40 years of unfinished projects. Thanks for sticking with us!

The story of more than 40 years of our life with Latin Americans came together in a very special way in 2017.

During the second half of the year, I learned important lessons.  Those lessons reminded me that we don’t walk through life alone.  This story would not have happened without you: Continue reading


Brazilians and the good of the world

Three events took place this last week that allow a glimpse into how the world changes.  After finding the story behind the events, I remind myself and my friends about tools for acting out our hope and contributing to the good of the world.  Continue reading

Martureo: some accomplishments from 2017

My main responsibility, after trying to be a loving husband, father, and grandfather, is to help coordinate the people in Martureo who are creating a Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection

Matureo buddhistI have copied here for you the report from our Martureo site about some of our accomplishments in 2017.  In Martureo we understand how important it is for Brazilian mission practitioners to carefully consider how they give witness to Christ and participate in his mission in all spheres of society.  And I am very pleased with what we were able to accomplish.

Continue reading


It’s not about the ships.

The important thing is how cargo gets from one part of the world to another.

Sometimes the best way is on a ship that passes through the Canal.  But not all cargo stays in ships as it goes through the Canal.   The canal administration understands that is a node in a flow of global commerce from everywhere to everywhere.  The canal is an important part of Panama’s brand:  “Bridge of the World, Heart of the Universe.”

Panama is about connectivity between humans.   But the Canal doesn’t produce the connectivity as much as it was itself a product of global connectivity.  Once built, the Canal became a new and influential path for creating and consolidating other global connections through cargo and communications.  Cargo is how people get connected to each other through processes of production and consumption.  Communication is the dialogue that creates cargo and makes it flow.  The canal shapes all kinds of connections around the world!



The widening of the canal will allow more cargo to pass through the canal on fewer ships, and increase reliance on communication.   It will transform places around the globe — its already changing the transportation infrastructure of the United States.  Some of the changes are foreseeable and others will come about in unforeseeable ways.   Continue reading

I’d like to straddle the fence, but from which side? Instead, I get experiences I never could have imagined!


I am tired of what theology does to my social life!  Perhaps my weariness is one reason why I accepted the invitation to assist in the birth of a Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection.

Theological positions are important for some people.  Not long ago, a good friend warned me over coffee about the dangers of “Open Theism.”  I was unaware of Open Theism.  So I looked it up.  I found lots of mostly negative portrayals.  Google took me to descriptions of Open Theism only by people who wanted to tell me what was wrong with it.   I found no Open Theism advocates.

When I asked another friend about it, I was surprised go hear that he supported it.  He said that Open Theism helped him renew his faith and hope in the ultimate victory of God: “In light of all that I have learned about the Kingdom, its presence in our midst and the implications of its reality on for our daily life,  Open Theism helps me participate responsibly in the expansion of the Kingdom of God.”

He gave me this video so I could hear the other side of the argument.

Even after hearing both positions, I couldn’t resolve them.  Listening to the arguments left me confused.  It also left me with a relational dilemma:  Which side of the fence should I climb–so as to firmly straddle it?

The premise that we need to get our theology right is problematic.  It leaves us in a wrong relationship with God, with others, and with the Bible.

For anyone who has tried to read it, it should be obvious that Bible is not a theology book.  It includes almost no categorical statements of philosophy.  Rather its fundamental claim unfolds through a rather messy story that involves many generations of messed up people, a variety of cultures and historical periods, multiple languages, and many ideas about God and the gods.   It contains a claim that God made a promise to bless all the families of the earth and further suggests that the promise will be fulfilled through a complicated relationship that emerges between God and people.  The story is further complicated by the fact that, despite the promise, the problems of the world continue unabated.  Worse yet, God’s people seem to contribute more than their fair share to those problems.  It even authorizes us to wonder whether the promise to bless–made so long ago–is serious.  Why is humanity so messed up and why do so many humans live such precarious lives? As the story develops, slaves and migrants become primary agents for change.  One hopes they will prevail but they never quite seem to do so.  Still, as I read the story, I find that I am inspired to find ways to join God in the mission and I want to invite anyone who will listen to participate in the challenge of living for the good of the world.

