Archive for the 'Friends' Category

James Choung

Thursday, July 10th, 2008


I’ve tried most of it over the years …all the formulaic versions of how to communicate the good news of Jesus to those around me. And most of it simply doesn’t work anymore here in the West in the secularized post-modernity of our culture.

But this book is different. It captures the essence of the biblical message in a way that is refreshingly authentic. And it’s just not theory or idealized theology. It connects deeply with real people not afraid to grapple with real issues and how the Jesus of the bible relates to both.

A couple years ago, I saw the basic concepts of the book scribbled on a piece of paper when having lunch with James. It’s great to see what he has tested and experienced so thoroughly in his ministry with students in San Diego is now available in this new volume.

It is a book for those who want to live out, in word in deed, the good news of Jesus with integrity and intellectual honesty. It is a practical and profoundly biblical approach to communicating God’s “big story” in a way that authentically connects with the realities of the world around us.

Never Alone

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

Ukraine Group Photo
I just returned from several weeks in Europe: the UK, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova.

Whenever I travel, I never want to go alone. That’s a waste. Too much can happen relationally during such intense and sometimes turbulent times on the road.

In this cool photo (taken at Spohad, a portrait studio that is a CRM Enterprise business in Ukraine) is the troupe that participated in this portion of the latest trip:

L to R: Ryan (my admin assistant), Deedee (CRM’s VP for Finance), Tim (business guy and chair of the CRM-US Board), Jeri (CRM Enterprise staff living in Romania), Colin (Director of CRM Enterprise), Don (business guy and long-time personal friend/supporter) and me.

Space for God

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

Space For God

My good friend, Tim Cahill, invited me to join him and couple other men for a “day in the park.”

What this really is is an extended time of solitude and time alone with God. We met in a nearby regional park (where I often walk and pray myself), spent about an hour together and then separated for the bulk of the day to be alone with God.

It was a wonderful time, like water to a parched soul. With a major event coming up next week with close to 700 CRM staff, family and friends gathering for a once-every-four-year event, finding this island of solitude in the midst of the preparatory chaos was a blessed parenthesis. It provided time and space for centering my emotions and spirit on Jesus and to regain a sense of his real and even manifest presence in my life through time in the bible and prayer.

Helping people make such space for God and learn how to hear him is increasingly the focus of Tim’s life and ministry. I am deeply grateful for the contribution that my “reflective, mystical friend” has made in my life through such a calling. I am grateful for Tim being a catalyst around which I, and others, are invited into a deeper union and communion with Christ.

Brian McLaren

Friday, June 9th, 2006

I met Brian McLaren almost 20 years ago at a church planting conference near Atlanta. We were both inconspicuous nobodies back then (a status that I have maintained rather well). We enjoyed an afternoon together wandering the north Georgia woods in intense conversation about many of the themes and issues that have blossomed into that portion of the emerging church world for which Brian has become one of the most visible spokespersons.

I was impressed then, as I am now, by his grasp of historical themes. The attached audio file of Brian (McClaren.mp3) is a wonderful macro view of how we evolved to postmodernity in the West. While a couple of years old, this talk is still an excellent primer on the influences that are shaking the foundations of Western culture.

It saddens me as I have watched Brian increasingly become a lightening rod for criticism of the emerging church, some of which has been vehement. When I read his books, 95% of what he writes I wish I could say with as much skill and clarity. Then there is the 5% at which I cringe and wonder, “Who is helping vet these comments? He doesn’t have to say that to make his point!” From where I sit, it seems that some of the wounds he is experiencing may be self-inflicted.

This seems odd to me as I write these words, since I am no stranger to the same dynamic but on a much less visible scale. I know the feelings. And I know that it is easier to comment on someone else’s dilemma when I am not in the middle of that fray and when I have been the object of blessed obscurity.

However, being an effective change agent does not require being a martyr.

Brian, may the God of all steadfastness bless you in the role he has thrust upon you. May Proverbs 3:3 characterize your posture and conversations, where “truthfulness and kindness” are yours in abundance (even if you have to wrestle with how “truthfulness” is perceived, like we all must, in the reality of a postmodern world!)


In Praise of Cool Docs …Who Make House Calls!

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

Dr. Tim And Christine
Tim Schmidt, came to see my daughter today as she is recuperating from a week in the hospital.

He is a very cool doc and deserving of praise. And not just because he came to see Christine.

Tim has served on the CRM Board for over a decade and has done a couple of terms as chair. He’s also affectionately known as “Compudoc” to hundreds of CRM staff serving throughout the world. An excellent physician, he is always available to them on email and accessible 24-7 if there’s an emergency. He’s been a virtual godsend for everything from life-thretening illnesses to pre-natal exams and spider bites.

He’s also very much in the know about things missional and astute as they come in understanding the type of ministry to which God has called CRM. Couple that with a deep, abiding and mature walk with Jesus and we’ve got a package for whom all of us are grateful.

Partners International

Saturday, May 27th, 2006


Jon and Anita Lewis are friends from the days when we were newly married and before childrren. We knew them before they went to Africa with Mission Aviation and flew in Zaire where they gained tremendous understanding about the needs and challenges on that continent.

