Crash course in Evangelism


Manuel Brambila is an assistant to the well-known American evangelist Ray Comfort.

Manuel presents a one-day free crash course on evangelism based on Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s programme, The Way of the Master. He spoke to EN about himself and the course.

EN: Tell us about how you became a Christian and…

MB: In a nutshell — I was born and raised Catholic in Mexico City. When I finished university, I moved to Montreal, Canada, just for adventure’s sake. One night, walking through downtown Montreal after work, I saw a tall man with a crowd around him. He was an open-air preacher and was using a sketch board to explain the gospel to those around him, hoping that someone would listen. I did.

Conviction of sin

I suddenly understood the severity of my sin and my rebellion, for more than 20 years, against the God who had given me life and had kept me up until that moment.

The street preacher, whose name is Tony, was drawing the sinking Titanic and said something like: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are a good swimmer, what matters is whether you have a life saver or you don’t’.

I understood the amazing opportunity God was giving to all humanity to be saved. I saw the Father’s amazing love displayed in Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross — for my sins.

But I don’t think I was born again in that very moment, because I went home as if nothing had happened. However, the following night, walking through the Park LaFontaine, everything that I had heard was so heavy on my heart that I couldn’t stand it any more. I literally fell on my knees and cried to God. I repented from my heart and asked God for another chance. I totally surrendered and I appreciated so much the fact that Jesus had taken the punishment for me. I was born again. I believe it was on the August 10 2002.

The next evening, I was standing in that street corner with Tony, trying to tell people what had happened to me: I had found forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.

I joined Tony’s church, got baptised and regularly went with him to share the gospel in the streets and door-to-door during the winter months. I’m still in touch with Tony. I’m very grateful for his faithfulness in sharing the gospel with strangers. And this is also one of the reasons why evangelism is so dear to me.

EN: Where you are living now?

MB: I got married in Canada and shortly afterwards moved to France. We’ve been permanently living in the south of France since 2007. When we first moved, we thought it was because of a job opportunity, but in reality it was for ministry, for the gospel.

Starting
EN: What is the course that you run, and how did it start?

MB: The Crash Course on Evangelism is a free, one-day training course based on what I see as the cream of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s award-winning TV programme, The Way of the Master.

The course is fast moving and exciting. I use clips and interviews from The Way of the Master, making it interactive and fun.

I started promoting this course in April 2011 to churches in France and Europe. The Lord has graciously opened doors and I’ve been able to teach in several cities in France, Germany, the UK, Holland and Italy. This year I also have invitations to teach in Portugal, Hungary, Spain and Croatia. This is very humbling and exciting.

EN: Give us an idea of the course’s content and how British churches could benefit?

MB: It is divided into four sessions of about 45 minutes each, ending with role-playing and an actual outreach in the area.

Lost key

The first session will wake everybody up to evangelism, because it touches our emotions, showing our moral responsibility in reaching the lost. The second and third sessions talk about the ‘lost key in evangelism’. Spurgeon called it ‘our greatest auxiliary’, because it talks to our conscience and not our intellect. Using this key, we won’t just debate with people but rather appeal to their God-given conscience. The last session is very practical and we apply the principles learned in the other sessions.

British churches could benefit from it because Christians in Britain, as well as in any country, are called to seek and save those who are lost. The problem is that many Christians don’t feel equipped to share the gospel or are fearful. This course will equip with the necessary tools to conquer those fears and actively share the gospel.

EN: How does it differ from other courses in evangelism?

MB: Well, first of all, the course is 100% biblical. Second, I teach it free of charge. I just ask for help to cover the cost of getting from my place to your location, but the teaching and materials are free. Then, it goes straight to the point. In only four hours (the complete course), participants will be more than ready to share the gospel with friends and strangers. Participants will learn to share their faith in a biblical and effective way — just as Jesus did.

There is audio/visual support via interviews and clips from The Way of the Master programme. I also give away gospel tracts and other things free of charge, so that participants will be ready to reach out from day one.

EN: Who are the people who have commended the course?

MB: This teaching has been commended by John MacArthur, Charles Stanley, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Franklin Graham, Joni Eareckson Tada, and many other church leaders. Some testimonials from pastors and participants in Europe are available at http://www.Dikayo.com

The Great Commission
EN: What is your message to sleepy or complacent Christians?

MB: My message to them would be simply to remind them of the Lord’s message to them: ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.

That is our great commission. It wasn’t given only to the first 11 disciples or to our pastors. It is a commandment given to all of us and we must be obedient.

