An interview with Katie Fuller, Missions Hub Director.
Laura Burns: I noticed that there is an upcoming event with the Missions Hub. They are having Perspectives classes again! Would you like tell me more about that?
Katie Fuller: The Perspectives course is a 14 module overview of the growth of the church. You may say, well that’s just the story that’s in the Bible. But I think it begins there with the story in the Bible, of what do we believe, who is Jesus? Then the Great Commission shows us that our faith is not for ourselves but it is meant to be an impetus. We are meant to be active. That being redeemed means we have work to do. That we were part of the building of the kingdom, that we get to work alongside our Father. And so it’s really fun because it’s an introduction to how people have done that over the years, beginning in the Bible, moving onto how Christianity spread. And then looking in different decades, in different missionary movements. I grew up in missions, and thought that I knew all of the stories. I didn’t, I didn’t know them all, there are a lot more. And then it talks about where is the church growing right now. For example, the most baptisms that are happening right now are happening in Iran.
Each of the modules of Perspectives are taught by a different lecturer. And it’s this amazing cohort of people who are all either pastors, or have their PhD, or have worked for a long time in planting a church in a place where there isn’t one. For example, we’re really excited because one of the lectures for this coming cohort is Korean background, a woman, and she has worked in a really difficult part of the world that is majority Muslim. She learnt the language, lived in a really remote community, and was part of planting churches there. And she’s really passionate about unreached people groups. So that’s the idea, that there are places in the world where there is no one to answer someone’s questions about Jesus, and they’ve never heard who Jesus is, or even the idea of the Christian gospel. So she’s coming to do one of the modules of Perspectives. I think that’s exciting because at the Missions Hub we’ve been trying to be a platform for more different kinds of voices.
We talk about the 10:40 window between the 10th and 40th parallels, and it’s where the majority of the world’s population is. And also where the gospel is least known. One of the events that we had last year was ‘Our Common Faith or Uncommon Calling’ and all of the speakers at that event were from the majority world originally. All living and working here now, but from India, from Mozambique. And I think that’s part of the exciting thing about working in missions—we have the chance to hear what God is doing in the church in the rest of the world. And that expands your idea of who God is. The same way that being in a small group with you would give me insight into your relationship with God and how that’s different from the way that I connect with God. I think we know more about God’s character and his plan for the world when we know what he’s doing somewhere like Sierra Leone, or Iran.
Part of having a really high calibre of a lecturer is that you can get into stuff with them. People got into like intense conversations (the good kind of intense conversation) of what does this principal mean in application where you’re working? I think the Holy Spirit leads people in different ways, and what is right in one relationship for communicating the gospel wouldn’t be right in another. And so you get to get into these really great conversations about what are the barriers in this particular country? Or how do we disentangle the gospel from our Western cultural values? For example, one thing that we’ll talk about is that when you go into a Muslim culture, you present the gospel in the way that we commonly do here in North America, talking about personal vindication, being made right. That doesn’t communicate in a compelling way in an honour-shame culture where you have to figure out what does being made right look like? What is the language that I use to communicate that? But also what are the existing pictures of the gospel in this culture?
LB: Is there anything else that you think Perspectives helps prepare people for missions?
KF: I think one of the things that was encouraging for me about the last Perspectives course was the people who came to it. We had 35 students. 30 of them were under 30. Of those, two were at the course because they had been asked to be the head of the missions committee in their church and they took that so seriously that they took a week off work and came to be trained and better equipped to execute that church responsibility.
LB: Wow, that’s great!
KF: I know! There was a young couple who a few months after the course went to South Sudan, which is not an easy place to be. It is a hotbed of violence between Muslims and Christians, recently independent, and a place where the gospel is not known.
There was a number, I think more than 10 people, who are involved in a para-church ministry, not working within the church but working for Move In, or for Power to Change, or people like me who worked for a missions agency. And the thing about Perspectives is that there are times of sharing, and times of application. And you spend so much time sitting in scripture together that it was a similar experience to when you go on a retreat with a group of other believers, or even when you go on a short-term missions trip with a group of other believers where you get to know other people and you get to be encouraged by their story. I think sometimes in the church in North America we hear things that aren’t true. Like, ‘There are no young people who are Christians’, or ‘There are no young people who are interested in missions’, or, ‘Missionaries don’t do good in the world’. And there are really specific stories to say how those things are all false. So it is something that I’ve looked back on to remind myself that we’re doing this as a team. We don’t get to work together every day, but we are a team of people in the city, who are all hearing the Holy Spirit say similar things to us about what he is doing in the world, and that he is doing exciting things that we get to be a part of.