In this light, the idea that I need to find a proper theology so that I can wield its terms as a weapon to place a border between those who worthy and those who are not, becomes rather ridiculous.  Instead, the story motivates me to understand what God is up to now.  I am challenged to remain open to let the spirit take me into situations I am quite unprepared for.  I feel the need to allow the text of the Bible to challenge (question) the direction of my life.

If we want that promise to be fulfilled, it seems to me that we each need to be laser-focused on recognizing how we are being written into the story of the cosmos (that is, the creation).  As we do so, we might find that God violates our favorite theology and genuinely surprises us by leading us to engage with people we never expected to even know.

So, what about Open Theism?  Open Theism seems designed to go head to head with what its advocates consider to be “inadequate theologies.”  In a very real sense, this is just one more version of the same claim: “we are right and you have been wrong all along.”  So-called new ideas are being deployed to replace old ones.

Theology deserves to be called arrogant when theological systems enter into conflict with each other.  But it does not mean that theologies are entirely bad, or that good theology is unimportant.  The best theologies are just words, written in philosophical terms, but those words represent real encounters with God.  When philosophy interacts with the Spirit, the Word, and the World in a particular time and cultural setting, it produces some amazingly challenging literature.

But the Bible also represents encounters with God, but it does so in what is arguably a more accessible style.  It relies almost entirely on non-philosophical terms.  Rather it uses a variety of literary forms to tell a story.  The storyline emerges out of experiences, not out of philosophical certainties, that take place over many generations, in many places, and in multiple languages by people who believe God and mainly by people who do not.  Belief is important but, actually, the Bible implies that each person has a place in the story that it tells.  Theologies, on the other hand, rely on frameworks that are accessible to some and not to others.  The arrogance of theologies will be shortlived.  Each theological framework must account for how well it makes room for troubled people to experience the goodness and mercy of God.

In my own case, theology seems to get in the way of my efforts figure out I am supposed to live in a way that is consistent with the hope that God will fulfill his promise to bless all the families of the earth.  I walk with God more intimately and freely when I move away from trying to make the world and people conform to theological ideas.  I am a better person when I am “doing missiology.”

Doing missiology requires going back to the story.  It requires entering the story anew upon every encounter with others.  Thus, missiology becomes  “situated reflection.” We start where we are and we try to figure out how to follow God into His mission.  Our answers are accountable to the Spirit and to the Word for allowing them to push us out into the world around us.

“Missiology” is a relatively new discipline.  It was originally called the “science of mission” because it was conceived of as a research-based activity. Today missiologists continue to be committed to research because the mission activists are hungry for help with the practical challenges they face and they appreciate when research is pragmatic. Nevertheless, missiological reflection is primarily an openness to God that seeks to understand and participate in the unfolding story by which God is delivering blessing to all the families of the earth.  Missiology inquires into our experiences of the story because we want to live fruitfully as the people of God while the promise is being fulfilled.

The continuing arguments about whose theology is right and whose is wrong wear me out.  They weaken my sensitivity to God and keep me from letting God take me somewhere new, and into experiences that I never could have imagined.


Valdir Steuernagel is a Brazilian pastor and he talks about the missiology we could be doing:


Let’s work on getting our responsiveness to God right, more than on getting our theology right, for the sake of moving toward the new creation.

Year end giving in my 40th year of Christian service.

I am not sure how I feel about the heavy traffic of e-mails I get with Christmas greetings mixed with an appeal to me to give money to everyone’s favorite charity.

I admit it is part of the system that has defined “missions” from the American church to the rest of the world and that we have done some good.  This system has made it possible for me to eat, have shelter, and to serve people and support them in Latin America and around the world as they follow Jesus, as his disciples and to sustain this commitment for 40 years. ccc7fda2f711bddcc2e376cfda49edd3

Sometimes, though, it feels like the system is getting out of hand.  The picture on the right does not apply only to the Roman Catholic hierarchy.  It reflects a growing pattern in Christian charities.  More on that sometime.

On the other hand, the generosity of family and friends is what makes it possible for me, and for so many others to dedicate our creativity, time and energy to our service to others.  That generosity has given me a very special privilege.  For 40 years now, I have been free to give of myself to others, and I have greatly enjoyed the ride.  I don’t plan to stop now.

