Another Anglo-Catholic Loose Cannon Hits the Wall

It’s becoming a pattern:

The former Anglo-Catholic priest of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Fr. David L. Moyer has been denied his final step into the Roman Catholic Church following 10 years of ecclesiastical wandering that started with The Episcopal Church, migrated through the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Forward in Faith, the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and the Anglican Church in America, a branch of the Traditional Anglican Church.

Moyer said he received a letter from Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, informing him that Archbishop Charles Chaput (Philadelphia) has declined to give him his votum (a promise) to proceed toward ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.

Moyer’s history is almost as chequered as that of John Hepworth, the TAC archbishop whose entry into full communion with Rome must come as a layman.  In losing his battle with TEC over his parish, he ended up suing his own attorney and leaving a trail of bitter people in the process.

As is the case with the Africans and Chuck Murphy, the Roman Catholic Church likes team players.   Authority is the leitmotif of Roman Catholicism; the Jesuits, arguably Catholicism’s premier order, was founded with the concept of perfect obedience.  Unfortunately, for a long list of reasons, Anglo-Catholicism has bred more than one “Lone Ranger” whose principal focus of authority is their own.  With Steenson as a native guide, the Roman Catholic church is attempting to keep this personality type out of its leadership, and justifiably so.

One thing that the Ordinariate will do is to bring the reality of Roman Catholicism to Anglo-Catholicism, which will come as a rude awakening to some.  But, if you’re serious about Christian unity as the Roman Catholic Church understands it, you must be prepared to put your convictions ahead of your sensibilities.  The Roman Catholic Church has gone further than many (including me) figured it would in accommodating the sensibilities of Anglicans; for those who feel compelled to make the swim, what’s on the opposite shore now is about as good as it’s going to get.

The Sad Case of Gerry McClelland, and My Thoughts on Assisted Suicide

Being the anniversary month of Roe vs. Wade, January is a good month to look at issues of life.   Most of the emphasis is on abortion, but we must consider the other end of life, too, when it occurs, and whose decision it is for that occurrence to take place.

While doing other research, I ran across the case of BBC reporter Gerry McClelland.  After an illustrious career with the BBC, and racked with terminal cancer, she went to Switzerland and ended her life at Dignitas, the assisted suicide facility last month.

Evidently this was a cause célèbre in the UK, gauging from the press surrounding it.  Given that her album is a good piece of 1960’s and 1970’s style soulwinning (a genre I’m all too familiar with) her end came as a profound shock.  But–as the Québec born priest who gave the first sermon I heard after Roe vs. Wade predicted–euthanasia is the coming issue after abortion, so this is my take on the whole business.

There are three reasons why I object to assisted suicide, one theological and the other two a mixture of theological and practical.

The purely theological reason is the fact that all life is a gift from God; he grants it to us, thus he has the prerogative when it’s taken away.  This applies to suicide in general.  Christian societies have traditionally preached against suicide (as opposed to the pagan ones that preceded them, like Rome) although the “eternally secure” have muddied the waters on this one.

The second reason, more practical in scope, is that sooner or later the “right to die” will morph into the “obligation to die.”  Secularists guffaw at this because they can’t see the modern state doing such as thing, but as we see our welfare states careen towards financial-demographic bankruptcy, the pressure for that morphing to take place will only increase.  End of life care is expensive; dispensing with it would do wonders for budgets but have deleterious effects on people.

The third reason is that behind much of the push for “death with dignity” is the idea that our life is only what we can do.  Involved with nursing home ministry, it’s common to hear the sentiment that “I can’t do the things I used to.”  Frustrating as that is, the next step is the idea that “If you can’t do things, then life should be ended.”  If we affirm that our lives have the extrinsic worth that God has invested in them, then what’s ultimately important isn’t what we do but what we are, a point I made in a Palm Beachy way in A State of Being.

And the whole concept of “death with dignity” brings up something else.  In the trashy, voyeuristic, “reality show” culture we live in, the trick isn’t to die with dignity, but to live with it.  Sometimes I think that the reason people are so obsessed with “death with dignity” is that it’s the only time these days they can really aspire to have any.  If that’s the case, our culture is much further gone than many of us suspect.

Assisted suicide, attractive as it sounds in the hard cases, is something whose popularisation will bite us harder in many ways than we anticipate.  My wife and I better be blessed ministering to the elderly we have before us; they could vanish in a budget cut.

Update (7 March 2013)

This blog past has had a stranger history than most, and given the comments below it deserves an explanation.

In putting this together, I conflated two people: the BBC reporter mentioned above and another Gerry McClelland whose album (download at the time, no more now) appears on the Ancient Star-Song.  I attempt to research the material I put up as best as I can, but in this case my methodology failed me.

I was called out on this by another sometime BBC reporter, the atheist Sheilagh Matheson.  Usually these days someone who does this puts a link in to drive their point home, but Matheson didn’t bother to do so, leaving me suspicious of the whole thing.  I guess she figured I was following this on British television, but that’s easier said than done outside of the UK.

Finally Geraldine Snape, the singer on the album, has come forth.  The fact that she messed up her blog address threw me off (it’s actually here) but I finally have been able to ascertain that she is the one who produced the album, to my satisfaction at least.

As I noted in my response to Matheson, the issues I brought up re assisted suicide were independently derived, so I have basically excised the first part of the blog post, and apologise for the confusion it has created.

On a more personal level, Geraldine Snape’s current situation is intriguing from two standpoints.  The first is that she’s originally from Belfast; Northern Ireland, of course, is the ancestral home of the Scots-Irish, who get a good deal of space in this blog, most recently here.  The second is that Penketh, where the Potter’s House is, is just west of Warrington, which is of course the putative origin area of my own family, although my great-great grandfather came from Manchester to the U.S. in 1842.

