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BELIZE – A Foundation Problem

“While many things change, most things remain constant”

Belize is a small country nestled in the Caribbean Basin between Mexico and Guatemala. Rich in resources, Belize boasts the second the largest barrier reef in the world and is the home to one of the largest most fertile rain forest in Central America. Eco-tourism has flourished in the past few decades. Oil was discovered a few years ago in the western part of the country. However, in light of such wealth, Belize also boasts of poverty levels in 30-40% of the population according to Caribbean World Bank Development.

However, “While many things change most things remain constant.”  For example; In a world of buildings we have seen changes in types of homes. Just consider homes from past to present you will see the constant changes in space, design and shapes. However, no matter the constant changes to these structures one thing remains constant, the foundation. The need for a good foundation has never changed. Without it, these structures—no matter the external changes—will not stand for long. I believe the same principle is true for nations. As monumental shifts have occurred in this world due to the discovery of the internet, globalization, migration and new inventions, certain things remain the same, specifically the absolute need for an unchangeable foundation based on the absolute truth about mankind. Here are a few foundational problems I thought about on my recent visit to Belize.

Health of Families

As I traveled across the country for six days I came across a constant call to help in the area of marriage. I found myself spending hours with couples who were in trouble in their marriage. The complete inability to deal with conflicts, generational offenses, and just the rampant need for relational principles at a basic level is evident. A nation is strong when the family is strong. When families begin to disintegrate the negative impact is massive. One of the issue is the vacuum it creates among children that leaves them open to street gangs who provide that need for some sort of family structure. Belize has seen a tremendous rise in gangs and gang violence. Today it ranks the third highest national murder rate in the world. The majority of the homicide take place in Belize City where gang violence is rampant. This is a direct result of the complete breakdown of the family, especially in Belize City. 

Lack of Male Leadership

Northwood Church is very invested in Belize and our approach to mission is through the domains of society, especially through the education domain. We have developed relationships with those at the highest level in education. One such female leader was asking me to help them in the area of motivating male leadership in this domain. This particular leader is the director of the largest school district in Belize. She told me that out of 176 schools she only has 2 male principals. There has been a complete exodus of males from leadership in the education domain. Male leadership is foundational to the health of a family, church, nation. The question is why are they absent in the education domain and how can reverse that trend?

Lack of Servant Leaders in Government

Another area is the lack of Servant leaders. The entire system from the top to the bottom and across all domains of society is built upon leadership by power and manipulation. The desire to take for themselves as much as possible before they are relieved from their position develops a winner-take-all attitude. If you ask children in Belize the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer is usually two-fold, an immigration officer or a government position. They understand that to have anything beyond just barely surviving these two vocations afford you the possibility to make more money through stealing and bribes. An entirely different leadership foundation is needed or these patterns will continue to perpetuate themselves through every generation of leadership.

While many things are changing in this world, many remain the same. Without healthy families, male leadership and a philosophy of servant leadership within the fabric of a society, a nation will have a very weak foundation. It will not able to withstand the whirlwind of change and the house it is built on will eventually fall. It does not matter how great the external structure is the foundation dictates the future of that house.

Global Pastors Speak About Global Trends

 

Every year global leaders meet somewhere in the world to build relationships, learn from each other and leverage what God has given each leader. This group consist of about 20 global leader which represent approximately 11 million followers including their networks. In December 2017 this group met in Bethlehem to share what God is doing in their part of the world. One of the question we asked all of them was “What were the 10 top global trends which they thought will significantly influence the coming years?” Here is the list of trends they selected.

Media/Social/Tech

The Church has unprecedented opportunities to enhance social connectivity, influence right social action, and extend its evangelism and discipleship efforts by utilizing these rapidly emerging technologies. New possibilities will exist to employ aggressive strategies to reach people broadly or in a specific way through technology. This will allow continued and expanded communication into difficult-to-access countries or people groups. It will be important that new models are researched and best practices are shared broadly. More than ever, Global South partners can and should participate in these wide-reaching conversations as equals.

