Category Archives: CEO Blog

Intentional Connecting

“…Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition…” Philippians 1:27 (MSG)

We have all heard pundits, researchers, spiritual guides and thought leaders talk about how hard it is to make connections in globalized cultures. We are on the move, scheduled tight and unaware of our surroundings.

We have few friends besides friends related to our work. And because we change jobs more frequently, we loose those friends and have to make others. In short, we have few meaningful connections in the professional world today that go beyond specific situations. It is no different in the ministry context.

I have found that unless we take Paul’s challenge to the Philippians to stand united seriously we will be divided without even knowing it! It will simply happen out of neglect. I’m sure you have had experiences like that. Times when you thought you were in agreement with someone you hadn’t seen in ages and then get together only to realize that one of you has moved ideologically and are now in a new place. That wasn’t an intentional division between you, but without work, it simply happened.

I have realized that without intentional efforts to engage our chances of being united in Christ with those around are slim. So I have found a few things very helpful:

  • We found a church with a Sunday School class that is serious about community. This group is an amazing source of spiritual support, energy and friendship.
  • As I took on my CEO role at GMI, I found a group of Colorado Springs CEO’s that get together several times a year. This has been extremely helpful in understanding what other CEO’s are dealing with and connecting around common challenges.
  • I also got involved with the CLA’s Leader2Leader Mentoring program where several leaders of nonprofits get together to provide peer-to-peer mentoring to each other with a facilitator.

Each of these has been an intentional effort to engage with others and create connection, community and relationship. How are you intentionally engaging?

A Response is Demanded

Over GMI’s 30 years God has allowed us to serve as an objective third party voice helping ministries to steward knowledge as they seek to be obedient to Christ and increase their impact for Him. Usually that means presenting many sides to each issue and reveling in the various approaches that the Body of Christ brings to any area of need. Sometimes people have been frustrated that we would not take a strong position, but most of the time they are grateful that they can come to us knowing we haven’t already made up our minds or approved a certain method.

At the same time, there are core issues where a response is demanded. This was true when the concept of people groups was first introduced by Dr. Ralph Winter. This concept was so significant to the reframing of God’s mission that GMI didn’t simply treat it as one of many other methods. We gave it a special place as a catalyst to reorient the global mission movement.

The same happened with our focus on making materials available about ministry to Muslims. While a Muslim life is no more valuable in God’s eyes as the life of a Buddhist, there was a special movement of God going on to understand Islam and engage Muslims with Christ’s love. GMI responded by publishing The World of Islam (now out of print) CD, creating countless maps and then engaging very intentionally with the Fruitful Practice Research initiative focused on effectiveness in church planting in the Muslim world.

The same is true today of the Migrant Crisis. The hundreds of millions who are on the move for a variety of reasons represent a moment in history where those who used to be surrounded by sameness (many of them surrounded by darkness with no access to the Gospel) have been exposed to new ways of thinking as they move from their hometowns to the hubs of commerce and opportunity.

It is at this key moment that the Global Church has an opportunity to respond in love, compassion and friendship. This moment when the stranger is new to us and is seeking to belong is the moment where we can show that person who we are and what we believe in an authentic and compassionate way.

This global movement of people has been on the rise, but it is the refugee crisis in particular that has helped the world to see it for what it is. The refugee crisis does not represent all the reasons that people are on the move but it does represent a particularly glaring injustice that is hard to ignore.

The other reason that the movement of people globally is an issue that GMI feels needs addressed, is that it does something few other issues do. It is at once a global phenomenon with far reaching implications for the future of the Church and it is a hyper-local issue that is felt when you walk out of your front door . . . wherever that front door might be in the world. Few issues have the global and local impact so dramatically felt.

It is for these reasons that GMI has put a significant amount of stress on this issue. Now it is important to note that we don’t promote one strategy of engaging migrants or refugees over the other. We are focused on understanding, highlighting and researching all the different approaches. But we do feel that this issue needs more attention and a higher profile because of its significance.