Wake up! You hold in your hands something far more valuable than the cure for cancer! You have the everlasting gospel, God has trusted us with it! We must go and share it! People die without it. This course will equip you to be a bold and faithful witness for the Lord.

For more information, contact Manuel Brambila: tel. +33 67 87 65263, mbrambila@me.com, Twitter: @mbrambila or http://www.Dikayo.com

Inspiration for final-year students


FINAL 
By Krish Kandiah
IVP. 160 pages. £6.99
ISBN 978 1 844 744 459

Are you devouring your final year dissertation but have no idea what to do after university? Have you graduated but still can’t find work? Did you leave all your best friends behind at the Christian Union? Do you want to know how God fits in it all?

Then Krish Kandiah’s book, Final, might well be for you. Krish is an increasingly popular conference speaker, CU missioner and culture-vulture blogger who has made the pithy soundbite something of a signature dish. Coming hot on the heels of Fresh, his book for first years, comes Final: bite-sized inspiration for final-year students.

As with FreshFinal is divided into five weeks of teaching, covering the themes of ‘Facing your future’, ‘Identifying your calling’, ‘Navigating your route’, ‘Anticipating the hurdles’ and ‘Leaving uni behind’ (rather tenuously forming the acrostic F-I-N-A-L, reminiscent of my own final year exam mnemonics!).

In terms of content, the themes are well chosen and well covered, each consisting of seven days of biblical reflection considering the various challenges and opportunities of approaching post-uni life. Wisdom is distilled down, without being too dumbed down, and is drawn from both key NT passages and OT characters. Each chapter ends with stimulating questions to work through, along with testimonies of people who’ve ‘been there, done that’. Addressing issues such as debt, CVs, gap years, job interviews, careers advice, and serving God through it all, Final would be great quiet-time material or for discussion in a prayer triplet or small group.

The combination of Krish’s wide range of graduate experiences and his clear biblical convictions makes him a reliable guide to steer students through the often choppy waters of transitioning into graduate life. Certainly one for the wish list of any finalist you may know.

Dave Gobbett, 
associate pastor, Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge

Faith and abortion?


The issue of abortion is seldom far from the headlines in the secular media.

Last year saw the (unsuccessful) amendment vote instigated by Nadine Dorries MP to ensure that women considering an abortion are offered counselling that is independent from abortion providers. Christians are regularly told that opinions and views formed by faith should not influence public policy in the area of abortion.

But what if we can show that everyone has faith — from the parent requesting an abortion, to the doctor performing the abortion, to the policy-maker deciding on matters of legality?1 It seems to me that there are three levels of beliefs which impact the faith position that abortion is acceptable. My aim is to show that everyone brings their own faith to this difficult issue — and therefore that Christians have as much right as anyone else to air their views.

I am aware that this is a most sensitive issue. There may be readers of this article who have themselves been party to an abortion. Abortion is not the unforgivable sin. I am also aware that Christians will hold different views as to certain circumstances in which an abortion could be appropriate. Therefore I want to generalise the discussion: to the underlying societal beliefs which render abortion acceptable, and to the vast majority of abortions which are not initiated because of significant physical health risks to baby or mother.

This is an important discussion for us to have. Abortion has been confined to the prison of ‘private morality’ for too long; and as we saw in a previous issue2 there is no such thing as ‘private morality’ — just as there is no such thing as a ‘neutral public sphere’.

Superficial level: life’s beginning?

Viability: much discussion concerns the appropriate period from conception within which an abortion should be permitted. The current legal limit of 24 weeks is loosely based on an estimate of the point at which the foetus is ‘viable’ — able to exist independently of its mother. This definition of viability is entirely arbitrary. Is a one-year- old baby any more likely to survive without its mother than a 20-week-old foetus?

Personhood: another argument used in favour of abortion is that a foetus is only a ‘potential’ human being. A ‘person’ is defined according to what they are able to do, rather than what they are. But again, by this definition a one-year-old isn’t really a ‘person’ either.

Scientific and biblical evidence: the Bible is clear that life begins at conception.3 What is less well known is that the scientific evidence suggests the same. At conception, a new individual comes into existence with his own genetic code. After 21 days, his heart is beating. After 40 days his brainwaves can be recorded.4

The benefit of the doubt: even if there were any doubt about the beginning of life, the baby should be given the benefit of that doubt. Theologian John Frame uses the analogy of going on a hunting trip with a friend: ‘Imagine we separated at some place in the woods, then I saw a rustling in the bushes, and I raised my gun, thinking that my deer was in the vicinity. But the thought came to me, “What if the movement is not a deer, but my friend?” … On (the pro-choice principle) I would be free to shoot first and ask questions later.’5 The point is clear: if there was any doubt at all, you wouldn’t shoot.

