Imagine that you and your family’s native language is English — in fact, it’s the only language you speak. It’s the only language spoken in your entire neighborhood, the neighborhood you grew up in and your parents grew up in before you. It’s the beginning of the school year, and you drop your child off at your local public elementary for her first day of school. All the signs welcoming her are in Japanese. So is all the class instruction. Everything, in fact, is in Japanese. As she learns about colors and exotic animals in other parts of the world,…Read More
Earlier this year, a TEAM worker watched as two men embraced. One of the men was a Muslim who had become a Christian, and one was a former Islamic fundamentalist who, until recently, had been abusing the other man. Now he was asking more about Jesus. This didn’t happen in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Iraq. It was in an immigrant community in southern Europe. Immigration is not just a hot topic in the United States. In fact, it is a much more formidable issue in many other countries. Per capita, at least 20 nations receive more immigrants than the United…Read More
This week, our blog got a little face lift. We love the new look and hope our readers will, too. We put a lot of thought into making the blog more engaging and user-friendly, as well as creating something that would do justice to TEAM’s beautiful photography. But most of all, we want to create a space for thoughtful dialogue. TEAM’s ministries are broad and diverse. On any given day, our hundreds of missionaries are serving in myriad contexts around the globe — urban and rural, churched and unchurched, Eastern and Western, advanced and primitive. This complex ministry mixture makes for…Read More
Almost every missions mobilizer can tell this tale: They found the perfect would-be missionary, highly qualified and ready to ship all their belongings to the other side of the world, with one little problem. The candidate is drowning in debt. Debt is one of the biggest challenges of our time for North American missions and has been called “the greatest enemy other than Satan himself” to sending missionaries. This may be a slight overstatement, but there’s no doubt that personal debt is a huge obstacle for many young people who want to serve overseas (or domestically). Because missionaries tend to…Read More
No two victims of sex trafficking have the same story. But many stories sound a lot like Sarah’s: a big dream and a wrong turn. A nursing student in Africa with six siblings, Sarah wanted to continue her nurse’s training in Europe. Her stepfather told her about a recruiter who would connect her with work at shops in Europe — exactly where, it’s unclear — to help her pay for her studies. The door for her dream opportunity was swinging wide open, or so she thought. Then she found herself locked in a house with ten other girls, the start…Read More
We usually aim to be more informative than self-promotional on this blog. But occasionally, we do both at once. This follow-up to a recent post about how to choose a missions agency explains a few things that we believe (in our humble opinion) make TEAM a special place to serve. Our mobilization team recently shared this with our U.S. staff. There are plenty of great missions agencies out there. We believe we’re all on the same side, working toward the same goals and serving the same God. For more than a century, TEAM has been placing passionate people on the…Read More
Technology, accessible travel and global banking have made it easier than ever to pack up and move overseas. So it may seem like an easy choice to go abroad as an independent missionary without being attached to a missions agency. But while the freedom and flexibility of going it alone can be a benefit for some missionaries, the majority of missionaries find that the positives of journeying with an agency far outweigh any drawbacks. Whether you’re deciding between missions agencies, considering your church as your “agency,” or contemplating going out on your own, ask yourself these questions as you weigh…Read More
We recently released this short video by TEAM videographer Cary Brown, a profile of a couple in Peru who live in an impoverished neighborhood and commute to a much nicer part of their city to worship in a relatively wealthy church.
Cary’s excellent work (and this accompanying story) is a glimpse of a fairly rare phenomenon. In many — if not most — parts of the developing world, it’s highly uncommon for people to cross socio-economic divides to attend church. Poorer people tend to worship in “poor” churches, and wealthy people tend to worship in “rich” churches.
You could probably point to evidence that this is also the situation with the church in many North American communities. But the division is even more pronounced in the developing world.
From Mexico City to Mumbai, this is a significant challenge for missions. In many countries with a growing church, statistics for a nation as a whole might lead one to believe that the population of Christ-followers is large enough for missiologists to qualify the nation as “reached.” But segment those numbers by household income or neighborhood income, and entire “unreached” populations will emerge. The gaping income disparity between rich and poor in many of those countries is reflected in the church by equally severe stratification. The gospel may take root and flourish among slum-dwellers — or, less often, among the wealthy — but it rarely jumps to other rungs on the income ladder.
The desire and ability to minister across racial and socio-economic lines is an important sign of a church’s missional health. Missionaries like TEAM’s Craig Querfeld are working hard to get otherwise healthy churches to take the next step and develop a passion for reaching out beyond their own “kind.” This is crucial for successful church reproduction in the long-term.
Often it is easier to travel around the world to minister to people who are socio-economically like us than to befriend the “others” living next door. This goes for churches and believers in the developing world just as much as for those anywhere else.
Everyone loves a good story. Except, sometimes, when it’s about them. Like most missions agencies, TEAM has a dedicated group of professionals who work to tell the stories of what God is doing around the world. Our storytelling team (in my opinion) has one of the best jobs around, getting to know our amazing workers on the field and inviting people half a world away to experience their work through words, images and videos. Our goal is to tell the most accurate, compelling and authentic stories we can. But that goal sometimes conflicts with the desires of our story subjects,…Read More
We asked Doug Witzig, one of TEAM’s business-as-mission experts, to share his thoughts on current trends and challenges in the BAM movement. This column appears in the spring 2014 issue of Horizons magazine. By Doug Witzig “To do business in this country, you have to be like a wolf! But you are a missionary, a pastor, so you act like a sheep!” My friend and business partner was right to warn me before we launched a factory project using business-as-mission (BAM) strategies. I was a shepherd by training, concerned about the souls of the people I meet and wanting their…Read More