Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Davis Missionary Journey: Can it work? (Team Strategy 9)

Can our team strategy work? Can we offer development initiatives in conjunction with church planting efforts without creating a welfare mentality or an unhealthy dependency? Will people "obey the Gospel" simply to receive the development help? Good questions! We ask each other the same each week in our team meetings. There is, however, a theological principle that is our guiding light in the application of this strategy to a productive end, and that is the principle of GRACE.

"But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many."
Romans 5:15 KJV

Church planting only works like it is designed to work within the environment of grace. That is how Christ made it. Thus our team must work within "grace parameters". Not every missionary strategy works this way. For instance, institutions must develop a system of justice with rules and policies designed to give fair treatment to its employees and/or clients. This principle of justice must consider rights and law, and people within the institution need to be able to depend on their "contract".

Church planting on the other hand is free to use the principle of GRACE. We establish no system that works via justice; we simply offer "grace gifts" to be stewarded by the recipients. No one can demand their "rights" or become dependent concerning a "gift". This is the environment in which Jesus saw fit to place the church. It is where the process of sanctification takes place. Strategically, the difficulty is in refraining from creating systems of justice with either our church planting efforts or our development initiatives. After all, if we create a system that we control, we can work with greater efficiency. But church planting has no guarantees for efficiency. We plant, God gives the increase, the Spirit indwells, and Jesus rules. If we can maintain our efforts - both church planting and development - within the environment of grace, we should be able to avoid creating situations that result in dependency or the further mental impoverishment of our host community.

We do have one principle of "leverage" with grace, and that is the principle of FAITH.

"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
Romans 5:2 KJV

Should our "grace gift" be unfaithfully used, we simply remove it. After all, GRACE is not un-conditional or cheap. People falling into a welfare mentality with a "grace gift" would qualify as unfaithful. The "tough love" removal of the "grace gift" for the purpose of moving someone to repentance can actually bring someone back to a Godly "stewardship of grace". So the only way that this strategy can produce dependency is if the missionaries fail to have the courage to offer GRACE on the Biblical condition of FAITH.


Praying for courage,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Pictured: Bryson and his new gift (which, unfortunately, was swallowed by a snake the next day).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Davis Missionary Journey: Strategy Diagram (Team Strategy 8)

As the diagram (below) indicates, our strategy has primary and secondary tasks. As we work our primary task of church planting, we coordinate with our short term volunteers who work both in evangelism and holistic development ministry. Thus the missionaries assist the short term participants in productive and responsible cross-cultural outreach. This provides for many skills and hands to minister to holistic needs while allowing the missionary to focus on the primary task.


At present, we have four major areas where short term volunteers participate annually:

  1. Evangelism

  2. Agriculture & Well Drilling

  3. Education

  4. Medical

All of these are coordinated together to address the whole of man as we seek his transformation into what God created him to be. In this way, each effort can complement the efforts and goals of the others.

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."
Proverbs 3:27 KJV

Our team is aware of the inherent danger of this strategy in the possibility of getting the "development cart" before the "church planting horse". And we have been to the school of hard knocks a few times as we have tried to apply this strategy. But the potential synergy of the Body of Christ working and coordinating together for the advancement of our Lord's Kingdom makes the effort worthwhile.

Working on our coordination,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Pictured: Our team strategy diagram.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Bruingtons Missionary Report: November 2007

When God's word was breathed out and inspired writers wrote, it is most amazing the certain specific details of events and the fact not all the events and details would be what many would have mentioned . . . at all. What am I saying, God gives us honest and genuine truths of our humanity in such a way that if we would look at our selves with the same genuine honesty, putting aside all facades, myths, misconceptions of reality, and laying down our "rose colored glasses', we would be so amazed as to how God's word speaks to encourage our best efforts, how God perfectly critiques our lives and then demonstrates thru His son the model of which He desires of His creation to aspire to this place . . . ". . . be ye perfect" . . . possible? . . . impossible? . . . God says . . . it is!

With God all things are possible . . .

Each month I tell, what in my mind is, the most inspirational: "Story of the Month."

These are people, lives, actual events in time of individual struggles to survive in this fallen world, wondering why Lord? These people's desire as is all people's desire to find that place of peace, comfort, hope, and love. Yet, not always what one would record.

