Sunday, March 06, 2011

Why Look Back?

Dear friends,

A busy season for teaching and travel; the commencement (finally) of graduate school studies; and lots of my thoughts and energy directed toward a new love-interest, my friend Chris out in Oregon, with whom I talk or type every day ... I don't seem to have more words left. So, the blog has languished a bit.

This is my third week in a row of teaching at Perspectives on the World Christian Movement classes. I'll walk about 150 people through a two-hour session on modern missions history at churches in three Colorado cities in the next few days. This lesson focuses on pioneers, the entrepreneurs and ground-breakers who went where few had gone before and built the trails for others to follow.

My hope is that the class will inspire the students to pursue their own dreams in ministry and pick up a few historical mentors to learn from as they go. Ultimately, I value partnership - linking arms with others and learning from them - over pioneering. But we still need people who are able and willing to go where other people don't go, to try what other people don't try. And my hope is that the two will be connected: that everyone who starts something new will learn from those who have gone before and prioritize making connections with like-minded people. Without those two things, who can make a lasting contribution? In any area of life?
“Christian missionary work is the most difficult thing in the world. It is surprising that it should ever have been attempted. It is surprising that it should have been attended by such a measure of success. And it is not at all surprising that an immense number of mistakes should have been made.” Stephen Neill 
I like to start my history lessons with some kind of theological foundation, an explanation of why it's worth our while to look back as well as ahead. This one is easy; it's built on remembering what God has done.
REMEMBER the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Is. 46:9

REMEMBER the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. Deut. 32:7

REMEMBER your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Heb. 13:7

1 comment:

Marti said...

Source on that Stephen Neill quote:

Call to Mission, by Stephen Neill (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1970) p. 24. Quoted in J. Herbert Kane, Life and Work on the Mission Field