Finances and charitable giving have been an important part of that experience.  So here is my letter that goes out on December 26 about giving opportunities in Martureo. Martureo is built on generostiy | Hallshighlights.

I believe so much in the opportunity that Martureo represents that I am giving my life to it.  I am pushing back my retirement and rearranged the commitments of my life so I can help.  Young Brazilians have the opportunity to develop a tool that they can use as they follow Christ into the world that He loves and for which he gave his life.  Their efforts will shape the future of global humanity.

Sounds like many well-to-do Americans are seeking to use their wealth along the same path. This article was published this week in the Wall Street Journal:  Charity Accounts Become the Hot Holiday Must-Have.  I think it is great, and hope that some of this generosity can be shared with Brazilians, and others around the world, whose efforts in global mission are increasing.

The story of Jesus has not only captivated my life, it has shaped history (usually for the good, but often hijacked for the fame and fortune of people who think God can be co-opted for their own self-promotion).    Our Christmas letter  is a celebration of the story of Jesus, a story that we are all affected by.

The Christmas greeting I prefer to give, is about the unfolding story of Jesus and his followers.  As I greet you, and I also pray for God to provide for all that I need in 2017 and all that Martureo could use so that I can participate with them in the next steps as the story of the birth of Jesus, and his life point forward to the “fullness of blessing”, as He intends.

Polycentric Missiology, by Allen Yeh

I wish we could sit down and read Polycentric Missiology together.  We might find ourselves talking together about what difference mission makes. Hopefully our conversation would take us beyond celebrating or condemning missionaries who went out froPolycentric Missiology.jpgm a “Christian” North to a pagan South. Instead we would talk about how the world changed in the 20th Century and reflect on the surprisingly decisive role that Christian mission played.

I would really be excited if reading it together, you might also find a way to help me resolve a long standing frustration of mine.  When we first went to Brazil as missionaries, I discovered the world was not really organized in the way the “missions” narrative I learned from had portrayed it to me. I can’t say that was the frustration.  After all that narrative convinced me to invest my life as a “missionary.”  Nor was I frustrated when it motivated our friends to make generous contributions so we could stay “on the field,” and more to do some pretty special work.  For all that we are very grateful!  It has been an amazing privilege.

I also can’t say that the misconstrued narrative actually got in the way of our work in Brazil and Guatemala. I look back in amazement at how important and fruitful some tasks proved to be.  The places, however didn’t quite conform to the narrative nor to our role as implied in complicated label like “missionary. ” But we could deal with that misconstrual because of the help of Brazilian and Guatemalan friends.  They took the time to show us how different reality was from the narrative that took us to their countries.  Despite the differences in narratives, they welcomed us and helped us figure out how to do things in appropriate ways.

The frustration manifested itself more when we were “home” in the USA where the narrative lived. It told us how the world was arranged, why missionaries were needed and what missionaries should do.  The narrative encouraged efforts to change the world.  But in practice, I think it actually required the world to stay the same.  Missionaries were sent from America, where we had it together, to places in the world that were defined by their need.  Since we were the missionaries, at home we fit into a predefined role in the narrative.  Whatever words we tried to use to rewrite the narrative, those words did not so much inform as fit us into a world that was neatly arranged into missionary senders and receivers.  I suspect that any attempt we made to inform the narrative with new facts about the emergence of vibrant new initiatives in Christian mission from “the field” must have sounded more like fancy new ideas rather than like our attempt to actually describe and deal with real changes.

If is there is a resolution to this frustration it might be found in Polycentric Missiology.  Allen Yeh opens up a new window on the narrative of Christian mission in the 20th Century.  He frames the story of the emergence of World Christianity, and shows its significance for the future through the story of some meetings in 5 continents in 1910, 2010 and 2012 that, at first glance, may seem important only to “missions wonks”.

He shows that the events really had broader significance by focusing on how the contexts that brought them to be, and located them geographically and historically was itself fruit of Christian mission.  The conferences themselves shed light on one of the 20th Century’s most more important developments: the failures of the triumphalist vision hidden behind the White Man’s burden at the beginning of the century and simultaneously, the rootedness Christian faith in thousands of cultural contexts around the world.