I have not told you how six of the original twelve men who were baptized five months ago returned to their old life of drunkenness, how I was told of this and when I went to see for my self, when I drove up to the village they all ran into the bush . . .

It took several days for them all to return to our morning bible study. And when they returned, I told them you are not the first to run and unfortunately you will not be the last. They all repented wanting to be right with God, painfully aware of our weakness in our humanity. Yet, finding peace, comfort, hope, and love . . . again . . . in Christ!

Where they had gathered was a common place of gathering for those who are the drinkers of beer, I guess you might call it a bush bar . . . twenty to thirty men gathered . . . around a fire drinking homemade beer. The next day, after the beer had worn off, I asked the man in charge of the village, he is the one selling and profiting from these gatherings, if he would consider a bible study in his village, inviting these friends to hear about Jesus.

He agreed, we started what many would call bad humor . . . the drunk bible study!
We have been meeting every Wednesday evening for six weeks . . . no one has been baptized . . . yet . . . the drunkenness has stopped . . . they are hearing God's Word.

The hopeful news is the fact that, "implanted", this Word has power to save their souls!
Let us never forget why Jesus came . . . to save sinners . . . of which . . . I am.

On the night when Jesus was taken by force, beaten, and then hung on the cross to die . . .
Every one of His friends . . . His followers . . . The Apostles . . . ran . . .
And we also are running: many from God and many to God.

Let us all run . . . to God . . . with endurance . . . the race set before us!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Davis Missionary Journey: Holistically Transformational (Team Strategy 7)

Holism and an holistic message lead us to the purpose of our team strategy… transformation. It's not enough to address certain poverty issues. It's not enough to do some good deeds. It's not even enough to just transmit Bible facts. Until man is seated in the heavenly realm, he is only a shadow of what he is created to be. Two Indian missiologists, Jayakumar Christian and Vinay Samuel suggest respectively that there are two major tenets to Christian transformation: (1.) the restoration of one's true identity as children of God, and (2.) the recovery of one's true vocation… what is my purpose and stewardship?

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Ephesians 2:6 & 10 NIV

The picture below shows a group of students with their teacher at a local primary school in the Mumena Chieftaincy. This school had 300 students and 2 teachers when we came. After volunteering to help the educational needs of the school, we noticed that our help was being "taken advantage of for personal gain". We promptly removed our help sending shock waves through the community, all the way to the Chief's palace. This led to many public and private meetings with both officials and villagers concerning why we - as Christians - would stop doing good within an environment of "normal" corruption. In other words, why we would attach our "holistic ministry" to "transformational standards".

The result has been slow but stunning! Over the course of 12 months, the community began clamoring for change; the headmen began meeting with their Chief; the Chief began meeting with government officials. One of the school faculty "found the kitchen too hot" and left. The other (pictured) found Christ! The government has sent new teachers to adequately staff the school. We are now in position to begin "helping" once again. We have begun with the new water well below. Transformation has begun!


Watching in awe,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Pictured: Happy students with their "in Christ" teacher stewarding their resources.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Davis Missionary Journey: Holistic Message (Team Strategy 6)

What does "obeying the Gospel" mean to a person who does not even view reality as God created it? For missionaries, this is an ever present danger in cross-cultural communication. At worst, one teaches the Gospel and obedience is offered yet without understanding. Then syncretism, the attributing of pagan meanings to Christian forms, is often the sad result. At best, students cannot "count the cost" concerning a faith choice.

Our team strategy depends on Kingdom theology to help us address this concern. One finds the term "the Kingdom" repeatedly in scripture referring to the "big picture" of how God views reality… God's worldview so to speak. This encompasses the spiritual and physical realms and their interaction thus providing a message that is holistic. Equipped with this understanding, students are able to address the question of obedience to the gospel with a faith that encompasses their mind, heart, and behavior. A clear choice of allegiance can be made.

"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."
Acts 8:12 KJV


Trying to communicate clearly,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson

Pictured: Douglas Siampongo assisting a Kaonde woman to obey the Gospel in baptism.

For further reading on this subject:
Beasley-Murray, "Jesus & the Kingdom of God"
Davis, Wayne "The Kingdom of God"
Dickson, Roger "The Sovereignty of Deity"
Ferguson, Everett "The Everlasting Kingdom"
McGuiggan, Jim "The Reign of God"
Van Rheenan, Gailyn "Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts" &
"Missions, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies"