Thursday, November 22, 2007


- Revisiting The Guarani Indians -

I saw The Mission nearly 20 years ago at a special screening for Pastors with my wife, Michelle. She says, to this day, that the movie made her think about serving in the mission field.

We saw it again a few days ago at a stay-in cross cultural certificate course at Trinity Theological College. Kimhong Hazra the lecturer in charge of missions, was in charge of the programme. She invited us to help with a couple of sessions. The Mission was a great way to get into issues related to missions. We then added some background information to the film and highlighted themes which surfaced in the movie through a vibrant Q & A session. The students, being highly motivated adults, were serious about missions. They asked intelligent questions and made interesting comments. I thoroughly enjoyed responding to their queries and the ensuing dialogue.

The Mission is a goldmine for anyone wishing to wrestle with issues related to, inculturation, history of missions, church & state, the limits of obedience to ecclesiastical authority, the use of violence etc. The story line, inspired by historical events, is about an imperial/ecclesiastical power play which caused the Guarani Indians to lose ownership of their settlements and churches to the imperial powers. The Jesuits, the original missioners to Guarani, were also asked to leave. Some of them, according to the movie, took up arms against the Spanish army.

The movie, although beautifully made, has its biases. It leans to the left politically. The romantic portrayal of the Guarani does nothing to dispel the myth of the noble savage.

When I first saw The Mission 20 years ago, the Guarani tribe were bit of mystery. It has been my priviledge to meet and know the Guarani in rural areas surrounding Santa Cruz, Bolivia. They are fun loving and a hospitable people. Many of them have migrated to the towns to look for jobs and a better future. The auxillary bishop of Paraguay speaks fluent Guarani. This year we were part of a team that went to provide food, medicine and blankets to flood stricken Guarani based communities. There is a strong vibrant christian testimony amongst the Guarani, especially in Paraguay.

Praise The Lord!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Gloria al Cordero de Dios (Glory to the Lamb of God)

My wife Michelle is an artist with a flair for colour and design. Below is a banner she painted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Sender I’d Say

I’ve heard missionaries say, including myself, on more than one occasion, “We’ve received far more from our work experience in the field than what we’ve given”. The Lord uses the ones we serve to bless us in more ways than one.

Bolivia has changed my wife and I profoundly, for the better I hope. At the cost of sounding overly romantic about Bolivians and their situation, I’d say that their courage and drive to not only survive but to try and get ahead in seemingly impossible situations has touched us deeply, on several levels. We're not only more respectful of other cultures & religions but also more passionate about evangelism.

This might sound radical but maybe the point of missions is to change the missioner and the church which sent him or her.

Peter's Experience

Peter in Acts 10 was sent by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile God fearer. The Holy Spirit has already prepared Cornelius and his family to receive Christ. And while Peter is explaining the gospel, the Holy Spirit gets on with job of filling Cornelius. Peter is stunned; it’s a huge learning experience for Peter. Gentiles were going to be a part of God’s people, like it or not. God sent Peter to Cornelius’s home to broaden his understanding of the chosen people to include the Gentiles. Peter then uses his learning experience to instruct the Jerusalem church to not only edify the church but to also open its doors to the Gentiles in Acts 11 & 15.

Missionary Experiences As A Resource

Here’s another example. The Church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to help and ratify the goings on in the first recorded Gentile church at Antioch in Acts 11. And of course it’s the Jerusalem church that gets blessed from the younger church. The Church at Antioch raise an offering for the folk in Judea during a drought.

Missionary experiences in the field are an important teaching resource for sending churches. Are we using them?

Sunday, November 04, 2007


A $1000 million dollars?

A local Bolivian newspaper, El Deber 4 November 2007, has some interesting statistics on emigration.

2.5 million Bolivians have left the country and reside overseas. Last year they sent $1,000 million dollars to loved ones, business interests and friends IN Bolivia. That's an amazing statistic!! $1000 million dollars sounds bloated. I'm not an expert on these matters so I'm letting the figure stand until the paper makes a correction.

An article, NY Times 19 October 2006, claimed that Latin American immigrants in the US sent 45 billion dollars back home.

These statistics sorta explain why politicians are'nt exactly discouraging their people from leaving and finding jobs elsewhere.