Eternity in Their Hearts

When I was a young Christian, with an interest in missions, I came across books from a Canadian missionary named Don Richardson. Richardson lived among animistic tribal people in Western New Guinea in the nation of Indonesia. During his years of working with indigenous peoples and their religions, he came to the conclusion that hidden in each religion was what he called a “redemptive analogy,” some understanding, language construct, or practice unique to the culture that God had placed as a bridge to illustrate a truth from the gospels or the larger scriptural narrative. These analogies became the starting point to help bring indigenous peoples to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The story of Richardson’s journey into this understanding is recorded his 1970s classic, Peace Child. Another book, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World (1981) relates the further progress of his pilgrimage, i.e. coming to recognize God’s gift of  common grace that allows all people to know something of God’s existence and his divine nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1: 19-20).

It was the understanding that I gained from Richardson, about redemptive analogies and common grace, that contributed to the material that I have written on The Transforming Story.

It is fitting that, as we approach Christmas, we remember that the Messiah, born of the Jews,  was a messiah for all peoples.  Enjoy this chapter from Richardson’s book Eternity in Their Hearts.

– Darrow Miller

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Wonders of the Kingdom

by Bob Lupton

Wise men, from the east. That’s how Matthew described them. Magi, leaders of sufficient import to gain a personal audience with Herod the Great. Three of them plus their considerable entourage. Tradition has ascribed to them names – Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar – imaginative attempts to create the illusion that we somehow know who these shadowy figures were. But we do not. Likely they came from Persian aristocracy where Zoroastrianism and the highly regarded science of astrology were woven into a polytheistic culture. Highly educated men, doubtless, given their obvious knowledge of religion, literature, science and political protocol.  But why they appeared in Judea, a remote outpost on the edge of the civilized world, and just as quickly disappeared, remains a mystery.

They claimed to be following a star. Or perhaps a unique configuration of stars. They had deciphered from undisclosed sources that a world leader, a Jew of great importance, would be born at the precise time and location where certain stars aligned. If this calculation were true, they could have the distinction of being among the first to pay homage. So convinced were they of their conclusions that they set out on a journey of many months, planning their itinerary to coincide with celestial movements. Vigilant nighttime observations had led them into Herod’s jurisdiction. The Judean king seemed surprised by their mission, and obviously very interested. He encouraged the travelers to continue their quest and report back to him if and when they located this infant-king.

The wise men did indeed find the king they sought. Their assumptions proved to be correct. And they presented to him gifts befitting royalty – gold, frankincense and myrrh. But they did not return to Herod’s palace to report as instructed. Rather, they slipped quietly out of the country (and out of recorded history) by an unknown route.How did three prominent members of pagan Persian society end up in the Christmas story? Where did they gain the insight to search for a great Jewish king? Could they have unearthed ancient Hebrew prophesies from centuries-old archives of Cyrus’ dynasty? Or perhaps their study of religions familiarized them with the persistent Jewish expectation of a great deliverer, a Messiah. But how did they come to the belief that the stars would reveal the timing and location of the birth of this king?

Magi (from which our word magic derives) were members of the priestly caste of Zoroastrians who had an international reputation as astrologists. Combining spirituality and scientific observation, these “wise men” devised elaborate systems for predicting from celestial movements events in the human world. How strange that in the practice of their pagan art they should divine the Messianic arrival – when the studious priesthood of Israel did not. Fascinating, too, that God would use foreign wealth to bankroll the heavenly child during his early years in exile.  The Magi were three of the small cast of unorthodox characters who would appear in this divine drama. At the opposite end of the social spectrum were a handful of illiterate shepherds who received a special personal invitation to the little king’s entry. But no other public fanfare. Oh yes, there were the two insignificant seniors at the temple – ancient Anna and retired priest Simeon – who received a private revelation when the child was presented for circumcision. But no others, besides his parents.