So what have we been doing?
MigrantCrisis FINAL FRONT w foreword
We just released a book called “Serving God in a Migrant Crisis” by Patrick Johnstone with Dean Merrill.

We have released several Missiographics on the issue of migration and refugees. Visit our Missiographics library to view them.
epa_refugee_forum

 

 

We have provided Evangelical Press Association (Read an article on the forum we facilitated.), Billy Graham Center and Missio Nexus with online toolkits for events held on the issue of refugee response by the Church.

We are offering churches and mission agencies help in understanding diaspora, mapping people on the move and doing research on the impacts of these movements.

What are you doing to respond to the migrant crisis? Are you seeking opportunities to serve the world’s people on the move? Have you recognized the significance of this issue and placed appropriate priority there?

A Land of Hope

“…I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.” Acts 2:26 (quoting David in Psalm 16), The Message

In Peter’s famous address after the Holy Spirit’s arrival among the Disciples, he quotes a Psalm of David’s where David is looking forward to the Messiah. As I was listening to Acts 2 in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message, this line I have quoted above caught my attention. In the NIV it says “my body also will rest in hope.”

David made a choice as a leader. He decided to live in a place of hope. He did this because he had something great to hope for. David knew that he was part of a bigger movement of God in the world and that some day God’s Kingdom would conquer all. With this knowledge in hand, David planted himself a “land of hope.”

Do we take that posture. It is so easy for us to pitch our tent in despair or dread. We are walking through so much sorrow, pain and difficulty, that it is easy to camp there. But David camped where there was hope; even while he lived through very difficult things.

David’s affirmation became rich soil for Peter as he was faced with a challenging situation - following Jesus after He had departed. But Peter was able to grasp these words and pitch his tent in a place of hope as he led the early Church the many difficult times.

Is your faith strong enough and is your relationship with God real enough to allow you to pitch a tent in a land of hope today?

 

10 Reasons to Purchase the Missiographics 1.0 book

You have mostly been used to receiving Missiographics in your email or via social media. But there is something different about interacting with the ideas from the infographics in print form. GMI has assembled some of the best recent infographics into a full-color book along with analysis from seasoned mission researcher – Justin Long. This collection of infographics and analysis give you a new way to process all the powerful insights.

And if that weren’t enough of a reason to order your copy today, here are 10 other reasons we think you should consider purchasing Missiographics 1.0. (www.bit.ly/missiobook)

  1. At your next coffee shop meeting, you can pull out the book to share a key idea rather than having to worry about making the Missiographic big enough on the screen.
  2. Life is busy and you might not have really taken the time to engage with each Missiographic the way you wanted to. This book gives you the chance to go back through some of the key ones and read a bit more about the topic.
  3. It’s always great to have a new coffee table book to engage your houseguests with. Why not encourage them to think about global mission!
  4. If you work in a ministry role, the Missiographics 1.0 book is a great gift to give to financial supporters and prayer warriors.

  5. Are you teaching a small group, Sunday School class or other Bible study? Use this book as a supplement to what you are studying as a way to help your class get the big picture.
  6. If you have children or teenagers at home, this book will help you engage young people in mission in a more visual way that keeps their attention.
  7. By purchasing this book you are supporting the Missiographics effort and helping GMI to continue producing these powerful visual tools.
  8. While you know about the issue addressed in the Missiographic, Justin Long’s analysis will help you build a better understanding and a clearer perspective.
  9. Each of these Missiographics represents an issue that requires decisions on your part.
  10. By having the book, you can introduce new people to Missiographics!

What makes Indian Leaders Tick?

Written by Guest Blogger and GMI Author Shini Yesudian Abraham

Have you ever wondered what makes leaders “tick?” What influences their decision-making? In Decision Time you will be introduced to three kinds of leaders—Influencers, Initiators, and Implementers—working at the forefront of dynamic kingdom work in India.