The triumphalist vision motivated Protestant missionaries from the USA and Europe in 1910 when they convened a World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh Scotland.  But hopes of global transformation that were behind the conference had to face the events of two World Wars (the first of which took place in the decade immediately after the Conference).  European Christians warred and killed each other.  Eventually the failure of the European global project led to a pull back of the colonial empires, the pathway on which the missionaries had traveled.  But even as Western Christians were coming to grips with the failure of their twentieth Christianity to forge a peaceful and prosperous new world order, new Christian communities were asserting the the global relevance of faith in Christ.

Polycentric Missiology tells the story of five conferences that laid claim to the Edinburgh legacy one hundred years later.  They stand as assertions on five continents that something important happened to greatly transform once triumphalist narrative.

Not everyone thinks Christian mission made a positive contribution in those 100 years.  For many, the 20th Century discredited Christian mission.  During that time mission was identified with imperialism and with trampling on other people’s religions. In addition, Christianity is identified as a “Western religion” so that a “decline” in Christian faith is regularly narrated alongside the collapse of European colonialism (so closely linked to Christian mission).

Today Western Christians ourselves are sorely tempted to abandon traditional aspects of the mission.  The most attractive option is to turn missions into a purely humanitarian projects (And the causes are compelling:  orphanages, peacebuilding, clean water, caring for refugees, stopping human trafficking, creation care, micro-enterprise loans etc.).  And mission outreach has become shy about inviting others to become disciples of Jesus, even the projects are often envisioned as ways for their creators to follow Jesus.

It’s not just because I am stubborn that I continue to believe that Christian mission will continue to be the major force that will drive future history and shape the geography of humanity. The story Yeh tells in Polycentric Mission reinforces that conviction.

The abundant syllables in the two-word title of the book should not intimidate readers. Personally, I like the word “Polycentric.”  It has great value for understanding the manner in which mission from last century laid a groundwork for producing new global futures.  I might use it more regularly if it were more familiar to people.

Yeh’s use of the word “polycentric” points out a new 21st Century reality: the reality of World Christianity.  But World Christianity does not turn out to be the result of mission from Europe and North America.  It the result of efforts of Christians from myriad locations.  Thus christians from everywhere were agents in the project of shaping the world according to the gospel–all for different reasons based on how their world is informed by their Christian faith.

Multiple locations for Christian faith assure that no Christians in the world will be able to think of the world through the concept of mission as simply a project whereby they send missionaries from their country to make the world in their image.  Rather, mission has involved both sending and receiving.  People who find themselves anywhere in the world meet Christians who have come to them, who think of them as a mission into which God has sent them.  Both Christians and non find themselves responding to this new World Christianity and to Christians in mission from elsewhere, and will do so more in the future.  How they respond will determine how they take (or not) new opportunities to work together to overcome barriers that resist salvation, peace, justice, freedom and hope for all.

Dr. Yeh uses this story to draw attention to the spread of Christianity throughout the world in the last century and to how that spread has produced an amazingly diverse World Christianity today.  World Christianity opens up new locations from which to learn good missiology.  Rather than seeing World Christianity as a triumph of the Western globalization project, he describes World Christianity as a location in diversity from which to think more completely about the mission of the people of God and with a better informed theology:  “world Christianity is the scope and theme of this book: it is the new way that Christianity should be viewed.”

I particularly appreciate that he takes note of Latin America’s unique (and somewhat unnoticed or marginalized) status in World Christianity, and gives it proper importance and that he does so through the story of CLADE V — the Latin American Evangelization Congress which took place in Costa Rica in 2012.

We used the same word for the theme of the 2016 Panama Consultation where I spoke at earlier this month.  We called it POLYCENTRIC MISSION – from all nations to all nations. You could even end up using it!  We will need it more and more if we are going to talk about how the God of Israel is pulling off his project to bless all the peoples of the earth.  We chose Panama 2016 as the place and date for the Consultation to call attention to an earlier and important meeting Panama 1916 — Conference on Christian Work in Latin America.  Panama 1916 helped create the shape how American Christians have done our missionary work, especially in Latin America, for a century in a similar way.

An illustration of the polycentric.


I have three valued friends with the same name, spelled three different ways (actually I have more friends with that name who are not in the picture).

To have the three of them together in the same picture is a great illustration of the polycentric missiology that the Allen pictured in the middle makes evident in his book.

