Thinking Out Loud

August 12, 2017

For the Forty-Somethings

 and some Thirty-somethings

 plus a few Fifty-somethings

It’s time to step up.

By that I mean, it’s time to get out the checkbook (or chequebook if you prefer) or grab the credit card and go online.

I’m not talking about giving to your local church. I’m sure you already do that. Maybe you tithe. Maybe you’re what Andy Stanley calls a percentage giver.  Things are stable financially and you’ve recognized that responsibility. Your local church thanks you, and wouldn’t exist without you.

No, this is about giving beyond your local church. It’s about the parachurch organizations, the faith missions, the Christian social service agencies. It’s about hospitals in third world nations, adopting orphans, and teaching literacy to jungle people, and preparing translations of the Gospel of Matthew.

Here’s the deal: A generation that founded many organizations — many formed in the post-war years 1945 to 1950 — and then funded those organizations is dying off. These generous patrons need to be replaced.

At the same time, as Christianity loses its ground numerically in Western Europe, Australia/NZ, and North America; awareness of the faith mission organizations is decreasing. Those of us who populate the pews on the weekend do not have opportunities to hear about the vital things different groups are doing, either domestically or in far-flung mission fields.

Some of these organizations are watching their donor base shrink and shrink to the point where everyone from office staff to field workers face cults. It’s now or never…

…Writing an article like this without mentioning names of potential objects for your philanthropy is difficult, but that’s what I pre-determined this piece would be. I do however suggest a few questions:

  1. Am I interested primarily in proclamation of the Christian message, or I am okay with organizations who serve the needy in Christ’s name?
  2. Do I want my money to stay here at home, or do I want to give to overseas projects in the most economically disadvantages parts of the world?
  3. Do I want to give to a major, longtime, well-established Christian charity, or do I want to partner with a newer, upstart group?
  4. What causes tend to resonate with me?
  5. If my gift means I end up on a mailing list, are these organizations I genuinely want to read about and learn how and what they’re doing?
  6. What particular ministry opportunities or places in the world am I personally aware of which may not be as familiar to others?
  7. Do I want to scatter some funds among a handful of Christian organizations, or go long and deep with one particular cause?
  8. Are there ministries where I have personal contact with a particular worker and will thereby know that the job is getting done; the money well-spent?

You might need to do some research. If you’re married, make sure your partner agrees with your choices, especially if you’re writing checks on a joint-account. And decide if you want to be a monthly supporter — which the organizations love because it provides them with a stable financial forecast — or if you’re doing a one-time thing.

People in the middle of a variety of ministry contexts are watching for your contributions.

January 29, 2017

A Not-So-Typical Day in the Life of a Medical Missionary in Rwanda

Filed under: Christianity, missions — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:18 pm

This article is here today because I know the author, Jesse Wong. He and his wife and two kids left a comfortable life in North America to work in a hospital in Rwanda, Africa.

Motorcycles in Africa

Having lived here now for over 2 years, I have had my fair share of learning how to drive on these roads. Interestingly enough, Rwanda has had a lot of development in terms of rebuilding the many roads. The Chinese have done an incredible job and carving out switchbacks into what I think is one of the most windiest and nauseating places in the world to drive. But this smooth tarmac, though brand new, is now an accident and death trap for motorists. Especially “motos”.

wongs-in-africaTransportation is expensive. Most people can’t afford a vehicle, nor a trip on a taxi. But hopping onto the back of a moto taxi is a cheap alternative and you can get to your destination in no time. Unfortunately, there are so many curves on these single lane highways, and with so many transport trucks and passenger carriers, passing is incredibly difficult. Especially when these trucks drive in the center of the road.

We were returning from a short trip and came across a terrible crash. A moto driver carrying medicines for one of the health centers attempted to pass a transport truck and was likely pinned. His helmet was off his head (helmets here are called brain buckets, that’s all they do) and he was contorted and fresh pink arterial blood was everywhere.

The accident had happened about three minutes prior. I wasn’t sure if the person was dead or alive. Despite my Kinyarwanda and communication, the policeman and witness were making it very difficult for me to approach.

“Please, can I help, I am a doctor.”

“NO PHOTOGRAPHS!”

“I’m not taking any photos. I just want to help. Is the person alive still?”

“IT IS ILLEGAL TO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS OF A CRASH SCENE!”

“Ndi Muganga (I am a doctor) – I want to help.”

“NO PHOTOGRAPHS!”

“I understand… I told you I have no phone. Let me help!”

As I checked for a pulse, in which there was none, I asked myself… do I even bother with performing CPR? What is this man’s chance of survival? Will he end up a paraplegic or quadriplegic? I remember one of the surgeons saying that quadriplegics die here in Rwanda, as there are no support systems to take care of them, no wheelchairs or even adequate roads to support them, it would be better to let them remain dead.