Rise of Radicalism & Grassroots Religious Persecution

A continuing rise in radicalism, especially in failed states, will be a consequence of disillusionment and anger over lack of economic opportunities and of ideologies that emphasize ethnic, tribal and religious differences. Christ’s call is higher than mere tolerance – it is to show love and respect in a language that is understood. Following Christ’s teaching to be peacemakers would call for appealing to common values and reducing antagonistic rhetoric. The global Church has the opportunity to set an example in respect-based diplomacy.

Growth in Islam & Christianity

Both Islam and Christianity will continue to see rapid but uneven growth. Islam’s growth will be fueled by high birth rates in some traditionally Muslim countries, coupled with immigration to Europe and aggressive expansion in other regions. Christianity will grow in the Global South, primarily driven by Pentecostalism and indigenous mission movements. Conflicts will intensify between these two major religions in many parts of the world.
The global Church’s challenge can be summed up as learning how to love one’s Muslim neighbor in the name of Christ while seeking respect and reciprocity. Both Islam and Christianity will face challenges from the tendency to see the other as a monolith. Both will have trouble dealing with extremism and theological shallowness from within. Conflict management and peacemaking initiatives will be needed, as will increased levels of advocacy and dialogue on the issue of religious freedom.

Young People

There is a crying need for role models for youth, from elders and peers. Traditional structures, often bound by the culture of an older generation, are seldom appealing to younger generations. By dealing with institutionalized issues of hierarchy, the Church could empower youth to get involved, take initiative at a much younger age, and offer fresh thinking to aging organizations.  The global Church can equip youth to become prepared for all spheres of society by providing discipleship and leadership training, recognizing the practical need for employment and livelihood, and developing and practicing an “integral theology” through education and skills training. It will take an openness to significant change while not losing a biblical center.

Broken Families

Since the 1960s the family has undergone significant transformation. In many countries, the extended family has all but disappeared, and the traditional family consisting of a married couple with children has become much less widespread as divorce rates, cohabitation, couples “living together apart”, single parenthood and same-sex partnerships have all increased. A rise in migration has made cultures and values more diverse. Families have seen more mothers take up work in the labor market.  Adolescents spend longer and longer alone and the elderly members of the family live longer. This disintegration and reshaping of the family unit is creating massive social problems around the world. This environment puts a demand on the global church for holistic, multi-generational, multi ethnic and multi-cultural approaches to ministries.

Nationalism/Tribalism

There is a resurgence of tribalism and identification with religious factions. Identity conflicts are, and will remain, the most important source of international violence and war in the world. Nationalism is on the rise, the belief that your own country is healthier when it returns to its ethnic and historical roots.  This rise is due in part to globalization and the sense of rootlessness that it has caused.  Sometimes nationalism makes people not want to work with other countries to solve shared problems and isolate itself from the world. It is important not to confuse nationalism with patriotism. Patriotism is a healthy pride in your country that brings about feelings of loyalty and a desire to help other citizens.  The challenge for the global church is to rise above the politics of the day and call people to a higher standard of living and relating to this world where its identity is rooted in Christ and not some temporal entity, where people are called to live as kingdom citizens in this world.

Terrorism/Violence

Terrorism and Violence is on the rise in the world. So, what does this all mean for the world today? If massively destructive terror attacks continue, terror management theory predicts that societies will grow exponentially more chaotic and divided. Heightened aggression towards dissimilar others produces a tendency to favor war over peace. Right-wing nationalism will thrive along with prejudice and intolerance. Islamic fundamentalism will flourish while terror attacks grow more frequent. Raised tensions between nations, ethnicities and political groups will lead to further conflict, creating a devastating feedback loop of suspicion and violence. The Challenge to the global church is live out the mandate of being peacemakers, to be reconcilers and not dividers. To love our enemies and bless those who curse us.

