Filed Under (Song of the Week) by Rob on 24-08-2012

The Harvest is Ready!”

For all Christians out there – do you truly believe that:

(i) There is a God
(ii) He sent Jesus to die so that we can live forever
(iii) Those who do not follow him will be eternally lost
(iv) Coming to know Jesus is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone

If so, how can we not want to share this with the world at every possible opportunity? What’s gone wrong? Our culture frowns upon “discussing religion and politics” but we mustn’t let that stop us. Surely even most non-Christians would understand that anyone believing the four statements above would urgently want to share this (even if they themselves do not believe it)!

So, what are we waiting for? Pray, then pray some more, then go out into the world and ooze Jesus in all you do!

Here’s the song:

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(Click above for the audio – sorry, still can’t get the built-in audio player to come up)

We thank you for your Gospel
We thank you for your Word
And for the life abundant that we live
We bring before you, Father,
All those who haven’t heard
Of the glorious salvation that You give

The harvest is ready
But the workers are so few
And lost souls perish daily
Without ever knowing You
So give us hearts in tune with Yours
And open up our eyes
To see your awesome purpose
______Bm_____E____A___ __D_____A____(Esus__E) [third time: to key change]
In each moment of our lives

In every situation
With everyone we meet
Lord, teach us true obedience to your call
We need Your loving power
To make each conversation count
As we introduce the Saviour to them all

If we don’t go and tell them
Then they may never hear
This Good News of unquestionable worth
So Holy Spirit fill us
With the power to go out
And be the voice of Jesus on this earth

The harvest is ready
But the workers are so few
And lost souls perish daily
Without ever knowing You
So give us hearts in tune with Yours
And open up our eyes
To see your awesome purpose
______Cm_____F____Bb___ __Eb_____Bb____Fsus__F
In each moment of our lives

(Recorded for the first time on ‘The Broadwood Grand’)

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 06-08-2012

Coming back to the “home culture” is stressful for any missionary, and re-adaptation can take months – even years.

In her book Burn up of Splash Down, Marion Knell states that ‘more than sixty percent of former missionaries returning home find the experience negative – even devastating.’

So, to help put your missionaries into the other 40%, here are my top tips:

DO: Get up to date with their news first! If you have time, re-read their last couple of prayer letters so you know what to ask. There’s nothing worse than an opening conversation like this:
“So, how was Benin?”
“Fine, but I’ve been in Mali for the past three years.”

DON’T: Bombard them with dozens of questions too soon. Coping with readapting to the home culture is very disorientating for them, and having the ‘Spanish Inquisition’ every time they meet someone is exhausting. All they really need is a hug and the assurance that they are loved and welcomed, maybe followed by a couple of well-directed questions.

DO: Invite them into your homes, even if it’s just for a cup of tea. It’s common for folk back home to think: “They need time to settle in, so we’ll leave them be.” The first part of the statement is – of course – very true. However, what folk don’t realize is that being welcomed into other people’s homes is all part of that settling in process, as it allows the missionaries to reacquaint themselves with the home culture and to feel loved and wanted.

After eight weeks back home, one missionary was asked: “So, have you finished your epic tour of dinners with supporters yet?” Embarrassed, he replied that during this time he’d only been invited to two people’s houses!

DON’T: Expect them to do too much too soon. Besides perhaps a short introduction and welcome back at their first Sunday service home, it’s best not to even ask them to be directly involved in any church ‘work’ for their first two to three months home. If asked, they may feel obliged to participate, and may even like the idea of doing so. However, this is probably not the best thing for them during these initial weeks of intense transition and adaptation.

DO: Offer them a debriefing and/or counselling. If their mission organization is worth its salt, they’ll have already had this shortly after returning. But extra times with a caring local pastor or deacon could also be helpful. Even if they have left the field under ‘normal’ circumstances, it is still quite traumatic to return to what is now a foreign country to them.

