God is on the move (even when we’re stuck)

[Please excuse the break in blogging for the last month – I’ve been taking a hiatus from time online, partly as I settle into a new city/country/marriage/church, and partly as we’ve no WiFi yet at home. Reflections from the last month, on the last 8 years in Ireland are to follow. However I’m delighted to keep connecting with others who have a passion for Jesus, who have found themselves travelling His world and loving every second of it. Here Hannah Rasmussen (Kenya) shares a some reflections flowing from her studies of bi-cultural characters in the Bible:]


We often think of travel as a choice expressing independence. Gap years. Young adults on backpacking adventures. Exotic beach vacations. Travel has been idealized as a coming-of-age experience or luxury for those who can afford it.

But what about when travel is forced? Whether moving as a child, facing closed borders, or fleeing armed conflicts, there are many times travel can be outside our control. What about when you feel stuck where you don’t want to be instead of free to go where you’d rather be?

What about when you feel stuck where you don’t want to be instead of free to go where you’d rather be?

This has become the reality for many people during the COVID pandemic. People were stranded en route to their destination or locked down where they didn’t know anyone. Refugees’ and immigrants’ visas were stalled. International students wondered where they would live. Family members wondered when they would be reunited.

Travel was often forced in the Bible, too. Joseph was a trafficking victim. Moses ran away from Egypt as a fugitive. Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity. Paul’s travel plans changed due to shipwreck, persecution, and imprisonment. Jesus’s first trips were in utero for a census decreed by one ruler and then fleeing another ruler’s massacre.

Where is God in the “bad” travel?

These characters might well have asked that question. I doubt they ever truly felt at home where they were (Hebrews 11:13-16). They weren’t readily accepted; Joseph and Moses were neither Hebrew nor Egyptian. Daniel was trying to be devout serving a government who wanted to erase his identity and replace it with a culture infamous for sorcery. Paul was a diaspora Jew, Roman citizen, and Gentile-loving former Pharisee. And Jesus must have been lonely knowing his home was with a Father no one could see (Luke 2:49, John 14:8-10).

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16

But these biblical characters believed, as we must, that God is right where we are, wherever we are. As Psalm 139 reminds us, even when we feel out of place or abandoned, there is nowhere we can go from his Spirit, whether in outer space or undersea, east to the sunrise or on the far side of the ocean. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

Instead of bemoaning their ill fate, these biblical examples trusted God. They chose to learn about and adapt to the place they found themselves, without losing their identity or faith. They all experienced rejection, but they kept identifying with “those people” anyway. They followed the advice Jeremiah gave the exiles when they found themselves in a place they didn’t want to be: to settle in, pray for, and “seek the peace and prosperity” of Babylon (Jeremiah 29:4-7). They didn’t realize it, but by doing so they positioned themselves to be used by God right where they were.

“Bloom where you’re planted” may sound cliché. But if we believe in a God sovereign over our botched visas and cancelled conferences, he may have a reason for planting us just where we are.

Exploring places closer to my (Peter’s) new home each week – Cruagh Woods, Dublin

In fact, God may be planting us there for a harvest. These biblical examples each ended up playing huge roles in God’s mission. Because they had adapted to their new contexts without letting go of their original culture or faith, they ended up communicating between parties as mediators. Joseph revealed God’s plan to Pharaoh and saved Israel from starvation. Through Moses traveling back to Egypt and then through a wilderness, God displayed his power to all nations and led Israel to create a new culture in a new land. Still in exile, Daniel’s interpretation ended up in empire-wide proclamation of God’s reign. Through both Paul’s persecuted travels and his restricted movement in prison, he communicated the inclusion of the Gentiles to both them and to Jewish Christians. And Jesus traversed great barriers, first of incarnation and then of death and hell, to reconcile God and humanity.

None of these people could have achieved their mission in God’s kingdom if they had not been forced out of their comfort zone. To be effective, they had to keep identifying with their captors, their betrayers, and their persecuted minority groups. Not only did they go, they also stayed faithful and stayed long enough to become a bridge.

How does this apply to us?

You may not have time to learn a new language or marry into a local family where you’re stuck at the moment. I certainly hope you won’t be in exile or separated from family for years.

But perhaps being stuck is the time to ask ourselves if there’s anything we’re trying to escape when we travel: our own destructive habits, our unkept promises, the relationships we’d rather run from than reconcile. Moses accepted his calling by travelling back to messy relationships and his worst insecurities. Paul and Jesus walked into persecution knowingly. If our travel is motivated by fear, we’re not following in their footsteps. If we crave an adventurous escapade, maybe we can bravely confront what’s got us spiritually stuck.

Or perhaps we might think of small ways we can be present where we’re placed. Instead of spending all our time reconnecting with faraway friends via Zoom calls, perhaps it’s time to go on a walk with the neighbour. Perhaps we read up on the history of our town or find out who is stranded far from home in our city.

If we believe God is always on the move, this dislocation may just be part of his mission for the nations.


Hannah Rasmussen is the author of Good News about Gender: A Bible Study for Young Adults. She grew up as a third-culture-kid in Tanzania and just finished her MDiv in Kenya. She edits Christian books by African authors and blogs at hannahras.wordpress.com

A time to reflect on travel

For those of you who regularly follow along on here, you’ll perhaps be surprised to hear that there’s still very few people talking about faith and travel. Although we’ve had the rise of the Christian Travelers’ Network from the States, the River Communities worldwide, and other smaller groups across the globe, the conversation as it stands, hasn’t progressed a huge amount yet.

With Covid19, does it really matter?

That’s a question I’ve been given a few times in rhetorical form recently, with people stating that travel does not matter at all, and that such pandemics focus us on what really matters. But with all due respect to those ‘asking the question’, I want to propose that it does indeed matter. And it matters a lot.

Yes, Covid19 would take away travel for a few months, but already countries have opened up their borders again, yearning for economic freedom via tourism. Already, thousands have been counting down the days til they could book flights again (days which have now past, with many having booked their first trips already). And already, measures to circumnavigate the Covid restrictions, have been thought about ten times over. Travel is not disappearing for now, even if many travel companies and airlines, went under. New ones will soon pop up to replace them.