And so I stepped away from the first road fatality that I have witnessed in my life, and likely not my last. Just a lesson in life, culture, and tarmac. Turns out this was the 3rd fatality in this village since the road was completed about 2 years ago. I’m surprised it is that low. But as a dentist I have seen my life’s share here of terrible crashes and the damage to the face, teeth and lips. The ones that appear on Friday afternoons and I can’t even begin to know where to start, what to sew up first and what tooth to remove or splint.

These fatalities and crashes won’t decrease. I am wondering if there are any creative, economical new ways to prevent accidents like these in a continent where poverty sustains these dangerous means of transport. Any ideas anyone?


If you wish to make a one time or monthly donation to The Wongs and receive a charitable tax receipt, you can do one of the following:
1. Credit Card: one time and monthly donations click here
2. For Debit Card monthly donations click here and where the form says “Please designate my automatic donations towards the following project:” write beside the bullet “Other” 008233. Print the form, scan and send it to jbrown@samaritan.ca

January 12, 2011

Wednesday Link List

A rather bizarre lynx links list this week if I say so myself…so we brought back the Iberian Lynx for only the second time ever…

  • Tomorrow, this blog is one of the stops on a blog tour promoting W. P. Campbell’s book, Turning Controversy Into Ministry, a study of the church’s response to homosexuality.  I’ll be reviewing chapter ten, a pivotal chapter that kicks off the practical part of the book, Section III.
  • The video to watch this week is the young Lutheran boy who really gets down to preachin’ it in Jesus in Every Book of the Bible.
  • Top blog post this week — but it will take you a few minutes — is Darlene Parsons’ excellent analogy concerning cilantro and legalism.  Well written with a sharp taste just like the herb in question.  Don’t miss this.
  • At Q-Blog, Andy Couch brings a list of the top ten cultural trends of the last decade includes a few that may surprise.
  • Apparently signs at church exits stating, “You Are Now Entering the Mission Field” are more widespread than I realized.
  • Shane Claiborne visits a Christian bookstore only to find it freshly stocked with military merchandise and regalia. “Studies show that not only is the institutional church hemorrhaging economically, but the Christian industrial complex is in really bad shape…”
  • And in a somewhat related post, Shaun Groves gets ready to record his first studio album in five years, and carefully notes the way the Christian music industry has changed.
  • I’ve heard this story presented as a sermon illustration, but didn’t know there was actual video available. It should be called ‘Don’t Sleep in the Subway,’ because over a thousand people were asleep at the switch. Watch for a few minutes before reading the full story.
  • Zac Hicks thinks that worship leaders have a major obligation to present orthodox theology. “A great place to start is by studying the attributes of God, and particularly His incommunicable attributes (those characteristics of God which he does not share with humanity).”  Read more and bookmark this site if you are responsible for weekend worship in your community.
  • Ron Edmondson’s 10-year-old son figures when we get to heaven, they’ll have “one contemporary service and one traditional.”  Ron’s not so sure.
  • Think before you answer this one:  Did Jesus ever get the flu?  You might be surprised at Russell D. Moore’s answer.
  • Here we go again:  A Canadian Senator wants to criminalize spanking children.  Be sure to read the anecdote that Michael Coren relays before you think this isn’t a major issue.
  • Are dead birds falling from the sky a sign of the end times?  Former Left Behind movie actor Kirk Cameron thinks a reporter would do better to call a veterinarian.
  • True, Steve Saint is the son of South American missionary martyr Nate Saint; but also has an identity that’s all his own that springs from his own response to events that January day in 1956.  Such as working for Mission Aviation Fellowship.  Including going back to the same tribe that killed his father.  Lately, he’s been busy building a flying car.  Yes, you read that right.
  • If you enjoyed yesterday’s top Christian books chart here yesterday, you’ll really enjoy the U.S. Top 100 Christian Books for 2010 posted at Michael Hyatt’s blog.
  • The Toronto Star profiles Aiden Enns and his unusual Christian magazine, Geez, a faith magazine for the unchurched.  (Geez is the name that won out over Cripes.  Seriously.)   Enns got the idea for the magazine while working for Adbusters.
  • Here’s a video link to a great Sonicflood song from a couple of years back: Psalm 91.
  • Most comments indicated that this editorial on all things Crystal Cathedral was a miss more than a hit.
  • The Bible makes it into Gasoline Alley.  Not in a good way, though. At the blog The Comics Curmudgeon, a post last week focused on spiritual themes and noted in this case, “Gasoline Alley has continued its attempt to ditch its goody-goody image by dabbling in blasphemy. Today [Jan 5] it suggests that the Holy Bible is best used as a weight-loss aid.”  See for yourself:

  • Then again, I thought we needed a better note to end this week’s list on, so seeing it’s just a few days past Epiphany, this one from Sacred Sandwich seems to be timed just right:

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