DON’T: Focus on the future. They’re still dealing with the past, and coming to terms with all they’ve left behind overseas. This includes their home, their workplace, many wonderful friends/colleagues and – in many ways – their very identity. Until they have come to terms with grieving all of the above, they will not feel like talking about future plans in any detail. It’s a very Western trait to want to ask people this, but it is unlikely to be helpful for your missionaries. For more information on the transition process, follow this link.

DO: Ask one or two open questions which allow them to share some of what they’ve experienced with you. For example: “What is the hardest thing to get used to back here?” or “What do you miss most about Africa?”

DON’T: Use “You must be/it must be…” phrases. It’s a very British (Western?) trait, but they’re just not helpful to most people returning home. The likes of: “You must be glad to be back” (Actually, I’m not. Not yet, at least), or “You must be cold” (Correct! I just came from India. What do I say next?!) Then there’s: “It must be really strange for you, coming back after all this time.” (better, but still rather stating the obvious, and all I can do is nod mournfully in response).

DO: Show a genuine interest in what they’ve been doing oversees. Asking them to bring some photos along or to recount interesting anecdotes (they’re bound to have loads of these) will not only help them to reconcile their two worlds, but will also mean that you learn something new and understand missionary life more clearly. Saint Augustine said: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” So, think of them as a living encyclopaedia of anthropology!

DON’T: Say, “You haven’t changed a bit!” Again, terribly common, but to many of us, that’s like saying: “The past 10 years have had no effect on your character or spiritual depth”. Living overseas changes anyone, and usually for the better! In fact, this great website states that ‘When you’ve had a mission, you can never go back to a mere job’. I agree!

DO: Pray for them and with them. Missionaries like praying and tend to do a lot of it (as do many Christians, of course!)

DON’T: Make negative comments about their dress sense, however out of fashion or outlandish it may seem; they’ve just spend several years in a culture that not only dresses very differently, but which – in all probability – puts much less importance on fashion and outer appearance than most Westerners do. Sure, your missionaries may not ‘blend in’ like everyone else, but they are probably most comfortable dressed like this. With time, they will readapt (to some extent at least), but being singled out for “dressing weird” is unlikely to help them readapt!

DO: Keep on asking questions, even weeks after they’re back. Their overseas experiences are now part of who they are; they really don’t want to have to deny this and merely slot back into the home culture unchanged.

There you go!

For more great (and even better!) tips, please take time to read – and act upon, the sound and thorough advice in this article: Welcoming Returning Missionaries.
Also, have a look at this reading list with loads of great books on the subject.

Where’s Rob this week? Any ideas?!

Filed Under (Where in the World is Rob Baker?) by Rob on 28-07-2012

And easy one this time:

Filed Under (Malian culture) by Rob on 25-07-2012

In recent weeks, I have quickly discovered that the definitions of ‘hot’, ‘just right’ or ‘cold’ differ vastly, depending on what one is used to. For example:

At the moment, it’s around 28 Celsius in England, the point at which I think: “It’s just starting to get nice and warm for once.” Meanwhile, Brits who have not lived in Africa are complaining that “It’s too hot!” It’s all a question of what one is used to.

Now, we’re slowly re-acclimatizing, but it will be a long time (if ever) until I consider 30 Celsius as ‘hot’. Not after Mali’s “human oven” climate!!

Filed Under (Song of the Week) by Rob on 02-07-2012

The first four lines of this song were written by Dave Sper from Our Daily Bread. I liked the words, so added another four lines and then a ‘chorus’. Here’s the result:

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(Sorry, the ‘audio player’ feature doesn’t seem to be working this week. Just click on the link and it downloads pretty quickly. Cheers)

Tragedy into Opportunity

The Lord can change a tragedy
Into an opportunity
To show us that eternity
Must never be ignored
His awesome creativity
At work in us so mightily
Will bring us through ad-ver-si-ty
Empowered and restored

Thank you Jesus for your all-embracing love
Through the traumas of this life
____________Gm______Csus C
Your grace will always be enough
We put our faith in You
And claim your power from above
Saviour, healer, faithful God

Something new on the blog at last!