In fact, until collective responsibility for things like the environment, sing sweeter songs than the freedom of individualism, I could imagine that the dream of travel will always remain with us. What a 3 month break did, was allow the traveller some time to regroup, reflect on past travel experiences, and tweak the plan for the journey ahead. For if Alain de Botton is to be believed, part of the travel experience is heightened, by the suspense of the build-up to it, not to mention the kindling of the fond memories of past trips, reminiscing of great days.

The traveller’s delight is not just in feeling the warm rays hitting our skin as we lie in pools of Caribbean sun, but in finding ourselves again loitering in such places, long after we have left, still seemingly enjoying the same rays conjured up by nothing more than the longing heart resting again on an Instagram photo, a firmly lodged memory or a sensual experience brought back up from deep within us where we hide our pleasurable moments we don’t want to release.

So it was with great joy that I found two Australians realising that this is precisely the time we must talk about travel, while we are in a time of reflection, analysing and planning. In fact, there is no better time, before our travel pulses start to beat at an uncontrollable rate, leading us to take off again across borders and boundaries.

“This is precisely the time we must talk about travel”

And in most situations that I’m heavily invested, most topics which my emotions are aroused and most times in life when I’m going through something evocative, I’m not in a good place to take a step back and see things through an accurate lens of whether it is doing me any good, or whether I indeed am falling far short of what I was called to be or do. I’m too invested in certain outcomes.

And so despite the yearnings for travel of this Covid season, and despite the warm fondness in which I scroll Instagram, I still think it is this season that will allow us talk about travel in a far more constructive way than before.

  • How will we re-build the travel industry in healthier forms?
  • How can we make countries less dependent on our (somewhat colonial) travel?
  • How can we make the most of travel, in God’s eyes?
  • Are there sweeter songs we can dance to, than the travel songbook can provide alone?
  • Are there patterns of life or of our hearts, that the last 3 months have challenged or revealed?

[These two other Christians in Australia who I mentioned, joined in engaging with the topic of travel during these days. They too, saw no better time than the present to open up our hearts and see what we’re missing out on. Catch Michael Jensen (Anglican) and Megan Powell Du Toit (Baptist) on the “With All due Respect” podcast here, interviewing SMBC lecturer Stephen Liggins about the topic here.]

Fancy using these next months to think about travel?

As someone who has travelled into a different culture on a gap year, I can really relate to the book. It would have been helpful to have read it before going to Uganda and I would recommend it for anyone going on a similar trip.

Oscar, recent graduate from Ireland

Why not check out ‘Travel: in tandem with God’s Heart‘? And if you want to have a chance of getting a free copy soon, follow me on Twitter or Instagram or IVP Books on Facebook where I’ll have a give-away soon. You can also see an interview with me on IVP’s page on July 29th, as we celebrate the opening of Ireland to travel, following on from the virus season.

Microadventure day 11: fighting zoombies

This is part of our microadventure in lockdown series throughout April. You can find the rest of them here. Do keep letting us know what you’re up to during this time!


You’re just recording whatever you do in your day – these aren’t microadventures!

Several of you have joked this with me recently, and I must confess, that in my desire to create achievable microadventures that could be done by most people in lockdown, they may have come out as quite basic at times. Particularly the broadening of #microadventures away from purely physical activity. But none-the-less I’ve been heartened by all of you who’ve sent in pictures and stories of you doing similar adventures, I stand by the definition given and now present to you what I think a millenial adventurer may find the hardest microadventure yet. But please excuse the forray through Twitter, into the Judeo-Christian worldview to get there. The Zombies will come on stage later.

Scrolling the infinite feeds of Twitter

Twitter is not the place I usually turn to in order to see where public opinion lies, but occasionally I get drawn in to the rabbit warren of threads and replies on random topics. This one was a local councilor who was campaigning to open the centre of Belfast (shops etc) on Sunday mornings for tourists and others who may want that. One comment beneath was telling, though quite representative of the main thrust of comments (and I paraphrase):

“I used to think those religious nuts who campaigned to lock up swings and shut everything on Sunday were hilarious. I still do. But some of what they campaigned for, I actually see as really helpful now. Keeping shops shut on Sundays gives the worker a chance to take a break from the incessant work expectations. It gives family-run businesses and start-ups a chance to have a break, so that they can compete with the bigger chains in the long-run. It gives the individual worker the chance to say no, when their big company pressures them into working Sundays, despite technically saying they ‘don’t have to‘.”

Fighting Legalism

Christians have embittered some societies in the past with a high emphasis on rules and regulations of what one can or can’t do on a Sunday. The focus was that “God says…” and then the specifics of what they did, made it sound to the rest of society like “God says….lock up the parks” or “God says…you can’t do your gardening”. The untold effects of legalism (going beyond what God actually said) on this issue and many others will continue to ripple in our society today, as the picture of God that is portrayed is a false one.

Even within Christian homes, many have been turned off views of Sabbath, by needless over-extension of authority on the issue – I still remember when a tennis ball was confiscated from two teenagers at a church camp, because the minister did not approve of it being thrown between two people on a Sunday. At the same time many wives (normally) were made prepare “Sunday lunch” which often had them working several hours to get the feast of the week ready. This, for whatever reason, was considered not only acceptable, but in some households, necessary.

Fighting for Sabbath

Such strict or inconsistent interpretation of “resting all that day from our work and recreations, and spending the whole time in public and private worship, except the time spent in works of necessity and mercy” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 60), with no freedom of conscience within these things, is bound to draw the ire of even those who agree that the Sabbath day of rest is a creation ordinance, set up for all time, even before the law was given on Sinai, flowing from when God rested in his work of creation. One of the better accounts of this view is given here.

An increasing body of other Christians, follow D.A.Carson’s lead that the Sabbath is no longer compulsory for God’s people in the same way it used to be.

Lockdown re-teaching Sabbath?

But what all these believers hold in common is that ‘Sabbath’ rests, whether literal or categorical, are still useful for the world, no matter what we believe. A day off in the week has been acknowledged by many societies in the world to be a necessary thing, despite attempts to re-shape the week in other ways (like 10 days weeks). As many millennial drive themselves with such purposeful (often brilliant) work, 24-7, and struggle to stop, it would be a useful tool in our travel bags to have, if we could remember to stop. Ironically, studies would show that we end up being more productive by doing so, rather than less. I’m so glad my parents helped me to pattern life this way, even from early days in studying for school exams and the intensity of sport and music training 6 days a week for competitions.