Influencers extend influence over many. They are the catalysts behind the start of entirely new ministries and the leaders of networks and movements. Meet Influencers like Dr. Prakash Yesudian—first Executive Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), India—who preached the gospel through radio programs, authored many books, and composed songs like “Yesu Pothume” and “Ulagor Unnai Pakaithalum” for nearly half a century. But his greatest legacy may be the influence he had on other leaders.

Initiators are a younger group of leaders that show the highest likelihood of initiating new congregations, new start-up team ministries and new ministry departments. They are the emerging innovators that can be found at the heart of new ministry efforts in India. Meet initiators like Mrs. Kavitha Emmanuel who represent the changing face of ministry looks in the Indian context today.

Implementers are found at the grassroots of Indian ministry efforts. They are the ones immersed in contextualised and practical details in the day-to-day implementation and running of ministry initiatives. Meet implementers like Arun Ankam who help translate vision into reality.

What makes each one of these leader’s unique? How can you work best with them? How can the three kinds of leaders work together to further the cause of Christ in India? Decision Time helps answer these questions and brings insight into understanding their unique strengths and gain insight into why it is vital for all three profiles to work together.

Click here to see the press release on this excellent new resource.

The Light of the World

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

With Christmas a mere week and a half away, you can’t help but start to get excited. Christmas is full of family, friends, laughter, and love. But what is the reason we celebrate this holiday season? God’s gift: Jesus.

We, as the Church, look at Christmas as so much more than just paid holidays, work parties, fancy dinners, presents, and all that Christmas has been made into in our modern-day society. We approach this season with grateful hearts, the joy of Christ in our lives, and the hope of His return.

But, there are so many people in our world who do not know the Gospel, let alone the nativity story.

This is quite upsetting, isn’t it? While we will be happily celebrating the birth of our Savior, there will be many people around the globe with not even a glimmer of hope this Christmas.

Take a moment to reflect on this. What does it look like?

Here at GMI we wanted to make it easier to not only picture, but understand this concept. The Christmas tree below represents the world, and the lights represent believers and their “gospel wattage.”

The way we calculate and define gospel watts is explained in great detail at www.gmi.org/wattageformula. We encourage you to give us your feedback on the page and our formula in the “comments” section on the bottom part of the page.

This Christmas, wherever you are celebrating, I encourage you to join us in praying over this Missiographic. We list several ways to pray on the infographic itself, as well as on the application section of the infographic webpage. Some examples include:

  • Pray for the darker parts of the tree, countries and regions that are darkest according to our gospel wattage formula, and for countries and places that might have light bulbs, but they’re not shining due to persecution.
  • Pray that they may receive the great news of the Savior’s birth this Christmas, or even next Christmas.
  • Pray for all the missionaries who are working to add more light bulbs to the tree and increase the wattage.
  • Give praise for the countries and areas that are shining brightest. Pray that their light may shine onto others.

By praying this Christmas season, we have an opportunity to bless people around the world with the gift of the Gospel, for there is truly no greater gift that could be given than this.

I and the GMI staff wish you a very happy and prayer-filled Christmas. God bless!

Ebola Outbreak: What’s the cause?

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

Ebola has claimed the lives of nearly 7,000 people, while infecting more than 16,000 people primarily in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Liberia is by far the country that has been hit worst by Ebola, with more than 4,000 deaths as of November 25th. African governments, the UN, an array of organizations, companies, churches, and many others all have volunteered to help with this crisis.

How did we get here?

Ebola is believed to have started from fruit bats in Guinea, which possibly carry the Ebola virus naturally. The first know victims of the Ebola outbreak were from the Meliandou village in Guinea. This spread very slowly at first but was sparked with the death of a traditional healer in Sierra Leone. Traditional burial rituals include washing, touching, and kissing of the body which led to as many as 365 deaths of participants from surrounding areas, according to the World Health Organization.

