Cover picture: “Carry the Cross” by Ni Ketut Ayu Sri Wardani © 2003. All rights reserved. Inspiration for the painting: “Staggering, falling, rising, and falling again. Jesus’ blood marking his trail to Golgotha. No suffering is comparable to his extreme suffering. His steadfast obedience stirs me to follow, keeping my eyes focused on him (Luke 9:23). For He leads us on in faith and to perfection.”
An artist in Bali, Ni Ketut Ayu Sri Wardani studied Fine Arts in Bandung Institute of Technology. Many of her works focus on the suffering that Jesus Christ bore and her art has been exhibited in Indonesia as well as overseas.

Take Up Your Cross: Suffering and the Church

When Isaiah looked forward to the coming of the Messiah he penned what appears to be a strange description of God’s chosen Servant. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa 53:3). How could the Messiah be despised and rejected? How could he know sorrow and grief? The answers are given in the Gospels which portray Jesus in just these terms and where the Lord himself tells his disciples that they too must become people of sorrow as they give up the world, take up their cross, and follow him (Matt 16:24–25).

Sorrow and grief are profoundly central to the Christian gospel. Indeed, the gospel is meaningless without a suffering Christ who comes for a suffering people. This reality, as C. S. Lewis rightly points out, “creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving.” How do we make sense of a world where some deny the existence of ultimate good and others insist that pain is an illusion? While the articles in this issue do not attempt to solve the philosophical problems behind pain and suffering, they offer missiological reflections on ministry to the suffering and historical examples of ministry resulting in personal tragedy and pain.

Browse articles in “Take up your cross”: Suffering and the Church

Suffering and Mission: Narrative Research from Cambodia, with Special Reference to Cambodian Church History

The paper presents the findings of narrative research on suffering in the lives of Cambodian Christians. It begins with a discussion of what the Bible says about suffering and a historical review of the suffering in Cambodia and her church. The paper shows how the scars inflicted on Cambodia through decades of suffering still impact [...]

Mission in High-risk Situations

This paper seeks to draw out biblical teaching and the relevant principles on risk and the response of God’s servants to risk and make application for missions today. It discusses appropriate responses to the kinds of risk that a cross-cultural worker may face:  (1) physical risk and nationality/ethnicity (2) risks related to social/political unrest (3) [...]

Faith, Risk-taking, and Suffering in Mission

The paper looks at the place of risk facing missionaries who bring good news about Jesus to people who may not want to hear it and to places where risks abound. It examines the context of our risk-taking, the responses to risk in history of CIM-OMF, and lessons and principles from the life of Paul, [...]

Mental Health and Mission

The paper provides a brief history of concepts of mental health and illness, discusses mental illness globally (where we live and work) and missionally, and mental illness in relation to mission workers. Mental illness remains widely misunderstood, and yet represents a significant issue for missions in the twenty-first century. This is because of the prevalence [...]

Those Who Seem to Be Weak: The Role of Disability within a Missional Framework

This paper introduces us to disability theology and examines how we need to address the negative social constructs surrounding the perception of those with a disability. It leads us to re-read familiar passages in the gospels of Mark and John through the lens of disability. Donna Jennings has worked with her husband as OMF UK [...]

Worshipping God through Suffering

The aim of this paper is to broaden our understanding of the worship of God by providing a basic introduction to biblical lament and suggesting ways in which it can be used in the church. Walter McConnell directs OMF International’s Mission Research Department. An American, he has previously served in Taiwan as a church planter [...]

The Role Christian Values Play in Motivating International Christian Ministries’ Collaboration in Disaster Relief Work

This paper presents the findings of a case study of a Christian ministry involved in disaster relief work in East Asia. It examines the motivations of Christians who take part in disaster relief work and the effects of the their work in the affected community. Sng Bee Bee is currently an independent Lecturer in Communications [...]

Surrounded by So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

This article dips into CIM history and recounts stories from China’s Millions from 1927. The later part of the 1920s was a time of great turbulence in China. Chinese Christians and non-Christians together suffered under horrendous conditions and the missionaries were not immune to this suffering. Claire is the Archivist at the International Center and [...]

Book review – The Axe and the Tree: How Bloody Persecution Sowed the Seeds of New Life in Zimbabwe

Reviewed by David Harley On the night of June 23rd 1978, eight British missionaries and four of their children were massacred in an isolated mission school in Vumba, Northern Zimbabwe. This book tells the story of the events leading to this massacre, the response of the mission community, and the subsequent impact of this tragedy [...]

Book review – It’s OK to be Not OK: The Message of the Lament Psalms

Reviewed by Andy Smith Pastor Rico Villanueva is concerned that negative experiences are rarely expressed in church activities. Rarely, if ever, do Christians mention our “bad” emotions, weaknesses, or failures. Instead, we sing happy songs and give victorious testimonies. As a result, we are illprepared to face difficulty and tragedy. To counter this situation, Villanueva [...]

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