And similarly for us in lockdown, where all days melt into one. Would re-establishing concrete patterns of work and rest, not be helpful for many us who mentally or physically struggle during these days?

Originally at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/60216816@N00/79201360 and available under CC license

Fighting Zoombies

But rhythms of Sabbath (that have always been more than the weekly Sabbath, in Jewish society), have helpful consequences far beyond a day of rest. How can I protect myself from constant “screen fatigue” or becoming a “Zoom”bie as some have said?!

One useful commentator suggested:

If one works with one’s hands, take a sabbath by resting with one’s mind. If one works with one’s mind, take a sabbath by resting with one’s hands.

And certainly the latter has always helped me. Spending an afternoon in prayer while doing something physical, is sheer bliss, to free my mind from worry and over-thinking and analysing things that draw me back to feeling like work.

If one works with one’s hands, take a sabbath by resting with one’s mind. If one works with one’s mind, take a sabbath by resting with one’s hands.

Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Fighting Screens

The tricky thing about working on Zoom (or other online video-call applications), is that if one has friends that one wants to connect with in one’s free-time, it is very hard to avoid yet more hours on Zoom! And so despite changing modes (work to rest), I still end up feeling exhausted at the end of the day, having spent it all in one posture. This therefore involves careful planning, and I’ve increasingly decided, intentional time away from screens.

A colleague in another “Zoom” meeting

There are many challenges to this, given I read a fair bit on Kindle (on my laptop), and I call family and friends at regular times each day. But without being legalistic, I decided to try for a 24 hour Sabbath from screens.

One day fighting

Given my phone is what wakes me up in the morning, the temptation is already there, to turn it on and browse messages sent in the small hours of night, by those I think are far more productive than me. But today, I must resist, turn my alarm off, and leave my phone on my bedside table.

Somehow, after enjoying my usual coffee during a devotional time with God in the morning (which I would not normally have my phone on anyway), by breakfast, I already found myself with my phone back in my pocket. Still turned off, but in my pocket none-the-less. Weirdly, it felt right to have it there.

Several times that morning, I took it out of my pocket simply to give myself distraction from what I was doing. Distraction because I wanted time away from my book I was reading. Distraction because I wanted somebody to tell me that they’re missing my online presence in these few hours, simply by viewing the “like-count” of a social media account. It’s blank “off” screen always disappointed.

Fighting something deeper than screens

Perhaps this little experiment away from screens was telling me something far greater about my heart, character and reality of my life.

The trickiest thing was that this was a day off. So there was 14-16 hours to spend without screens. One can only read so many books. And all my music was largely screen based these days too. I’d been for a run, but in lockdown that was not going to take hours of time.

Several times during my reading, I tried to persuade myself that I actually would be better off, if I understood the text I was reading better, by checking a reference on Google. My finger loitered over the “on” button.

Perhaps hardest was persuading myself that I could draw my housemate into this mad game, by offering to end our binge watching another series on Netflix, and instead play a game on the table or something else.

However, at the end of a day (where I was all too happy to go to bed at a reasonable hour in the evening), I looked back with fondness with all the things this day had taught me. Had a learnt far more today, than any other day I had access to Google and online educational materials? Would I be able to regularly discipline myself to stop reaching for my phone to scroll at any slight opportunity of boredom or discontent?

The Fight continues…

Perhaps this should become a regular Sabbath for me. And perhaps, just maybe, Sabbath could start being good news for the world – something that the Christian tradition can start to hold out with confidence again.

Suggestions from Justin Earley in his book, The Common Rule (see below)

A few resources that may help convince us of the need of wider Sabbath rhythms, and help you in life:

  • Fight Hustle, End Hurry Podcast by John Mark Comer and Jefferson Bethke (yes, the man who did that one-hit-wonder video back in the day). They both have similar books out on the topic, which, you guessed it….I was too busy to sit down and read.
  • The Common Rule: habits of purpose in an age of distraction – this book is a lifestory of an American missionary entrepreuneur in China, for whom all of life was rosy. Until small distractions, became bigger issues, and bigger issues started to kill him, mentally, physically, spiritually. In his life story, every millennial I’ve met who has read it, has tended to say “that’s me” to some degree. Well worth reading – I’ll write a longer review soon.
  • 12 ways your phone is changing you – this book shines a light on things we struggle to acknowledge but gives hope for us all.

Kiss the Wave: embracing God in your trials (Furman, 2018, Crossway)

I was given this as a free review copy by the Evangelical Bookshop Belfast. You can buy it from them here, with free UK postage. (Postage to Ireland is normally cheaper than Amazon too.) This in no way meant I had to give a positive review of the book.


As I’ve said before, I’ve been using this lockdown period to explore more why as a western individual, I struggle so much with suffering in my worldview. Despite following a suffering Saviour for years, every time I experience suffering or talk to those who suffer, I feel not only the fact that this suffering ought not to be in general, but I feel grieved that this has happened to me personally. I deserve better! (Or so I think.) The response of my fellow believers in Africa stuns me. And teaches me a lot.

Dave Furman is a church planter in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). And although his story (see the video above) appears at several key points in the book, it does not dominate the book. This book is centrally focused on helping us grapple with the God of the gospel more, so that Dave’s story, can be our story – of being sustained and even finding deep-rooted joy in the midst of horrific pain, that never seems to cease, and which leads to emotional and relational distress. In fact, I nearly at times lost sight of Dave while reading the book, which in my eyes, was not actually the most helpful. None-the-less, the book is an absolute delight, refreshing, simple and a treasure to ponder, even for someone who reads an awful lot.

We came to the village intending to change the world for Jesus, but I couldn’t even change my jeans without help.”

Dave’s writing feels like a powerful collection of quotations of many ‘greats’ of recent Christian writing, combined with huge chunks of Biblical wisdom and comfort and finely honed into a soothing package of goodness. It is easy to pick up and read in one go, or perhaps better, taken chapter by chapter and processed over two weeks of devotions.

Quoting Keller in the introduction, it is for everyone, because even if you’re not suffering right now:

“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable, with friends and family, and successful with our career — inevitably something will ruin it.”

Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering

Each chapter starts with a short story from someone Dave knows who has deeply suffered, followed by a connected meditation on some of the most beautiful and encouraging truths of scripture. Because of Dave’s own story, you know these are not just glib comforts trying to stick a plaster over a gaping wound, but treasures that will help sustain you and shape your perspective even in the darkest of times.

One quotation from the book which particularly resonated with me as I work in a graduate context and with many Irish students who’ve considered going or have gone to Dubai:

“I often tell those in our church’s membership class my prayer for each of them. I don’t pray that they would ultimately get promotions, make more money, and be successful in the marketplace (though those aren’t necessarily bad things). I pray they would love Jesus more when they leave Dubai (nonce of us is allowed to retire here, so we all must leave at some point) than they do at that moment. I pray the same for all of us in our trials.”

But putting aside Dubai, I think of my prayers during Coronavirus season. Simplified, they could perhaps be summarised often as:

“God bless me. May I not suffer. May no-one I know suffer. May everyone have their jobs. Would you make clear the future?”

Reading this book, I am forced to abandon the centrality of myself and my will in my prayer life, and replace it with something oh-so-much better.

Camping in the Sahara!

One final glimpse from the book that I enjoyed but found utterly frustrating as someone who loves to go camping! I must disagree with him plenty here, but love his comparison, speaking about 2 Corinthians 5:1-5!

“It’s not surprising that Paul, a tentmaker by trade, compares our earthly bodies to tents. I don’t own a tent, but I used one on a couple of camping trips as a child. I think the worst thing about camping may be the tent itself. I easily get claustrophobic. When the rain falls, you can hear it hitting the tent just inches from your face. And the worst thing is the buzzing of the buzzing of mosquitoes next to your face, making you feel like they are feasting on your flesh all night long. That’s because they probably are! As you can see, sleeping on a hard floor inside a shabby tent isn’t too compelling for me. A tent is a temporary dwelling place, not a permanent residence. In 2 Corinthians Paul paints a picture of the better, more glorious body as a house in comparison to a tent. Today, Paul says we live in a tent, but a day is coming when our bodies will be more like a house. Tents break and often need to be replaced. They hardly protect you from high and low temperatures or from precipitation. … In this life, our bodies face disease and decay. Paul says, “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our Heavenly dwelling” (2 Cor 5:2)”.

As someone who laughs at such shoddy dismissals of camping, and who perhaps rather longs to decrease the emphasis in my life on materialistic dwellings, it took me a little minute to get over it in order to appreciate the Biblical truth behind the passage he was speaking on.

For the wandering Cain, for Abraham (and descendants), for those in the dessert in Numbers, for exiled Israel, for Christ with no place to lay his head, for persecuted ‘strangers and exiles’ across the Greco-Roman world and beyond – temporary dwellings were things very real. Other dwellings were longed for. Camping was not the ultimate reality. These bodies are not our homes. And like Christ, raised in a physical body, so shall we look forward to the day our tents will be replaced, in earthy new ones. What a glorious new reality awaits!

To finish, I must say that although I come from the author’s theological perspective (a reformed one), I am very glad that he (perhaps unlike some reformed authors) at the end does acknowledge that amidst his ultimate trust that God is sovereign over all suffering and uses it for His glory and our good, that it is the devil who is responsible for such evil, which is a glimpse of hell-ish things to come. Those words in the final chapter were very necessary ones, which make it easier for us to approach this God, knowing He is not going to cruelly delight in suffering, pain and endless tears.

This book has helped turned my eyes from thinking I ought not suffer, and praying for my own comfort, to refocusing my heart and mind of the good God of the gospel. I pray it will do like-wise for many.

You can find out more about the Furman’s life in the video below. But before you do, consider buying the book (cheapest here – only the price of two coffees or your work commute for 2 days!), and reading it in lockdown – you won’t be disappointed!

Travel through history

[‘Scuse the brief break from microadventures]

Any Christian who has been blogging for over a decade will know of Tim Challies. He’s one of the “original” bloggers within the evangelical world.

I approached him to write a recommendation for “Travel: in tandem with God’s heart“, while he was travelling and working on this project (below). He was very kind, and despite tenuous connections, agreed to do something for me, just before he was struck down by a (temporary) physical ailment which made things hard for him to write and keep up his blogging and many other things for months. Thankfully, he came back to health, but I didn’t quite feel comfortable to chase him for a recommendation.

But the project he’d been working on, was travel-related too. How by travelling, we can get a feel of the global church, and see how God has been at work over all of Church history.

I’ve mentioned before how much I struggled with history at school. But I agree with Tim, that travel has made it come alive for me. And now thanks to his series, we can explore church history through the lens of travel, while we are isolated at home. I believe the video series can be paid for online, or you can (like me so far) just enjoy each episode trailer released free online too.

Great to see someone else who likes to #travelintandem !

Microadventure day 4: voices of the world

Part 4 of our microadventures series continues but you can find the rest (as well as an introduction to microadventures) by clicking here.


What travels all the way round the world but never leaves its corner?
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A stamp!

Or so the old joke goes. But having simply taken us out for a walk to the unknown yesterday, I thought we’d go round the globe today, whilst remaining in our own little corners!

What many relish about travel, is the educational perspective it gives you, as you often see the world through other lenses. And as Christians, being united to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe, this world perspective can theoretically come without leaving our houses or towns – as we join with the global Church and learn from each other long past any fleeting chance to meet with each other in person. Here’s a few ways I’ve done that today from my living room:

  1. Surfing USA
    I’ve been chatting with the Christian Travelers’ Network leader in the USA, hearing what Coronavirus in the States is like, the challenges of life there and how the Church is responding. The bit that was recorded (alas) was me waffling on about microadventures, the future of the travel industry and many more travel related things that you can listen to, here.

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  2. Learning from our African friends
    A fellow IVP author shared this on Twitter recently:
    “A group of African Christian leaders once said to me: when you western people suffer, it is unusual for you. You think you need to know why. This reveals your temptation towards rationalism. When you can’t find out why, you are tempted to question, doubt and then dismiss God.

    When we suffer on the other hand, it is normal to us. We don’t think we need to answer questions about why. It is common in a fallen world. So our instinct is to seek God, humble ourselves and worship.

    One of the lessons from the book of Job is to not ask the wrong questions in the face of catastrophe. As if getting answers and understanding is what we need to help us.

    The necessary answers to catastrophe are rarely academic ones, regardless of whether they are correct.

    There is no doubt about God’s agency in Job’s story, but it turnedout not to be profitable to speculate much more than that. What was needed was not THE Answer, but lamenting, support and most of all – God.”