There have been two primary reasons that the Ebola outbreak has not been able to be contained, especially in Liberia: traditional beliefs and lack of resources.

Liberia has an astonishingly low number of physicians for how many people they have. A country with a population well over 4 million has a mere 0.0104 physicians per 1,000 Liberia people. Let me put these in terms that make a little more sense. For every 96,154 people there is only 1 physician! To put it even more in perspective, in the US there is 1 physician for every 408 people.

Additionally, Liberia was one of poorest and most devastated countries in the region well before the Ebola outbreak even started. This is highly attributable to two civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that caused around 500,000 deaths and a lot of displaced people. This has proved to be a major obstacle in getting resources to the infected people, and they have had to rely heavily on outside support and aid.

As stated earlier, traditional beliefs have also been primary contributors to the Ebola infection cycle. 42.5% of Liberians adhere to traditional religions. Because of this, they tend to believe that not following burial customs will cause spirits to get upset and bring trouble upon them, which motivates them to continue in their ways.

Also, in some traditional religions it is believed that even alerting people of an illness is a curse and can cause disease. This, along with a fear of healthcare systems and their treatment centers, causes them to avoid getting help when they start to experience symptoms. Instead, they seek out traditional healers which are supposed to find the evil spirits causing the disease and fight against them. Then when the infected person dies, it reinforces the belief that evil forces are at work and are powerful.

It’s a continuous cycle and can only be helped through further education of the people, an increase in both financial and medical resources, prayer, and a response from the Church.

A focus for the Church could be on shining the light of Jesus among the darkness of this outbreak. Jesus releases people from fear; fear of curses, fear of evil spirits, and fear of the enemy. If the Church could use this as a chance to make Him known, it could not only help end the horrific tragedy at hand, but also bring multitudes of people closer to accepting Jesus into their heart and lives. As the American Church, having compassion, praying, and showing repentance toward the Liberian people is an effective responsive as well. In terms of the local Church in Liberia and surrounding West Africa countries, providing resources, encouragement, and openness for people to trust Jesus to protect them from whatever they may be afraid of concerning the burial customs. Together, the Global Church everywhere can truly make a difference in not only the spiritual lives of the Liberians, but also in the battle against Ebola.

For more information on how the Church can respond to this disaster plaguing West Africa, please visit http://www.gmi.org/services/missiographics/library/breaking-ebola-cycle.

 

Sources:

http://www.gmi.org/services/missiographics/library/breaking-ebola-cycle

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30199004

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30270997

The Water Crisis – What do we do!?

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

CBS 60 Minutes “Depleting the Water” aired last night on how the earth’s groundwater is being pumped out and used much faster than it can be replenished.

The facts are pretty frightening, and the projections are even more unsettling. In the video they said, “Water is the new oil.” That means that water rights and usage will be highly competitive, expensive, and will cause conflict.

Last March for World Water Day, we released a Missiographic about water usage, our poor stewardship of it globally, and a call to action. Check it out below.

Some facts that stand out in our infographic include:

  • 1.1 billion people have NO access to clean water…
  • Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water borne illness…
  • 2 million tons of industrial and agricultural wastes are poured into the earth’s water sources every day…
  • It takes 15 thousand Liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef

When looking at the map, almost half of the world is going to be under some sort of stress by 2050. And some parts of the world are going to be in really big trouble at the current rate of water usage.

So what do we do about it?

We all must start preparing and planning for when water resources get to dangerously low levels. That means preparing the Global Church as well.

As the body of Christ, we have an amazing opportunity in the midst of this situation to really shine the light of Jesus. Instead of being selfish with our resources, we should be sharing and finding ways to give to people who need it. Because there are going to be a lot more people who are going to need it soon.

Another thing the Global Church has the opportunity to do is model the way in the water conservation effort. From raising awareness to donating to organizations that provide clean water to doing our best to save water. Even if it may seem small, it really can have a HUGE impact, especially as the crisis gets worse.