Many encourage shooting anyway. Why? Because of the middle level of faith.

Middle level: women’s rights

I preached on abortion at church not so long ago. I sought to find a balance between truth-telling and pastoral sensitivity. But the church family were glad to hear a coherent case against abortion. In the sermon I referred to the comment by Antonia Senior in The Times: ‘You cannot separate women’s rights from their right to fertility control’.6 I suggested that effectively what is being said is that a woman’s right to an uncontrolled sex life is more important than a baby’s right to life. Harsh perhaps; but is it not fair? And surely no one can deny that this is a faith position?

But what about the man’s role? Space does not permit us to enter into a discussion of the faith commitments which mess up male-female relationships in our society. Suffice to say that for every woman seeking an abortion, there is a man who, at some point down the line, has not taken his responsibility seriously. We men must share the blame for the current tidal wave of abortion.

Deep level — freedom from God

In his excellent The Rage against God, Peter Hitchens makes the following suggestion regarding the motivation of some people in requesting an abortion: ‘I have often thought that the strange popularity of abortion among people who ought to know better has much to do with (the) sensation of lost control, of being pulled downwards into a world of servitude, into becoming our own parents. It is not the doomed baby that the unwilling parents hate… It is the life they might have to live if the baby is born’.7

This is clearly an argument which applies to a particular generation — Hitchens’s own generation — a generation which he blames for many of the nation’s current troubles.

Sadly, generations are now growing up, my own included, which don’t even think twice about an abortion. But the point is clear: our (sinful) imaginations decide what lifestyle we want to live and then, when obstacles arise (such as an unwanted pregnancy or a wife with whom we no longer feel ‘in love’), our intellect gets to work rationalising and justifying whatever we will need to do in order to remove those obstacles.

What greater example can there be of blind faith? For, outside of Christ, men and women are being driven by a false idea of what brings happiness and freedom. As God says through Jeremiah, with regard to apostate Israel: ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’.8We seek freedom and happiness. But we look in the wrong place. And what we thought would bring freedom and happiness brings bondage and despair — at a personal level, and at a national level.

Where do we go from here?

In thinking about a way forward, I am drawn to the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.9 Christ refuses to condemn the woman — though he does call on her to repent. Contrast this with Jesus’s attitude to those who have wilfully rejected his teaching.10

Most of us do not have the opportunity to engage with beliefs at a societal level. But each of us rubs shoulders daily with people who have imbibed such beliefs: with women who have had abortions and with men who have been party to them through pressure or neglect. We need to show compassion to those who have sinned and are suffering the consequences. As we love them and care for them, we may find that their conscience has been softened by their experience.

As we analyse our local community to assess its underlying belief system, we will find a complex web of attitudes towards abortion. The challenge is to confront those who are hardened to the teaching of Scripture and science on this issue, while also continuing to provide compassionate care to those affected, through post-abortion counselling or other ministries.

Finally, there will be some readers who do have the opportunity to confront beliefs at the societal level. How encouraging it was to hear of the stand taken by Nadine Dorries MP and others like her in Parliament last year. As churches we must encourage and pray for those in positions of authority like hers, who have a real opportunity to influence faith and policy at a national level. And, as individuals, we can all write to the press and our government leaders. For everyone has faith — and who can say how destructive the accepted national belief system on this issue has been for humanity, and for the cause of the gospel, over the past 50 years?

Steve Wilcox is a vicar who ministers in West Hull.

Footnotes

1. For explanation of the use of ‘faith’ in this way, see my article in the November 2010 issue of Evangelicals Now, page 19.
2. January 2011 issue of Evangelicals Now; page 19.
3. This is perhaps clearest in Psalm 51.5. But see also Psalm 139.13, Luke 1.41, Job 31.15-18, Psalm 22.9.
4. Randy Alcorn, Pro-life answers to pro-choice arguments (Multnomah, 2000), pp.65-66.
5. John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R, 2008), p.725.
6. Antonia Senior, ‘Yes, abortion is killing. But it’s the lesser evil’ (The Times, June 30 2010).
7. Peter Hitchens, The Rage against God (Continuum 2010), p.16.
8. Jeremiah 2.13.
9. John 8.1-11. I am aware that this story may not have been included in John’s original manuscript. However, it appears to me that even if it was not, the principles contained within it are clearly attested to by other parts of Scripture.
10. E.g. see Matthew 21.28-32,33-46; 23.1-39.

Going behind the scenes to see God working – for kids!


