transform Spring 2018
Langham Partnership News
â€˜Blessed are the
peace-makersâ€™ How to pray for the church in Zimbabwe
Good news - Central Eastern European Bible Commentary
Word on the World
Equipping a new generation of Bible teachers
Chair of Trustees Mary Evans
National Director John Libby
International Ministries Director Chris Wright
International Executive Director Mark Hunt
Langham Preaching Programme Director:
Langham Literature Programme Director:
How to pray for
Zimbabwean born Langham Preaching trainers give insights
Pieter Kwant PO Box 296 Carlisle CA3 9WZ E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Langham Scholars Riad Kassis
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Rula, a Palestinian Christian shares her story
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Good news for
Central Eastern Europe
Central Eastern European Bible Commentary
‘Blesses are the peace-makers’
10 Word on the World A study by Chris Wright
Langham Partnership’s Vision and Mission
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Have you considered including Langham Partnership in your will? Like many mission organisations we can benefit greatly when friends make a final gift that continues to bless the ministries they have generously supported in life. Once you have made proper and primary provision for family and friends this can be a very effective way to go on making a difference to the church on earth when you have joined the church in glory! If you would like to consider this option in your will please let us know and we wiill send you a helpful legacy leaflet. Contact John Libby: firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to discontinue receiving Transform please email us on uk@ langham.org
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Greetings from the
National Director: Bucket Lists in eternity?
et another Sunday supplement alluding to ‘bucket lists’ – those ‘things you must do before you die’ catalogues. This one covered “ holiday destinations, but the genre covers books to read, films to watch, places to eat, …?! If I do (as everyone is supposed to?) ‘have a book in me’, and mindful of the full quote which concludes, ‘that is where it should, I think, in most cases remain’ (in the Hitchens 1997 version) then my title would be ‘101 Things to Do After You Die!’ It seems to me that the urgency of cramming everything into ‘three score years and ten’ was not our Creator’s intention for us; the best is yet to come with the added gift of freedom due to unlimited time to explore and enjoy. I think at least ‘101 Things’ are there to be discovered, but I’d like to define that total from scripture (so, suggestions on an email, please?). We all need reminding, as does everyone around us, that we are not on this planet merely to collect experiences. As the Westminster Catechism has it, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever’, (or Piper’s suggested variant, ‘to glorify God by enjoying Him forever’). Both our purpose and our release from temporal constraint are made explicit. I offer this as an introduction to the content of this Transform. We are reminded in this edition’s ‘Word on the World’, prophetic as ever, that ‘no one can rob us of eternal life and our future with God in the new creation.’ We have accounts from Langhamites around the world who live out their call to glorify God in challenging circumstances, undistracted by any mere human priorities or ‘lists’. Springing from our Vision and our Mission (in full, page 2) we have the ambition to give such pastors and preachers greater exposure as they help leaders of the expanding majority world church grow in maturity and godly integrity. So, we also announce a new avenue of support through our launch of ‘Seedbed’, which I warmly commend for your prayers and participation.
101 Things to
As you reflect on these contents may I invite you to consider what any J ohn ‘eternal bucket list’ might Libb y contain? May it be godly and unconstrained and not worldly and limited, after all, as Larry Norman put it, ‘this world is not (our) home, (we’re) only passing through…’ Our faith compels us to call others to break out of the limitations they perceive and to know the freedom, the hope, the purpose they can have in Christ. Thank you for trusting Langham with the resources to develop this work, and with any encouragement I can give towards your increasing generosity… With thanks and Christian greetings, as ever
John Libby National Director
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How to pray for the Church in
In November last year, the world gasped as the military in Zimbabwe took charge, and veteran President Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in the role.
By Victoria Marsay, Digital Content Producer, Langham Partnership UK and Ireland.
