This week (February 13, 2012) Newsweek magazine documented an escalating “War on Christians” by terrorists in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Largely overlooked by media and governments, a growing and alarming number of Christians are being bullied, attacked and killed. Often local military and police look the other way or even join the atrocities. More subtle forms of Christophobia exist in workplaces, universities and communities in the west.
The article appeared while I was reading Ron Boehme’s new book The Fourth Wave. Missions books like this can be insightful guides for anyone who wants to understand, lead, or provide helping services cross-culturally. Boehme gives an upbeat overview of the history of missions that describes God’s moving to impact individuals and cultures even in places that are hostile to anything Christian. Wars on Christians are not squelching a new twentieth-century wave of missions. Its features, including the following, have implications for us all.
- Awareness and embracing of change. “If you don’t change, you become relegated to obscurity.”
- All nationalities and ethnic groups serving and impacting one another at the same time. Western superiority, one-way hierarchical leadership and male dominance will fade. “People of all ages—children, youth, families, and adults—will share a role in extending the gospel worldwide… God is calling all to get involved.” As a result, “the number of faithful Bible-believing Christians is increasing faster than any other large movement or religion. It is doubling every ten and a half years.”
- Innovative technology. Keeping updated and using technology is crucial. “We have entered a ‘digital communication culture where all the rules for effective communication have changed” and keep changing.
- Relational approaches. “Denominations and structure are out; networking, and cooperation are in. Creative, relational informality is king in the twenty-first century.”
- Missional emphasis. Missions is not something we do; it is something we are. In every sphere of life, Christians should think of themselves as missionaries: missionary photographers, teachers, scientists, computer programmers, business people, homemakers, health professionals, therapists, coaches, and leaders.
- Resistance. Suffering and death, like Newsweek reported, will continue like it has from the beginning. But growth often occurs in times of persecution.
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