Citizens Without Borders

Biblical Nuggets on Immigration Reform?

One rather astute Hispanic brother I heard speaking on the hot topic of immigration reform commented that what pains him most is just this: Christians discussing this issue mostly sound exactly the same as non-Christians. The Bible, in both people’s discourse, gets left out! He travels widely across the country and reports this observation from extensive interactions with people. I wonder if we might find some biblical nuggets pertaining to this issue to share with one another on this blog site. Let me open the “nugget list” by sharing with you the insight of the speaker mentioned above (a professor… (read more)

Praying in [Heart] Tongues

A few days before this writing, a Vine ministry training group I’m in experienced a serendipitous delight: people prayed in tongues–heart tongues, that is. Here’s how it unfolded. This particular group–or “cluster,” as we call them–includes speakers of at least four languages (five, if Canadian-style English counts…eh?). Our agenda called for each of us to explain our prospective 4-6 month action plan, receive constructive feedback from the cluster to make it clearer and more focused, and then receive prayer from the group as we each prepare to go out and work the plan. One of our women, as she settled… (read more)

Owning the Story of “My People”

A few days ago my wife and I joined a circle of Christians comprised of about half Anglos and the other half Nepali-Bhutanese. We met to explore sharing facilities in our (mostly) Anglo church so these refugee brothers and sisters could have an adequate worship and children’s ministry space for their growing congregation. One of the refugee men whose English was excellent told us the story of their migration. It went something like this: A few generations ago the government of Nepal relocated 42 families from their homeland to help invigorate the culture and economy of Bhutan; these few families… (read more)

Heart Music

Christian worship unavoidably gets wrapped in cultural expression–language, ritual, artistic style and symbol. This becomes a good and beautiful thing, using a people’s cultural “heart language” (including, perhaps, their mother tongue) as they converse with the Almighty in ways that are customary, familiar and, well, “heartfelt.” Sometimes we push the envelope a bit beyond our own cultural comfort zone by experiencing multicultural worship or at least some elements of it–also a good and beautiful thing! As I write this I have a flood of joyful memories from events we’ve been privileged to help sponsor and plan, namely a local gathering… (read more)

What Price Unity?

“This is the way the world around us will know we are followers of Jesus: We love one another!” Our emcee, a brother from Ghana in full native dress who paced in front of us with a deliberate, animated style and impassioned voice, urged his point upon us. He wanted us to see and feel and know how the power and grace of God get uniquely unleashed through the cross-cultural unity of Jesus-followers in a way that’s unmatched. We worshiped together as a core practice of that unity, hearts melding together through holding hands, lifting voices simultaneously in prayer, singing… (read more)

Vietnam: The Jesus Invasion

At our recent monthly lunch for multi-cultural ministry leaders, we heard a wonderful report on the Lord’s powerful work in a “closed-to-the-Gospel” society. We all got a fresh reminder: Jesus meant it when he said of the Church he would build, “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (or, as The Message has it, “not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out”) (Mt. 16:18). Two forms of God-directed kingdom partnership make this amazing advance a success in Communist Vietnam. The first, a cultural partnership, started and continues to develop here in Salt Lake… (read more)

On Election Day Eve…Why (Not) Vote?

With this post Election Day looms. Many of my friends can’t wait for the hot air and hype of campaign rhetoric to be over! (can’t say I blame them). But voting and civic responsibility do have a serious place in the practices of Christians, so I figure it’s worth a timely blog. A friend of mine named Kris recently Facebooked his delightful, intelligent, biblically-oriented take on this subject under the title “7 Bad Reasons to Vote, One (Possibly) Good Reason.” I thought I’d feature him as a guest and excerpt him here, making special note that at least a couple… (read more)

Beware! Learning Curve Ahead

“It seems like our materials are written in a non-Western, circular style, but our group is comprised of Western, linear thinkers,” one of our Vine Institute facilitators recently observed. “So we need to adapt them to our group’s best mode of learning.” Linear or circular? Do you and “your people” learn more readily and typically in an A-then-B-then-C sequence of information (sort of a linear logic style) or in more of a storytelling, exploratory interactive style of “talking in circles” until insights and conclusions emerge? For example, sometimes the same point recurs three or four times in a single lesson… (read more)

Think Glocal

Listening to my young Vietnamese friend and student in a course I facilitate on Biblical Preaching, I must say I felt inspired and kind of caught short. He reports on a small group from his local Salt Lake Vietnamese congregation that recently took a mission trip to their country of origin: in just a short visit of a couple weeks, they contacted friends and relatives and others and saw 126 profess conversion to Christ! I also know from talking with the pastor of this church, a good friend connected with us at The Vine, that their people do this same… (read more)

How [Multi-] Cultural is Your Worship?

A recent online forum called The Network had a stimulating entry on worship and culture, part of which said this: “Should we only worship one way culturally?… Worship should strike a healthy balance among four approaches or dimensions to its cultural context: worship is transcultural (some elements of worship are beyond culture), contextual (worship reflects the culture in which it is offered), cross-cultural (worship breaks barriers of culture through worship), and counter-cultural (worship resists the idolatries of its cultural context}.” The following scriptures were cited to consider: Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal… (read more)