the second year I miss his birthday and it may be a pattern.  I've asked him to change the date but up until now he has not acted on it.  🙂  Additionally, I leave while my 90-year-old mother-in-law (Bob's mom) is having a significant increase in dementia and medical issues; additionally, my 89-year-old father, who has been on a locked floor for eight years with frontal lobe dementia, is also experiencing further deterioration.

    I will return on February 11 and hope to catch up with everyone at that time. Thank you for your prayers, ongoing support, and encouragement. Our continued prayer is that the Global Church continue to discover how to be relevant to the world on a day-to-day basis with all members recognizing that work can be their act of worship.
  • Status of Global Christianity, 2018

    This is the time when many of us look at statistics from the past year, personal, national, or international. In my study, I have been reading statistics about the status of Global Christianity, especially from 1900-2050, and thought I would share some of these with you.

    Here are some facts from a report from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:


    • Christianity is projected to hold its own in terms of percentage of the world.  In 1900 it was 34.4%.  In 2050, it is expected to be 35.3%.  Not much change in terms of percentage but the overall number has gone from 500 million to 2.5 billion today.
    • The number of congregations will have increased from 400,000 in 1900 to 9,000,000 in 2050.
    • The number of denominations will have increased from 1,600 in 1900 to 70,000 in 2050.
    • One number my husband might like:  Book titles about Christianity will have increased from 300,000 in the year 1900, to 14,500,000 book titles in 2050.
    • Personal income of Christians was $270 billion in 1900 and will increase to $200,000 billion in 2050.  This year, 2018, it is $57,000 billion. 

    The history of giving as it relates to churches and Christians is also interesting.  Giving to Christian causes was at $8 billion in the year 1900.  It is now at $960 billion and is expected to go up to $3,300 billion in the year 2050. The Christian community has been very generous and faith-based organizations actually account for nearly 60% of US-based foreign aid organizations. 

    What do churches give to?  Evangelism is definitely #1, with church planting right behind.  The charton the right shows the breakdown of average giving for churches.  For my particular study, it is telling that creation care is at the bottom of the list, while business as mission fares a bit better.

    One surprising statistic in the middle of all the numbers was this:

    Ecclesiastical crime:  in 1900, it was $300,000.  In 1970, it was $5,000,000.  In 2000, $19 billion.  In 2018, $63 billion.  In 2025, $80 billion.  In 2050, $250 billion.  The footnote to this statistic says, "Amounts embezzled by top custodians of Christian monies (US dollar equivalents, per year)."  Wow.  This seems to be about 7-8% of the giving received.

    A startling statistic to read.  
    So the Global Christian Church is giving at about 1.6% and of that amount, we are losing 10% to ecclesiastical crime. This is very sad as we know that the impact of this number is far beyond simply a loss of money.  It goes to the reputation of the Church and is a poor reflection on Jesus. [It makes the class that I teach in seminaries on Integrity and Finance so important, but also a definite sense of swimming upstream.  How I wish all seminaries would include a class like this in their curriculum!]

    It tells us the capacity that we could have if we could unify ourselves better, commit to giving, and have better transparency and accountability in the Church.  We certainly have our work cut out for us in 2019 and beyond!

    Let's continue to pray for wisdom for the days in front of us, as well as discernment and courage to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit!

    We wish you all a blessed New Year in 2019, and pray that we may continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    [To see the full report on the status of Global Christianity, click here.]