Refugees

Every minute, 24 people around the world are forced to flee their homes. That’s 34,000 people a day who leave everything behind in the hope of finding safety and a better tomorrow. THERE ARE 65 MILLION REFUGEES IN THE WORLD TODAY. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries. Right now, nearly 5 million people have fled the conflict in Syria, and there is no end to the crisis in sight. The global church must see this as an opportunity and not a problem. We must welcome the stranger in our home. Let the government entities deal with the geopolitics of this issue. Our role is to love and take care of people when they knock on our doors. 

Decline of Religion

Modernity will be expressed differently across generational lines. One common face, however, will be materialism and a move towards religious nominalism. Traditional religious institutions will be eroded. Developed nations will see a growing worldliness in their religious congregations. Some developing nations will follow the same trend, as modernization leads people to lose a living sense of the supernatural. The Church’s greatest challenge in this area may well be to interpret culture in light of the Gospel rather than reading the Gospel in light of culture. Diversity not secularization is to be celebrated. Our Christian distinctive should remain unambiguous. We are to be relevant but not relativistic, proclaim absolute truth and provide a contrast for people who are hungry for a Kingdom reality. The need for investments in leadership development has never been clearer.

Sex/LGBTQ

The relationship between religion and the LGBTQ community is a complicated one and everyone experiences it differently. It all depends on how you feel and what you choose. Historically many orthodox religions have treated LGBTQ people harshly. However, within nearly every religious denomination there are now supportive groups that have adopted different interpretations about LGBTQ people. Some denominations, such as Reform Judaism and the Episcopalian church, are openly supportive of LGBTQ members. As society shifts to be more accepting of LGBTQ people, many other denominations are starting to grapple with this issue. The question is how will the global church communicate its conviction on this issue without alienating people who are part of this community. How do we speak the truth in love?

 

(Thank you to First Fruit Global Trends and www.care.org for some of the data included in this blog)

Leadership From the Inside Out

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life – Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Leadership has been a topic discussed since the beginning of time. We humans intuitively know that everything rises and falls on leadership. Yet, we live in extraordinary times where the turn of the millennium has brought the realization that we need a new kind of leader to help navigate us through a new world. We have never been here before, therefore a different paradigm of leadership is required. We need leaders that can innovate and create–that can adapt to changing environments. However, all the special gifts and skills needed are still informed and directed by what lies inside a leader. At the core of this leadership issue must be the awareness that the business of leadership starts and ends at the heart level. The soul of a leaders determines the direction and the course of life no matter the context. Techniques, skills and natural talents are not enough to create a society that flourishes. Extraordinary leaders are those who transcend the work at hand and create change not only in the material world but leave behind people who are changed by their character and ethics for the better.  They leave themselves in others.  Here are 4 characteristics that define extraordinary leaders.

Extraordinary leaders are reflective leaders. These leaders listen carefully to others to understand before trying to be understood. They refuse to pass quick judgement or make hasty decisions without considering the impact it will have on others. They don’t sacrifice great and deliberate decision on the altar of immediacy. Reflective leaders take responsibility for their decision and don’t spend their time blaming everybody else for their lack of progress or mistakes. They always plan time, days and even seasons of reflection. Their lives are not  reactive but proactive.

Extraordinary leaders are present in the moment. These leaders are always in the present now with you. They don’t have shifty eyes always thinking about themselves or something else while you talk. They make you feel like you are the most important person at that moment. They focus on you and make you feel listened to. They are so secure in who they are and are quite content in their personhood that criticism or flattery does not move them. They exude kindness and friendliness to everyone.

Extraordinary leaders are authentic. These leaders are very honest about themselves and their deficiencies. They are people of integrity; or wholeness. They celebrate their imperfections in the context of needing others. They understand that our deficiencies are simply an invitation to participate in our collective humanity to create a better world together. Authentic leaders are really happy in their skins and celebrate other’s gifts and success. They are mostly called real when you meet them. People feel comfortable and at peace in their presence.

