As most of you know, in July 2018 CBM and I agreed to work together for two years. These two years have been immensely fulfilling and rewarding for me as a follower of Jesus and in my calling as a teacher. I look forward to more years of partnering with CBM –and with you!—in serving Christ and his disciples around the world.
Highlights of 2018 – 2019
Canadian Baptist Ministries (in Canada)
Most of you, I hope, are familiar with the writing that I do for Mosaic: The Canadian Baptist Magazine, for which I write an article integrating our Christian convictions with the commitments of CBM. In addition, I am leading a small team to create an educational and formational program in “integral mission” to be used in Canada and with our partners around the world. As you may know “integral mission” has been a long-time commitment of CBM that informs all we do. It’s the focus of my work in “theological integration.” Simply put, integral mission is a commitment to joining with God in all the work that God is doing through Christ to redeem all creation— including healing our relationship with God, with other humans, with the rest of creation, and with ourselves. In the coming year, we will be completing the first version of this “program” for testing with some of our partners.
Africa Leadership Exchange
This three-year project has been a partnership among CBM and four Baptist denominations—from Kenya, South Sudan, DR Congo, and Rwanda. A cohort of 16-17 leaders of these denominations (including at least one woman from each denomination) has gathered for an “exchange” of leadership challenges and formation. I have been privileged to lead a daily one-hour Bible study at the gatherings and also give 1-3 hours of continuing formation and theological integration. We have learned to read the OT as a spiritual guide; we have read the Psalms as the way God’s people keep in touch with God’s reality in the midst of trauma and tragedy; we have explored the wisdom teaching of the OT and NT for leaders in tough places; and we have contemplated the call to “abide and go” as the rhythm that sustains life on mission with God.
Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (Beirut, Lebanon)
What a privilege it was for me to visit and learn from this creative, courageous community! This is the only Arablanguage, graduate level theological education in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa). The faculty, staff, students and graduates quietly and faithfully witnessing to the gospel throughout MENA. The students that Soohwan and I met there have a passion for returning to their homes equipped to be faithful followers of Jesus in contexts where every step as a disciple of Jesus may lead to danger. I was grateful for the opportunity to preach in the chapel at ABTS and to lead the faculty in a seminar on “Missional, Theological Ethics.” We had extended times with the three CBM staff couples who are serving at ABTS—all of them with roots in the MENA.
International Baptist Theological Seminary Centre (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
This is another innovative, missional community. In this context I work with doctoral students and prospective doctoral students at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam—a world renowned university. During the year I convene an online seminar to discuss an important book in theology and baptist studies. Each January, I gather with students and the faculty and staff of IBTS as well as professors from VU. Recently, I sat in a seminar room listening to a very sophisticated research proposal from a Brazilian Baptist who is pastoring a church in Northern Italy. Also in the room were students and faculty from Lithuania, Jordan, Lebanon (2), Russia, Sweden, Netherlands, Scotland, England (a man who has spent most of his life in South America), Egypt, and the Czech Republic. In other seminar rooms nearby, are students and faculty from Central Asia (I am leaving the specific countries unnamed), Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Northern Ireland, Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Romania, Germany, Austria, Ghana (working with refugees in Europe), and of course, Netherlands! These students are the leaders and future leaders of the Baptist movement in their countries. All of the work here is directed toward the mission of the church. It’s an intense, instructive, illuminating week.
- ALE: All the participants over the past three years.
- ABTS CBM staff: Elie and Mireille Haddad, Emad and Almes Botros, and Joe Bridi. And all the students, faculty and other staff.
- IBTSC: Students, faculty, and staff.
- Integral mission project: Darrell Bustin and David Nacho.
- Travel health and safety as I attend the Middle East Consultation in Beirut at ABTS, June 14-20.
I am overwhelmed by God’s grace in calling me to this work at this time in my life. And I am grateful for your support.