Langham Preaching has a large presence in Zimbabwe, with training events taking place throughout the year. Pastors Gary Cross and John Bell, both born and bred in Zimbabwe, are Langham Preaching trainers. In December they gave an interview with UCB radio, a UK-based Christian radio station. They explained candidly their thoughts on what led to the downfall of Mugabe:
The economic situation in the country – Zimbabwe’s currency was rendered nearly worthless by 2008. A breakdown of fear in the nation. People were arrested, but released, thus gaining more boldness to oppose the authorities. Church members spoke out more and more. The rise of Grace Mugabe: Robert Mugabe’s wife was set to succeed him to power. She had become known for lavish extravagance, and had alarming levels of political influence. Grace Mugabe became an enemy of the people and created divisions within the ruling party. In the interview, John Bell said that the Church had been “extremely worried” about the rise of Grace Mugabe, but said: “The Lord turned what we saw as being a possibility of great evil into actually something that worked for good. It’s fair to say that without her involvement, Mr Mugabe would still be in power.”
Langham Preaching trainers John Bell (left) and Gary Cross (right).
How can we pray for Langham Preaching in Zimbabwe?
John Bell: “We have also become a lawless people. Every man does what is right in his own eyes, and I think we need to establish the place of law. The Bible says that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. It’s going to take a long time for our nation to re-establish its ethical conscience, its lawfulness, that’s a place where the Church needs to play a role.” Gary Cross: “The third one that we’re really concerned about as the Church is the idea of corruption. Corruption is endemic here from the top to the bottom, everyone’s involved in it, and corruption is absolutely destroying the nation. 80 per cent of Zimbabweans say that they attend Church on a Sunday, and yet we’re one of the most corrupt nations on the continent. So we are challenging our people to live honest lives.”
What do you see as some of the biggest struggles for the Church in the future? Gary Cross: “One of the biggest things that we’re looking at as the Church in Zimbabwe into 2018 is the issue of reconciliation.” “Peace and reconciliation is really needed. We have so much pain and hurt in our past.”
What can we pray for the Church in 2018? Gary Cross: “One of the challenges we face as the Church in Zimbabwe is to gain a voice in the nation. We’ve had 37 years where the Church has been marginalised, it has been looked at as an enemy of the state, and then ignored for many years. Now we’re trying to engage with the political part of our country, we’re trying to recover our reputation as God’s voice in the nation. Pray for the Church, that we are actually united as a church and we have a voice into our politics.”
John Bell has provided some specific prayer requests about Langham Preaching’s work in Zimbabwe. ■ Training material: “We are rewriting some of our training material to fit more consistently with the wider Langham body and it will be an adjustment for our trainers. We are also thinking of ways to maintain the standard of the initial Langham Preaching training, but make it a little easier and more appropriate to a larger number of people.” ■ Leadership: “We are wanting to properly structure the national Langham leadership to meet the demands of growth in the years to come. We ‘older’ leaders need to balance responsible oversight with leadership development, there are some outstanding younger men. We are also concerned about a spirit if weariness which so easily creeps in and want to maintain personally and share with others, a steady enthusiasm for the work. ■ New possibilities: “We are exploring possibilities of starting training in at least two other city venues and need both wisdom and resources.” ■ The Bulawayo work: “Please pray for Langham Preaching’s work in Bulawayo, (a city in the southwest of the country). Pray particularly for John Stamboli and Kennon Mazonde as they balance opportunities with energies and time. For more information on Zimbabwe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worldafrica-14113618
With your help, we can train more church leaders John Bell leading Langham Preaching training in December 2017.
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Rula Mansour is a Palestinian Christian who lives in Israel, and a Langham Scholar. She shares her story, her research, and her future vision.
In 1948 at the age of 12 my father became a refugee in his own country. After losing their land and property in Tiberias during the nakba, they started to rebuild their lives in Akko. This beautiful mixed Jewish-Palestinian city is where I was born and grew up, I had Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish friends and I honestly believed that both groups could live together in respect and harmony. I never heard my parents speak negatively about Jewish people or the State of Israel. Instead, my father worked hard to integrate into Israeli society and became a successful and respected figure in his community. I learned perseverance from my father, but most importantly I saw forgiveness in action!