Extraordinary leaders live from a higher calling. These leaders live above just the mundane acts or doing. They are driven by a higher calling than just making money of having the biggest church or wanting to make a name for themselves. There is a sense of deep abiding rest in the midst of the work. They are not workaholics, yet they work hard.  They know when to play and are at peace in the times of rest and play. These leaders live from a sense of calling not competition. Usually, their vision transcends time and space knowing they are here for a season and they are simply playing a small part in the story of humanity. They prefer to leave a legacy and not just make history.

The displacement of jobs is upon us as machines take over many of the high skilled knowledge base jobs. The need for extraordinary leaders will be in high demand because machines are not reflective, are not present in the now, are definitely not authentic and have no sense of a higher calling. Their souls are animated by a power cord with a 220v plug. They will never be like like human being who are created in the image of God and whose souls are animated by the spirit of God. This new world of great advances in every domain of society has created a demand for extraordinary leaders who are built from the inside out.

GlocalNet Multi Faith Retreat in Detroit

The Lodge is a retreat center nestled among beautiful pine trees. It sits right on the edge of Lake Huron in Detroit, Michigan. It is in this setting that a group of Pastors and Imams met to build relationships that were real, transparent and forward thinking.

Over two days, these faith leaders heard each other’s stories, discussed their irreconcilable differences, and asked hard questions of each other. They also ate together, sat around a campfire and created moments of inspiration, “aha” moments and lots of laughter. The leaders arrived with suspicions and some trepidation as to what would happen but left as friends. 

GlocalNet Multi Faith Retreats are catalysts for relationships that leads to action. There are 5 objectives that move the conversation from words to intentional actions steps. Each faith leader worked on a strategic plan together which includes family meals, bringing their constituencies together for an event, working on projects for the good of the city, standing up for each other and bringing other leaders along on this peacemaking  journey.

It is simply amazing what happens when we sit across from each other face to face and seek to understand the other. Everything changes! One Imam stopped me during the retreat and said, “Omar, we have no choice but to do these things. The alternative is not good.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” The key word is maker. Jesus did not say peace-keepers. Peace-making takes sacrifice, intentionality and giving up focused time to building these relationships.  There’s no doubt that the leaders gathered in Detroit this week are peacemakers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elements of Movements

What a man does in life becomes history, but what he puts into motion becomes his legacy – Paul Cole

Here’s a question for you, “Are you creating history or making a movement?”

The word movement comes from the latin movere which means to move or set in motion. It speaks of something that is bigger and will probably take a few generations to see it’s fruition. Nevertheless, some leaders give themselves to such tasks with all their might. They care not who gets the credit, their only goal is to initiate it knowing that they may never see it to completion. They are moved by the prospect of changing the world for the better. The irony is that nobody creates a movement, they simply just lay the groundwork for one.

Here are some of the elements you will find in that groundwork that are vital in creating movements.

Movements are not about self-interest but are about what is right and wrong. Self-interest does not allow for long term thinking because it is only motivated by that which the leader can control or by what gives them credit. Some leaders are driven by small tasks they can complete in their life time in order to get the credit and accolades that short term achievements produce.

Movements always begin with the minorities. It is not the size of group that determines movements but it’s the commitment of the few involved. All you need is a committed and motivated minority in order to begin. When God wants to start a movement he always begins with a small minority or someone who has been discarded or rejected by society–someone that fits into the misfit category but possess the raw material of a nation’s future. The stone that the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone of a new world.

Movements requires action not discussions. It is not dialogue that creates movement, but actions that creates a new dialogue. That new dialogue is very distinct and carries within it the seeds of the new movement. Dialogue by itself tends to be circular in nature and carries no potency to break through the old thinking; the only way to break through from the old is to take a new action.

Movements are visionary.They offer society a desired future. People are attracted by the prospect of a sudden and spectacular change in their condition of life. Movement sees right through the present and imagines a new future. It is written that Jesus endured the cross and shame for the joy set before Him. His vision of the future was so magnificent that it helped him deal with the present sacrifice.

