Conrad Mbewe: Combatting Prosperity Teaching in Africa

Christianity isn’t spreading into Africa; it’s already there. But as our guest this week shares, it is afflicted by the problem of syncretism, hyper-charismatic influence, so-called prosperity “gospel” teaching, and weak theology. How can pastors and missionaries confront these threats and help the African church develop theologies that are rich, sound, and historically rooted? Conrad Mbewe answers.

Conrad Mbewe—called the “African Spugeon” by some—has pastored Kabwata Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia for nearly three decades. He holds a Ph.D. in Missions from the University of Pretoria, South Africa and is Chancellor of African Christian University, Zambia. He is also a prolific itinerant preacher who has ministered globally with a passion for writing be it his books, blog, articles for sites like The Gospel Coalition, 9Marks, Ligonier, and Desiring God, or as a national weekly columnist. You can follow him on Twitter.

If you missed it during the episode, don’t forget to check out these helpful resources from Pastor Mbewe:

We also referred to our past interview with John Morgan of ABWE on problems of syncretism and animism in West Africa. Listen to that episode here.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Does Business as Mission Work?

Tentmaking. Platform. Business as mission. BAM. All terms that are used sometimes interchangeably throughout the missions community—but what do they mean? Is it really practical to use a for-profit business venture as a ministry platform in another culture, and how can we make sure we’re doing it the right way? How can there be any time to make disciples if a missionary spends 40+ hours working per week in a “secular” arena? Is there a biblical basis for using business as mission? In honor of Labor Day, we pick Scott Dunford’s mind as he shares from his three years’ experience on the field and significant research in the area of work, vocation, and mission.

If you missed any of the resources Scott mentioned, see below:

Don’t forget to share this episode, rate the show, and leave a review in your favorite listening platform.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Serving Christ in Suffering: Jenn DeKryger on Togo and the Loss of Todd DeKryger

In 2016, Todd DeKryger, surgeon and medical missionary to Togo in West Africa, died in Cologne, Germany, where he had been evacuated to receive treatment for illness contracted in Africa. His wife, Jennifer, was by his side—and he left behind four young boys. In the time since, God has used grief, brokenness, and suffering to teach Jennifer the valuable lesson on absolute dependence upon Christ—so much that she is returning again to minister in Togo with her boys, and continuing to trust the Lord more each day. In this powerful story, Jennifer shares her story of loss and growth in Christ.

Learn more about what God is doing through ABWE workers in the Islamic north of Togo on ABWE’s website or the official website of Hospital of Hope. You can also reach Jen at jennifer@dekrygersfortogo.com.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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John Morgan: Animism, Syncretism, and Witchcraft in West Africa

When the gospel enters a new place—like Togo in West Africa—those who hear the message have a tendency to interpret it through their worldview lens. This week, John Morgan shares the sobering results of his studies relating to how professing believers in this African nation are still wrestling with their traditional views of animism, witchcraft, and spiritual activity. You’ll be challenged to think biblically about the topic of angelic and demonic activity, and inspired as you hear about how he and other workers on the ground are helping national pastors receive the theological education needed to reverse these syncretistic trends. This is a don’t-miss episode.

Dr. John Morgan, Ph.D., heads up ABWE’s Strategic Initiatives and Research. After serving as medical missionaries to Togo, he and his wife Michele returned to Ohio as church planters. They now minister at ABWE’s International Headquarters. You can read more about their work here.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Lucy Peabody: The Groundbreaking Pioneer Missionary You’ve Never Heard of

There are lots of names of women who could vie for the title of being a “mother” of the modern missions movement—and Lucy Peabody is certainly one such candidate. This pioneer missionary to India endured the loss of her first husband, mobilized marginalized women across the country to give millions of dollars towards missions, befriended President Taft and the Rockefeller family—and, along the way, founded ABWE and become its first president. How did she do it, and what can we learn from her? That’s what we explore with one of our resident historians here on this episode of the show.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Josh Daggett on Personal Evangelism and Prayer

We’ve all struggled to share our faith in one-on-one conversations. We also struggle with personal spiritual disciplines intimately connected to our effectiveness in evangelism—i.e., prayer. On this episode, Josh Daggett, lead pastor at Living Waters Fellowship in Des Moines, Iowa, shares his own encouragements, failures, and victories in these critical areas of ministry. We dig into a theology of evangelism, God’s sovereignty, and human responsibility in the process of conversion, then move deep into the practicalities of how we can all improve in our personal discipline. You’ll be deeply encouraged and challenged.