Alan, on the left, was a missionary from UK in Bolivia who now heads up Latin Link an agency through which Europeans and Latin Americans work in partnership for the gospel.  They provide structure and mechanisms for Latin Americans to serve in countries of Latin America other than their own, for Europeans to serve in Latin America and for Latin Americans to serve in Europe.

Allan, on  the right, is from Costa Rica, and has worked broadly in the Muslim World alongside Christian workers from 20+ countries. He spoke recently at the Urbana Missions Conference.

Allen Yeh, in the middle, is the author of Polycentric Missiology.  He writes from his position as professor of Missiology at Biola University.  It is written in an accessible style, probably because he seems to aim it at opening the minds of University students in the West to the amazing changes in the world that parallel the advance of the gospel over the last 100 years. But it is valuable beyond the classroom for understanding both mission and World Christianity.

Postcards from the Hotel Tivoli

I am in Panama this week for the Global Consultation of the Mission Commission, of the World Evangelical Alliance.

To help the participants from 80+ countries who will meet in Panama, October 3-7, 2017, I wrote this little piece.

Postcards from the Hotel Tivoli

Background on the Panama 1916 Congress on Christian Work in Latin America


The  2016 Global Consultation of the WEA Mission Commission will take place in Panama City October 3-7, 2016, around the theme of “Polycentric Mission”.  The place chosen for this major missions consultation invokes the memory of an earlier event in modern mission history: the Congress on Christian Work in Latin America (CCWLA), held in February 1916 at the Tivoli Hotel, pictured above.

The purpose of this article is to help participants in the 2016 WEAMC Global Consultation discover the context and themes of 1916 Congress, and relate them to the challenges of global mission after 2016.  We have included, below, links to some of the literature from the 1916 Congress, including the actual compendia in three volumes.


It is appropriate that the Hotel Tivoli is now defunct. Panama 1916 was held in a hotel owned by the US Government located in the “Panama Canal Zone”– Panamanian territory under US control at that time.  Today, it is the location of a Tropical Research Center, the canal and the canal zone belong to Panama, and new Panamanian initiatives are transforming global commerce in ways that go way beyond what the American builders and owners originally conceived for the canal.

In the same way, the context and the sources of global mission have changed dramatically since 1916.  And the gospel has transformed Panama itself into one of the centres from which the Spirit of God moves Jesus’ disciples into mission.

The 2016 consultation will not take place in the same hotel, and it will not attempt to return to old geographies and approaches to mission from one hundred years ago. Nevertheless CCWLA is relevant to our conversation about “Polycentric Mission” after 2016 because it shaped the world from which God’s people join Christ in his mission today and tomorrow.  The language first deployed at CCWLA continues to shape how we narrate the emergence of “new centres.”

Interestingly, the Congress on Christian Work in Latin America included only a handful of Latin Americans.  Evaluations of subsequent Congresses paid close attention to how many Latin Americans were included as delegates to each Latin American ecumenical congress (CCLA/CELA[1], CLAI[2], CLADE[3]).

This 2016 Consultation includes participants from Asia, Af3259_pqsdzaydygrica, Latin America, USA and Europe who will stand in Latin America, with Latin American evangelicals, and discuss mission to all the world.  Multiple (and sometimes conflicting) narratives find, in the Panama 1916 story, diverging bases for their own participation in God’s global mission to all of humanity.

As you peruse the documents, you may be filled with criticism, pride, anger, hope, or any other sense of connection of your life and calling with that of those who met here 100 years ago.  Take some time with these documents to look back.  What did they think they were doing?  What kind of world did they help create?  In what way did their efforts contribute to the particular starting point from which people in your part of the world engage in global mission today?02_Roosevelt_Tivoli.jpg

The geopolitical context:  The Panama Canal officially opened on August 15, 1914.  The US Government built the Hotel Tivoli in territory that it controlled.  There it received its honored guests.   Theodore Roosevelt, the first President of the United States to travel outside the country during his presidency, was one of the first guests of the hotel just 10 years prior.