Movements are prophetic.They call people to higher standard of life. They call for justice and order and equality. They call us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly. A prophetic vision believes despite of the evidence to the contrary. It does not succumb to the pabulum of emotional self pity or the arrogance of the self-made man. It calls us to higher standard, one that elevates us above the mundane and provokes us to live a transcendent life in the transient world.

The Original Design – God’s Household

The church by divine design is patently and functionally the family or household of God. Adam the first man was referred to in Luke’s genealogy as the son of God. If the church is the family of God then it should function as a family. Herein lies the present problems confronting the church. While the notion that the church is the family of God is generally accepted by most denominational tradition of Christendom its practical outworking is largely foreign to the bible. It has strayed from God’s divine intention and instead has developed into an institution of religion, encumbered by an excessive amount of regulations and practices. Consequently, since the church has abdicated it’s fundamental purpose the earth is plagued with dysfunction that can only be broken by a fresh inquiry into scriptures concerning the church’s essential structure and apostolic mission. We need to address the question of God’s Household and the need for apostolic fathers who will selflessly raise up sons of God to steward the Kingdom of God thereby establishing the sovereign rule of peace in creation. God’s desire is the strategic placement of mature sons into the influential places in the world so that the nations of this earth may be reconciled to Him resulting in peace and goodwill among men.

The first and major key that we must address is how we relate to each other.

A family is by nature an organism not an organization. It offers relationships instead of rules and regulations; connections instead of separation; community instead of conformity. God’s plan when He created the world was to extend His rule on this earth through families; through father and mother having sons and daughters, thereby filling the earth. Sin however came into the world and the results were broken and fractured relationships. However, God never abandoned His original plan and sent His Son, the second Adam to redeem, reconcile and restore us back to his original plan; the family of God. Jesus came to restore us back to the Father and to reconcile the family to each other. Fatherhood and family are the dominant themes of the New Testament. If we miss that we automatically end with systems to replace relationships.

The second key in a family is the issue of DNA. Families are built on a common DNA.

DNA informs the organism of its characteristics and helps shape it into that which resembles the family. Science tells us that the main role of DNA is the long-term storage of information. All cellular life exists and is replicated through DNA. However, organizations by nature tend to grow and multiply by maintaining structures, policies or belief system. However, a family grows and multiplies through life giving relationships in an environment of mutual love for each other; a common mission that flows through the blood stream not the corporate manual. Northwood Church gave birth to Glocalnet; a family of churches that is committed to building according to God’s blueprint; His Kingdom, disciples that hear and obey His voice, focused on the reconciliation of all things and discovering the church in all domains of society. Breaking out of the walls of church buildings and engaging with the public square; bringing the reality of the Kingdom of God to bear upon every domain of society. Relentlessly pursuing peace and reconciliation among all people in all places for all things. We are committed to building according to God’s original design; His blueprint not ours.

 


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Seven lessons I learned in Abu Dhabi

30 Leaders from 10 different cities gathered together in Abu Dhabi early May 2017 for a Multi-Faith event. Every city leadership had representations of the three Abrahamic faith; Christians, Muslim, and Rabbis. The goal is to build bridges of relationships, develop trust and work towards a strategic plan that would bring peace and reconciliation to their cities. They created plans to eat meals together as families; to bring their constituencies together to break down the walls of separation and work together to see the prosperity of their city. They committed to standing up for each other in the face of religious persecution and get involved in global affairs in promoting peace among religions and to speak up against religious persecution worldwide.

This event was a collaborative effort between three organizations; Glocalnet, International Interfaith Peace Corp and the Forum for Peace. Glocalnet led by Dr. Bob Roberts and IIPC led by Imam Magid Mohamed, have been working together for years bringing Pastors and Imams together on a retreat called “Building Bridges of Faith”. This retreat has been designed to break down walls of suspicion, build a foundation of trust and create a pathway to peace and reconciliation in their cities. Forum of Peace led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah a world-renowned Muslim scholar and the United Arab Emirates sponsored this retreat in Abu Dhabi in May 2017 and invited Rabbis to join for the first time. It was a historic event; the first of it’s kind.

