Let us begin by extending Peter Hocken's key concept on the paradoxical nature of true, heaven-sent revivals: that they have in them a strange but true-to-life mixture: the glory and the shame. (NB: I think there is a very parallel thought in C S Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, if memory serves, as Aslan discusses the founding of the Kingdom of Narnia with its future first king..)
We will add, thanks to an email exchange with ever so insightful Sister M over in California: the pain.
So, it is time for us to reflect on the glory, the pain and the shame, in the context of the Caribbean church's painful but glorious history, current -- sadly, (despite all the hype that we hear so much about) under-performing – present actuality, and our considerable potential under God. So with an eye to 2 Cor, 1:3 - 4 and 4:1 - 10, let us think on:
1: The Glory: that we, cracked clay pots, can shine with the light of God, and thus through his power do great things despite (and sometimes through) those cracks.
2: The Pain: the cracks that show us to be all too finite, fallen and fallible.
3: The Shame: how we got and get those cracks.
But of these, the glory is in many ways the critical element. For, as we noted last time:
. . . we the peoples of the Caribbean are at a decisive and perilous time for both our region and the world at large. For, I can see bearing down on us the dechristianising tidal wave out of the North,and the radical Islamist one from the Middle East. However, at the same time, we are the world's first cosmopolitan region, and can culturally bridge peoples of the North and South, East and West -- a potentially redemptive result of our sad history of colonialism, slavery and oppression, relieved in large part by the blessings brought to us by the gospel.
We could of course go off on an analytical exploration of the issues and strategies, but that is not the real point. Nor, is the undertaking of a major exploration of the issues and disciplines of discipleship where we need to go just now -- though we will look at that too (as a look down the links in the right-hand column of this blog will show). For, what is critical now, is that we need to actually begin to bridge from our reality to our potential under God, as just summarised.
That brings us to the seven-step MVAT kit/manual. That is, we need to begin to build a missionary vision and action network on the ground, starting with where we each are. It is time to get "practical."
Starting today, with . . .
Step 1: Awareness (and the mobilisation of a small but vital critical mass of those who are fired by the vision):
To bring together such a critical mass in your local community, perhaps you could:
1] Study and pray, asking God to guide you to others whom he is stirring to think and act on our Mission in and beyond the region.
2] Note down these names, and pray for opportunities to share your heart, being sensitive to the right moment.
3] Share, but do not be so zealous that you force these thoughts down the throats of all and sundry!
4] As people respond, ask them to take steps 1 - 3 with you, and keep in touch over a few weeks or months. [You might even set up an online e-Group; it is easier to do than you think.]
5] When you have a small circle, suggest that you come together several times over a few weeks, to pray, share and discuss missions-related issues, challenges and opportunities in and beyond the Caribbean.
6] In these sessions, work your way through the Antioch Timeline Bible Study [p. 9], and then the MVAN/MVAT Statement of Principles [p. 10]. Also, read and discuss some current missions news and views materials, such as the NEST, Barnabas Fund, Wycliffe, YWAM or SIM materials.
7] What is the consensus of the group? To go further now? To keep on studying, discussing and praying?
The Next Step . . .
When you are ready for the next step, you will want to develop a local Missionary Vision and Action Team [MVAT]. That begins with Step 2.
So, are we game for this sort of process, folks?
To see, let us ask three crucial questions:
Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END