So this will be a bit more personal post than I customarily write, if for no other reason than the subject matter itself, that is, my dream life.
Last night, for some reason entirely beyond my cognitive ability to discern, I had a dream about meeting Eugene Cho, the two fisted blogging pastor from somewhere out west where I suspect it rains a lot. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cho (Cho moksanim) except through the blogosphere. So here it is, as best I can recount it.
In the dream, I and Eugene are walking through what appears to be conference center of some kind, but which really looks like a student center on a college campus. As we walk I am explaining to him something about this “event” that we are apparently both a part of and which I am evidently in charge of coordinating. While walking through we pass by a number of rooms in which various student gospel choirs are preparing themselves for a concert. We also passed by one of my current student who I recognized only from the back of his head, as he was busy studying. Then (this is really weird) we passed by Wayne Park, who I have also never met, but who is sitting with his laptop typing something. Eugene greets him, and I am surprised they know each other, but say nothing as I remember that they do indeed know one another. All the time we’re walking, I keep thinking to myself, “Eugene is a lot shorter than I thought he would be,” and “wow, his hair is really interesting.”
We finally arrive at “the room” where Eugene’s presentation is to take place. It is a very nice room set up amphitheater style with large red very modern sofa type seating arranged in a semi-circle. Eugene comments that it is just like his church, but I am confused because I thought his church met in some other kind of space, but again I say nothing. Of course I’ve never seen his church either. He leaves the room to go get some “equipment,” and I again wonder why he isn’t taller than I thought he would be. My last thought before waking? I really like this room.
Questions that arise from this weirdness:
Why the heck am I dreaming about Eugene Cho? I’ve never even met the man… what the heck?
Why is Wayne Park in my dream? Again… never met him… no idea what’s going on here…
What is the significance of red sofas (come to think of it, there was lots of red in my dream)?
Why is Cho-mksnm hair so interesting?
Is it really interesting, or did I just make that up?
Is there some hidden gospel message in this dream?
Any dream interpreters out there wanna take a shot at this?
I am attending a missions conference for one of the churches that supports my work with students. The conference is quite the “deal” with the entire congregation mobilized to welcome, support, care for, and encourage their “partners” in ministry. This morning I heard a wonderful sermon on John 3:16 about how we are all sent, and that wherever we are is the ends of the earth to someone else.
It is such a great gift to be in a place and among people who see that what missionaries, both here and throughout the world, is a valuable and critical component of the mission of God. I am thrilled that this congregation takes so seriously the work of caring for missionaries beyond simply sending a check every month, although that too is important.
This stands in sharp contrast to the many conversations I’ve had through the years with potential donors and supporters of ministry, some of whom are not quite sure what we do, or if what we do is valuable, or even worse, view us as competitors to the ministry of the “church” what ever that means. I sure people don’t mean anything by the sometimes harsh comments they make to or about missionaries, but as someone who depends on the provision of God through the generosity of his people, it isn’t easy to hear from someone that they “cannot afford to give” when I supervise college educated people who make less than $20,000 a year. Even harder to hear is the critiques often lodged against missionaries or pastors for their “extravagant lifestyles” when the lifestyles of the average church member is not allowed to ever be evaluated for its closeness to Biblical norms.
Nevertheless, I am not writing this primarily as a rant against the some time stinginess of the church, but rather to raise the question of how “missions” and the “mission” of the church go together. Most of the financial resources of the church go mainly to creating programs designed to care for the needs of the congregation with missions and outreach receiving whatever might happen to be left over. In some ways this would be fine if members were mobilized towards active mission, whether on their jobs or in their neighborhood, or wherever. However, in most cases, mission giving ends up being nothing more than a salve to the conscience of believers who know that they are to be generous, yet cannot bring themselves to sacrifice the comfort of padded pews and the latest high tech multimedia to give to some missionary somewhere. Besides, aren’t missionaries and pastors supposed to be poor?
What is the mission of the church and how is it connected to “missions?” Are they separate things, united only by their common name? Is the mission of the church accomplished through writing the monthly check or by doing the occasional inner city (read poor people that don’t look like us) service project? What about all those people hell bound and dying who look to all appearances that the don’t need the Lord? Are they not an appropriate target for missions? What do you guys think?
I am just back from InterVarsity’s national staff conference, where I presented a seminar on cross cultural witness.
I’m still quite honored and humbled that they would ask me to present a seminar on this issue since there are many more eminently qualified people. The presentation is itself a reprise of one I did for the Asian American student conference this past fall, modified for staff interest.
In other news, I continue to grow in my own journey. Yesterday was my first official day as on “staff” at the Korean Presbyterian Church I’ve been attending for the past 18 months (has it been so long?). Stepping into the shoes of the theologically astute, well educated, published author and seminary professor who had been teaching our class is more than a little intimidating. I feel a great deal of internal performance pressure, because honestly I’m not too sure any of the other folks in the class fully appreciated the depth of Lim moksanim’s knowledge base.
Even more intimidating is the fact that we are studying ecclesiology, using the book of Acts. Scary, considering I’m a pentecostal at heart, teaching in a presbyterian context.
A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to share at the Emerge 2007 Asian American student conference. Despite my discomfort as a Black American teaching in a context designed to challenge and affirm Asian American leadership, I was drafted to serve and teach a seminar on reaching out beyond our own ethnic community to serve others. Here is a link: ethnic-inclusive.ppt
My hope in the seminar was to highlight that care for others begins with a sense of our own self hood and value to God as ethnic persons made in the image of God.
And here is the original link..
Thanks to David Park for highlighting this important upcoming event.
Mark your calendars! November 2-4 for a conference for twenty-somethings Asian American Christians in the Southeast! Anyone interested is welcome to attend! I’m going to be there…you should go!
The name uses a loaded term, which I’m well aware may cause some people to furrow their brow with suspicion, so allow me to add text from the brochure to articulate what the hosts mean by the word “emerge”:
The purpose of the Asian student conference is to empower a generation of Asian American students to “Emerge” from the shadows and step into the destiny and spiritual leadership to which God is calling them; to “Emerge” from spiritual complacency to Spirit-filled witness; to “Emerge” from brokenness into wholeness.