News Update – October 2014

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From this issue of News Update:

In our last News Update, Rev. Isaac Quan shared with you about the STM trips he was leading in Ghana in July. Two of the STMers were quoted and one of them shared a link where you can view a video of her trip. If you didn’t have a chance to see it, please visit the following link or simply go to our website (www.cimcanada.org) to share in her experience and enjoy it.

STM has become the vogue in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that more than 2 million people are annually sent as STMers from churches in North America. If we consider the average expense of each trip per person is $1000, we are talking about a 2 billion dollar enterprise funded mainly by the Christian community.

CIM Canada started her STM ministry in 2002 when STM was still at its spawning stage among the Chinese churches. Even then, we had a clear vision of how we should develop our STM ministry, which was and is characterised by the following features:

Cross-Cultural
STM is one way to help Christians to “GO” as Christ has commanded his disciples in the Great Commission. Realizing we should go to all nations to make disciples, we are convicted that our STM ministry should be cross-cultural to reach various ethnic groups other than our own. The Lord has led us to Africa where we have discovered needs of the local communities and the opportunities of serving them through our ministries.

As an ethnic Chinese myself, I fully realize the challenges and hindrances for Chinese churches to go cross-cultural in our missions outreach. The vast number as well as the global spread of the Chinese seems to justify the concentration of all our missions efforts to our own kinsmen. This may merely be our human way of thinking and does not share and reflect the heart and passion of God for all mankind.

Focused Ministry
Our STM teams would never do any jobs local people can do for themselves. We would not build a school or paint a house because the local people can certainly do it and likely do it even better than us. Furthermore, CIM must not leave the impression that we would threaten the job market of the local community.

More specifically, we are there to help make disciples. Through the well planned activities during the STM trips, we share testimonies about how God is working in our lives. To the non-Christians, we help bring them to the knowledge of the gospel and the saving grace of God. To the Christians, we strengthen their faith in God and build fellowship with them. Not to say the least, the STMers themselves, while experiencing the presence of His power as they witness for Christ, actually become better disciples in the process.

Long-Term Partnership
Christian distribution in the 21st century is very different from what it was a century ago. Now we have Christians and churches in all the continents as contrary to what it was when 90% of Christians were in the western world. In such a new scenario, we must adopt a very different strategy in outreaching to those who have yet to hear the good news of Christ. Partnership with existing local churches has become the most strategic and effective way in bringing more people to be Christ’s followers.

In the early stage, we actually have been working with local missionaries for a period of time in Ghana. However, for the last 10 years, we have worked in close partnership with the local church, Evangelical Church of Ghana and later followed the same model with another church group in Togo. The blessing of our long-term partnership is that we learn so much from each other through sharing of resources and understanding the beauty as well as the differences of our cultures.

I know you may be concerned about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Please note that up until now, only 5 countries have been infected with the outbreak (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal). Ghana and Togo, the countries to which we send our STM teams, are still free from the infection of the virus. As such, we will continue to make plans to visit Ghana and Togo in 2015 until things make a turn along the way.

You are welcome to contact us if you want to participate in our STM ministry in Africa.

Sincerely,
Rev. Philip Leung (Executive Director)