    I’m not sure I have much more to say. How we have robbed ourselves of a theology of mission being participating in suffering! Rather than the ultimate goal of our prayers/lives being our comfort. Teach me O Lord what this might look like!

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  3. Race the World: South America
    I’m one who doesn’t watch many things on screens (because why would you watch someone else doing something, when you could be experiencing it yourself? And on-screen entertainment is so slow-moving compared to reading, if one wants to learn.) but I have succumbed to a few travel documentaries/soaps recently. BBC have Race around the World, 4od have Travels of a Gringo (and of course for those outside of the UK, there’s plenty to enjoy on YouTube, Netflix and many other places).

    I’d probably categorise them in different ways – I turn to some places to learn in intentional ways, I turn to other things to relax and inspire me, and some are a mixture of both, like the two aforementioned series which are giving me a hilarious overview of South America – the continent that I know least about (probably because it’s so ‘Christian’ that I’ve never thought about its needs very much?).

    The one thing I tend to stay clear of, unless I’m wanting marketing tips or videography demonstrations, is pleasure travel videos on YouTube. Sitting watching carefully curated videos of professional travellers, of infinity pools in sunny resorts, luxury ice hotels in the arctic, dare-devil cliff jumps and other such things, while stunning, don’t tend to create in me a healthy love for the world or how I can serve God in it. Perhaps the hashtag #travelporn or #wanderlust says an awful lot of what’s behind the fast-paced fake reality we long for, leaving me lusting after the travel brochure picture, the perfect travel video and forgetting the messy reality behind it. I’m not saying there’s anything objectively wrong with these either – I just don’t find a diet of them, helpful (or that creative – after a while of watching).

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  4. Praying from pole to pole
    Starting a tour of the 5 continents was always going to end in trouble with Antarctica! Did I really engage with people from there that day? Well, no. But I did get an email from a Christian friend who lives up in the Arctic amongst the Sami people in northern Norway. She reminded me that “isolation” isn’t really at all painful to them there – some quite often go days without seeing those outside of their family and so life goes on as normal! I suppose my regular contact with Christians round the globe by email is a little like letter-writing of old – ‘snail-mail’ to the modern-day individual!

    Still, I do love a deep email, speaking of the Lord, what God is doing, sharing photos and memories and spurring each other on. I was encouraged that day when it arrived, and I learnt yet more insights into the churches in such places and how we can pray for them (which let’s be real – I don’t do often…though I do like the habit of daily getting out Operation World, IFES World updates, or Joshua Project Unreached People Group of the Day and daily upholding up a radically different place and people).

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  5. An up-side-down videocall (Australia)
    I was meant to be off work and travelling this week with an old colleague visiting from Australia, my fiancee and a few other friends. But…of course I’m at home, sitting in my room for yet another evening. But it was a joy to at least call Australia and catch-up without the usual timezone constraints (as most of us can get away with flexi-hours, if we’re still working). Sadly, she had lost more than just a holiday when her trip was cancelled, but a trip that was to visit some future possible teams/locations to minister, and a visit to support missionaries working in hard places. Do you ever have those people who you call, who leave you humbled, in awe of God’s sovereign hand at work in the world, and delighting at Christ more, despite our sinfulness? I hope you do. And I love that this conversation was one of those.

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  6. A rebuke from Asia
    Well to be more precise, this one was actually from one of my own church community, in Europe, but the quoted voice was an Indian tweet that has done the rounds on social media, and that is worth reading the full thread by clicking below…

It’s times like these that put into perspective our cries that “we’re bored” isolating. Or even our very real fears that someone we know may suffer. It’s voices like these that we could do with shaping our lives more from day to day – when we know many in the world are not asking “will I die with the virus?” but “will I die of hunger or of the virus first?”

Dr Hiremath vents (as an Indian consultant) that rich travelers are to blame for the spread of such disease to poor places which can’t cope and don’t have the privilege we have. Should this put an end to our constant travel talk here and elsewhere? Will we wake up to what we are doing to our fellow human and to our climate by our travels? Such questions do indeed need to be wrestled with, as travel enthusiasts. There are serious questions to how we travel, which are to be thought through. But I’m not sure banning travel, or stopping talking about it, is the answer. Did less pleasure travel stop the Spanish Plague a century ago? Is it only certain western pleasure travel we should legislate against (only a fraction of all flights)? What would that look like? What about the Indian air industry which is (I’m informed) the third largest in the world?

These are complex questions with no easy answers. They deserved to be talked about more rather than less, if we are to reason with the world traveler and come to answers that will help all in the world, especially the least privileged. I hope this blog can continue to be a place for exactly that. Soon I might write on why we’re “micro-adventuring” in the middle of a world crisis.

  1. Coming Home (Europe)

But should these 6 visits to various cultural contexts and continents, all regularly happen in one day, we’d be all too exhausted to invest in local community where we live. And I know many who do ‘church’ with like-minded people online around the world, because they find the community more understanding, deeper and more authentic amongst open-minded travelers. The preaching bears in mind various cultural contexts, so keeps the main thing, the main thing. The prayers are made in light of world events and the darkest of dark in the world, but also the incredible things God is doing in various places – experienced first hand by many. The expectations of what Christ-like-ness is, are not culturally bound to political systems or culturally ingrained ways of living.

Yet, local church is what it is, for a reason. A random bunch of completely different, broken people, filled with His Spirit. Yes, every local church community would benefit from people who are aware of the world, can see clearly the strengths and weaknesses of cultures, and live out their connection to the worldwide body in very real ways.

But every traveler like me, would benefit from being humbled to serve people who are not-like-us. To learn to love the conservative individual who never leaves their home village. To be challenged in my extreme independence and use of time and money for my own goals. To sit under the authority of God’s Word in a community of people who know you well, rather than getting frustrated by the endless cultural faux-pas of sermons, and only meeting with those online who can’t really see your heart and life.

But thankfully, today was an unusual mix of experiences. And one that hopefully won’t take away from serving my local community here in my neighbourhood (and my church) in these hard weeks for many.


So what about you – how are you travelling the globe this week, learning about the world, joining with the global Church, and hearing voices that challenge you in your living? I hope you can #travelintandem

Enjoy!