The leadership of each city returned with a strategic plan to execute the vision to promote peace and to work together to build stronger and more resilient communities of faith.

These are some lessons I walked away with.

 

  1. Every Religion has peacemakers. Find them and work with them for the common good. These are people of peace who wield massive influence. Influence many times is greater than power, for influence has the ability to move the masses as it frequently affects the heart not only the head.
  2. Love is stronger than hate. The force of love is much more powerful than hate. When religious leaders decide to love all people regardless of their differences and choose love over hate, it changes the environments of our cities and communities.
  3. Generosity is a powerful force. It is not a passive sentiment but a powerful action that moves the heart of others. It puts pressure on the soul of others for good. The leader of this region led by Sheikh Bin Bayyah showed great generosity toward the strangers and visitors and it warmed the heart of all who attended.
  4. If not us, then who? Just because we do not share common beliefs does not mean we do not share a common humanity. Religions of all people carry an ethos of what Rabbi Sacks calls “ethics of responsibility”. We of all people should be the first to put into action love and care for people. The best of our faiths should always move us to love and harmony not hate and wars.
  5. We are all truly created in the image of God. We are all children of Adam and Eve. Our journey through life and religions shapes us. However, if you look beneath the layers of beliefs and philosophies we developed as we have grown from childhood to adulthood, you will find a common humanity. A desire for family, peace, friendship and community. We all desire to be known and loved. We were not created to be alone therefore God made us to remove the aloneness of each other.
  6. Hospitality is a powerful practice. Eating meals together and listening to each other’s story breaks down the walls of suspicion and separation. Eating meals together is not some flippant thing we do. It is the core of what we do. Food creates an environment like no other. It values the other at its very essence as we share each other’s culture.
  7. Laughter brings people together like nothing else. When people laugh with each other it creates a bond. It speaks of a God who has given to us such a precious gift that allows us to forget for a moment, all of our differences and troubles and elevates us to a place that is transcendent. Rabbi Noach Wienbergs says, “Laughter is an opportunity to transcend limitations that bind us to see God more clearly.”

 

There is a need for a grassroots movement that will create friendship among religious leaders of all different faiths. “Dealing with religious actors is the major missing ingredient,” says Pastor Bob Roberts, President of Glocalnet and one of the leading Christian leaders promoting peace among all religions. It is time to capitalize on the extensive ties of faith leaders and develop a grassroots movement that is built on trust and respect for each other and seek to collaborate with our academic, political, and institutional efforts to bring positive change to this world.

 

Healing Power of Mourning

Romans 12:15b…Mourn with those mourn


A heaviness weighs over our nation like a dark overhanging cloud of impending storms. We see

the deep division among the racial fault lines; political mayhem invades our living rooms every

night; endless groups of people galvanized by specific hurt, wounds or certain values that are

gathering from outside the edges of societal norms. The LGBT community clamoring for their

causes; transgender issues clumsily breaking into our consciousness. Demanding a space to

exist and the right to use whatever bathroom they choose. Wars and rumors of wars fill the

airwaves. Large segments of the church of Jesus Christ deeply divided among political

affiliations choosing sides and losing their prophetic voices in the process. Yet the hope of the

world is wrapped up into the word called reconciliation. However it seems that mourning

historically precedes the journey of reconciliation. Romans 12:15b says to mourn with those

mourn. The way to heal hurts, sadness and disappointments is to lament with those who

lament. Logic and reason cannot heal emotional pain it takes empathy and emotions to get into

the world of broken people and sit with them in that pain and share it with them so they no

longer feel alone.

