There were 828 homicides in our city in 2010, an increase of 210% from 2009. There were 15,493 cars stolen, many of which were taken at gunpoint, and 323 kidnapping events (often involving more than one captive)—all increases on the 2009 levels. In a city of 4.5 million, that’s a lot of violent crime—and so far, 2011 is breaking all the records.
I was recently at a conference where the presenter suggested six ways to maintain movement dynamics within a local church. The idea was that these were some ways in which a healthy, self-propagating, ‘organic’ culture of church could be encouraged, which (in the context of the conference) would be a healthy scenario for planting new congregations.
I think one of the best pieces of advice I received as I began to get involved in Christian ministry was this: “Make sure you are involved in some ministry outside your own patch”.
(By ‘patch’, my advisor meant my normal sphere of ministry—be it my neighbourhood / campus / school / workplace … whatever. In my case, my patch was my local parish, and the outside ministry I got involved in was teaching Moore College ThC courses to pastors in Kenya.)
Mexico in the 1940s was a country trying to come to grips with the 20th century. While discoveries of oil and a developing infrastructure encouraged foreign investment, basic social indicators like literacy rates, health care and basic wages demonstrated that for the vast majority of Mexicans, life was still a great struggle. It was in this context that Ávila Camacho was elected president in 1940.
Two recent events have got me thinking about the way we advertise our Christian activities. Firstly, I was in the market for a new computer, having faced a blank screen a few too many times. Secondly, I was working on a brochure for the work I’m involved in here in Latin America (www.moclam.org). The brochure was for prospective students, interested enquirers and possible supporters.
My desk is currently cluttered with various currencies, my passport, boarding passes and luggage tags. Yes, it’s time for an overseas trip—which, in my job, happens reasonably regularly.
I guess going to new places, crossing continents and meeting new people all sounds exciting—and, in some ways, it is. But the reality of international ‘business’ travel is that it is tiring, expensive and often lonely. And now I can add one more disadvantage to the list: it’s dangerous! I’m not talking about terrorism or volcanic cloud-induced engine failure; the airline regulators and happy-go-lucky security people seem to have that under control. No, the greatest danger I think I face in my travel is much more spiritual: it’s the danger of greed and discontent.
Here in Mexico, many middle-class people spend a significant amount of time and money reducing suffering and the potential for suffering. I suspect Mexicans are not alone in their engagement of this pursuit. (I’m using ‘suffering’ in a very broad sense here—anything from ‘annoyance’ to ‘effort’ to ‘persecution’.) For example, here in Mexico, you can perform many tasks in ‘drive-thru’ mode to reduce the ‘suffering’ of having to get out of your car and walk. Buying lunch, going to the ATM, buying the paper, buying new windscreen wipers (!) and taking your kids to school are all activities it is possible to undertake in a suffering-free manner.
There are very few Mexicans competing in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Well, that is what I assume from the complete lack of coverage here. At least we are being spared the scandals, tears and fashion disasters that usually accompany such an event!
So with no curling to enjoy when I need a brain break, my remote has led me to watch a bit of basketball. Here in Mexico, we get both kinds of basketball: NBA (professional, LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, absurd amounts of money, etc.) and college (university, 18-21-year-olds—many of whom will in a few years be making absurd amounts of money). Now I’m the sort of guy who will watch just about any kind of sport. I’ve also played a bit of basketball in my time, so it’s been interesting to me to observe the difference between NBA and college. Strangely, reflecting on that has helped me understand 1 Corinthians 3.
‘Mission’ is one of those words that is common in our Christian vocabulary, but that can have a wide and often confusing variety of meanings. Narrowing the definition slightly to the activities associated with ‘going out’, rather than ‘an aim or objective’, we still have a wide usage. We go on beach mission, our church is involved in mission, we are a member of a mission society, and we pray for, send, support and even go as missionaries. But what does ‘mission’ mean in these contexts? Is it time to introduce a new word so that we can be more accurate about what these activities might and might not be and so that our support and prayers can be better informed and focussed? (more…)