2 online book clubs

Emily Thomas (Assoc Prof. in Philosophy at Durham) puts together a bite-size look at travel, taking us through various fun things about the history and philosophy of travel, in order for us to change how we think about it. Plenty in here to agree about, laugh about, disagree about and wrestle with, in short chapters. You’ll need to buy your own ebook (£9.98 on Kindle).

See more about the book here.

Part of the 9Marks series – short, practical chapters. There’s things radically alter our lives and church life, questions that’ll challenge things you believe, heart-warming thoughts that’ll help you treasure God, things to disagree with, and much more. Has the church ended up following tradition/pragmatics rather than the Bible on some things? Have we robbed ourselves – and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of unreached peoples – of eternal enjoyment of God, by not thinking through this? The author would suggest so.

If you’re in the UK/Ireland, I can send you 1 of 12 copies that I have, for £4/€5 (including postage). (Or buy an ebook yourself for £9.50)

Find out more about the book here.

Other details

We’ll meet on Zoom each week (likely at a time that suits the Irish timezone) – I have Zoom (paid), so you’ve no need to signup or pay.

There’ll be a social meet-up this coming week, to meet each other, chat and see what speed we want to go at.

Drop me a line on the “contact us” page if you don’t already have my contact details and want to take part.

Finally, if you’re a friend/mutual acquaintance and you’re struggling for money at this time of crisis, but still want to take part, just say (no shame!) and I can put some of my travel/petrol money (unused this month) towards a copy for you.

Happy reading!

7 reads for Coronavirus season

Each year I try and get through over a hundred wide ranging books, whether old classics, the latest releases, or ones I’m slow to catch up on. Here’s 7 that have deeply influenced me this in the last year, that have particular relevance to us as travelling people and also to the Coronavirus season. I must also add – this is not what I feed myself spiritually on as a Christian traveller! It’s the extras on the side.

  1. SCIENCE: Why we sleep. (Matthew Walker, Penguin, 2018)
    If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tried at some stage in life to be living such a productive life, that you get up early and stay up late – burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. Matthew Walker writes quite a shocking book in that regard, making me realise that such patterns of living longterm would make my health, mental wellbeing and life crumble. He does so simply through outlining the science which he has spent years researching with many others. He also has very practical tips about drinking before bed (those whiskey nightcaps!), screentime and caffiene which may help improve life too. It’s a heavy read in places (you may want to skim at times), but one that shouldn’t be avoided because of that. Ultimately, I hope that the Coronavirus will return many to rhythms of rest which they hadn’t before, particularly amongst those of us who travel and always desire “more”.

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  2. BIOGRAPHY/APPLIED THEOLOGY: The Common Rule (Justin Earley, IVP US, 2019)
    Potentially the millennial’s book of the year! I have not heard many my age be able to read it and say “that’s not me”. Justin describes his life as a successful cross-cultural business person and traveller, seeking to thrive and live life to the fullest, only to find his life crashing on the rocks, in ways many of us will say “that’s me – just a few steps further down the line!” Addiction to work; distraction; busy-ness; alcoholic tendendcies; indecision; paralysis; medications; mental collapse and more – this book doesn’t dramatise or tell glamourous tales, but instead shares of an ordinary life. The downward spiral was one that had him (although a missionary) at the end of his tether with God, deciding to pack it all in. But over the years that followed he was able to come back to the truths he’d neglected, that would have actually helped him flourish and grow as a human. This is his story. But it’s part of mine too. And I’m guessing many of our generation. Not sure? It’s worth a read. Again, my prayer is that the Coronavirus period will slow us down enough to stop many of these “rushed” patterns in life that cripple us mentally and physically, and instead will let us get back into daily, weekly and annual rhythms.

  3. FRIENDSHIP/THEOLOGY: Why can’t we be friends? (Aimee Byrd, P&R, 2018)
    As we think about isolation and community a lot, may we think about our regular patterns of isolating ourselves or developing deep community. Gender is one of the big topics of recent years, and sadly, many of us as Christians have been busy defending 1960s cultural conservatism, rather than Biblical good news. Aimee seeks to unpick a massive movement in Christianity that claims we shouldn’t get too close to members of the opposite sex, lest we fall into temptation. Showing provocatively how this is not good news at all, for a #metoo world, she calls us to engage wisely and hold out a marvelous Biblical picture of cross-gender friendships, that honour and empower each other, whilst having holiness at the centre. She answers common questions about the fall of so many Christian leaders through sexual sin. When you’ve travelled through cultures which disrespect women, and have segregated genders, there is nothing more free-ing than knowing good news of liberation – a liberation which doesn’t descend into sexual chaos and dishonour. Review here.

  4. MISSIOLOGY: Stubborn Perseverance (Nyman, Mission Network, 2017)
    What we do as humans when we perceive an urgent need or a seeming problem: panic! And its not just in response to viruses that we do this. Another complete change of topic brings us to the latest in missiology that all the main mission organisations are buying into. This is an easy-read fictional account based on real life stories from ‘Creative Access Nations’. It is gripping, very helpful in places, but like much of current missiology in such places, it is largely shaped by panicked pragmatism. In a bid to get the gospel to as many as possible, as quick as possible, we over-emphasize things the Bible does not emphasize. I’ve already written on this briefly here though more full treatment can be found on this website. What should shape our views on urgency? The Biblical pattern. And I think some of us more task-orientated cultures in the west will be shocked that God’s glory is greater than simply some of the tasks He calls us to.

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  5. COMMUNICATIONS: So Everyone Can Hear (Crosby, SPCK, 2019)
    The Church has gone online! With Coronavirus stopping any gatherings of people over a certain size where it’s possible to socially distance, livestream events and social media have taken over. But as one who works part-time in communications (including social media), I’ve noticed a wave of panic, as many churches just put up whatever content they can. Every church would do well to read this beautifully presented book, and then to discuss as a leadership team afterwards, how their church’s theology drives communication. It’s not a how-to-guide but an empowering read that will help guide you from your theology to practice. Of course, many in other parts of the world would chuckle, that western Christianity has tied itself so much to buildings and large gatherings, and can’t perceive of other ways of easily being a local church. But regardless, this book is a helpful read.