TWELVE HIDDEN HEROES 
(Book two: Old Testament & New Testament)
More Bible people who lived behind the scenes
By Rebecca Parkinson
Day One. 102/103 pages. £5.00
ISBN 978 1 846 252 730 (OT)
ISBN 978 1 846 252 747 (NT)

These well-produced paperback books are part of a series, books one OT and NT having already been published. There are stories of between three and six pages about Bible characters who are rarely mentioned, but whose actions were used by God to make a massive difference.

Although written primarily for children, I suspect that there are many adults who either may never have read of these hidden heroes or would be glad to be reminded of them in such an engaging way.

Rebecca Parkinson brings to life such characters as Eliezer, Hur, Barzillai, Jehosheba and Baruch from the OT and Jairus, Philip, Silas and Paul’s nephew from the NT by telling their stories as if from their own experience. This unusual approach obviously calls for imagination, yet she is careful to keep this within the bounds of the biblically recorded facts. Each beautifully constructed story ends with a paragraph or two of comment on how God used the person in his sovereign purpose.

Unlike us, God uses seemingly unnoticed people, and those who work behind the scenes. Also there follow a few thoughtful questions, which could form the basis of further discussion with a child. I warmly recommend these books for use with children of all ages.

Christine Gobbett, 
wife of a retired (but now itinerant!) Grace Baptist pastor, living in Kent

Deacon Manu: Christian in the scrum.


Deacon Manu is a New Zealand-born, Fijian rugby player who captained Fiji during the last World Cup. He is married with three children and plays prop for the Welsh club team Llanelli Scarlets.

He spoke to EN about his life as a professional sportsman and his Christian faith.

EN: Can you tell us about your home and how you got involved in rugby union?

DM: I was born in New Plymouth to a Maori father and a Fijian mother. From the age of five through to 17, I attended Catholic schools and went to Catholic church on Sundays. I felt as if religiously I was ticking all the boxes.

I was first of all interested in golf, but at the age of 16 really got into rugby. Following school I went to the University of Waikato, achieving a BSc and a postgraduate diploma in marine sustainability. I had been involved in rugby at school, but during my college years I played for New Zealand universities and also the New Zealand under-21 team.

EN: How did you become a Christian?

DM: While at university I felt as if I stumbled and lost my way. I got carried away with the lifestyle and was not living the kind of life I should.

After graduating, I immediately signed to be a professional player with Waikato Chiefs and in 1999 made my debut against a Japanese XV. I had a successful career with the Chiefs between 2001-2006. In 2005 I played for the New Zealand Maori in the memorable game when we defeated the touring British and Irish Lions at Hamilton. Soon after this I agreed to a move to Wales and the Magners League playing for the Scarlets.

But, despite on-field success, I found myself searching for real fulfilment in life. I had many questions about my Catholic faith. The more I read, the more questions I had. As I investigated further I realised that a relationship with God required both an emotional response combined with a rational approach. The more I read the Bible, the more I felt that my Catholic upbringing wasn’t the right path. So I prayed for God to show me the way.

With only six months to go on my contract with Llanelli Scarlets, I was ready to move house. It was through my neighbours that I actually came to the Lord. They are a Christian couple in their 70s and their lives of thankfulness and care really impressed my wife and I. They did not force their ideas on us, but just answered our questions and emphasised to me that fulfilment and that special relationship with God I had been longing for could only be found through Jesus Christ and personal faith in him. I realised I needed to place my trust in Jesus and give my life over to him. I didn’t move house and I’m still playing for the Scarlets.

EN: Being a Christian in a rugby environment must present some challenges?

DM: There can be a lot of resistance to what I believe, but when I think of how many Christians are persecuted throughout the world I realise it is insignificant compared to what many suffer. Some are torched to death for their faith.

Often I have written Bible verses on my wrist bands before I play a match. I expect to be challenged. One of my favourite verses is Ephesians 6.10: ‘Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’.

EN: What do other players think of you being a Christian?

DM: A lot of people have opened up and talked about going to Sunday school as a kid. I feel that if they are thinking about it, then that can be a beginning of their spiritual journey. I have noticed a degree of respect. If they are doing something that they don’t think is morally right they won’t talk about that around me.

But the Fijian national team is completely different. It was a great honour and privilege for me to captain Fiji, but also there is a deeply spiritual side to the team. When we are together, most evenings we will have a church service. That is so refreshing.

EN: Rugby is a very physical sport. What is it like during a game?

DM: Contact sports may seem to go against what Christianity stands for. When asked about doing big tackles, the All Black legend Michael Jones put it best: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’!