In retrospect it is not difficult to see that this Kingdom the Christ-child came to introduce was unlike any other human institution. It crept quietly into history, by-passing the Temple establishment, avoiding public display. It engaged unsuspected and unsuspecting players to accomplish its purposes. It was explained by interesting (if not obscure) stories rather than by compelling theological treatises. A child could understand, Christ said, but the prominent and learned would stumble over its simplicity. It would upset convention by challenging religious traditions and by inviting into its membership social outcasts, repulsive ethnics, and enemy occupiers and collaborators. For thirty-three brief years the world would catch direct glimpses of this Kingdom through the liberating, troubling words and example of its heaven-sent King. The prominent and learned, whose systems He upset, would in the end make of Him a public example of what happens to anyone who threatens their hallowed domain.   But this Kingdom did not end with the inglorious death of its King. Its quiet presence still slips into human history, engaging the unsuspected and unsuspecting to accomplish its purposes. It continues to elude the restraints of orthodoxy. It still invites into its fellowship social outcasts, estranged ethnics and political enemies. Children still recognize the wonder of it. And those with child-like faith. And for those who dream of peace, who search for signs of a Kingdom that has come (and is yet to come), for them Christmas is an absolutely magical time.

Enjoying the wonder of it all,

Bob Lupton is Founder and President of FCS Urban Ministries, a collective of visionaries and social entrepreneurs, transforming distressed urban neighborhoods through Christian community development. This post was originally published as an entry on Bob’s Urban Perspectives page.

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Why do we abort more black babies than white? … Race Selective Abortion in America

“The greatest and most shameful regrets of history are always about the truth we failed to tell,” says Gary Haugen, Founder and President of International Justice Mission.

On the Darrow Miller & Friends blog, we have sought to tell the truth about gendercide – the systematic and methodical elimination of females. This war against female is rooted in the lie that male is superior to female. In fact, as we have argued, the lie is propagated by both sexism and radical feminism.

It’s time to tell another truth, this one about genocide – the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial group – in the United States.  The following graph of abortions in the United States by rate and race tells a chilling story: black babies are aborted at a rate three times that of white babies.

1Aged 15-44
2Total numbers of abortions in this row have been estimated by interpolation
3In thousands: e.g. 48,224 represents 48,224,000
Source: R.K. Jones, M.R.S. Zolna, S.K. Henshaw, and L.B. Finer, “Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005” in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2008, 40(1):6-16, and unpublished data from Guttmacher Institute.

These statistics are not merely troubling: they are revolting. How can this be? Could it BE that the particularly pernicious lie – “whites are superior to blacks” – is still manifest in the United States through the champions of the abortion industry? Could this be another example of evil institutionalized? Are we witnessing a whole social machine that exists for the sole purpose of reducing the size of the black community through the elimination of black babies?

The spiritual realm impacts the physical realm through culture. Lies manifest themselves at a personal level in immoral behavior. But they also manifest themselves in the institutions and structures of a society. This lie that whites are superior to blacks was institutionalized in the United States through slavery, a practice abolished at the cost of an estimated 620,000 human lives in a bloody civil war.

The practice ended, but the lie that birthed it may still find a home in some parts of American society. Indeed, even today this lie drives two evils: targeted sterilization of blacks, and systematic and methodical killing of black babies in the womb through race-selective abortions.

In the first half of the 20th century a eugenics movement was active in the United States. One of the leaders of this movement was Margaret Sanger.

In the book that helped define the movement The Pivot of Civilization, Sanger writes:

[Charity] encourages the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant [emphasis added] (pg 116,117).

Notice Sanger’s use of words! She speaks of minorities as dead weight, human waste, and stock. Her atheistic and materialist worldview blinds her to the fact that all human beings are made in the image of God. She objectifies people as things, thus easily eliminated. Black Genocide estimates that, since 1973, we have 13,000,000 fewer black children in the US due to abortion. The black community is beginning to become aware of race selection abortion and is and speaking out.

In 1921 Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL) as the action arm of her Eugenics philosophy. In 1942, at the height of the Nazi holocaust (a product of Malthusian Eugenics) ABCL changed its name to the more benign Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The new name changed little of the underlying philosophy. For a definitive work on the ABCL read George Grant’s Grand Illusion.

The upcoming documentary movie Maafa21 documents the thread of the manifestation of the lie from its application in slavery to the Malthusian Eugenics movement to the race selection abortions of today. See the trailer here. For a quick read see Daniel J. Flynn’s article It Did Happen Here.