Conflicted identities As a student of law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem I began to realize that I was a second-class
citizen, discriminated against in almost every aspect of life. With each renewed conflict between Palestinians and Israelis I was reminded again and again that I neither belonged to nor was welcome in Israeli society. So I experienced an unwanted struggle between my Palestinian identity and my Israeli citizenship. Why was my Palestinian identity rejected by the broader society and why is loyalty to both not allowed? It was only as my identity in Christ became superior that I began to see my conflicted identities as a blessing rather than a curse. I came to believe that I had the unique privilege of being an ambassador of peace to both parties in this conflict. This background explains the research topic for my PhD, which has been to find the best theological foundation for reconciliation within Palestinian evangelical churches. I started from Miroslav Volfâ€™s theology of reconciliation, which reflects upon
“Blessed are the peace-makers” where I lived were Palestinians. Also, Palestinians did not approve of their people serving in the prosecution office, which was perceived to be one-sided against Palestinians. Nevertheless, after much waiting, I got the job. And so for the next 13 years I appeared in court serving both the Jewish and Palestinian communities, eventually working as Deputy Head of the Public Prosecution Office in Nazareth. Throughout my career, the following verse was my motto: “do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with thy God” [Micah 6:8]. Rula with her husband, Bader, and their sons (l. to r.), Sami, Adi and Rami
what kind of selves we need to become in order to be truly reconciled with our enemies. Relationships are key, he says: ‘I am who I am in relation to the other.’ So if we persist in excluding ‘the other’ from our own identity, we only succeed in losing ourselves. However, it is only if we re-centre around the cross that we will be capable and willing to embrace others and seek reconciliation. When I reflect on the struggle I had with my two identities, it was only when I included ‘the other’, the Israeli, in my identity, rather than excluding it, that I took my first step to embrace as an action of love.
Prosecutor and reconciler After graduating from law school in 1996 and as part of my dream to be a reconciler, I decided to become a public prosecutor. This was difficult since, at the time, prosecutors in Israel were mostly Jewish, while more than 60% of the people in the Galilee
I believe God used my appointment to break a barrier and stereotypes between both societies. The Israeli prosecution office has since become more open to Palestinian lawyers, and more Palestinian lawyers are encouraged to apply for such a job. This has not solved the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, of course. Nevertheless, the changes in the office have definitely meant that more justice is given to Palestinian citizens in Israel.
Cross-centred bridge-building I have learned two vital lessons through this experience: first, that when we re-centre ourselves around the cross, we will be ready to become a bridge for others; second, that God honours small attempts made with faith and love, using them for a greater purpose. God then brought me closer to accomplishing my dream to see the Palestinian Church play a role in reconciliation in our country. I resigned from my job to pursue a ministry of peace-making. My first step was to enrol in a PhD program at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, seeking a culturally contextual model of reconciliation for Palestinian evangelical churches. I believe that the Palestinian Church in Israel can become a powerful agent of peace, seeking through its unique identity to become a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians. My vision is to challenge the church to have a prophetic role in our land; building a culture of accepting the ‘other’; offering transformative teaching that involves participants in activism, public engagement and the practice of nonviolence. I am indebted to Langham Scholars for supporting me spiritually and financially throughout. After graduating in 2018, I plan to be involved in developing peace-studies programs that will equip participants with the academic and practical tools to approach conflict and its management, and to work for justice and peace. I pray that the Palestinian Church will seize this historical opportunity to play a role in reconciliation in such a time as this.