  6. THEOLOGY: Understanding Christian mission: participation in suffering and glory (Sunquist, Baker, 2013)
    One of the things that strikes me most about my own life, is my feeling of entitlement and desire for control over my life. The Christian doctrine of suffering and joy both running concurrently in the Christian life (1 Peter), is simply baffling for many of us in the west, even to those of us who’ve preached about following in Christ’s sufferings (as well as his resurrection hope) for years. We just can’t fathom suffering when it hits us. We want to say it’s evil, but then struggle when its used by God for eventual, ultimate good. And so this virus shakes the western world and has thrown us in disarray. This title, (recommended to me online by a lecturer at Edinburgh Theological Seminary), helpfully puts participation in suffering at the front and centre of God’s mission. There is so much that is helpful historically and to meditate upon in this volume, that I hope we can overlook the broader side to it. May this virus humble humanity to realise how to incorporate suffering into our worldview well. What might that look like for us pleasure travellers? I’ll leave you to figure.

  7. HISTORY: Dominion (Tom Holland, Little-Brown, 2019)
    This much acclaimed volume I’m sure has reached your attention a long time ago, but I believe still deserves a mention. Secular historian Tom Holland is certainly no friend of endorsing the Biblical text (taking a very liberal view of the Old Testament), but makes astounding claims, which seem fairly undeniable, around the fact that the way that we think in the west, is undeniably Judeo-Christian. Even if you are a hardened atheist reading this, you will be standing on Christian foundations, according to Holland. How are we thinking about the virus? In Christian ways. We mourn at such suffering! Why? Because we have expectations stemming from the Christian worldview. Why do we have the moral response we do in light of the virus? Because we steal our moral framework from the Christian one etc. But ultimately, Holland’s just a great writer who has got me back reading history (having been bored stiff at school by it). It might help us as we travel, to see outside our narrow cultural lenses.

Isolation: the opposite of travel?

With the Corona-virus keeping many of us isolated or indoors, I’ve been back pondering what good news there is in all this for travellers, and the travel industry.

In many ways, the industry is being decimated, day by day, as this continues. Small airlines are weekly being put into administration, travel companies are packing up and even most normal summer holidays plans are now in doubt for many of us too. Is the virus then, the antipathy of travel?

My last sunset on the road, before heading back for weeks in the house.

Is the virus the antipathy of travel?

Perhaps, in some ways. But as writer Marcel Proust (and later Alain de Botton) have reminded us, we daren’t harbour ‘travel’ as the ultimate goal, or else it will destroy us (particularly in times like these). Proust is famous in his writings, for deliberately isolating himself at times in one room, and still taking us on an incredible traverse of thinking, imagination and creativity, that leaves us marveling at the tiny subsection of the world around us. One could possibly, he claims, be more satisfied within a small room, than a world explorer is with the whole world at our fingertips.

The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them us.

Marcel Proust, The Remembrance of things Past (translated, Moncrieff)

And that’s striking exactly what the Christian good news also says. We can visit other strange lands and still not learn or grow, depending on how we view our travels. Travel ought not be our ultimate goal, or else we’ll be broken by it when it’s not freely available. We ought not be bored, even if we were stuck in isolation, if we view things well.

I’m fairly sure self-isolation could happen on beaches like this, in mountain ranges and other stunning location – but the feeling of wanting to be of use to less able members of the community, mean that I largely stay in the city to help.

By a lonely prison wall…

But it’s also different to what the Christian good news says. What Proust is left with, is looking inwards to ourselves, in order to view the vastness of the world, and glimpse the diamond through different lights. Not only do we struggle to do this (just think about how quickly we “other”/distance any viewpoints that are different to ours in the world), but looking within to find true vision and imagination for life, is shrinking your universe to a prison cell. Or so Rebecca McLaughlin would have us believe….

The fact that Proust actively chose to self-isolate in a cork-lined room (to help protect him from the noise and outside world) may baffle many of us at this stage in our virus-strewn world:

“…it was my intention to resume the next day, but this time with a purpose, a solitary life.   So far from going into society, I would not even permit people to come and see me at home during my hours of work, for the duty of writing my book took precedence now of that of being polite or even kind.”

Marcel Proust

But ultimately Proust came up with great works of art, which captivate many like myself today. So perhaps it was worth it?

So as you isolate or socially distance yourself from others in the weeks ahead, I hope we can soon look through any boredom, any temptation to pick up your phone again (for the hundredth time) to scroll, to instead see the world with eyes that aren’t our own. And ultimately, it is my dream, that we would all see through the eyes of the maker of the universe, who can give us infinite glimpses beyond what we could ever muster from within. It is only through His eyes, that we can escape our rather warped, lopsided views of reality.

And that’s what I invite us to do as we #travelintandem – in the corner of our bedrooms, in the chaos of virus-affected-life, and in the bizarre moments we stop scrolling to think.

The beach at Kilmore Quay, County Wexford, Ireland

Top tips for Irish mission agency stalls

I put this together as a discussion starter for agencies attending student events. But I trust the relevance may extend beyond that. It may first help to gain some context by reading this post on the frustrations of dead-events, and this post on working with millennials. And to make it more fun, I’ve decided to use song lyrics for each point, which come mostly from songs known by millennials onwards – can anyone name the bands?!

  1. I bet you think this [event] is about you
    First steps, let’s recognise what this event is, that you’ve been kindly invited along to. If there are a few stalls, if you’re partnering with others, or if the event has a general theme, it means one thing: this event is not primarily about you. You getting more sign-ups and you achieving your goals for your organisation, is not the goal of the evening. We must recognise here the goals of the event. Equip, the student festival run, has a tagline “5 days to fire and fuel students for a year of CU mission”. So the event won’t primarily be about a lifetime of overseas work, or about doing summer teams. This needs more than just a token acknowledgement. If we understand the event, and what the attendees expect from the event, it will be easier to bridge between that and what our organisation’s expectations are. There are SO many ways that you could honour the purpose of the event and have the beginnings of significant relationships and partnerships BY supporting these goals, not despite supporting these goals.

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  2. Hey ya!
    These words are all that is needed to start to engage. Many mission partners take up residency in their castle (/stall) and expect the castle will magically gather a crowd of those willing to sign-up. Strangely, they find very few engage, and those that do, often don’t like being watched from half a metre away as they browse the stall. Like the best evangelistic book tables, I find that if there’s more than a short time period that you’re at the event for, then its best to abandon the stall for large chunks of time, and go off and say “hey ya” to people where they aren’t scared you’re about to hit them over the head with your organisational spiel. If you do stay at your stall, or only have a 30 minute window to engage with people at the end of an evening, here’s some tips:
  3. Save Tonight
    The meeting has ended. You have 1 hour to make as many contacts as you can. GO! The feeling of urgency in this context is, I would suggest, not helpful. In the heat of the moment, we revert to what we ultimately want again, not what is best. If every agency rep was to act like I’ve seen some do, it’d be the ugliest scene possible. You’ll be shocked at what I’ve seen before, though perhaps these two are the most common: flyer every thing that breathes around you; manipulate students to do your team, by saying things like “we’ll pay for your fees if you get a team from your CU to come”.