The ecclesiastical/missional context:  “The CCWLA was intentionally modeled on the Edinburgh Conference of 1910 and was held in Panama City from February 10-20, 1916.” Not only was it patterned after Edinburgh 1910, it was  “an unanticipated outcome of World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, 1910.”  CCWLA was organized by the New York based Committee on Cooperation in Latin America (CCLA) because the Edinburgh Conference excluded consideration of Latin America from its proceedings, due to controversy over the appropriateness of Protestant evangelism in the ostensibly Roman Catholic region[4].

A crudely geographical division between Christendom and heathendom was the only basis on which the fragile ecumenical consensus at Edinburgh could be maintained.  For most delegates at Edinburgh such a territorial understanding of Christendom was a deeply ingrained feature of their understanding of the world.  For others it may have been no more than a rough, even regrettable, working assumption.  In the former category were a group of American mission secretaries, led by Robert E. Speer, who assembled for two unofficial sessions at Edinburgh to consider the Latin American missions which had been excluded from the agenda.  Speer, though believing that ‘there certainly is such a thing as Christendom which is different from paganism’, held that ‘nevertheless, there is a great deal of paganism in what we call Christendom.’  The unofficial Latin American sessions led eventually to a conference on missions in Latin America, held in New York in March 1913 under the auspices of the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, which established a permanent body to co-ordinate American Protestant work on the continent, the Committee on Co-operation in Latin America.  The committee convened a major Congress on Christian Work in Latin America, organized along similar lines to the Edinburgh conference, which took place in Panama in February 1916.

rare-tivoli-ancon-c-z-canal-zone-panama-u-s_1_784f31322908c7f0ebd63d22081d2d07.jpgThe World Missionary Conference’s division of the world into two sharply delineated geographical sectors — Christian and non-Christian — is the aspect of the conference that became outdated more quickly than any other, and which strikes the twenty-first-century observer as obviously unacceptable.  The first insistent question marks to be placed over the conceptual juxtaposition of Christian West and non-Christian east appeared within a few years of the conference, with the outbreak of war in Europe.[5]

In the middle of that war, the Panama 1916 Congress was held at the Hotel Tivoli.

Like a post-card from that exotic time and place, much of the literature from CCWLA and surrounding events is available for free on the internet.

Books published before Panama 1916

Protestant Missions in South America.  Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) 1908

The Young People’s Missionary Movement of the United States and Canada published several volumes about evangelistic needs of various parts of the world in preparation for the Edinburgh 1910 World Missionary Conference.
The entire text is available on Google Books.

South American Problems SVM 1912

Four years prior to the Panama Congress, Robert E. Speer  the Presbyterian missionary statesman, who led the rebellion over the exclusion of Latin America from Edinburgh 1910, wrote this volume, apparently to explain why he thought the Americas were worthy of missionary involvement.  The entire text is available on Google Books.

Islam in South America Samuel Zwemer, in The Muslim World April1916

This article was actually published a couple of months after the CCWLA, but it was apparently researched and written for the Congress.  It’s existence contributes to understanding the implications of Latin America as an integral part of the challenge of global mission.  

Books published as a result of Panama 1916

Reinaissant Latin America: An Outline and Interpretation of the Congress on Christian Work in Latin America, Held at Panama, February 10-19, 1916  Missionary Education Movement, 1916

Written by Harlan A. Beach, Professor of Missions at Yale, the first chapter is worth reading.  It is an excellent summary that highlights why the Congress seemed important at that time.
The entire text is available on Google Books.

Christian Work in Latin America.  The Congress Compendium Missionary Education Movement 1917

These three books contain the papers and addresses from the Congress and identify participants by name, country of service, and mission agency.

Volume one: Survey and Occupation. Message and Method.  Education.

Volume two :  Women’s work.  The Church in the Field.  The home base.

Volume three:  Cooperation and the Promotion of Unity.  The Training and Efficiency of Missionaries.  The devotional Addresses.  The Popular Addresses.

Panamericanismo: aspecto religioso: una relación e interpretación del Congreso de Acción Christiana en la América Latina celebrado en Panamá los 10 a 19 de febrero de 1916  Sociedad para la Educación Misionera 1917

Profesor Erasmo Braga, of Brazil wrote this “telling and interpretation” of the Congress, in Spanish.
The entire text is available on Google Books.