Josh earned his Bachelor’s degree (Pastoral Major, Greek Minor) from Faith Baptist Bible College in 2004 and earned his Master’s degree (Biblical Studies) from Faith Baptist Seminary in 2005. Josh and his wife, Danielle, have been married fourteen years and have four children.  He has been an ABWE Board member since 2012 and has been an ACBC Certified Biblical Counselor since 2017. Follow Josh on Twitter.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Racial Reconciliation and Multiethnic Church Planting in South Africa

In this episode, Scott and Alex discuss the uniquenesses of racial reconciliation and multiethnic church planting in South Africa. With Apartheid a mere 20 years in South Africa’s rearview, ethnic tensions still threaten to divide the church. In this insightful interview, our guest, an 18-year veteran of church planting missions to South Africa, shares simple strategies their team has used in bridging ethnic divides—even when it’s been costly.

Learn more about ABWE’s work in South Africa here.

Don’t forget to share this episode, rate the show, and leave a review in your favorite listening platform.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Chris Bruno: Biblical Theology Versus Systematic Theology in Missions

Protestants in the West have a rich heritage of systematic theology—but it doesn’t always translate easily into new cultural contexts. Is a return to narrative-focused, biblical theology the answer? Chris Bruno, Assistant Professor of Greek and New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary, joins us to answer and weigh in on his own cross-cultural experiences in Hawaii. We also address ways for small, unconnected churches can pool their resources together to deepen their impact at home and abroad.

Chris Bruno is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, and teacher who desires to give his life to helping others see the centrality of Jesus in all the Scriptures for the glory of God. He has served at Northland International University, Cedarville University, and Trinity Christian School in Kailua, HI. Before that, he was pastor of discipleship and training at Harbor Church in Honolulu, HI.

He has written and co-written five books, as well as written articles and reviews for several publications and websites, including The Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society, Tyndale Bulletin, Westminster Theological Journal, Vetus Testamentum, Themelios, The Bulletin for Ecclesial Theology, Reformation 21, and The Gospel Coalition and has presented papers at the Tyndale Fellowship Triennial Meeting, the ETS Annual meeting, the SBL Annual meeting, and the CPT Fellowship. He is a member of ETS, SBL, IBR, and CPT. Chris and his wife Katie have been married since 2001 and have four sons who love to be outdoors playing ball or pretending to be super heroes, all while wrestling their dad.

You can follow Chris on Twitter at @chrisbruno1.

Here’s a recap of the resources we recommended in this episode:

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Paul Davis: Why Missionaries Must Be Theologians

On this episode, ABWE President Paul Davis joins us to share why it’s crucial that missionaries be theologians. We dive into why a “big God” theology that acknowledges the absolute supremacy of Christ is the only theology weighty enough to compel an unbeliever to convert and commit “treason” against their old gods. It’s also the only theology big enough to compel a believer to go as a missionary.

Prior to his appointment as ABWE President in 2017, Pastor Paul Davis sat on the ABWE Board and served as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, MI.

Paul is known as a strong communicator and an innovative spiritual overseer with experience in executing large projects, team building, fundraising, leadership development, discipleship and ministry growth.

He attended Liberty University and Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a Master’s Degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

Paul and his wife, Martha, have been married for 28 years, and have both served in numerous roles in Christian ministry and education. They have four young-adult children. You can follow Paul on Twitter via @pdavis_davis.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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What is God doing in China? Steve Schirmer Answers

The President of China was just appointed to lifelong office. Church buildings are being demolished. Cults are on the rise due to a lack of trained church leaders. What is God up to in China? Steve Schirmer, president and founder of Silk Road Catalyst, joins us to answer.

Steve is a missionary who has poured out his life out for the least-evangelized since 2000, and Silk Road Catalyst exists to multiply churches and disciples among gospel-deprived peoples in and from the Silk Road region. Steve was saved in 1995 and ministered for 17 years among the Han people, and continues to focus on the least-reached people of East Asia. He’s also the co-founder and co-host of Missions Talk. Follow Steve on Twitter at @SteveSilkRoad.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Zane Pratt: Are Explosive Disciple-Making Movements Really Healthy?

