By Wayne Schock
Wayne Schock is our Conference’s Director of Cross-Cultural Outreach. If your church is looking for someone to help you reach out to immigrants and various ethnic groups in your community, this is the guy you need to talk with. I’ve asked Wayne to share a bit about his experience in missions and what it means in today’s work. He is what he has to say…
cha·os the·o·ry (KAY-ah-s THEE-əree)
the branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences.
A number of years ago Edward Lorenz, a mathematical meteorologist (or meteorological mathematician) developed a theory of weather formation called Chaos Theory (along with its corollary – the Butterfly Effect) which outlines the unpredictability of many natural processes especially weather patterns (something we all know well, living in the Pacific Northwest).
While I am not technically minded enough to explain details of this scientific concept, I find the term “chaos theory” descriptive of experiences that I have observed in the spiritual realm. Often times God uses chaos (global, local, and personal) to increase openness to the good news with strikingly great consequences.
The years we lived in China we observed in person probably one of the greatest movements of people to Christ in the history of the church. Much of the growth of the church in China can be traced to the decades of instability, trauma, and chaos of the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square which created a desire for peace in the hearts of people. Those who were Christians during that time showed such a sense of peace, hope, and faith in the midst of extreme persecution that once the chaos abated, the gospel exploded.
Research in the Muslim world tells us that more Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in the previous 14 centuries put together. Today researchers say the church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the world, all while that area of the world is perhaps one of the most chaotic hot spots in the world.
So what does chaos have to do with mission strategy? Paul says that “God … reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18). Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9). God desires us to reach out to those who are lost. Those who are experiencing extrema chaos may be the most open to “good news” for the following reasons:
- Desire for peace in a world that is falling apart. The chaos surrounding them physically, emotionally, spiritually opens them up to the Prince of Peace.
- Seeking a door of hope out of the despair that characterizes their worldview. Jesus is the only answer for ultimate questions.
- Openness to change/transformation. Real change is more likely to come about in the lives of those who are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. It was the chaos of the pig sty that brought transformation in the life of the younger brother, while the older brother stewed in his self-satisfied status quo. (Lk. 15:11-32)
BEFORE YOU GO
People’s lives get messy. Global hot spots are chaotic. Our communities are divided by conflict. When we observe lives in chaos (globally, locally, and personally), a natural tendency is to avoid the situation, after all, it might rub off on us and disrupt our normal/comfortable lives. But in fact, we are called to enter the chaos, for in it is potential for the gospel to truly be “good news”.
If you are interested in learning more about Cross-Cultural Ministries and if you would like Wayne to contact your church please email him at Wayne@thepacificconference.com