But I will use any means to get the Lord’s message of salvation out. Although I would like to become a doctor I was given a talent to play rugby and I need to use that to the best of my ability because that was a gift from God. Professional sport means that you are in the limelight and making sure that you remain humble can be hard for young players these days. Pride can become infectious. But realising that everyone will be treated as equals in God’s eyes is important to remember.

EN: What would your answer be to people who say that Christianity is for old ladies and wimps?

DM: I would tell them to go down and spend a day with people on the front line working for Christian organisations locally and around the world, people working in poverty-stricken, disease-ridden territories. Such absolutely humbling places are certainly not suitable for old women and wimps. Failing that, they can come down to my training session and I’ll tackle them!

EN: What do you have in store for the future and how can readers pray for you?

DM: Do pray for me and my family. Professional sport is a fickle environment and changes rapidly. I ask for people like me in professional sport to make a difference for Christ. Pray that I may make an impact in people’s lives as I tell the good news of Christ and that God loves us and wants to bring everyone of us closer to him.

Deacon is willing to speak at evangelistic events and can be contacted through Facebook (deacon manu).


The Music Exchange from Richard Simpkin: Case of choral conscience


You’ve been a member of a choral society for some years. You’re asked to sing about lecherous abbots and fornication. What do you do?

Making your decision isn’t helped by the fact that the words are mostly in Latin, so no one (probably including you) knows what they mean. Furthermore, the piece is Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, one of the most popular works for audiences, and therefore a staple in any choral society’s repertoire. Making a fuss about it is going to make you look like a right prude.

Voicing the vices

In February I looked at possible responses of paid Christian musicians being asked to accompany heresy. But how about if you’re a voluntary member of a choral society, who is singing simply for pleasure.

Carmina Burana is an obvious example — it’s a secular piece, which explores some of the pleasures and perils of lust, drinking and other vices. It’s a guaranteed sell-out (pun unintended but effective).

Christians, as you may have guessed, have differing views. Some simply enjoy singing the piece to celebrate God’s common grace of music without worrying about the words: ‘Why can’t we enjoy art simply for what it is — a work of art?’ Others would have a more tender conscience when it comes to singing lyrics publicly, and decline to be involved.

Carmina Burana may be an easy target, but if we inspected every work (even ‘sacred’) that has lyrics not taken purely from Scripture, we’d find things with which we might be uncomfortable. The Dream of Gerontius is a case in point, with all its invocations to Mary. Requiems include prayers for the dead. There will always be a degree of compromise, especially in ‘secular’ performances. It’s one of the hazards of being involved with a choral society!

Let conscience be your guide

Without encouraging anyone to sing things they deem inappropriate, individual consciences must decide whether they feel they are simply performing a work of art, or whether they are actively communicating truths they believe. However, at the same time, I’d like to challenge all Christians who sing in voluntary choirs to consider carefully the words they are singing. I was totally unaware for years that I’d been praying for the dead in the various requiems that I’d performed, and I’m grateful to a Christian brother for waking me up. Happily, however, now that the pendulum has settled itself, I find myself enjoying the music of most of Mozart’s Requiem, while heartily harrumphing through the bits I think are dodgy.

Helpful response

The kind person who replied to the last article pushed me further as he wondered whether he should feel guilty enjoying Mozart’s Requiem at all. He wondered whether it should only be playing on his music system when he did his admin, and not during sermon prep. He also asked whether he would distinguish between allowing a choral society to perform it in church for a concert (it’s not a service), and using it for an evangelistic event. He made the helpful point that, at least in an evangelistic film night, ‘the film’s questionable message can be a launching point to say that the Bible has different answers to the same questions…’ Lots of things to think about!

If we feel that it is worth making a stand, then it would also be worth thinking carefully when and how this is communicated to those in charge and to other singers. I once directed a children’s choir, which I withdrew from a performance of Carmina Burana. Unfortunately, I didn’t commend the gospel very effectively as I was shirty with the overall music director in the process. And then, to placate him, I ended up singing in the concert myself, which was hypocritical in every way. The lesson I learnt is that it’s a much better idea to speak to the director about concerns at the earliest possible point, gently and clearly, using the God-given opportunity to speak about and model grace.

To conclude, I think we end up in Romans 14, where some have stronger consciences, some weaker, so that each decision has to be made case by case, preferably with the advice of those who oversee our spiritual growth, while modelling gospel godliness and grace.

Richard Simpkin is Director of Music at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate, London.

‘Where are you from?’ – not an easy question to answer as a third culture kid!