You’ve probably heard that Muslims are coming to Christ throughout the Islamic world in record numbers, many of them prompted by dreams and visions. Perhaps you’ve also heard of related disciple-making movements and church-planting movements that report exponential multiplication of converts and fledgling churches. But what’s the real story behind these stats, and are these explosive growth movements really healthy and biblical? Zane Pratt joins us today to answer.

Zane Pratt was elected as the IMB’s vice president for global training in November 2014. For 20 years, he served as an IMB church planter and regional leader in Central Asia. From 2011-13, Pratt was dean of the Billy Graham School at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he serves as associate professor of Christian missions. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University; a master’s degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; and is a Ph.D. candidate at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is co-author of Introduction to Global Missions and a contributor to Theology and Practice of Mission. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZanePratt.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Collin Hansen: Social Justice, Racial Reconciliation, and Missions

What is a biblical definition “social justice” and how does it relate to the gospel? What bearing does the recent conversation about racial reconciliation—and the resulting controversy—have for missionaries ministering to disparate and people groups and ethnicities? How can the church do a better job of addressing social justice and racial issues without proposing leftist or statist solutions? We dive into all of these challenging questions this week with Collin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition.

Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He is the author of several books, including Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey With the New Calvinists and A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir (with John Woodbridge). He earned an MDiv at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an undergraduate degree in journalism and history from Northwestern University. He edited Our Secular Age: Ten Years of Reading and Applying Charles Taylor and The New City Catechism Devotional, among other books. He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School.

Don’t forget to share this episode, rate the show, and leave a review in your favorite listening platform.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Church Planting: Multiethnic or Homogeneous Units?

Should churches aim to be multiethnic, or should we stick to the homogenous unit principle inherited from missiologists? In today’s episode, Brian (last name withheld), a former IMB missionary to the Middle East and current missions pastor focusing on diaspora ministries, shares why the answer isn’t as simple as it seems—and how globalism is making cultural boundaries fuzzier than ever.

The church world is ablaze with conversation about multiethnic churches, racial reconciliation, and the social implications of believers’ fundamental unity in Christ. Meanwhile, expats and refugees from across the world are moving into North American cities in droves, but linguistic and cultural barriers prevent most churches from effectively engaging migrants.

Brian is a missions pastor for Wilcrest Baptist Church, a dynamic church in Houston—one of the U.S.’s most diverse cities. In our interview, he also shares how in the process of trying to engage expats in Houston, their church “accidentally” became an effective missions sending church in the process.

If you have been stumped by recent debates over the ethnic makeup of our churches, this episode will help you think in biblical categories—both in terms of our gospel unity, and the imperative to take the gospel into subgroups that wouldn’t otherwise hear the good news.

Don’t forget to share this episode, rate the show, and leave a review in your favorite listening platform.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Is LGBT the Next Mission Field?

How can Christians understand individuals connected with the LGBT movement a mission field—full of people made in the image of God, in need of the gospel? ABWE North America missionary Jim Childs shares his story to help answer.

Jim is helping spearhead Every Ethne’s iniative to help churches in the U.S. reach across cultures without crossing borders, which includes reaching into the North American LGBT subculture. Jim was saved from an early age but spent decades in a homosexual lifestyle until the Lord brought him out through tragic circumstances and unexpected hospitality from believers. Today, he serves as an associate pastor with 360 Church and ministers to those facing same-sex attraction with Breakthough.

If you’ve been blessed by hearing Jim’s testimony, we encourage you to prayerfully support his budding ministry with ABWE.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Jared C. Wilson: Why Missionaries Need the Gospel Too

Pastors and missionaries are supposed to be sharing the gospel, but inwardly, many believe that they’re justified by their own performance. In this episode, Jared C. Wilson—a “failed church planter” who “once made a mess of his marriage” (his words, not ours!) whose rediscovery of gospel-centeredness transformed his life and ministry—shares why missionaries need to be preaching the gospel to themselves. Jared’s gospel emphasis is woven through all his books (including his most recent publication, Supernatural Power for Everyday People) with unique relevance for ministry workers facing burnout and forgetting their identity in Christ.

Later in the show we also tackle some of the issues with the seeker-sensitive/attractional church model and why church growth strategies end up having an adverse effect on a church’s ability to send cross-cultural workers overseas.

