Thursday, June 14, 2007

Preparing a Higway

Hong Kong. A mass of humanity in a sardine can. Wall to wall people. I visited there first back in about 1995 -- before it became a part of mainland China. I never forget sweeping into the old airport between the sharp mountains and the equally tall skyscrapers wondering how our pilot ever found his way down -- and how many wrecked aircraft didn't make it. On my next trip, they had built a new airport -- one out on a man made island in a bay.

What caught my attention, however, was the amazing highway that led from city center to the new airport. The highway ramped up over the sprawling mass of humanity below. It led directly into a mountain side -- where the wide mouth of a tunnel opened to allow the traffic to pass. Just after the exit from the tunnel, a massive suspension bridge was flung across the bay allowing speeders to zip right into the airport. As we sped along, I began to think of highways.

As a young man, I had worked on a highway crew and had an appreciation for the hard work that went into every culvert, every small stream that had to be crossed. But as each was encountered, a permanent solution was sought and found. One could not go back fixing highways over and over again. They had to be built to last -- tough and strong enough to endure for decades. What enormous planning had to go into a highway.

I was whizzing over this HK highway in 20 minutes because it circumvented every obstacle -- city, mountain, sea! But the hardships that had to be over come. And as travelers sped over the smooth asphalt they never thought of who had the dream of building a highway, or the enormous planning it took, or the gigantic effort it took to build the high pass, the tunnel and the suspension bridge. But now they were all done, it just took 20 minutes from downtown HK to the airport!

Mission agencies are like highways to me. Highways transport people and goods from one place to another. Mission agencies help people from one part of the world who want to serve somewhere else get there. They move people, money, supplies from one part of the world to another. In days past -- traffic was all one way -- from the "West to the Rest." But in a globalized world traffic is starting to move both ways.

For many years, I have been involved in an evangelical mission agency, SIM. SIM started out as Sudan Interior Mission and then morphed into Society for International Ministries and eventually into Serving In Mission. Over the past 20 years it has merged with a number of other missions until today it stands as one of the larger Evangelical mission agencies working in Latin America, Africa and Asia. During my 22 years of working in the International administration of this mission, I came to the growing realization that SIM could become a Highway for All Nations -- not just western nations but for emerging missionaries from any part of the world as well.

In this blog, I will attempt to track to story of how SIM becomes transformed from a Footpath to all People to a Highway for all Nations. I take inspiration from prophesies in the Old Testament where Isaiah spoke of someone who would come crying "Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness. Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

I believe that mission agencies like my own ought not only to take the Gospel to the Nations, but they should enable the Nations to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I am convinced that the time has come for God to use all nations in the missionary enterprise -- without regard to ethnicity, social standing or even financial ability. I am not simply interested in seeing emerging missionaries join my mission to make it bigger or stronger. I am interested in seeing mission movements start up in each country of the world. If my mission can be the highway to get them from one part of the world to the next, so be it -- but the important thing is that they become enabled, encouraged, and activated for the cause.

To that end, I have put my life forward to do everything I can to advance this cause. I share this blog with you so that you can join in the mountaintops of joy and the valleys of sorry as we work toward "Preparing a Highway for all Nations to be involved in world mission."

Highway Howie

1 comment:

Courtney said...

Glad to see you on the web. Its about time!!

Keep it up, we'll be reading.