I was born in Hong Kong to culturally Mexican and American parents. By the time I was 11, I had lived in four different countries and seven different cities. I have dual British and American citizenship. Even though I have lived in England for 12 years, the British think I’m American. And when I’m in America, they think I might be Canadian or maybe even Scottish. These experiences are not unusual to other people like me. I am a Third Culture Kid and this is my life.

Frequent moves

It is not commonly known that there is a group of internationally minded individuals in our midst referred to as ‘Third Culture Kids’ or ‘TCKs.’ The book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds describes the TCK as ‘a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture’ (Pollock, D. & Van Reken, R., 2010). This often means that a TCK and his/her family have moved several times, as in the case of military or diplomatic families, or perhaps have lived in one foreign country for a long period of time, which is the case with many missionary families. In either situation, TCK families tend to develop a complex identity, having been influenced by a variety of cultures.

Internationals and TCKs

Having done some work with international students through my church, I was curious to make a comparison between international student and Third Culture Kid experiences upon arriving in the UK to study. I found that, in general, since international students have grown up in one place their whole lives and have only come to England for a short period of time to study, their experience of ‘homesickness’ tends to be greater than the TCKs’ experience. TCKs do not usually have an actual place that they miss; rather, they miss their family and friends who understood and shared in their mobile lifestyle. Also, TCKs may not experience ‘culture shock’ as quickly as international students do, since they are used to adapting to new environments. It is important to note that TCKs returning to their passport or ‘home’ country for university often face different challenges than TCKs who attend university in another ‘host country,’ that is, not their country of citizenship.

I needed help

I was torn between staying in the UK for university or going to the States. I am an American citizen and other members of my family live in the States, so my family expected me to choose a college in America. My closest friends were English and in their eyes I was still American, so they expected me to go to America as well. It seemed the thing to do, so I signed up and left to begin my first semester at university in the state of Illinois. I thought going there would be easy since I had lived in Illinois before when I was younger. However, I quickly realised that there was so much I didn’t know about American culture, such as the way you address others, or the sense of humour, and other small things that added up. At first glance, I seemed American and so I wasn’t given the support that the international students received as they adjusted to American culture and learnt their way around. But I needed help and the only comfort I had was in talking with the Lord, hearing from friends back in England and seeking out friendships with other TCKs at the university. In the end, I left that university before I finished my degree and returned to a place where it didn’t seem I belonged, but where I understood the culture much better: England.

Be aware

Therefore, in terms of reaching out to new students in your area, be aware that TCKs with British passports may be considered as home students by universities. British TCKS are not necessarily up-to-date with British cultural norms. They may initially adjust quickly and settle in, but over time they may get frustrated about all the little things they did not know about British culture. They then need to be given the same welcome, and shown the same understanding and love, as the international students.

Sharing the gospel with TCKs is not unlike witnessing to other groups. As Paul demonstrates in Acts 17, Christians must be culturally relevant and opportunities to share the gospel will often arise when one is willing to meet a person in their situation or mindset. With international students, one finds opportunities to build relationships simply by the fact that the students need to practise their English with a native speaker. TCKs usually have no difficulty speaking English, but they do not often find a sympathetic ear when it comes to their backgrounds. Being from multiple places does not suit an introduction of, ‘Hi, what’s your name? Where are you from?’

Therefore, the best way for Christians to reach out to TCKs is by being genuinely interested in their lives, willing to listen and also being prepared to have intelligent conversations with them about the countries in which they lived.

Where do I belong?

One of the most problematic aspects of being a TCK is knowing where one belongs. Moving around so often makes it difficult to feel truly ‘at home’ anywhere in the world and a group of TCK students told me they feel they belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is an extremely vulnerable position to be in and, as such, requires a response of sincere care for the person’s situation. Yet, despite the discomfort of this feeling, it gives Christian TCKs a very real understanding of what it means to be citizens of heaven: ‘And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 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).

If you meet Christian TCKs, encourage them. Remember that a TCK will not necessarily be familiar with the church culture in Britain. Do not let them feel ostracised by not understanding church practices. Explain things and help them to understand. Accept them and love them, for it is right that they should feel they belong through fellowship with other believers, for ‘now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12.27).

After living in England for 12 years, I still don’t feel like I fit in. And I know that no matter where I go on earth, it will be the same. I will always be plagued with the question, ‘Where are you from?’ and I’m not sure I will ever have an adequate answer. Yet, I can only rejoice, for the Lord is with me wherever I go and he has shown me the way home.

Missy Benton works with Friends International in the city of Bath and is a member of Widcombe Baptist Church.


