Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Category: church

unread books

Well, I only watched about 15 minutes of the State of the Union address, but I don’t suppose I missed a lot. I’m guessing it was mostly “Rah, rah! Let’s fix the economy and create jobs. We need more bipartisan effort, and I fully support our troops.” Did I get most of it? I’m cynical about a lot of things, but politics is high up on the list.

I’ve been reading Alexander Pope in my free time, and I am amazed at how many well-known phrases came from his “Essay on Criticism”–“a little learning is a dangerous thing,” “to err is human, to forgive divine,” and “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” I’ve barely heard of Pope, so I was shocked to hear such common phrases originating with him. I’m reading “The Rape of the Lock” now, which I have actually heard of, although I know precious little about it.

I spent a big chunk of my afternoon listening to a webinar on “10 Commandments to Counteract Dependency” with Jarvis Ferguson, Ibero-American area director for Global Partners. It was some pretty challenging stuff, as our church here is very dependent on North American dollars, and I haven’t seen significant moves to break free of that system. I want to encourage the church toward greater self-support, but we’re basically starting from zero, so it’s going to take some major brainstorming and probably progress at a rate slower than I would like. My friend Dave Horne gave me the book When Helping Hurts back in October, but it’s still in a stack of a bunch of unread books on my desk. I think I’m just going to have to make reading it a part of my weekly schedule, so that I can get some clarity on how to begin to resolve this issue.

This stack of books is actually beginning to bug me. There is so much that I would like to read, but I just don’t make the time for it. I’m devoted to finishing this volume of the Major British Writers before I get too heavily into anything else. After Pope, I just have Boswell and Johnson, so maybe I’ll get through it sometime this year!

Speaking of books, I saw an interesting sign here in Ulaanbaatar yesterday; it said “Center of English Book.” I think if you’re going to bother to have an English book center, you ought to go to the trouble of using proper grammar in your signage. I suppose they could have just been referring to the center of a particular volume, but….

Tiffany has been helping me with some of our donor communication, so we should have a print newsletter coming out in the next week or so. Since everyone reading this must sure have an e-mail address, you probably won’t get a print copy, but if you do, save me some money next time by sending your e-mail address to By way of communication, we’re also working on getting a video postcard put together. There are a few churches that have requested videos, but I hope we’ll be able to make it available to whoever would like to see it.

Missional Church

Church Observations

I don’t have anything too profound to write about today. Because this was a Sunday, we didn’t have a whole lot going on. Our church does not have its own building, so we don’t have our Sunday service until 2:00 p.m. We meet in something like a shopping center, and another church meets in that space in the morning. It’s nice to not have to rush around to get ready in the morning, but it just feels odd to have church in the afternoon.

The service starts pretty much on time. There is quite a bit of singing and praying. Most of the songs seem to be translated choruses from America or Australia, sometimes repeated ad infinitum. There also doesn’t seem to be a great deal of variety; we sang several songs this week that we sang last week and in February/March 2007. Tiffany was out with Joel for part of the service, and Elijah slept through most of it. Gantuya, a girl who speaks English pretty well, came back and sat with me to provide abbreviated translation. The message was from the account of John the Baptist and focused on the cost of discipleship. It was refreshing to hear this perspective, as I had feared that the prosperity gospel was infecting the believers here.

After the service, Gantuya showed us the church offices and invited us to their Wednesday evening staff meetings. This is an interesting time of transition in the church. Pastor Naraa is preparing to step down to allow Otgonbayar, the founder of the church, to return to the pastorate. Otgonbayar has been in Chicago the past four years or so. There is going to be an interim period between Naraa’s abdication and Otgonbayar’s arrival, so this morning they introduced the team of people who will lead the church during that period and we prayed over that group. It was comprised of 9 or 10 ladies. While there are a number of men in the church, it seems that not many of them are in leadership roles. That may be somewhat indicative of the culture as a whole, where it seems that men are almost expected to be alcoholics and of little value when regarding the advancement of the society.

Deconstructing Church

Keith Drury has written an interesting article on the evolution of the church. He traces the history of how the Boomer generation has remade the church in their own image since the 1970s and investigates how the emergents of today are reacting. He makes some good points about the necessity of today’s church investigating how to mentor the new generation while also learning from them.


World Hope International Founder Elected in Historical Vote

Indianapolis – Dr. Jo Anne Lyon wrote a new chapter in the history of The Wesleyan Church on Monday, June 9, 2008, when she was elected by the Indianapolis, Indiana denomination as its first-ever woman General Superintendent at the Church’s June 7-11, 2008, General Conference in Orlando, Florida. “What a wonderful statement you have made as The Wesleyan Church,” said outgoing General Superintendent Dr. Earle L. Wilson to the nearly 2,000 delegates and guests at the conference.
An ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church, Dr. Lyon is founder of World Hope International and has led the organization to develop successful relief and development projects in more than 30 countries with an annual budget of over $12 million for 2007.
A licensed professional counselor, General Superintendent Lyon had thirty years prior experience in administering urban and rural human service programs before founding World Hope. She has a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Cincinnati, a Master’s in Counseling from The University of Missouri-Kansas City, and further graduate work at St. Louis University in Historical Theology. She has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Dr. Lyon will join Dr. Thomas E. Armiger and Dr. Jerry G. Pence on the Board of General Superintendents. Dr. Armiger and Dr. Pence, both incumbents, were elected to new terms earlier Monday, June 9.
The Wesleyan Church is an evangelical, Protestant denomination, which has its roots in John Wesley’s Methodism. The denomination has nearly 400,000 constituents in 5,000 churches and missions in 86 countries around the world.

New Year’s Eve

Well, 2006 is almost gone. I can tell by the nearly constant fireworks I’m hearing. And frankly, I’m not too sorry to see it go. The year had some good moments, but it seemed to hold a lot more questions than answers. I am looking forward to a clean slate in 2007 and am hoping and praying that I can make better use of it than I did this year.

I only transported three people to church this morning. When the students are off-campus, nobody is visiting their contacts out in the barangays. So some of the casual attendees slack off on their attendance. Of course, a lot of people are traveling for the holidays, too. I had just picked up my last rider in the barangay and was headed back out onto the main road when one of the ladies hollered at me to stop. Mr. Ambrocio, an older gentleman, had gotten in the back of the vehicle. Neither of the fold-down seats were folded down, but he didn’t change that. He was just squatting in the back of the car, and apparently having some trouble doing so. I don’t know if he didn’t know how to fold the seats down or if he didn’t think he should change something on my car. At any rate, I talked him into moving to the vacant front passenger seat.

We didn’t have our English Sunday school class last week, so we had our Christmas lesson today. Mrs. Clark taught on the story of the Magi and the flight to Egypt. Pastor Bong preached on John 10:10 in the morning worship service, and we celebrated communion together. The elements today were cookies and Coke. Grape juice is pretty expensive and not readily available, so substitutes are often used. We also ran out of communion cups, so I only had a cookie.

After a nap, I got up and tried to do some thinking about budgeting for the new year. Even though I think we live pretty frugally, expenses don’t seem to fall far short of income. I know when we move back to the US this spring, we’re in for a reality check. A lot of our expenses are covered here that we’re going to have to shell out for when we get back. Hopefully, we’re able to still keep body and soul together and still have enough to give to others. I’m not losing any sleep over it.

Well, the fireworks are getting louder. In just a few minutes, we’re having our new year’s fellowship here on campus. It’s not technically a watch-night service, just a little devotional time, some snack-eating and playing games. I personally would rather go to bed and get my new year started right (with a full night’s sleep) but I realize that this is probably an important event to some, and I’m sure I will have fun.