US citizens who are appalled by gendercide and race selection abortions now have a way to engage. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or “PRENDA,” is working its way through the House of Representatives. One of the authors of the bill, Congressman Trent Franks, states the purpose of the bill is to “… restrict sex-selection abortion and race-selection abortion, and the coercion of a woman to obtain either. The woman seeking an abortion is exempted from prosecution, while abortion providers are held to account.” Dr. Alevda King, niece of Dr Martin Luther King writes passionately in support of Prenda.

If you are abhorred by sex-selective race-selective abortions you should begin to educate yourself about the modern genocide. Engage with one of the above groups to guarantee the right to life for all children, not just those favored by the power brokers. If God is giving you the vision, start an organization or lead a movement to end modern gendercide and racial genocide.

“The greatest and most shameful regrets of history are always about the truth we failed to tell” …  or to ACT UPON.

–          Darrow Miller

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TRUE COMPASSION: Suffering Together With

“Compassion” has become one of a growing number of politicized words (like ‘access’ or ‘diversity’) whose meaning has been corrupted beyond redemption.

So writes Thomas Sowell the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution of Stanford University. While I would agree with Sowell that the word has been corrupted–it is in fact merely a shadow of its past glory–I don’t agree that it is beyond redemption. Compassion is the very nature of God. Although the glory of the word’s meaning has been greatly diminished in the modern world, the word and its powerful action will never disappear because God is not going anywhere.

There is a sociological maxim that you must change language before changing a culture. And a shift in worldview is the precursor to the shift in language and culture and all that follows. The pattern could be drawn like this worldview shift → language shift à culture shift → (compassion) policy shift → (compassion) programmatic shift.

The Earl of Shaftesbury wrote

To compassionate, i.e., to join with in passion … To commiserate, i.e., to join with in misery … This in one order of life is right and good; nothing more harmonious; and to be without this, or not to feel this, is unnatural, horrid, immane [monstrous].

In the pre-modern world compassion was a verb (to compassionate). It was the act of journeying with another person in their pain and passion; it was to enter their world, to “walk in their moccasins” – to “join with” another person in their time of difficulty to share with them in their misery – to commiserate.

This understanding of compassion as a verb was rooted in the Biblical narrative, in the nature of God Himself. His name is Compassionate (Exodus 34:5-6). He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). He commissioned the building of a tabernacle so he could “dwell among” his people (Exodus 25:8; 29:44-46). God choose to incarnate himself, to live in the midst of his people on earth: “The word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The God of the universe took on the form of a man (Phil 2:7-9). Christ was a faithful high priest, but one who has been tempted as we have (Heb. 4:15). The transcendent Creator of the universe, the fountainhead of compassion, is also the intimate God who acts to compassionate and commiserate with his people.

Jesus want his followers to see compassion as a verb, not a noun.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, we see the something both remarkable and subtle at the same time. An expert in the Jewish law asks Jesus what shall I do to have eternal life (Luke 10:25)? Jesus responds by asking the scholar What does the law say (vs 26)? The lawyer responds correctly that we are to love God and love our neighbor (vs 27). Acknowledging the lawyer’s correct answer, Jesus says, Now go do this! ( vs 28). The lawyer knows he is not doing what the law requires, so to justify himself he asks Jesus And who is my neighbor? (vs 29) Note that the lawyer uses “neighbor” as a noun.

Jesus then tells the story of the good Samaritan (vs 30-35). A priest and a Levite each passed the broken man beside the road and asked, in effect, Is this my neighbor? They had never seen him before, so they concluded they had no obligation to help. Then the Samaritan came. He asked a different question: Is this someone who needs neighboring? The answer was Yes, and Jesus went on to describe the Samaritan’s nine acts of compassion toward the Jew.

Following this description of demonstrating God’s compassion, Jesus asks, Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (vs 36) Note that Jesus changed the word “neighbor” from a noun (who is my neighbor?) to a verb (who acted neighborly?). The lawyer answered: “The one who showed him mercy” (vs 37). Thus the lawyer understood that compassion is an action. Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

God’s nature is compassion. He acts compassionately and expects his people to do the same. To be compassionate is to join the person in their need and poverty and to act to help them. To commiserate is to be in such a relationship with the person so as to share in their misery.

This understanding was the definition of compassion in a previous generation when people still acknowledged God’s existence and defined every aspect of their lives in relationship to him. The Webster’s Dictionary of 1834, the American Dictionary of the English Language (the defining dictionary of American’s founding) defined compassion as “A suffering with another; painful sympathy ….” The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) published in 1884 defines compassion as “Suffering together with another, participating in suffering. Intrinsic to both definitions is being in relationship with someone in their suffering and poverty. It is knowing them and acting compassionately towards them.

Christians of an earlier age demonstrated this. The members of the Clapham Sect in England showed compassion toward women and children working in slave shops, prisoners in English prisons, and black slaves being shipped by the tens of thousands to the shores of the Americas and the plantations in the Caribbean. This group of men and women acted to bring about labor and prison reform and to bring an end to slavery. One of the members of the Clapham Sect and leaders of the abolitionist movement was Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838). In order to experience what the slaves experienced in their journey crossed the Atlantic he booked passage on a slave ship. He personally shared in the slaves misery so that he could better represent his fellow human beings in the fight for their emancipation.

As a tribute to the co-miserating with slaves a bust of Macaulay was erected to Macaulay in the Westminster Abbey, along with a medallion that conveyed the motto of the abolitionist movement, representing a kneeling slave with the motto ‘Am I not a Man and a Brother?’ The words engraved on the memorial reflect Macaulay’s understanding of the nature of compassion:

In grateful remembrance of Zachary Macaulay, who, during a protracted life, with an intense but quiet perseverance which no success could relax, no reverse could subdue, no toil, privation, or reproach could daunt, devoted his time, talents, fortune, and all the energies of his mind and body to the service of the most injured and helpless of mankind: and who partook for more than forty successive years, in the counsels and in the labours which guided and blest by God first rescued the British Empire from the guilt of the slave trade; and finally conferred freedom on eight hundred thousand slaves; This tablet is erected by those who drew wisdom from his mind, and a lesson from his life, and who now humbly rejoice in the assurance, that through the Divine Redeemer, the foundation of all his hopes, he shares in the happiness of those who rest from their labours, and whose works do follow them. He was born at Inverary, N.B. [North Britain] on the 2 May 1768: and died in London on the 13 May 1838.

Another example of compassion comes from Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf1700-1760). As was common during his day, young Zinzendorf, a German Count, made a Grand Tour of Europe -a rite of passage for young aristocrats. At age 19, while in Dusseldorf, the young count viewed Domenico Feti’s painting, Ecce Homo, “Behold the Man.” The painting depicted the crucified Christ. As the bottom of the painting, Feti had written these words from the mouth of Jesus: “This have I done for you – Now what will you do for me?”

These words were a knife in young Zinzendorf’s heart, as if Christ were speaking directly to him. From that day he dedicated his life to the service of Christ. In May of 1727 he opened his estate at Hernhut to be a place for the poor and the displaced, an example of com-passion in its fullest sense. Many who came as refugees were Christians and more became Christians. From this group grew an unbroken prayer movement–24 hours a day 365 days a year–that lasted over 100 years. This prayer operation birthed one of the greatest missionary movements in the modern world: the Moravians. Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, whose story was immortalized in Paris Reed’s sermon, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” were two of the missionaries representative of the Moravians. When I first heard this story it moved me to tears. This excerpt is well worth two minutes of your time. Listen and hear how a previous generation understood compassion.

The compassionate and commiserative lives of the Moravians inspired William Carey, the father of modern missions, to go to India. It was the Moravians’ example that gave John and Charles Wesley their wholistic vision for preaching the gospel that brought about the social transformation of England.

That was then. In the ensuing years our world, and our words, have changed. We have moved from the worship of the Compassionate God, who made people in his own image and who joins with us in our misery, to an atheistic framework in which human beings are animals and only the fittest deserve to survive. In this framework the meaning of the word “compassion” has changed. The Webster’s 2010 New World College Dictionary (online) reflects that change : sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity.

Note the shift in language: 

Why has our understanding of compassion shifted? Because our worldview has shifted. Worship is upstream from culture and culture defines our language and our language defines our understanding of compassion. Ideas have consequences! If there is no God in the universe, the concept of compassion is radically changed, might we say deformed.