God identified a problem before sin, when He said in Genesis 2:18 “It was not good for man to

be alone” He did not design man to be alone and his solution was not Himself but another

human being called Eve. We were created to remove the aloneness of each other and yet we

see that we are altogether yet alone. The church that was mandated to break down all walls of

separation and including people in a community of belonging has consistently erected walls of

division; even within its own house. Mourning is not despair or whining. It is not a cry into the

darkness. It is a cry directed first to God. It is the cry of those who see the truth of the world’s

deep wounds and the cost of seeking peace. It is the cry of those who are deeply disturbed by

the way things are. The path of reconciliation is rooted in the practice of mourning. Let’s step

back from our quick fixes, superficial anecdotes and take a seat by our brother and sister. Let’s

just sit with them; put aside your intellectual and logical answers and just mourn with them

awhile. Mourn with the refugees who has lost all; mourn with your gay friends, the loss of love

and family. Mourn with your African brother and sister whose history here in America did not

sail in on the Mayflower but on a ship ironically called “Jesus of Lebeck”, the first British slave

ship to land in America. Their history began with unimaginable pain and humiliation. Mourn

with the Mexican immigrant who left wife and kids to find work so he can feed them and clothe

them. As you mourn with them you will begin to mourn for yourself for in their pain you will see

your own brokenness. You will see that their pain is your pain and that sharing our pain can

become a source of healing. Then and only then are you truly ready to carry this gift of

reconciliation to the world.

Blessed are the peacemakers

 

Human relationships are not negotiated; they are reconciled – Robert Seiple

 

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God – Matthew 5:9

 

 

Notice it did not say blessed are the peacekeepers. There is a world of a difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. A peacemaker works toward reconciliation instead of tolerance. Its goal is transformation versus co-existence.  It deals with the heart and not just the head.

Glocalnet’s vision statement states that we are about reconciliation. The fact that relationships are to be reconciled not negotiated is a profound statement that if properly understood reframes our approach to conflict resolution. This applies to all kinds of relationships and all kinds of conflicts. Only when our goal is reconciliation instead of negotiating a transactional arrangement do we move toward a more sustainable solution. However it does require a different vision, a different set of relational tools and ultimately a desire for transformation; a permanent change of heart not head.

A different vision begins with starting with the end in mind. What is the goal we are looking for? Is it only tolerance or reconciliation; is it to be confined to our church buildings or tribe or are we called to take the message of reconciliation to the hard places of the world? A vision isolated from a hurting world loses its power.

The call of a peacemaker is to take this message of reconciliation into the hardest, darkest, most hurting places and apply the balm of healing to the hearts of people and nations. To disciple the nations it must start with healing. In the book of Luke chapter 10 verse 9 Jesus makes this point when He said, “healing precedes preaching”.

 A different set of relational tools. One of the most important relational skills is the discipline of listening to understand before you try to make yourself understood. Stephen Covey in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People articulated this principle. It’s also called listening with empathy or listening with the heart not the head. When we are in a negotiating mindset our heads lead out with logic and reason. Logic and reason are the wrong tools for emotional pain or past wounds of the heart. Only emotions heal emotions is the rule of the universe. When we sit with others and listen intently to find a way to crawl into their world, they will feel less alone after they’ve met us.

Robert Seiple, a former U.S Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, wrote in his book Ambassadors of Hope “The ultimate sustainable solution to so many of the world’s problem is reconciliation. A permanent change requires a change of heart.”

GLOCALNET’S INCREDIBLE 2016

 

We are off to a strong start for 2017!  We are speaking, training and convening from Washington, D.C., to Hanoi, Vietnam, and even Lahore, Pakistan!  We will be all over the U.S. and the world this year.  We are training government leaders, imams, pastors, mentoring emerging pastors and connecting with religious leaders of other faiths to build bridges.  We are working with governments and government leaders globally defining what it looks like to engage in the public square in a new era.  We are deeply involved in religious freedom issues and religious persecution in some of the harder places of the world.  We are working on racial reconciliation in some very new ways that we’ll be writing about later.  

