Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

Christian Witness in a Pluralistic World: Renewing Christian Faith

Monday, July 1st, 2013 by Amos Yong

faithThere is no doubt that Christian faith is exclusively in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NRSV), and the apostles also declared, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jews might anticipate a messianic deliverer who will reunite the people of God with Yahweh, but they do not hold, as Christians do, that Jesus is that Messiah. Muslims respect Jesus as a prophet but both subordinate his message to that of Muhammad’s and do not understand his claim, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30), in a similar manner as Christians. In other words, Christians make unique and exclusive claims about Jesus as savior and revealer of the Father.

But Christians are not the only ones with unique and exclusive claims. In fact, all religious traditions, by virtue of the fact that they are what they are and not something else, have such claims. Some might even follow up on such claims with concomitant actions in ways that put Christians to shame. The apostle James agrees that, “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (2:17). Read the rest of this entry »

From “Empowered Evangelicals” & “Radical Middlers” to … ? The Society of Vineyard Scholars and the Renewal of the Vineyard

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 by Amos Yong

These past few days I have been privileged to have been a guest at the fourth annual conference of the Society of Vineyard Scholars (SVS). As a renewal movement in its second generation, the Vineyard as a whole is both confronting the various challenges attending to and also embracing the many opportunities opened up by charting a way forward that builds and expands on the legacy of its charismatic founder John Wimber. A number of observations stand out for me as someone who is an outsider to the Vineyard but one sympathetic to its quest, at least as played out in the SVS, for a robustly charismatic and renewalist theological identity and self-understanding.  Read the rest of this entry »

Interruptions of the Spirit and the Future of Mission

Saturday, March 9th, 2013 by Amos Yong

The mission of God for the 21st century – what are its key features? From the perspective of renewal Christianity – including but irreducible to pentecostal, charismatic, and related renewal movements – the mission of God for the present is also the mission of the Holy Spirit in the past and future, a mission signaled in the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost 2000 years ago. I like to consider the past mission of the Spirit also as paradigmatic for the ongoing mission of God. In particular I highlight its interruptive nature.

What precisely does the interruptivity of the Spirit mean for the mission of God? While the original disciples were instructed clearly to wait for the coming of the Spirit in the Upper Room, they had few precious clues about what that would entail. They were still expecting, discernible from their questions to Jesus after forty days of instruction in Acts 1, that this would entail the coming of the messianic reign that would drive out the Roman oppressors from Palestine. Well they were somewhat right about the former, although its manifestations would not include the latter. Instead, the coming messianic outpouring of the Spirit would drive them out from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Life as they had known it was interrupted.

The Spirit also interrupted their world as they knew it and turned it upside down (Acts 17:6). They had spoken previously in Aramaic, but now they were given the gifts of speaking and even hearing through a cacophony of languages about the wondrous works of God. Their cultural horizons were interrupted through the redemptive work of God among proselytes in their midst. Their social world was interrupted: a patriarchal way of life now included maidservants, and a gerontocratic regime now featured youth. Yet most of the disciples also felt liberated to transgress the class stratifications that governed their world since now they, mostly of the lower classes, were empowered by the Spirit to be living witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Life as they had known it was forever interrupted.

The Missio Alliance conference to be held on April 11-13 in Alexandria, Virginia, is titled “Renewal Evangelical Imagination for Mission.” I am honored to be one of the invited plenary speakers and will speak to this theme from a renewal point of view. My contribution will focus precisely on the interruptions of the Holy Spirit and the ancient-future mission of the people of God, the body of Christ, and the fellowship of the divine breath. We will unpack eight dimensions of the Spirit’s interruptive and missional empowerment from the Pentecost narrative of Acts 2. Besides my presentation, there will be many others who will engage with the conference theme from a wide range of perspectives – each of these, I dare to hope, can be considered to be distinct expressions of the many tongues of the Spirit initiated on that Day of Pentecost. I hope to see many there.

Arab Spring Movement and True Human Freedom

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Diane Chandler

Genuine freedom involves more than viable democracies and economic stability.  Genuine freedom signifies the innate desire in the human soul to exercise choice in determining one’s future in all domains of life including the political, economic, educational, and spiritual arenas. 

The Arab Spring 2011, which has bled into over a year, has shown the world the fundamental desire of the human heart to exercise choice.  Paths have been burned to topple autocratic regimes which have consistently violated fundamental human rights (e.g., “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”).  For more on the Arab protest movement, view this interactive timeline.

What is the surest sign of true freedom in the Arab world?  How does the life and message of Jesus Christ inform such understanding?

While Arab regimes began to crumble, beginning with Tunisia on January 14, 2011, followed by Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, other nations such as Syria remain doggedly resistance to relinquishing power.  This domino-effect of opposition within Arab nations to longstanding autocratic governments that have violated human freedoms might be attributed to what Malcolm Gladwell refers to in his book, The Tipping Point, as (1) the law of the few, (2) the stickiness factor, and (3) the power of context.

As an educated 26-year old Tunisian and street vender, Mohamed Bouazizi catalyzed the revolution by setting himself ablaze after police confiscated his produce stand for not having a permit.  After his death, Bouazizi’s mother commented, “My son set himself on fire for dignity.”  With his dignity stripped and only source of income withdrawn, Bouaziz lost all hope.  The ultimate culprit was not only the police who confiscated his vendor permit but also the very system that drove him to utter despair.  Without opportunity, there is no freedom.  Without freedom, there is no life. Bouaziz’s death signified the law of the few in that it took a few people to light the fire of opposition.  In less than 30 days, the stickiness factor and the power of context (most Arab nations have dictators as presidents) contributed to revolution movements moving to Egypt and then Yemen, Libya, and Syria.