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One Courageous Response to Gendercide – The War Against Females, Part 2 of 2

In the previous post we introduced you to Ana Santos, a dear friend. Here is more of her story in her own words.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1

I saw women and children weighed down under the heavy chains of lies, violence, devaluation, and abuse of power towards them. That image stays in my mind and heart all the time – an image that is a distortion of God’s intentions when He created woman from out of His heart. But in our day women and children are abused and exploited physically and sexually. They are prisoners desperate to be set free, waiting for a pathway of justice and mercy to be built so they can walk in freedom and find restoration.

How can we just ignore their plight?


As a baby Astou was sent to prison with her mother. Instead of receiving a doll for her fifth birthday, she was sent to a family who was suppose to care for her, but instead received her as slave. She was forced to learn how to cook, to make tea, and to become an object of sexual pleasure for old men. At that time, the shame, emotional pain, and defilement were so overwhelming Astou used to faint. Her tender heart, her hopes and dreams were smashed at an early age. The Koran was the only book she was allowed to read, and she was forced to memorize it. Her only hope at that time was to die.

At nine years old she was rescued. I had the privilege of being God’s vessel of mercy.

Ana and her daughters

It has been 13 years since the day I brought her home. Over the years, God’s grace has restored her daily. This is Astou – my daughter! Among all the opportunities God has given her, Astou has decided that her place is ministering to the invisible ones with me. Her heart to serve comes out of a deep, incredible joy – a joy that will touch other girls that live in the grip of fear and oppression in the Muslim world.

Ana’s response to gendercide has been to pursue a degree in International Law. She is actively working on discovering the next steps for her calling of ministering to and advocating for the plight of  the invisible people, female babies, young girls and women in the Muslim world.

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One Courageous Response to Gendercide – The War Against Females, Part 1 of 2

by Gary Brumbelow and Darrow Miller

Over 20 years ago, Dr. Ted Yamamori, the President of Food for the Hungry International, was walking through a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He heard the unmistakable cry of an infant struggling for life. Following the sound, he entered an otherwise-empty hut to find the source: an abandoned baby. Picking it up, he stepped out to locate the mother. She was nearby and unconcerned. “Leave that baby alone,” she insisted, “it was meant to die!” “No!” Dr Yamamori said, “This baby was born to live.”

That brief exchange captures the conflict of two radically different worldviews leading to two dramatically different, yet predictable, outcomes for the baby. On the one hand, we see the fatalistic, death culture of animism; on the other hand, the freedom, life culture of Judeo-Christian theism.

This story illustrates a key DNA concept: the gospel exposes the lies embedded in every culture. The mother was desperate with poverty and convinced of a framework of lies. She believed that human life has no value (a “doctrine” of animism) and that history is something that happens to you (i.e. fatalism). Blinded by these lies this mother acted against every maternal instinct.

Every culture has its lies. For years I (Gary) served cross-culturally and didn’t recognize these lies or confront them. I regarded such lies as examples of cultural relativity, thinking, Those are the values of the culture and we have no business challenging them. But Jesus identified the devil as the father of lies (John 8:44). His lies enslave and impoverish people, communities, and entire societies (Revelation 20:3, 7-8). The gospel of Christ exposes these lies. In John 10:10 Jesus threw down the gauntlet: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. He indicted the devil and declared his own mission and power. His is the power of truth, the power of a Biblical worldview.

When Dr Yamamori rescued the baby (and took it to a medical clinic) he acted from biblical conviction. His response was clear and immediate for at least two reasons:

1) His missionary practice was deeply informed by the biblical teaching about the sanctity of life, and,

2) He understood the importance of challenging the lies prevalent in the culture.

Such clarity only comes in the context of appreciating the whole-life picture of God’s concern for the world. Which leads to an important question for those in cross-cultural witness: How well prepared are we to recognize such lies? How faithful are we in confronting them? Too many Christians have been influenced by cultural relativism and thus will not challenge, or even recognize, lies where they are found.

I (Darrow) have had the privilege of knowing Ana dos Santos from Brazil for over 20 years. She is one of my heroes. Ana was serving as a development worker in a Muslim country in north Africa. She understood that development was more about truth replacing lies than about money. She understood the same worldview principles as Dr. Yamamori.