Your donations will help us support Scholars like Rula
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theological editors of the The Central and Eastern European BibleThe Commentary CEEBC meeting for a writers’ (CEEBC) is at a very early stage – the seed of the idea seminar in Poland lasthas year. been planted, an editorial team chosen, and contributors found.
t ‘Our region needs to hear afresh the Good News’ – Central Eastern European Bible Commentary
t By Victoria Marsay, Digital Content Producer, Langham Partnership UK and Ireland. 8 transform
The process of putting together this one-volume Bible commentary (plus 100 articles on regional issues) includes many meetings, conference calls, drafts, edits and gruelling hard work. The CEEBC’s theological editors met for a few days in November last year in Poland, for a writers’ seminar. Editors brought along their first written pieces, (commentaries and articles), for discussion by the editorial team. Langham Partnership editor Isobel Stevenson trained them in the process of critiquing and editing their own and each other’s writings.
United despite diversity It was a very useful exercise in developing a common approach to
Corneliu Constantineanu , General Editor of the Central & Eastern European Bible Commentary
“…they will have a contextual interpretation of the Bible in their own language, it’s very exciting.” Bible interpretation. It is vital for this commentary to be cohesive and for there to be unity, as the region has tremendous cultural and church diversity. Samples of commentaries and articles will now be used
Interview Marcel Macelaru: As the General Editor, what prompted you to start this project, what’s exciting to you about this project? Corneliu Constantineanu: Well it is really a unique project indeed because this is… we don’t have, in our part of the world, we do not have a Bible commentary, a one volume Bible commentary written by people from this region. But what really excites me the most is that we think by the end of this project, we’ll put a one-volume Bible commentary
Marcel Macelaru: As General Editor, I imagine that you will do a lot of editing, however do you do any particular book, do you comment on a particular book? Corneliu Constantineanu: I do the commentary on Romans, and I think as I start thinking about this, quite a few things that are very very important for our context. Romans deals with issues of Good News – our regions need to hear afresh the Good News of the Gospel. Romans deals with issues of peace, reconciliation, deals with the issue of justice, extremely important issues,
Langham Partnership editor Isobel Stevenson showed the editors show to edit and critique each other’s work.
for promotion and also for guiding the many authors from different countries when they start writing their contributions. Corneliu Constantineanu, the General Editor for the CEEBC, comes from Romania and teaches at the University of Arad. He was interviewed at the writers’ seminar by fellow theological editor Marcel Macelaru about his involvement with the project.
in the hands of pastors, lay leaders who preach, in the hands of students who are doing ministry in the church. So they will have a contextual interpretation of the Bible in their own language, it’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to having it done!
for people living in this part of the world. So really in Romans we will deal with these issues and I’m sure it will be very helpful for believers.
The theological editors of the CEEBC
Visit: http:// uk.langham.org/ seedbed/ to give to support this vital Commentary
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Chris Wright seeks a biblical response to current challenging events ‘Though the earth give way…’ I read in the New York Times some weeks ago that there are increasing numbers of young couples getting married with the intention of not having children. And their decision is not a selfish one, to spare themselves the enormous task and cost of parenting, but in many cases a sad and joyless one. The reason they give is that they cannot bear to bring children into the world, because they are so afraid of what the earth’s climate is going to be like in the lifetime of any child born today. I don’t think I had that fear when my wife and I rejoiced in God’s gift of four children forty years ago now, but what about our grandchildren? Like that Christian bookseller, we have ‘10 of Those,’ and to be honest I am indeed fearful for what they may be facing by the middle of this century.
We live in an age of increasing international chaos, with a new rise of deeply worrying authoritarianism in political leaders – the seeds and signs of last century’s fascism, ethnic hatreds, truth-shredding propaganda, and brute force. We face terrorism, unending wars – seen (as in Syria) and unseen (as in D.R. Congo)-- diabolical acts of cruelty and suffering, with whole populations of refugees on the move or stuck in hellish unwantedness by anyone. And on top of all that (and exacerbating some of it) is the threat of climate break-down and human pollution. By the time our grandchildren are middle-aged, we’re told, there could be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Whole swathes of low-lying and densely populated countries may disappear under water, generating even more massive migrations, and some parts of the world may become simply as uninhabitable as the Sahara through unprecedented climate extremes. Water wars are already happening.
he was afraid when he heard what lay ahead (Hab. 3:16), and Psalm 46, because it says that “we will not fear.” The first is natural, and the Bible allows it. The second is supernatural and calls for a careful look at God’s Word. Here are four truths about God that I take from these scriptures, with four matching responses that we are called to make.