What is the surest sign of true freedom in the Arab world?  How does the life and message of Jesus Christ inform such understanding? The surest sign of true freedom in the Arab world will not come through political democracy, although this is certainly a start.  True freedom will come to the Arab world when Arabs can choose their own belief system, including their religion.  True freedom comes from knowing and responding to the truth.  And knowing the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Muslims throughout the Arab world are having supernatural dreams and visions of Issa (Arabic: Jesus) who is showing them that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  For true stories of Jesus supernaturally appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions and how their lives have been radically transformed, see these video vignettes on the More than Dreams website.  Stories feature those from Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey.

What is your perspective on the Arab freedom uprisings? 

Considering that Jesus never led by coercion, how might we view Jesus’ liberating message of spiritual freedom relative to the Arab world through Gladwell’s (1) the law of the few, (2) the stickiness factor, and (3) the power of context?

Global Day of Worship

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 by Diane Chandler

On November 11, 2011 (11-11-11), followers of Jesus in all 24 time zones around the world will engage in a stream of continuous worship called the Global Day of Worship (GDW).  This movement is a call to the body of Christ to exalt the name of Jesus and give Him glory.  The goal is to invite Christian believers to worship the Lord Jesus between 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 11-11-11 in their respective time zones.  With 24 times zones, this would mean that in each time zone around the world Christian believers will be lifting up the name of Jesus in a global concert of worship.  What a vision!

The founder of the Global Day of Worship, Eunice Barruel (photo featured below), is a Regent University alumna, who also travels the globe to various orphanages, imparting a vision for worshipping the true and living God.  Several years ago, Eunice envisioned the Global Day of Worship as a worldwide expression of love and adoration of Jesus.  And now it is finally coming to fruition in a few weeks.  Recently, Eunice expressed to me that she is simply being obedient to the vision that the Lord has given her and sees herself as a humble servant of the Lord in releasing as many people as possible to contribute to this historic event.

The goal of the Global Day of Worship is simply to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus and secondarily to unite the body of Christ worldwide.  In order to transcend denomination, organization, language, culture, and geography, the hope is to declare God’s love, goodness, grace, favor, and blessing over the nations as one united body.  As 1 Cor 12:12 reminds us, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”  Whether gathering as individuals, families, small groups, or large groups, the goal is to create a “wave of worship” that spans the globe, uniting Christian believers regardless of worship expression.

Revelation 4: 10-11 provides the theme scripture for this historic event, describing the twenty-four elders falling down before Christ, who sits on the throne in heaven, and laying their crowns before Him, and declaring: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”  Eunice affirms, “When the worship of heaven meets the worship of earth…spiritual climates of nations will shift, as we serve faithfully here and now in preparation for His return.”

The epicenter of this Global Day of Worship event is right here in Virginia Beach!  Regent University has the privilege of being an integral part of the coordination effort and is hosting a continuous 24-hour period of worship on 11-11-11 in the Main Theatre of the Regent University Communication and the Arts Building.  All are welcome!  The live worship feed from the Main Theatre to the GDW website will occur from 7:00-8:00 p.m.  However, you are encouraged to participate in and coordinate a worship event from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in your respective locale.

How to participate:

(1)   Ask those you know to set aside 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 11-11-11 to worship.

(2)   Consider hosting or organizing a worship event that could be live-streamed on the GDW website.

(3)   Contact GDW for more information:  info@globaldayofworship.com

(4)   Contact GDW to register your worship event.

(5)   Go to Facebook’s “Global Day of Worship” page.  Click “like.”

(6)   Follow the GDW on Twitter @globalworshiper.

Will you join me and scores of others around the globe in participating in this historic event on 11-11-11?  Will you tell your family and friends about it?

Black Friday and Advent

Friday, November 26th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Last year on Black Friday, a person I know camped outside of a popular electronics store to purchase some big ticket items at sale prices.  His all-nighter was not a solo experience, as proven by the few hundred others who likewise waited in line in this unique communal American experience.

Affectionately termed “Black Friday” by U.S. consumer retailers and popularized by the media, the day after Thanksgiving is the official launch of the retail holiday season.  It is the day that retailers hope that sales will put their businesses in “the black,” rather than “the red” and is supposed to be an economic indicator of the entire holiday shopping season. 

Retailers know the allure of a sale, the ongoing state of the average American’s pocket book, and the inherent tendency of human nature to buy what we do not need but wished we had.  Black Friday has become a quintessential hallmark of American consumerism. 

Last December, I found myself almost entrapped with the same magnetic pull of a great sale for a flat screen television.  Only one problem…our very old TV still worked (although had/has its quirks).  We really did not need a new TV.  The barrage of sale advertisements did not make it easy to decline. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I like a sale just like anyone else and enjoy the pleasure of giving gifts to family and friends at Christmas.  However, I also recognize the seduction of “more,” “bigger,” “better,” and “quicker.” Entrapment to bigger and better is one of the most accepted forms of cultural bondage ~ inside and outside the American church. Read the rest of this entry »