Ana grew up in Brazil, the daughter of a church planter who served in underprivileged communities. Bob Moffitt and I were privileged to mentor her. She continues in key leadership capacities in the Portuguese-speaking world. Some of Ana’s story was published in a DNA Global E-newsletter last September. The following narrative about how she adopted a destitute baby, and what happened, was not included in that account:

I first met Kalla on a dusty street. She was wrapped in a sheet held by an old lady. When I stopped the car, they came begging. Initially I did not give them much attention: the heat was above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) and I was in a hurry. However, when I saw that little girl—her expressionless face, her almost disfigured form of skin and bones—my heart almost stopped.

Meant to die?

The old lady was her grandma and told me that Kalla was two years old. I rushed to buy water for her and to my surprise she responded and drank it all. Because it is an Islamic country I couldn’t just take her home with me. So she stayed on the street without hope. When I got home and saw other children eating and happy, my heart was too tight. I heard something very soft, like a strong whisper: “Ana, you left me in the streets, hungry and naked?” I couldn’t say anything. I knew I was guilty.

Kalla's first days with Ana

Without thinking much I went back to bring Kalla home. As I was talking with her grandmother, asking her to bring Kalla’s mom to our house, she looked at me and said: “She will die soon, we have try to help her, but it is God’s will. We should accept it, we can’t change it.” 

I remember clearly the fight between worldviews, the ideas that decide between lifeor death. I looked at the lady and told her I was going to take Kalla home with me. “She is destined to live, to live an abundant life,” I said, “and this is what she will have!”

Beautiful Kalla, a child born to live

Today Kalla is 14 years old, loves Jesus, loves life, and we are praying that she will continue to grow towards God’s intention for her life. 

Kalla’s story continues. As we were working on this blog, Ana wrote:

Another great thing happened yesterday. I received a phone call from the American school here in Brazil. They have offered Kalla a full scholarship to attend school until we leave for [country name withheld]. God never misses one detail of His great care for us!

Ana Santos loves her Savior. She understands that her Father in heaven loves the widow and the orphan and that we should, too. We hope you are encouraged by Ana’s understanding, and how she acted on it, to provide a home for Kalla. In a following post you will hear more of Ana’s story.

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What If Jesus Were Mayor of Your Town?

photo of Bob MoffittDr. Bob Moffitt, Founder and President of Harvest Foundation, has been one of my best friends for almost 50 years. It was Bob and I, along with our corresponding organizations, who founded the Disciple Nations Alliance.

As part of the Disciple Nations Alliance, Bob and I have had the privilege of traveling around the world facilitating Vision Conferences. Bob is a gifted master trainer, perhaps the best teacher trainer I have ever met.

During one of our first conferences, Bob asked the gathered pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and development workers to close their eyes and envision the story he was about to tell. He related the story of a Latin American man named Juan who pastored a church in  the poor community of Las Pavas. As Bob told the story, we were all riveted to our seats.  Some were in tears. Here was story telling at its best.

When Bob finished, he asked the conference participants to break into small groups and discuss a question: “If Jesus were mayor of your community, what would he do to heal the brokenness?”  The conferee’s  spent ten or fifteen minutes in fun, high-energy brainstorming of how the community would specifically improve if Jesus were mayor.

When the discussions were over, Bob said, “Look at your list: that’s the church’s assignment (of what God wants her to do in the community)!”  The participants were stunned. Bob’s Parable of Vision and the related discussion had a paradigm-shifting effect.

I hope you enjoy A Parable of Vision.

– Darrow Miller

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Whatever Became of Compassion?

Dr. and Mrs. Karl Menninger

When I was in college I read Dr. Karl Menninger’s book Whatever Became of Sin? Menninger was one of the world’s leading psychiatrists and founder of the world-famous Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. He wrote the book because he became convinced that mental health was connected to moral health. He pointed out that the word “sin” was disappearing from the American vocabulary. With the loss of the word came the loss of the concept of real moral guilt.

At the founding of the United States, theology was the language of discourse. American affirmed the Creator. They lived in a moral universe in which human beings are separated from God by sin. This broken relationship led to all sorts of brokenness within each individual, among humans, and between human beings and the rest of creation. The concept of sinfulness influenced society’s understanding of human health in every dimension: moral, psychological, physical and social.

With the Western worldview shift from Biblical to Atheist, we have lost the concept of a moral universe, sin or moral health. For Menninger, to lose the concept of sin is to lose the potential of restored relationships and restored health.

