It is that time again. I am starting to get my bags and get ready for some travel over the next month and a bit.
Tomorrow I shall be in Johannesburg for the Alpha South Africa board meetings. Alpha does the most amazing work in Churches across the world. I know so many people in many of the almost 100 countries that I have visited who have come to discover (or rediscover) faith in Christ through an Alpha course, a Marriage Course or a Parenting Course.
On Thursday and Friday I will be helping to lead the strategic reflection process for the Southern African community coordinators from across Southern Africa. Unashamedly Ethical is doing such great work across the world. It is so necessary in South Africa at this point in our history. Corruption is a significant problem in South Africa, and it is particularly important for the Christians, and the Church, to take a stand against corruption, the abuse of power, and inept functionaries in government and business.
The following week I leave for Malaysia! I am so thankful to be able to speak at the Alpha Malaysia Workplace Conference. I will speak on the relationship between ordained clergy (pastors, priests and ministers) and ministers in other areas of life (Christians in the world of work, education, arts and culture, politics, media etc.) In our book 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' I devoted a chapter to discussing a theology of work. I am convinced of a few key points:
- Work is not intended to be a curse. God gives us he ability to apply our gifts, abilities, strength, relationships and creativity to both provide for our needs (and those of our loved ones), as well as making a contribution to society.
- Every person is a minister! Some ministers are paid by Churches or ministry organisations. Others are paid through rendering a service or developing a product in the wider world. However, every person who knows Christ is called to live under his direction and according to His will. That is ministry. So, every person is a minister. See Col 3.23 for example.
- God's plan for the transformation is to be realised through the Church. Ministers in the Church, and Ministers in the world of work have missunderstood this statement. Basically, our theology of Church needs re-formation. Christians are as much the Church when we gather (for worship, fellowship, teaching and service), as we are the Church when we scatter (going to our homes, our communities, to work, to study, to play). It is one Church! The Church has a common mission in the world, that is the missio Dei (the work of God in the world). The local congregation cannot achieve this without Christians in every sphere of society, and Christians scattered into every sphere of society cannot achieve it without gathering for growth, encouragement, healing, renewal, and encounter with God.
I will also have a workshop at the conference where I will speak about the work of Unashamedly Ethical and EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption. The Malaysian Church is such a wonderful example to the rest of the world. Christians are so engaged in social issues! There is a wonderful balance between sharing the good news (evangelism) and being the good news (mission).
While in Malaysia I will also have a chance to preach at my friend Alvin Tan's Church, spend some time sharing with the 'Citizens Network for a better Malaysia', and having some meetings around corruption, ethics and advocacy in society.
I then return back to Cape Town for a just over a week. At the start of October I will be heading to Holland for a few weeks. Part of my time in Europe will be spend working on my second PhD. I was privileged to get a scholarship to do some post doctoral research, in the form of a second PhD, in New Testament at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Holland. I am working with Professor Jan van der Watt and Prof Chris Hermans. They are both leaders in their fields. I am trying to do something fairly novel in bringing together some of the research from my previous doctoral work in neuroscience and identity, and merging that with narratology in New Testament studies. The project will apply an action oriented research model, and so I will be doing some qualitative research in a few different cultures, communities with differing economic levels, and differing theological approaches.
I will also be having some meetings with colleauges and interested parties on Unashamedly Ethical, EXPOSED and the Global Day of Prayer while I am there.
on the 11th of October I will be in London for a very significant press event for 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption' around the Houses of Parliament. This press event will mark the official public launch of EXPOSED, a number of significant Christian Church leaders, Political figures and Business persons will be present to Shine their light in the areas of dealing with corruption and poverty.
I return to Holland for just short of of two weeks after the press event before going back to Cape Town at the end of October.
As always I would like to ask for your prayers:
- Please pray for my family - it is never nice to be away from them for extended periods of time.
- Please pray for me and the work that I will be doing. Please pray that God will guide me, give me great wisdom and clarity about my task, and that I will be humble, gracious and loving in every interaction.
- Please pray for the various events and engagements that we will be a part of. Please pray that God is glorified and that God's will is achieved through our work.
- Please pray that we, our teams, our families, our equipment, and every aspect of our work receives God's protection and grace.
Thanks so much!