As if he could read my mind, a friend in Arkansas lent us a couple audio books for the car. My husband and I had been in the area fundraising for our next stint in South America and meeting with friends for all sorts of reasons. Just earlier in the day I had mentioned to my husband that I wished we had had something to listen to for all the hours in the car!
The loan was apparently prompted by a discussion the three of us had been having about the mission field – about the generational struggles, the way our particular non-profit (that we still work for) is addressing some new worldwide issues and how better we, the Church, can continue to be effective on the foreign mission field by conjoining the “old” and “new” ideas the various ages of missionaries are coming up with.
Our friend recommended the book The Meeting of the Waters by Fritz Kling. Previously, I’d never heard of this author and the very careful, slow-to-believe-anything inner part of me didn’t know if it’d end up being that great. But you’ve got to hear about good things from somewhere, right?
And a good thing it was. The principal analogy throughout the book, and from which the title stems, is the well-known “Meeting of the Waters” in Manaus, Brazil. The very dark Rio Negro and the sandy-colored Amazon River run side by side for almost four miles without mixing. It looks a little like oil in water but even more extreme.
Kling uses these two currents to describe in his introduction two main characters: Mission Marm and Apple Guy. He does an excellent job of describing the older and younger generations who are involved in missions, both actively engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission but in such different ways.
His seven main points (or “currents”) are as follows:
1. Mercy – humanitarian relief, natural disaster aid organizations, freeing modern day slaves and holistic ministries are rapidly growing and viewed as absolutely necessary steps to being able to minister to the lost before even sharing His Word in more specific ways. A quick example is – can you concentrate on someone teaching you something if you are hungry?
2. Mutuality – the phrase “all things equal” is coming more and more into play. Leaders in what might still be called developing countries have more access to tools and education through technology than they have in the past. Even more than most leaders from developed countries realize today. They, rightfully so, and consciously or not, are demanding more respect in the realm of the Church and we need to realize this and see it happening.
3. Migration – this has been an obvious one to my husband and me, being a bit more traveled than the average American…but we most certainly could never have described it as well as Kling did. People from all nations are relocating to other nations. Plain and simple. The variety of races and cultures in larger cities around the world are ever-increasing and Church planters and leaders need to be aware of this, prayerfully strategizing how to reach such a diverse population.
4. Monoculture – because of the above, Migration, and other factors, cultures around the world are intermingling. Really, all countries are being affected by this and due to [I would assume mostly American] celebrities, portrayed ideals and ad campaigns (I read a great Nike case study on this in college and cannot locate it now!), traditions and values are changing. Obviously something like this comes with pros and cons, but regardless the Church needs to be aware of this.
5. Machines – who doesn’t have multiple screens and electronics surrounding them on a daily basis? Between my husband and me, I could probably count a couple dozen machines we use regularly! Again, this is something that is changing cultures and values and needs to be recognized.
6. Mediation – Many people say that the world is “flattening,” and that we’re all coming closer together. But the internet and available media are actually providing more opportunities, tools, and points for polarization and division. Who will mediate, and how?
[borrowed from Kling’s website]
7. Memory – Each person and culture has their own history and their “yesterday” surely forms how they make decisions or how they live today. We need to be aware of this within all our evangelism and outreach.
I discovered the author’s website after I had written 90% of this post. Click here to read even more about the book. All I know is I plan on buying it to have physically (well, “Nookly”) since we just listened to a borrowed audio version. This is a great resource to re-read. And a great challenge for ANYONE interested in following God’s call to reach the ends of the earth – no matter your age.
Have you read this? Please let me know your own review on it!