Later Jon assumed responsibility for MAF’s work in Africa and eventually returned to the States to head up the organization’s research and strategic planning.

Most recently, he has become CEO of Partners International, one of the most respected agencies that serves and works in tandem with national mission entities throughout the world.

Although we don’t see much of each other (which we hope to remedy), Jon and Anita have been a respected friends and peers over the years. I have great respect for their missiological insight and the experience they have garnered in so many international settings. I’m hoping through some ongoing conversations we’ll find ways for Partners and CRM to cooperate in a variety of cross-cultural contexts.

Sent Ones

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Overseas Travel

From our friend, Ronnie Stevens, pastor of the Danube International Church, in Budapest, Hungary:

“We [the Christian church in North America] should be shamed by the American business and foreign service personnel who go around the world. They do it to serve a mortal and fallen master. They do it without serving anything eternal. We go to be with the One we love.”

Missionary Types Do Have Fun!

Monday, May 1st, 2006

I gotta confess that life as a missionary can have some great times!

While in Venezuela, I took a day off and with the folks serving with CRM, both North Americans and Venezuelans, experienced some of God’s magnificent creation off the coast. Despite the stereotypes, missionary life is not all dowdy, full of hardship, and self denial.

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CRM Korea

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Korea Konnextion
Tong and Jane Park give leadership to CRM Korea. They are pictured here with Patty and me along with Jean Gill, CRM-Japan at the far right.

We are grateful to the Parks and handful of other visionary Korean leaders – from a variety of denominational backgrounds – who are pioneering CRM in South Korea. We are looking forward to the time when Koreans will serve with CRM not only on the Korean peninsula but in other nations having been sent from Korea. We also desire CRM-US to be a sending entity for Korean Americans who want to follow God’s leading to live and minister cross-culturally.

While the story of the Christian movement in Korea in the last half of the 20th century is remarkable, disturbing signs are beginning to appear in the Korean Church. Overall, Christianity has plateaued and stalled in Korea in the past decade. There are significant problems with the younger generation as their involvement with traditional Christianity and the faith of their parents wanes. Even in a highly homogeneous society such as Korea, forces of globalization, post-modernity, and secularization are having an inevitable impact. Also materialism and unprecedented affluence are taking a toil.

Korea has the potential for making one of the greatest contributions to the worldwide Christian movement of any nation as we move into the 21st century. It is yet to be seen whether Korean Christianity can carpe diem.

Clinton and Leadership

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Clinton Jr
I met Bobby and Marilyn Clinton in 1979.

I was taking the first course that Fuller Seminary offered on Church Planting, taught by Peter Wagner, and Bobby was the teaching assistant. Having been on the mission field, he was now at Fuller and beginning his teaching career. We later connected in a course on Homogeneous Units and Church Growth where he also helped in the instruction.

When Bobby was added to the faculty in the early 80s, I had the privilege, along with a couple of others, to be part of a pilot group that Bobby pulled together to begin testing some of his “leadership emergence” concepts and resources and the next summer, enrolled in his “Implementing Change” course, the content of which I still use and refer to today. These were the first of many courses, both formal and non-formal, where I worked to get as much of Clinton as I could. I felt I had struck gold!

In 1985, Bobby assumed a seat on the CRM Board of Directors and over the next two decades, as a member of the board and with several stints as chair, he made an invaluable contribution to CRM as an apostolic movement. His influence was enormous. Over the years we have drawn deeply from his work, applying it personally as well as to our calling to empower leaders for the church around the world.

And throughout it all, Bobby and Marilyn have remained dear friends and mentors, one of those life-long relationships for which Patty and I are immensely grateful.

Bobby’s capacity for cranking out material is renowned. He is amazingly prolific in what he writes and creates. His reputation for being a leadership “guru” in the contemporary religious context is well deserved when one gets into his stuff and experiences the sagacity of his insights.

The best introduction to Clinton for many years has been The Making of a Leader (Navpress). While most of us had to learn a whole new vocabulary to wade through the book, Bobby thinks it’s actually too watered down and popularize to a fault. That perspective speaks volumes as to the depth and voluminous nature of his work.

Thanks Bobby! Your contribution to our personal lives, our ministry, and our contribution to God’s kingdom purposes around the world has been immeasurable. It is an honor to be considered a friend and a small part of your legacy.


Leaders and friends

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Pictured here are three of the men who work closely with me: Tom Middleton (the tall one with the shaggy hair) is my ministry assistant, my personal assistant and Colin Crawley (the Brit on the far right in both pictures) who gives leadership to Enterprise International, CRM’s economic development arm that creates for-profit businesses to support ministry around the world.

Tom, Sam, Colin, Ryan in Bucharest.jpg Tom, Sam, Colin, Ryan in Budapest.jpg
On the left, we are on the main balcony of Ceausescu’s palace in Bucharest, Romania and on the right overlooking the Danube in Budapest at night.

These three men, in their late 20s and early 30s, are a great source of joy and encouragement! I couldn’t do what I do without them.

Each carries significant responsibility. And in the future, each – with their very able spouses – will bear even greater responsiblities in leading CRM. Relating to them, and others like them, brings me great joy.