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Managing Editor of For The Church (and host of the FTC Podcast), and Director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO.

Remember to share, rate, leave a review, and subscribe. Together we can help bridge the gap between the worlds of theology and missions.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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India, Sex Trafficking, and the Gospel

India is home to more unreached people groups, women and children in the sex industry, impoverished families, and idols then anywhere else on the planet. What impact could a few missionaries possibly have, and how does the hope of the gospel encourage them in the midst of such massive physical need? How are they balancing the priorities of social justice with their evangelistic mandate? Today, two ABWE workers join us to discuss the incredible doors God has opened for them in South Asia, and how the local church is filling a spiritual need that no NGO or sex trafficking rescue operation alone can address.

We’re enormously grateful for the chance to spread this expert content. Would you help us by sharing the episode, rating, leaving a review in your favorite listening platform, and subscribing? Together we can influence more gospel-centered theological teachers, writers, translators, and pastors to use their gifts where they’re most needed among the unreached.

Click here to see the ABWE history video we referenced towards the end of the episode.

Interested in supporting this couple’s work? To help us protect their identity, please email alex@missionspodcast.com. You can also learn more about ABWE’s partnership arm, GAP, on their public site, LiveGlobal.

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How Does Hospitality Fuel Mission?

Starting gospel conversations—whether at home or overseas—is difficult in our distracted, technology-addicted world. Is returning to a practice of holistic, biblical hospitality part of the solution to strengthen our evangelism? Jeff Dalrymple, former president of Baptist Haiti Mission and president and founder of The Hospitality Project, helps us answer that question and explains why we struggle so much to let our neighbors into our homes. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @JeffDalrymple.

In the episode, Jeff recommended a variety of resources on biblical hospitality. In case you missed it, those books were:

Listeners: We need your help! If you’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast, you can help us bridge the divide between the gospel-centered theology movement and the world of missions. Remember to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or whatever listening platform you prefer. Also, don’t forget to share this episode and follow us to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Finally, please send your ideas or questions to alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How Can We Prevent Missionary Burnout?

Ministry burnout is real. On the mission field, the pressures are vastly multiplied. Cultural shock, marital strain, poor team dynamics, and temptation all threaten missionaries’ spiritual, mental, and emotional health. Better, more proactive member care is the answer. But how? Brad Winkler, ABWE’s director leading member care and prefield ministries, joins us to explain.

As a pastor for 17 years, Brad helped members of his congregation discover their call to missions and now he is doing the same thing on a broader scale. In addition to training our missionaries in fundraising and building prayer partners, Brad also coaches churches through the process of sending and sustaining their missionaries on the mission field.

Brad also recommends the following resources for missionaries, pastors, and everyday believers seeking to provide better pastoral care for cross-cultural workers:

If you want to reach Brad, we invite you to email him.

We’re enormously grateful for the chance to spread this expert content. Would you help us by sharing the episode, rating, leaving a review in your favorite listening platform, and subscribing? Together we can influence more gospel-centered people to use their gifts where they’re most needed among the unreached.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Barnabas Piper on Ministry Kids, Curiosity, and Identity

How do you handle the pressures of growing up hearing “don’t waste your life,” and what lessons can missionary kids and pastors’ kids take away? Barnabas Piper joins us this week as we wander to and fro to discuss those topics along with cultivating a curiosity with other cultures, parenting with an eye towards missions, and avoiding ministry cynicism by grounding our identity in Christ.

Barnabas is a writer, author, speaker, co-host of The Happy Rant Podcast, and Marketing Manager for B&H Academic. He has written for numerous print and online publications. Most recently, he published The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life. He now lives in the Nashville area and can be followed on Twitter via @BarnabasPiper.

We’re enormously grateful for the chance to spread this expert content. Would you help us by sharing the episode, rating, leaving a review in your favorite listening platform, and subscribing? Together we can influence more gospel-centered people to use their gifts where they’re most needed among the unreached.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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T4G Panel on Theological Training in Missions

There’s a theological famine across the majority world. How can we fix that? Are translated English resources the solution? How can we encourage more theological educators to serve overseas? And why does the chasm between the gospel-centered, big-God theology movement and the missions world seem so large?