As a culture’s worldview shifts, so too does its language and life. (For a vivid example of this effect, see Scott Allen’s powerful blogs on marriage, The Power of Words: Redefining Marriage Part 1 and Part 2.)

Menninger’s title evokes a parallel question: Whatever became of compassion? In the months ahead I hope to reflect on this question. Many of the readers of this blog are thoughtful global Christians interested in the twin activities of reflection and action. Our posts on Social Justice generated significant attention. I hope that future reflections on compassion will likewise be challenging and an encouragement.

– Darrow Miller

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Why The Nation Needs the Family

by Dwight Vogt

Here in the US it’s an election year and we’re constantly being reminded that the big issues are the economy (i.e. the health of business) and the role of government.

Recently, a colleague shared a comment he had heard on the radio from Robert P. George. Dr. George pointed out how both government and business are dependent for their success on well-formed citizens. Ironically, neither of them can produce this type of person, yet both government and business tend to undermine the very institutions we rely on to form these citizens – the family and church.

Dr. George has previously written on this topic:

image of Robert GeorgeFor a variety of reasons, statist solutions to poverty tended to increase and entrench rather than diminish it. And not unrelatedly, governmental expansion tended to weaken the institutions of civil society, above all, the family and the church, on which we rely for the formation of decent, honest, responsible, civic-minded, law-abiding citizens—citizens capable of caring for themselves, their families, and people in need. 

Go here to read the entire article.

The next day, I heard a very gifted retired high school band teacher who understood this point. She was leading students in an honorary regional band concert. In her introductory comments to a large audience of primarily parents and family members, she shared how impressed she was with the talent and focus of our children. But then she paused and in a measured voice said,

However, what most impresses me about your children is that they are kind. They have been very kind to me these past two days as we’ve worked together, and kind to one another. For this, we as parents should be proud.

She affirmed and thanked us in our role. I think we all felt a wave of gratitude and inspiration to press on as parents.

That same evening I watched an episode of Blue Bloods(2) in which the producer and writers seemed to get this as well. The story highlighted the role of parents in three very challenging situations. In each case the parent took the more difficult and self-sacrificing path to do what they thought was best for the development of their child. It was easy to identify, and again, I was inspired to press on as a parent.

This understanding of the God-ordained role of “family and church” is core to why DNA exists.

As the church and as families (i.e. fathers and mothers) we need to remember and understand the incredibly important, indispensible role we play in the overall ecosystem of a healthy culture/society, and be equipped to carry it out. If not, who pays the price? The society as a whole. The whole society requires “decent, honest, responsible” citizens, but these kind of people don’t fall from the sky! They are the outcome of God working in and through churches and families who have a vision and a practice of doing their best to equip their children to live from a biblical worldview.

The greatest crisis we face today in every nation, including the US, is the ability of churches and families to form its citizenry. The band teacher gets this and did her part to encourage us. The producer and writers of Blue Bloods get it, and used an episode to encourage good parenting. Dr. George understands it and reminds us to not allow government and business to undermine or weaken the role of the family and church on whom they rely for the formation of good citizens.

What’s my part this week to encourage and strengthen parents and families?  What’s yours?

Dwight Vogt serves as DNA’s Director of International Programs, supporting the work of DNA champions and trainers worldwide. Before coming to the DNA, Dwight worked for over 20 years at Food for the Hungry, including field leadership roles in Bangladesh, Peru, Thailand, and Guatemala.

Dwight is author of Footings: Biblical Worldview for Children. He earned his Master’s degree in intercultural studies and missiology from Biola University. Dwight lives with his wife Deborah and their three children in Phoenix, Arizona.

(1) Excerpt from He Threw It All Away by Robert P. George,  McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, published in First Things, March 2009.

(2) episode #36

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EFFECTIVE COMPASSION: Seven Proven Principles

Marvin Olasky is Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine and author of multiple books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion which has been especially influential in DNA circles.

Marvin was the keynote speaker at the March 3 DNA benefit dinner in Phoenix. He has graciously agreed to allow us to post at this blog his paper, Effective Compassion by Marvin Olasky.

We mentioned this paper in a recent post, A Response to a Reader … Why So Much Heat?

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