An investment for preachers and preaching groups!


PREACHING THAT GETS THROUGH 
By Stuart Olyott
Banner of Truth. 38 pages. £2.00
ISBN 978 1 848 711 419

This is a little gem of a booklet and one that should be put in the hands of every preacher in every preaching group!

At the heart of the author’s 2010 Martyn Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture — upon which this booklet is based — is a passionate plea to preachers to work hard to ‘land’ the Bible’s message in the minds, hearts and lives of those who hear their preaching. Within the limitations of a booklet, Stuart Olyott headlines the four key elements necessary for this to happen: ethos, pathos, logos and dunamis!

By ethos, he means the integrity and authenticity of the preacher; by pathos, an emotional engagement and love for the congregation; by logos the logical wisdom and truth of God revealed in the gospel and applied to everyday life; and by dunamis which ‘saturates all three others’, an expectation and dependence on the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in preacher and hearer alike.

Leaders — buy a batch and pass them on to all you are seeking to help develop as preachers. It will be one of the best investments that you make in 2012!

Trevor Archer, 
Director of Training, FIEC

Hit by friendly fire: What to do when fellow believers hurt you


I once sold insurance door-to-door in low-income areas of Louisiana.

One of my clients was a poor family who lived in a run-down part of town. Every month I would meet them in their home to collect their insurance money. Afterwards, we would sit and talk. One day I noticed that the clock was wrong. It said nine o’clock when, in fact, it was noon. Finally, I mentioned it to the husband and wife. Tears came to their eyes. ‘That was the moment our boy died ten years ago’, the husband whispered as he held his sobbing wife. I looked away at the clock once again, and understood. The clock had stopped in their lives at the moment they lost their boy.

Stopping the clock

The pain of friendly fire can stop the clock. When wounded by a friend in our own house, it is hard to go on. There is no pain like it. This happens to Christians who are hurt by other Christians and who fail to identify their pain with Christ. The clock stops. They go through life, month after month, year after year, and often church after church, but in many cases the clock stopped in their lives years ago, when they were hurt. They were disillusioned. They were heartbroken. They would never be the same again.

How many reading these words are living their lives with the ‘clock stopped’?

Victimhood

Today victimhood seems to be an accepted way of living. As a gospel minister, I see walking-wounded victims of abuse, of scandal, of failed marriages and of unhappy childhoods. I can also feel a sense of being wounded, a tendency towards victimhood, in my own being. It is part of the fallen condition of our humanity.

However, living as a victim is not living at all, because life cannot go forward when the clock has stopped at the point of our last betrayal. God did not intend that you should live as a victim. That is not the gospel way. Victimhood in the body of Christ may be normal (for who goes through life without some chinks in their armour?), but taking on the identity of a victim and living like that for years is not the gospel way. Now, I do not propose a moralistic answer that just says, ‘Shape up; stiff upper lip. Chop, chop. Get up and get on with it’. Neither is that sort of unbiblical Stoicism, which denies the human pain that we all may feel, a pathway to healing, but, rather, it is a formula for a more complicated disease of the soul.

The way of the gospel

There is another way: the gospel way, the way of the cross, which will lead to deep healing for this abysmal lesion in the body of Christ, the church. But I warn you, it will involve another kind of pain — the pain of Christ’s cross. However, Christ’s cross will bring resurrection, and the new life he brings will also make the clock start ticking again.

In the gospel story, revealed over time from Joseph through Paul and down to your life and mine, the person or situation that seeks to destroy us becomes a channel through which the hands of a sovereign and loving God can reach to save us. This is the gospel. This is the preaching of the cross, where the ‘emblem of suffering and shame’ became the sacred sign of victory and new life. Embracing this pattern of living, admittedly contra mundum — against the wisdom of this world — leads from victimhood to victory. But it is not an easy road. It is, however, the only road to healing.

Joseph, Moses and Paul

Turning to the Old Testament, this is what we perceive in Joseph’s capacity to forgive his brothers after they literally ‘ditched’ him (and Joseph’s boastful preaching about his dream of superiority over his brothers is understood to be connected to this retribution, however unjust). Wisely, Joseph identified his pain with God. In God’s purposes, the pain was intended to bring about a blessing. Being hurt by his brothers made sense. The pain of false accusation made sense. The trial of unjust imprisonment was good. The years of separation from his father were good for him. He was saying with Moses: ‘Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil’ (Psalm 90.15).

The power at work in the life of Joseph is what you need in order to get past this hurt. It is the power that was present in Paul when he said: ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2.20).