On April 12th, 2018 at Together for the Gospel in Louisville, Kentucky, ABWE and Baptist Haiti Mission co-hosted an expert panel to answer those questions and more. In this episode you’ll hear IMB Vice President Zane Pratt, David Sills (at the time, president of Reaching and Teaching; now former), Scott Dunford of ABWE, Rick Denham of 9Marks, Darren Carlson of Training Leaders International, and Bill Walsh of The Gospel Coalition share their burdens and solutions.

We’re enormously grateful for the chance to spread this expert content. Would you help us by sharing the episode, rating, leaving a review in your favorite listening platform, and subscribing? Together we can influence more gospel-centered theological teachers, writers, translators, and pastors to use their gifts where they’re most needed among the unreached.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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God’s Sovereignty, Human Responsibility, and Missions

Is Reformed theology antithetical to missions? Can Calvinists and Arminians partner together in gospel ministry? Today, Scott and Alex take a swing at these hotly-debated topics and provide answers from a biblical perspective recognizing that God’s sovereignty is fully compatible with the call to repent and believe the gospel—and how the fact that Christ has definitively “purchased for God people from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9) is what fuels all missionary hope.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Charles Smith on Missions Leadership “For the Church”

What does leadership have to do with missions? Everything. Although conversations on leadership are often kept separate from the realm of missiology, Charles Smith believes that now is the time to talk about what gospel-centered leadership—for the church—means for missions.

Charles Smith serves as Vice President for Institutional Relations at Midwestern Seminary and oversees the offices of Admissions, Institutional Advancement, Alumni, Communications, Student Life and Events, and Center for Church Planting and Partnering. He earned a Business Administration degree from Mississippi College in 2007 and a Master’s of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2011, and he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Leadership.

Charles is also a cofounder and general editor of For the Church, which exists to engage, encourage, and equip the Church with gospel-centered resources that are pastoral, practical, and devotional.

Just a few days left before T4G! To join us at our expert panel and luncheon on Thursday, click here.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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The Kingdom of God and the Authority of the Great Commission

We speak so much of the “kingdom of God”—but what does that mean, and how does Jesus’ present reign in heaven impact our mission? These questions are often neglected, misunderstood, or purposefully avoided in American evangelicalism, and there’s lots of confusion about Christ’s return and the nature of his kingdom. But understanding Jesus’ present authority over heaven and earth undergirds everything we do in cross-cultural ministry.

We’re taking a break this week from our format to bring you a message delivered by Alex Kocman on March 9, 2018 at ABWE’s New Missionary Orientation, titled “The Authority of the Great Commission” from Psalm 2.

If you’re interested in joining us at T4G, click here to learn more.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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The Gift of Singleness in Missions: an Interview With Lina AbuJamra

Singleness can feel like a death sentence for some—but for women like Lina AbuJamra, it’s a gift to be stewarded. How can God use singles on the mission field? Lina weighs in and shares her perspective as a Lebanese-American physician currently involved in Bible teaching and medical missions to Syrian refugees.

Lina AbuJamra is founder of Living with Power Ministries and has authored several books including ThriveStripped, and Resolved. You can listen to Lina’s podcast on iTunes or Podbean and watch her inspiring thousands via the Faith Booster series and other Bible teachings on YouTube and Vimeo. Lina is the host of Today’s Single Christian on Moody Radio and the host of Morning Minutes, a daily audio devotional available on her website.

Lina’s most recent adventure has taken her back to the Middle East and her birth country, Lebanon, where she is providing regular medical care for Syrian refugees. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Lina now calls Chicago home.

If you’re interested in joining us at T4G, click here to learn more.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How to Understand and Reach Hindus

Of all the world’s religions that are likely to stump Western Christians, Hinduism tops the list. How can Christians make sense of Hinduism’s millions of deities, belief in reincarnation, denial of human suffering, and rigorous caste system? Better yet—how can Christians reach those who hold to such a worldview?

In this episode we go over what Hindus believe, how they think, and some do’s and don’ts of reaching Hindus. If you’ve ever been confused as to how to build redemptive relationships with your Hindu neighbor, this episode is for you.

If you’re interested in joining us at T4G, click here to learn more.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How Should Christians Engage Other Religious Texts?

Should Christians read books like the Qur’an—and if so, how? What about other religious texts? To help us answer those questions, we asked is Matthew Bennett, an experienced missionary who served in the Middle East, now instructor of missions and theology at Cedarville University.

