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Archive | Missions

What Do You Need to Know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam?

What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.

To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent’s lectures – Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam – at biblicaltraining.org. Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.

Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the […]

ECHOing Across Generations

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison said. But not by John Hanson. John is a ruling elder at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and has worked as an educator. For over two decades, he has hauled teams of young people from our presbytery each summer to North Fort Myers, Florida to serve at ECHO.

ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a Christian organization with a vision to “Honor God through sustainable hunger solutions.” From the farm in Florida, it equips people, most often missionaries, with “agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.” They serve workers in more than 165 countries and are being used to change the lives of millions of people.

In 1989, Rich Johnston, another elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, took the first team of young people from our presbytery to serve at ECHO. He and others had known ECHO’s director, Dr. Martin Price, and his wife Bonnie from their years in Indianapolis, at Geneva College, and at Purdue University. The Prices had begun their work at ECHO in 1981, and the work was still […]

Talking to non-footballers about football

When was the last time you heard a talk about how to do evangelism? Pretty recently, I would guess. And have you noticed how many books there are on the subject of how to share the gospel? But answer this question, posed by Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Where in the Bible do we read of Christians being given instruction on how to evangelise?” The answer is: nowhere. Lloyd-Jones went on to ask a further question: “Did the early Christians evangelise?” To this the answer is a resounding “Yes!” They went everywhere spreading the gospel (Ac 8.4). Last question: “Why is it that the early Christians didn’t seem to need help in evangelism, but Christians today obviously do?”

Do you know any keen football fans? How do you know they’re fans? Because they talk about football. After a great game they will rehearse in dizzying detail large sections of the game, analysing the tactics, exulting in the goals scored and lamenting the chances fluffed. And it’s not just football. Isn’t it striking how animated people get when they talk about the virtues of their favourite actor or singer, or the latest X-box game? They ardently profess their devotion openly and unashamedly. They defend them […]

Browse Worthy: Elizabeth Elliot

With sadness yet gratitude we note that Elizabeth Elliot left this world earlier this week and, in the words she made famous, passed through the gates of splendor.  Her Christ-centered love story with missionary Jim Elliot, her incredible bravery and ministry as a young mother to the Aucan tribes that murdered him and four others missionaries, her ongoing God-glorifying teaching ministry, and especially her piercing and prolific writing have been greatly used by the Lord. I add my voice to the many who acknowledge that they  have been deeply shaped by her books.

Below are several moving tributes to Elizabeth followed by a video where, in her own words, she recounts her story. Read and watch, but do not stop there.  Summer is a great time to read her “trilogy” that uses in part the diaries of Jim Elliot to tell their story: Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, and The Savage My Kinsman.  What a story of Christ’s redeeming power God wrote through their lives!

Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary to Ecuador, Dies at 88

Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendor

Elizabeth Elliot Website

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What a Week!

Last week was full in more ways than one as I taught a four-day, intensive church planting course at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary to seventeen students.  Thankfully, two friends experienced in church planting helped me teach throughout the week as we emphasized together the evangelism, discipleship, and particularly the working of God’s Spirit necessary to see new works develop.  Their presence added to the joy of the time.  All of the students were special, and the possibilities and realities for their involvement in church plants are so exciting.

Yet it was made all the more special and exciting seeing those present who want to do cross cultural and across the ocean church planting!  We had present men and women from a large Asian nation who want to plant churches in North America to immigrant populations.  Also, two families participated who are planning to move to India next summer as a team to begin a work there.  These movements in our little denomination and seminary are unprecedented, and my heart is still pumping hard just remembering their hunger, intensity, and determination for what lies ahead.

At the end of class, the folks from India sang Psalm 67 in a beautiful Hindi arrangement one of them […]

Keep Your Line in the Water

Recently in several contexts I have had discussions with others about evangelism. In particular, the question that has been raised is, “Why do Presbyterian churches seem to have fewer records of adult conversions than Baptist churches?” The actual numbers would substantiate this claim, I believe, but certainly the general perception is that this is indeed the case. Why is this so?

In this debate, you commonly hear Baptists point out such things as the practice of infant baptism or the coldness produced by predestination dulls Presbyterian resolve in evangelism; likewise, Presbyterians would counter that the use of church growth techniques or the looseness in Arminian theology found in a great number of Baptist churches inflate the true numbers.  Though each of these matters have some truth to them more or less, yet this is not the full story.  For, on the one hand, not all Presbyterians fall into hyper-Calvinism and, on the other hand, many Baptists are Reformed and still seem to see more fruit in evangelism.  So may there be another reason?

I would suggest that on a more practical level it has to do with the culture of certain branches of the church.  In the kingdom of God, can we not acknowledge that different […]

Stories of Hope

Since the fall of last year, our congregation has been planning for three evangelistic services that we called Stories of Hope.  We gave this event this title for three basic reasons: 1) the messages came from the three parables that Jesus told in Luke 15; 2) we had a testimony shared by a member of the church that tied into the theme of the evening; and 3) we believe every person’s life is a God-given story in which the hope of the gospel is to be offered.

These meetings took place over the past three Sunday evenings and just concluded last night.  To give God glory for what we have seen Him do in our midst and to offer encouragement to others, I thought I would share the following.

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To prepare the congregation for this time, our pastors organized what they called “Mission Briefings” over the eight or nine months leading up to Stories of Hope.  They took time once a month in an evening service to encourage the church in such areas as praying specifically for friends, practicing hospitality, and asking kingdom-oriented questions. This training, along with regular exhortations through emails, announcements, and especially sermon references, stirred the congregation to be intentional […]

Love Brothers, Love Strangers

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…
Hebrews 12:1-2

“You know what the key to evangelism in the 21st-century will be, don’t you?”

Recently I read an older article at Desiring God, where David Mathis told of being in a class on intensive evangelism and being asked this question by Steve Childers, director of Global Church Advancement.  Childers waited, then gave the one word answer.  “Hospitality.”  If you want a further development of Childer’s answer, read Mathis’ article entitled “Hospitality and the Great Commission.”

Childers is correct.  Repeatedly the Bible shows God using hospitality to advance the kingdom of God.  From Jesus eating with tax gatherers and sinners to Cornelius inviting people into his house to hear Peter, the Lord used homes to spread the gospel. Mathis’ post shows how thoroughly Biblical and how often commanded showing hospitality is, especially in our witness to Christ.

Next month our congregation will begin a series of evangelistic services called Stories of Hope.  Rather than only trying to encourage members to invite friends to those services, we have been urging them to pray for and then befriend more deeply those around them.  We do no want their friends only coming to hear the testimonies and gospel story preaching at the services; we want their […]

The “Go En” and the Land of the Rising Son

What if there was a nation in the 10/40 Window that could be easily reached with the gospel? What if that nation had less than 1% of the population profess Christianity? What if that nation was completely open to missionaries and other gospel workers? Would you want to see missionaries and gospel workers enter that land?

There is such a nation.

My wife and I had the opportunity to labor in Kobe, Japan, last month. I was asked to come and lecture at Kobe Theological Hall and to speak at the family conference of the Japan Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a great honor to be among men and women who make so many cultural sacrifices to confess Jesus Christ.

At customs I was asked my reason for being in Japan. I told the custom’s officer that I was there to teach at a seminary and that I am a Christian pastor by profession.

“Welcome to Japan.”

My passport was stamped without question.

Japan is nation of great honor and pride. It is a nation of great wealth and resourceful people. Yet at the same time, it is a nation that […]