 

Last year Bob Roberts spoke at many events from church planting conferences, to being invite to being a part of the Marrakesh Declaration with Shaykh Bin Bayyah that protects the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority nations.  He spoke at churches, mosques, government gatherings, the Newseum and even to 20,000 Muslim young people in Toronto, Canada.  Articles about our work were written in many national newspapers, here in the U.S., the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Christianity Today, In-Touch Magazine, Christian Post, Huffington Post, and many others.  

 

Glocalnet’s passion is summed up in it’s vision statement. “We relentlessly pursue peace and reconciliation among all peoples in all places for all things.”

 

Here is a brief summary of 2016:

Glocalnet Family of Churches

Glocalnet consist of a family of churches that carry the same DNA and vision to be a light in this world and to engage our cities and the world to be peacemakers and reconcilers. We have 7 churches that gather yearly for community, sharing and learning from each other. We also support each other in living out our three most cherished values which are engaging our local communities, especially among the poor and marginalized, engage hard parts of the world together and help each others establish communities of faith that make a difference both locally and globally. Our goal is to keep increasing the family by developing leaders who buy into Glocalnet’s vision and are committed to living out our three main values.

 

Church Planting & Church Planting Centers

Glocalnet church multiplication is core to our DNA and moves us forward in accomplishing the above vision. It’s going to take a different kind of church to engage the city and world in this 21st century that goes far beyond what the music and worship service is.  We train and equip our churches to multiply communities of faith with the same vision and values. We established 2 church planting centers in local churches in 2016. Our Glocalnet family trained over 40 church planters to go and establish communities of faith that bring about peace and reconciliation both locally and globally. The key to creating and sustaining this movement is multiplication, therefore we are intentional about placing the expectation and the training in every leader of Glocalnet.

 

Multi-Faith Retreats

We have designed a retreat that brings together evangelical pastors and muslim Imams together for three days. These retreats are designed to break down walls of fear and suspicions and get to know each other as humans. The essence of these gatherings is to have transparent and honest conversation with each other about difficult issues. However it does not stop there, these leaders make a commitment to build ongoing relationships with each other and their constituencies and to work together in their cities for the common good and to protect each other from religious persecution.   Glocalnet gathered for two such retreats in 2016. We did one in Phoenix with 12 pastors and 12 imams and one in Washington DC hosted by the Turkish government. These two groups continue to meet quarterly. We see walls of suspicions come down and new relationships formed after these retreats. Our goal is to build upon these relationships and create a network of religious leaders across cities and the nation who will be there to respond in emergency situations.

 

 

Global Collaboration Communities (GCC)

Glocalnet brings together apostolic leaders globally every year to build relationships and to learn from the global church.  In 2016 we met in India hosted by an exceptional leader who has a movement in that country. 20 global leaders came together to build relationship and to learn from each other, share best practices in area of engaging the public square, pluralism and church planting. The takeaways were incredible as we leveraged relationships, knowledge and learning from each other. There were visit to sikh temples, meetings with religious and government leaders to learn about religious freedom issues and how the church can play a role in creating better citizens that help build great nations.

 

Nation & City Engagement

The way churches engage the world is changing radically.  It’s a new world, the whole world is connected.  In the past global and city engagement was about doing religious stuff in a geographical context.  Today, the church must be presently bringing value to a city and nation beyond just a worship service on Sunday.  How we make disciples and engage the domains of society are critical.  That leads to natural conversations about faith and life.  We continue to help churches and people engage through the natural infrastructure of society in places that would be considered difficult for most.  

 

Hosted Mosaic Conference

Glocalnet in partnership with Northwood Church hosted Mosaic’s multi-ethnic conference. About 1200 multi-ethnic leaders from across the nation came to celebrate and champion this vision, and challenge the American Church to get beyond systemic segregation to advance a credible gospel witness in an increasingly diverse and cynical society. To bring peace and reconciliation among the races in our country.

 

So as you can see these are just small glances at the work Glocalnet did in 2016. We are committed to being relentless peacemakers and work tirelessly to move humanity beyond tolerance to reconciliation and celebration of each other.