In this episode, Matt builds a case for why Christians should meaningfully, fairly, and exegetically engage with other religions’ texts—and why those engaging Muslims might find the book of Hebrews particularly effective.

If you’re interested in joining us at T4G, click here to learn more.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Where Did the Gritty Missionaries Go? David Joannes on Missionary Motivations

C.T. Studd is credited with saying, “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” But in today’s world where everyone is encouraged to “live on mission,” this classic missionary grit is increasingly absent. What happened, and what are the internal and external motivators that lead someone to risk everything to serve abroad? To answer that question, we invited missionary, author, and researcher David Joannes.

David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, which serves the advance of the gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and he lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara. Follow David on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedin.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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When Everything Is Missions… (Nothing Is): A Chat With Denny Spitters and Matthew Ellison

Is every Christian a missionary? Is there a difference between “missions,” “missional,” and “mission?” Is volunteering at my local homeless shelter or sharing the gospel with my unsaved dad “missions?” These are loaded questions—questions which, if we get them wrong, could take the wind out of our sails in terms of engaging in actual cross-cultural ministry. Pioneers USA VP Denny Spitters and 16:15 President Matthew Ellison, authors of When Everything Is Missions, join us to share the hard answers from their new book.

If there’s a single, stand-alone episode of our show that’s worth sharing with your friends, pastors, or acquaintances involved in missions, it’s this one.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Karen Swallow Prior on Engaging Postmodern Culture

How can Christians in the West remain faithful to their convictions and winsomely engage their postmodern neighbors? Karen Swallow Prior, English professor, author, pro-life activist, and writer published everywhere from The Atlantic to The Gospel Coalition joins us to share her insights. She explains why postmodernism isn’t necessarily the bogeyman we all think it is, and how humbly engaging literature can help us learn foreign cultures—and our own.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Suffering and Sovereignty in the Rohingya Crisis

You’ve probably heard of the plight of the Rohingya people—an unreached, Muslim people group who have been forced out of Myanmar and are flooding into Bangladesh. The U.N. calls them the world’s most persecuted people group. But you probably haven’t heard about the extraordinary providence of God in sovereignly using tragedy to bring the Rohingya to Bangladesh at such a crucial time when they can be received into the arms of Christian workers—workers who have been praying for them for years.

It’s an amazing story that only God can write. What many have meant for evil, God is meaning for good through this refugee crisis. Tune in and hear it all as we sit down with ABWE’s South Asia Executive Director.

To learn about how ABWE is impacting the Rohingya, read more here.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Dan DeWitt on Apologetics, Missions, and Suffering

Do all missionaries need to know apologetics? Some say yes, plenty say no. We invited our friend Dan DeWitt, an expert on the topic, to answer. Join us as Dan shares the advantages—and real limitations—of apologetics, and how mission-minded people can employ apologetics in an incarnational way to serve people in a world suffering the effects of sin.

Dan is Associate Professor of Applied Theology and Apologetics and the Director the Center for Biblical Apologetics and Public Christianity at Cedarville University, and previously served as dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His areas of expertise include worldview, philosophy, apologetics, and C.S. Lewis—and he writes on all those topics and more on Theolatte, his blog.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How to Raise Missions-Minded Children

Parenting is stressful enough—not to mention the crucial responsibility parents have to raise their children in the way of Christ. Is it worthwhile to expose children to missions, and if so, how early is too early? What are some best practices for instilling a global mindset in our kids?

The director of ABWE’s Next Generation Ministries joins to answer these questions—and hit on other important topics, like ministering to children of missionaries, helping children share their faith, and designing family devotions with global missions in mind. Parents: this episode is for you.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How the Gospel Transforms Cultures: Vishal Mangalwadi on William Carey

You probably haven’t heard of Vishal Mangalwadi, but if anyone deserves to be a household name among Christians, it’s him. Recognized by Christianity Today as India’s top Christian intellect, Vishal is a social reformer, columnist, and philosopher who has written and spoken extensively to show how William Carey’s view of conversion, theology, and missions essentially made modern India what it is.

Vishal’s projects, Revelation Movement and Truth Matters, trace the historic development of the West and its beachheads through missionary activities and show how, at root, the gospel is to be credited for societal progress.