However, should the church stop at just the small things? Absolutely not. By modeling the way of generosity with resources, especially water, imagine what could happen. Even if no one else joined in and it was just the Global Church being the leading giver of resources across the world, so many people would be impacted physically and hopefully spiritually as well! But we all know how society works, and if the church were to be the role model for giving internationally, we could start a movement that would literally change the course of the projected future.

Isn’t that what God is all about, anyway? Changing what should be our futures and giving us hope for a future that is beyond comprehension. Let’s allow God to work through the Global Church to change the future.

How will you choose to respond?

 

For more information and applications of our infographic, visit http://www.gmi.org/services/missiographics/library/water-not-natural-resource/.

ECPA CEO Summit: Media Consumption

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

I’m excited to be speaking at the ECPA CEO Summit in Orlando today. ECPA, The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, holds several different leadership events throughout the year. The CEO Summit “presents the only opportunity within Christian publishing where C-suite executives — from large to small houses — can engage at a meaningful level with the information and data relevant to their unique roles in leading the industry.”

Today, I will speaking about understanding the global church and the implications for Christian publishers as they try and engage with readers around the world. I will also be focusing on some research studies on media consumption around the world and how that can be used to our advantage as believers.

One way to get a gauge on the media consumption is to study how much time people from various countries spend using different avenues of media. To be more specific, how much time are people watching TV, listening to the radio, reading books, or going online?

The answer can be found from the World Culture Score Index, which details the average number of hours a week people in different countries spend using different types of media. The graph below visualizes the results of key countries and then the Global average as well for each category.

This is fascinating and powerful insight into how different cultures consume content. It is key as believers that we understand these types of trends so that we can effectively reach people in different countries with the Gospel.

Are you using the right media to reach your audience?

 

For the full statistics, visit PR Newswire.

The Fatherless: Orphans

By Jon Hirst with Randy Rosso

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

This past Sunday was not only the first day of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, but also Orphan Sunday.  As we pray for the parentless and reflect on ways to help, a great resource can be found in GMI’s Seeing Your World. Written by Andy Butcher, this book is a collection of research and information by experts on “10 key global shifts that will change the way you serve.” Chapter 2, “Women and Children,” sheds light on orphans around the world with impactful research by Pushpa Waghmare.

As stated above, we as Christians are instructed to care for orphans and widows, yet this is not always carried out.

Orphans are extremely vulnerable and at great risk to child labor, sex trafficking, lack of education, malnourishment, disease, and even death itself. What’s more, these children never receive the love that we all so desperately need. Not having an adult, family, or community to look after a young one can end up disastrous. “The global number of street children has been estimated at more than 100 million,” says Waghmare (16).[1]

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Jesus told us that when we help those in need, like orphans, we are truly doing it for Him. In that spirit, shouldn’t helping and praying for the fatherless be one of the top priorities for the Global Church? Yes, it should; we need to pray that families stay together, that children are kept off the street, that they go to bed with a full stomach, that they feel loved, that fellow believers and community members will open their homes to children in need.

These prayers should be the bare minimum in response to the huge number of orphans worldwide, estimated to be around 153 million today.[2]

The goal of Orphan Sunday is, “that God’s great love for the orphan will find echo in our lives as well,”[3] and that we can answer God’s call to care for these children.

What is your response going to be?

There are so many ways to help, whether it be prayer, financial support of a ministry, or even just learning more so you can help raise awareness. We encourage you to pray about how you might respond to the call.

For more information, please visit http://orphansunday.org/, or to purchase our book Seeing Your World click here.


[1] Butcher, Andy. Seeing Your World. Colorado Springs: GMI, 2014. Print.

[2] “Facts and Statistics.” CCAI. Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

[3] “About.” Orphan Sunday. Christian Alliance for Orphans, 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.