    Instead, can I suggest a few things, flowing from gospel principles:
    a. can you point a student to another agency as the evening goes on? What a delightful humility to realise we are not the best ones for everything,
    b. can you learn from a student that approaches you? Why not ask them questions about their life, their context, and seek to learn and be encouraged. This is not a one-way relationship.
    c. is your goal your organisation’s promotion, or that everyone leaves thinking more of the Lord Jesus, his gospel, and his hand at work in the world? How does that shape conversations?

    It’s those people who we’ll be seeking to give workshops to, have on stage, and give as much airtime as we can to.

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  4. (Come) South of the border (with me)
    Many of the mission agencies on the island have full-time workers based in the north. I LOVE how many of them still care deeply for the whole island and travel sacrificially to connect and partner. Financially, it may not make perfect sense. Time-wise, it may be far harder. But spiritually, if all churches on this island are going to grow with missional DNA, we will benefit from partnerships forming when it doesn’t make sense. Invest in long-term relationships that seem to make no ‘business’ sense, and let God surprise you by His goodness. Hat tips to people like Africa Inland Mission, for their other-person-centred serving of mission in Ireland. Having said that….
  5. I can be your hero (baby)
    We all know the Northerner (I speak as one) who thinks they are coming to the south thinking they (or their organisation) are the key to mission, or that they should be treated in a certain way. “They just don’t get it in the south, do they?” is a sentence I’ve often heard.

    Nope. Just nope. Let’s first coming acknowledging our own cultural biases, weaknesses and struggles, and seeing the great joys and strengths of others. And that’s also to be said those who’ve come mimicking accents, imposing culture and methodology etc. I’m thankful for the grace that many have showed me in the past.

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  6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    So if I shouldn’t flyer everything that breathes, what is the best way to engage on an evening? Well whether at Equip, or at an evening event you’ve travelled for, I suggest that one of the primary goals should be relationship.

    If I attend an event far away, I’ll always schedule time in the few days after to follow-up with people in person (ideally), or by some other way. At Equip, quite often my goal in the “rush” period is just to say to someone “there’s lots more to chat about – how about breakfast tomorrow?”. And when the stall doesn’t seem to give me those opportunities, I’ll go a seminar or workshop, and chat to the person next to me, and develop deep relationships other ways over the week.

    The other person is a human being, and should be treated like such. I remember how baffled a few students were who signed their email addresses up to receive updates from an organisation they were fascinated about, only to be sent an email once about why they should do their student summer team! An example of an organisation who thought they were going quickly, getting email addresses, but actually missed the point entirely. Therefore….
  7. Million Dollar Question
    We must understand the people in front of us and their questions. At a festival like Equip, their questions will quite often be about campus mission. Lots of what mission agencies can offer (resources, longterm partnership etc) can speak into the needs of campus mission. But it’ll take a bit of thought.

“What are your questions about mission?”
“What went wrong on your CU mission team this year?”
“What are you trying differently this year?”
“What are the frustrations of life as a mission team on campus for you?”
“where do all your students hang out and how are you reaching them there?”
“are there any [insert nationality] students on campus?”
“What’s the least reached demographic on your campus?”

But more immediately, student questions might be about the session they’ve just been to, or the circumstances that have just arisen in their life. What they say their questions are, may not even be what their heart-questions are – that’s the same with evangelism too – we’re all humans!

The response to the student’s answer may be a story about a worker in your agency on the field. It may be an offer of a resource that would help with that question. It most likely will be an unknown, but a chance to pray with the student. But whatever the answer is (if there is one), it ought to be in relationship. Perhaps a fleeting relationship, perhaps one that will never be sustainable, but a respectful relationship. And in that way, you’ll get far more longevity of support, and opportunity to develop links longterm, than any person who crudely just wants people to sign up to their organisation.

There is always opportunity to plant other questions, that you feel may need asked. And Jesus’ questions, often do exactly that – they turn around the questioner to a new direction and open their eyes.

  1. Touch
    “Every interaction starts a chain reaction”. You’re one of say, 15 stalls in a hall. You can have a pot of gold on your table, but you’re still unlikely to get sign-ups from it unless people see the gold and how it relates to you. Instead, why not think about doing something interactive? A prize is always a good motivator, if you’re running a challenge. Or something visually that says – “wow, look at me! I’m not like those other table and chair stalls”. But the best interactive elements get people interacting with your organisation’s Unique Selling Points, or get respondents sharing their questions/stories. I’ve seen shoe-stands and coffee stalls work, but I’ve also seen a very simple question cause everyone to stop, ponder and engage.


  2. Bittersweet Symphony
    We’re humans. We can’t do everything. We can’t engage with everyone in an evening, or even in 5 days. And let’s not try or desire to escape our humanity. And that’s good news for us as mission agency reps. We’re given freedom to rest and to enjoy having some craic at all of these things. We’re given freedom to trust that God will bring people across our paths that will be divine appointments. We’re freed even to partner well with others and train them (eg: volunteers who will serve instead of us at some bigger events).

    Why shouldn’t we be competitive and more business-like in expecting to engage with every person? (by flyering etc.) Because if everyone did that, it’d be an ugly mess. We are not competitors. We’re on the same team.
  3. In the end
    We’ll all get this wrong at points. And some of the above thoughts may mean that we should decide not to buy into a life of trawling conferences with stalls. I pray that “fear of missing out” will not be the shaper of our time. We’ll always get folk who complain to us “oh I didn’t see you this year at this”, but they are often not the ones we should go to the conference for, as a whole – they are on board already and we can communicate with them in other ways. My prayer is that we’ll be able to all think of creative ways to engage with folk, that will flow from gospel principles, honour the Church, bless the individuals, and make people think more of the Lord Jesus, because of our interactions.

Suggestions/thoughts/comments/questions? I’d love to hear them.