In Philippians, Paul embraces the pain that comes at him as other Christians seem glad that he is in prison and, in so doing, identifies with Jesus Christ. This allows Paul to move from being victim to victor.

From victim to victor

Isn’t that what you want for your life? Isn’t that what you desire for your church, which today, as you read this, may be fractured from the pain of infighting and rips and tears in the bridal gown of the church? There is hope here in God’s Word, and there is healing for the walking wounded.

What I shared with hurt people that I have met with in the past is the same message that I want to share with you today as though I were your pastor. For believers hurt by other believers, for loved ones hurt by other loved ones, for anyone feeling like a victim of another person, or maybe just feeling betrayed by life, you can move from being victim to victor and deal with the pain of betrayal or suffering by taking three severe steps.

We see these steps being taken by Paul, who is in prison as a result of the plotting of his own people (Philippians 3.10-11) and by Joseph, who was mistreated by his own brothers (Genesis 50.19-20).

We also see the goal before us who are the wounded: ‘That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead’ (Philippians 3.10-11).

Let us now begin our journey to explore these crucial steps that the Holy Spirit will show us…

A prayer

‘O my Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knew loneliness and betrayal and heartache on the cross, teach me to bring my questions to you. Help me now to sit at your feet and learn the way of peace. Help me to appropriate the gospel of your grace to my life. Help me.’

This is an edited chapter from the book Hit by friendly fire: What to do when fellow believers hurt you by Michael A. Milton, published by Evangelical Press (£4.99, ISBN 978 0 852 347 768), and is used with permission.


Unapologetic Christianity from Chris Sinkinson: Wardrobe apologetics


Read almost any book on the defence of the Christian faith and, somewhere, you are sure to find quotations from C.S. Lewis.

The impact of this Christian scholar on popular apologetics is profound. One reason why Lewis is so quotable is that he had such a broad range of literary abilities. He wrote text books, science fiction, fantasy, allegory, poetry, letters and, of course, apologetics. With remarkable turns of phrase and metaphor he makes complicated ideas seem simple, and controversial arguments persuasive.

Lewis the populariser

It is true that as a creative thinker he sometimes developed ideas that wandered into realms of speculation — though in most cases these seem to be suggestions along the way. Certainly, Lewis was no systematic theologian explaining the biblical basis for Christian doctrine. Rather, he was an academic who could popularise and defend important ideas. Many people came to enjoy the work of Lewis through The Chronicles of Narnia and they remain his best-selling work. He died in 1963 and, while some of his work will show signs of aging over time, there is something forever fresh about the stories of a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.

However, 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of his most popular apologetic book, Mere Christianity. In 1941 Lewis began broadcasting a series of talks for BBC Radio which would continue until 1944. Though already published in shorter forms, his radio talks were combined into a single volume and published in 1952 as Mere Christianity. The title was borrowed from the Puritan, Richard Baxter, who described himself as ‘a Christian, a meer Christian’ (sic). Far from being a term of abuse, it describes the essential or ‘pure’ doctrines of the faith upon which, Lewis felt, our Christian witness should be focused.

Compelling case

As a book, Mere Christianity develops a compelling case for the faith and follows a pattern which can be found throughout Lewis’s work. Firstly, he identifies a profound reason to believe in the supernatural. The existence of a moral law found the world over provides evidence for the existence of something outside of the natural world. Even though people may disagree on what counts as moral behaviour, there remains a universal conviction that there is such a thing as morality. Some of the first words young children use are to voice the complaint: ‘That’s not fair!’ Somehow we seem to be born with a sense of right and wrong. This moral law is a signpost to the existence of a moral lawgiver who created our universe.

Longings in life

This kind of argument forms a pattern in Lewis’s work. He identifies longings or beliefs that are already an important part of life and uses these as signposts to help us see a loving, holy, creator God to whom they point. The Chronicles of Narnia capture the sense that we have a longing for a world beyond this. Rather than dismissing such a longing as just wishful thinking, could it be an implication of God having placed eternity in our heart (Ecclesiastes 3.11)? When the children hear the name of Aslan they experience emotions which they can’t explain: ‘Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer’.

The success of Lewis’s apologetics is the combination of two powerful weapons. In one hand there was a razor sharp logic. But in the other there was a vivid imagination. The persuasive arguments of Mere Christianity and the enchanting stories of Narnia belong together as a great example of apologetics in action. Lewis could captivate heart and mind. It reminds us today that we must pay attention not only to what we are saying but how we say it.

Chris Sinkinson is pastor of Alderholt Chapel, in the New Forest, and lectures at Moorlands College.