Contemplating such scenarios, I turn to Habakkuk and Psalm 46 - Habakkuk, because he tells us that
1. God remains sovereign, so we are to live by faith. Psalm 46 contemplates both the turbulence of nature (vs. 2-3), and the tumult of the nations (v. 6). But over all, God is in charge. It is not at all easy to hold on to this when so much in the world seems to deny it, yet it is a crucial part of our core Christian and biblical conviction. We can believe in the sovereignty of God more easily looking back at how his plans have worked out over centuries of history. Much harder when catastrophe is staring you in the face, as Habakkuk found. Yet God told him, as he struggled to make sense of what God was doing, that ‘the righteous person shall live by their faith’ (Hab. 2:4) – not just faith to get saved by, but faith to live by now. Are we really trusting God for the unknown future?
2. God will protect his people, so we are to live without fear. The first two verses of Psalm 46 have been an anchor for God’s people in so many times of apparent calamity.
Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash
he will reign in the new creation – the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21-22.
‘God is with us…we will not fear.’ Now this did not mean, then or now, that faithful Israelites or Christians never suffer or get killed. We know they do, sometimes gruesomely in our day. But ‘the Lord knows those who are his,’ and nobody can rob us of eternal life and our future with God in the new creation. We can, like Habakkuk, tremble at what may lie ahead, but we know that with God the security of his people is eternal. ‘God is in the midst of her, she will not fall…the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress’ (Ps. 46:5-7). ‘Fear not,’ is the Bible’s most frequently repeated command.
3. God works out his judgments in history, so we are to live by prayer. ‘Come and see what the Lord has done,’ invites Psalm 46:8, and immediately talks about war, and then the ending of all war. He sees the hand of God both in the horrible process of history, and in the ultimate goal of history, when God blows the final whistle, “Be still…!” Habakkuk knew of the evils of the Babylonians – and so did God, and declares very sharp judgment upon their global plundering, violence, injustice,
environmental destruction, and idolatry (Hab. 2:6-19). But in and through God’s judgment, Habakkuk knows that the day will come when ‘the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab. 2:14). With that vision and insight, Habakkuk turns to prayer (Hab. 3) – celebrating God’s past deeds, honestly expressing his fear in the present, but rejoicing in the security of God’s future. The early Christians had the same response in Acts 4.
4. God will be exalted among the nations and on the earth (Psalm 46:10), so we are to live for mission. You notice, it does not just say God will be exalted among the angels up in heaven. The great biblical story is that God will bring people from all nations to share in the glory of his kingdom, and he will reign in the new creation – the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21-22. The Israelites had to learn that, even in exile in Babylon under God’s judgment, and even though they knew that Babylon itself stood under God’s imminent judgment, they had a mission to pray for and seek the
welfare of the people around them (Jer. 29:7). God’s Abrahamic mission goes on. So, no matter what the world will be like in our children’s and grandchildren’s lifetime, and no matter what form the judgments of God on our fallen and idolatrous societies will take, we are not exempted from living and working for the great biblical mission of God, in God’s world, for God’s glory. We do that in our daily work, in our families and neighbourhoods, in our service of church and society, and in seeking first the kingdom of God and his justice. And we go on praying that God will use the ministries of Langham Partnership to strengthen his church through the effective teaching and preaching of God’s Word, for whatever lies ahead.
Chris will be speaking… at week 2, 21-27 July, of the Keswick Bible Convention.
Please come along to hear his teaching and meet others from Langham
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Read about a Langham Scholar from Palestine, how to pray for Zimbabwe and a brand new commentary for believers in Central and Eastern Europe...
Published on Apr 1, 2018
Read about a Langham Scholar from Palestine, how to pray for Zimbabwe and a brand new commentary for believers in Central and Eastern Europe...