Timothy Halls

September 19, 2016

[1] Council on Co-operation in Latin America / Conferencia Evangélica Latinoamericana http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/about-dov/annual-focus/2006-latin-america/ecumenical-history-of-latin-america.html

[2] https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/latin-america/clai

[3] http://ftl-al.org/recursos-ftl/clade/

Brazilians transforming the future of global mission

Martureo Assessment September 2016

I have just finished doing an assessment of the work done by Martureo over the last couple of years. This has helped me figure out where I can contribute in my new responsibility as Executive Coordinator.  When we finished this Assessment, we were actually quite amazed at how active the Brazilian Center for Missiological Reflection, Martureo has already been, and are encouraged by the response.

The work of Martureo made visible

Courses have been well attended.  13091967_1102364263156767_7803835923676788422_n The first missiological issue Forum involved Brazilians in the challenge of quantifying the mission task.2015.10.01.h.FOTO-GERAL-Com-Logo-Pequena1-e1465241742699.jpg
Books–translated, published– and well received.12662718_1043293279063866_2659353701255459139_n.jpg
Marcos is receiving more invitations to speak at conferences than he is able to accept.image-2-from-martureo-assessment-sept-2016-page-1
Series of 10 video series on Islam. The first three were viewed by 40k people and widely shared in social media.13958279_1175491752510684_5836863999984202270_o.jpg
Articles are read, commented and shared.


The response to Martureo in numbers Continue reading

Never Forget — Sept 16, 2001

“Never forget” is our September 11, 2001, motto, especially if we were old enough to experience that awful day.   I do wonder, though, why is it that holding onto a horrible memory so important?

One vivid memory I have is that, for a few moments, everyone could see that the economic, political and military powers that rule the world might not be invincible after all.


From a Brazilian newspaper in the aftermath of September 11, 2001

All of a sudden we all got a glimpse of a disturbing reality:  everything could change.  That was bad news for some and good news for others.  We Americans were threatened, and we pretty much all agreed that we wanted to hold onto what we’ve got, and we took steps to destroy whoever did this to us.

The globe also awakened to the possibility that September would change everything.  Many wondered if a world turned upside down might turn out to be for the good.

One way people worked through these sentiments was by turning to Psalm 46, from the Bible.  It seems like people were reading it everywhere, especially in church on September 16, 2011.

We read it then, how does it read us now?

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

At each of the breaks, the text invites the reader to pause.  To reflect on what we just read.

Sometimes I think most of us Americans paused at the end of the first paragraph and took it in because, in the context of September 11, 2001, turning to God provided a sense of stability.

If we made it through the second paragraph, we found some words of comfort that seemed to have been written for lower Manhattan  “God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved”.   We dared to believe that God was on our side, particularly when the nations are in an uproar.  We could be forgiven in 2001 if that’s how far we got.  We might not identify with the kingdoms that totter when he utters his voice and the earth melts, but the Psalm is gently taking us to a place where we can recognize and embrace our vulnerability rather than assert our strength!

There was so much to chew on in those first two paragraphs, that I don’t remember spending much time in the last one.   Perhaps then it was uncomfortable go that far.  Rather than us reading it, it may have felt like the last paragraph was reading us and calling us to account.

Today, in 2016,  when we get to the last paragraph we are still asked to stop, and reflect on what we have read.  It still reads us and confronts us with old words that invoke modern realities.  The environmental degradation that continues to threaten the lives of many around the world, the wars that we cannot stop, the arms race, and the exaltation of the gun culture.  From the perspective of this Psalm, these modern themes continue to resist the way of a God who aims to “break the bow and shatter the spear and burn the shields with fire.”

As I come to the end of reading the Psalm again in 2016, I see that God also doesn’t forget.  He is interested in much more than America.  He doesn’t forget the nations or the earth.  He is “with us” not so much to defeat our enemies but to end wars between us and offer refuge to both us and our enemies.  The “us” whom the Lord of hosts is “with” turns out to be all of humanity.   The “our” in “our refuge” is not exclusive, or limited to the descendants of Jacob.  It is inclusive, extending to all the earth and to all the nations that inhabit it.

May that be what I “never forget” to pause and think about the Psalm that I read in September 2011, so that someday I may have the satisfaction of playing even a small role in its fulfillment.