All you have to do is say (as acurately as possible) where I am in the picture.
Hoping to run a series of these. Happy guessing!

PS More new songs to follow soon too…

Filed Under (Song of the Week) by Rob on 26-05-2012

Go to All Nations!

That’s what Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 28 (read it here).

Now, fristly, apologies for the long gap since the last “weekly” song! The transition back to the home culture always takes a long time and I also find it totally zaps my creativity for a while. Not to worry – a new song is here!

Thankfully, my faithful electric piano made it home safely, having been from Bamako to Dakar to The Gambia! In the previous two songs, you can see it in two of those locations. Now, here it is in my conservatory in England (and a jolly nice sunny day it is too!)

So, it was high time two things happened in Western worship: (i) That a song be written which specifically presents Jesus’ command (and challenge) to all his disciples to GO. And (ii) That more songs in a reggae style be composed. Besides the old chestnut of “It is the cry of my heart” there are virtually no other songs in this rhythmic, accessible and enjoyable genre. Now there’s one more! Here it is:

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You will receive power
When my Spirit comes upon you
And you will be my witnesses
Throughout the whole earth

Go! Go! Go to all nations
And make them my disciples
Go! Go! Whatever it may cost you
Baptizing and instructing them
So they can do the same

Only in my name
You will perform great miracles
To heal the sick and ailing
And show my words are true

Put your trust in me
With all your heart and mind
And together we’ll accomplish this
The time has come for you to:

Filed Under (Song of the Week) by Rob on 30-04-2012

It’s funny how God works sometimes. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised – that’s what He does!

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a sermon which mentioned ‘The Seven Ones’ in Ephesians 4. This immediately struck me as material for a song, so I drafted out a chorus and part of a verse, to finish at a later date. Then I came to the retreat in The Gambia this week (to lead worship) and what should be one of the main readings but Ephesians 4:1-16!! The very same bit! So, I quickly finished off the song and we sang it a couple of times at the retreat – it went down pretty well.

The song is in a slightly 80’s style, but with some more recent features (ie the Bm chord at the end of line 2 and the unresolved Esus4 chord). Remarkably, the entire song only contains six notes (D, E, F#, G, A and B). Yet it has eight basic chords! Unusual to have more chords than notes in a song, but there you go.

Here it is:

Walk a Walk that is Worthy

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(Based upon Ephesians 4:1-16)

Walk a walk that is worthy of His call upon your life
With gentleness and patience for each o—ther
By His grace we can be free from bitterness and strife
So unity and peace will ever reign
One body, one spirit,
One hope to which we’re called
One baptism, one Lord, one faith
One God and father of all
United in our saviour
His love will make us strong
The more we grow like Je–sus
The more we are made one

He is above all
And through all
And in all (x2)

Filed Under (Song of the Week) by Rob on 21-04-2012

Someone recently noted that many of my songs are more to do with encouraging Christians to live lives closer to God, and to reach out to others. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s also a need for songs which purely worship the Lord for who he is. That’s what this song does.

The melody is not as original as I’d like, but it is certainly singable (and it will stick in your head!!) The last line, of course, is from Henry Twells’ lovely song “At evening, when the sun had set” (1868). Click here to see all the words.

Now, whilst my piano came with me to Senegal, it has now gone off (by road) to The Gambia! However, I had the foresight to record the accompaniment for this song over a week ago, before the instrument disappeared! Here it is:

Jesus, you are everything to me

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Jesus, you are everything to me
My life, my hope, my salvation
A____________E/G#__________ F#m_____F#m/E
On the cross you gave your life to set me free
And I will serve you all the days of my life

You are my strength, you are my might
You are my never-ending light
My comfort and refuge
My healing and my sight
My shield and my deliverer
My strong and mighty tower
Lord, your touch has still its ancient power