In this interview, we examine the example of William Carey and ask: what did he get right? What did he get wrong? What bearing did Carey’s eschatology have? How can we see the gospel bear fruit in society without downgrading to a “social gospel?” You don’t want to miss what is easily our most enlightening conversation to date.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How to Be a “World Christian”

Voices in missions today tell us we should all become “global Christians.” In this episode we answer what that means and how to do it—with all the resources everyday believers need to stay informed.

If you missed one of the resources or books we recommended, here’s the list:

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Lori McDaniel on Being a “Rebel” Like Lottie Moon

It’s December, which means Southern Baptists are hearing the name “Lottie Moon” and instantly associating it with missions. Who was Lottie Moon? Why was the Christmas Offering named after her? What can we learn from her as trailblazing, single female missionary and mobilizer? Lori McDaniel—communicator, pastor’s wife, and Global Mission Catalyst for the IMB—shares why Lottie Moon is the “rebel” she wants to be.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com. And as a side note, click here to see how your generous holiday giving can impact the unreached worldwide.

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How Much Contextualization Is Too Much?

Today in missions there’s a lot of talk about contextualization. The “C scale” developed by John Travis makes a case for so-called insider movements—professing believers in the Islamic world who follow Jesus, yet remain culturally and religiously Muslim. Is that biblical? How can we adapt the gospel to new cultures—and how far is too far?

We spend the first half of this jam-packed episode unpacking the C scale and defining contextualization, syncretism, and insider movements. Then, we offer 6 biblical principles for sound, gospel-centered missiology in an atmosphere where the temptation is to downgrade our definition of conversion or the church. Don’t miss a moment of this episode.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Paul Davis on the Pastor as Mobilizer

How can local church pastors lead the charge to mobilize for missions? ABWE President Paul Davis joins us to share his insights on how pastors can spark missions-minded imagination fueled by culture and Scripture, drawing on his decades of experience in local church ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Holland, Michigan.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Dan Dumas on Adoption, Foster Care, and Missions

We’re commanded to disciple all the nations. We are also told to care for the orphan and fatherless. What do adoption and foster care have to do with global missions? Is social justice a distraction to world evangelism? Dan Dumas, Special Advisor for Foster Care and Adoption to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, joins us to answer.

Dan is a teaching pastor and elder at Crossing Church in Louisville, KY. He is passionate about all things leadership, adoption, expository preaching, and biblical manhood. He is the author of Live Smart, the co-author of A Guide to Biblical Manhood and the editor of A Guide to Expository Ministry. Dumas served as a Senior Vice President at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2007-2017 and currently also serves as a special advisor to the president, Dr. Albert Mohler, and as a faculty member. Dan actively writes on leadership and preaching at his blog and provides a variety of coaching and consulting for businesses, churches, and their leaders. Dan has served in a variety of ministry capacities in many local churches, including Executive Pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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How to Build a Sending Church Culture

Thousands of people groups remain unreached—so where are all the new missionaries we need? They’re in the church. In this episode, Scott Dunford and Alex Kocman explore seven ways to build a sending church culture in your local congregation, whether you’re a pastor or layperson, and how these solutions are the key to mobilizing the next generation of missionaries God has sovereignly placed in the pews.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Why Should Missionaries Care About the Reformation?

We’re joined again by Jonathan Arnold to discuss another critical question regarding the Reformation—why should those involved in missions care? How did the theology of the Reformers lead to the modern missions movement, and what lessons can we apply today?

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Did the Reformers Believe in the Great Commission?

Special guest Jonathan Arnold, an Oxford graduate, author, and professor as the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joins us to discuss a critical question as we remember the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Did the Reformers really believe in missions and evangelism, or were they guilty of only focusing inward on the church itself? Did missions go on “hiatus” in the timespan between the death of the Apostles and the ministry of William Carey?

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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Why You Should Stop Sending Short-Term

Over 2 million Americans go on a short-term missions trip each year. So with more than 4,000 unreached people groups, why not keep sending as many short-termers as possible? In this episode, Scott Dunford and Alex Kocman share four key concerns about short-term—and four tips on how responsible churches and ministries can send short-term missionaries in a healthy, biblical way.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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What’s Wrong With Missions Agencies

In our first episode, we lay it down straight about missions agencies. Are they biblical, or are they just modern constructs that exist to fill the gap when the local church drops the ball? Do they even work? We grapple with eight concerns and dig into the New Testament for some answers.

Want to ask a question for a future episode? Email alex@missionspodcast.com.

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