Hopefully we can move forward discussing the issues, although I wouldn’t count on it.

Is There a Real Difference Between the Demands of the Modern State and Emperor Worship in Rome?

Maybe not:

Since 1789 the United States government has presented its Christian citizens with no moral problem of critical magnitude. This may mean that the moral integrity of the United States is magnificent; it may also mean that Christian citizens do not recognise a public moral problem when they see it. In the morality of reason and nature the state can do no wrong, particularly when its survival is in question. Decisions made by public authority are not subject to the critical review of the individual citizen. The citizen may abdicate his personal responsibility to the state before he knows it. And if the state becomes the supreme judge of moral good and evil in public affairs, if it can demand unquestioning obedience in its service, what is the difference between the modern state and the Caesar cult except that the worship of Caesar was a merely symbolic act? It is the demonic quality of the state that it tends to become a god. Christians of the Roman Empire were faced with a simple moral problem of giving cult to Caesar. This they knew they must refuse. The cult which the modern state demands is far more subtle; and the citizens of the modern state are schooled to believe that the state can do no wrong. (John McKenzie, The Power and the Wisdom)

Bailing Out on the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

In this case, for tax purposes:

Rather than deal with the complexities of U.S. tax law, Americans living overseas are increasingly renouncing their citizenship in order to avoid paying their income taxes.

According to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, approximately 4,000 people gave up their citizenship from fiscal year 2005 to FY 2010. Renunciations increased sharply within the past three years, from 146 in FY 2008 to 1,534 in FY 2010. And during the first two quarters of FY 2011 alone, 1,024 Americans ditched their citizenship.

The advocate’s report cites two reasons for the renunciations. First, many taxpayers abroad say they are confused “by the complex legal and reporting requirements they face and are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to comply with them.”

For someone who considered emigration the last time it was fashionable (the 1970’s,) I find this interesting.   But now our government, supposedly run by “sophisticated” people who have displaced the “provincial unwashed” in seats of power, have responded by making it difficult for people to do the ultimate statement of cosmopolitan living.  They have done this both in the way foreign income is taxed and in the Byzantine reporting requirements.  (The latter, BTW, is a serious issue for those of us who stay, and one that Congress refuses to address in all of the back and forth over taxes.)  This barring the exits is largely intended to avoid two things: tax evasion and capital flight.  (Sounds like old Latin America to me!)

But people are getting out.  It used to be that “Love it or leave it!” was the ultimate conservative battle cry.  Will we now just take the second part to heart for ourselves?  We’ll see…

Are My Sins Really My Own Grevious Fault?

That’s the question many Catholics are asking as they settle into their “new” Mass:

Less than a week into Advent, there are many comments being made about the new English translation of the Mass.  Many negative comments center around the new language in the Confiteor:  “I confess … that I have greatly sinned … through my most grievous fault.”  Here are two recent negative reactions:

  • In another pew, fellow parishioner Mary Bucher was offended at the insertion of “I have sinned greatly” into the Introductory Rite. “I don’t go around sinning greatly,” she said. “I am not going to say this.”
  • I refuse to say how I have sinned so “grievously” (maybe this is appropriate for many priests to say) because it is not true.

Here is a positive reaction from the same web site:

  • Moreover, we have all “greatly sinned”. Living in a affluent country like the US, I know that my sins of omission in particular are staggering!

There are two things to consider here: the Mass and the sins.

The Novus Ordo Missae (NOM), as is the case with any Roman Catholic Mass, was first promulgated in Latin and then translated into the various vernacular languages, as was the allowance of Vatican II.  The English translation of this used from the beginning of the NOM until the beginning of this past Advent was as follows (leaving out the rubrics):

I confess to almighty God,
and to you my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;…

The wording now is as follows:

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;…

So have we changed the Mass?  Well, not really, but for me it took a trip abroad to find that out.

In 1976 I visited the UK and went to Mass at Westminster Cathedral.  There I picked up a little “Latin Mass Booklet” (for some reason these were dreadfully hard to find in the US, or Texas at least.)  It featured the Latin NOM (not the old “Tridentine” Mass) on one side of the page and the English (literally) translation on the other.  They actually celebrated the NOM in Latin on a regular basis, something else that had dissappeared from these shores.

The Latin, from which the rest are supposed to be faithful renditions, goes like this:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti et vobis, fratres,
quia peccavi nimis
cognitatione, verbo, opere et omissione:
mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

In addition to being more compact, the Latin features the famous formula “mea culpa,” well familiar to traditional Catholics and even some of the rest of us.  (One colleague at the state university I teach at messed up a broadcast email, so I suggested that she, a serious Catholic, should put out a “mea culpa,” which became the subject line of the next email)!  But the newer translation more accurately reflects the reality of the Latin original than the one in use for many years.

As far as the sins are concerned, the Roman Catholic Church’s (the Jesuits of Pascal’s days notwithstanding) emphasis on the seriousness of our sins is well founded, and anyone with a Biblical understanding of the subject should know this.   Even some whose Biblical understanding falls short know this too.  In the same 1970’s when the “old” NOM translation was current in Catholic Churches, Jimmy Buffett, wasting away in Margaritaville, knew all too well whose fault it was.  His lyrics, although liturgically inappropriate, were in their own way closer to the NOM Latin original than what was recited every Sunday.

For all have sinned, and all fall short of God’s glorious ideal, But, in his loving-kindness, are being freely pronounced righteous through the deliverance found in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23, 24).

Old Army Rick Calls It Quits

Sad to say:

Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination, two sources familiar with his plans told CNN.

The Texas governor will make the announcement before the CNN debate in South Carolina, the sources said.

For me personally, this is sad, even though I’m aware of the weaknesses that have come out of his candidacy.

It looks like we’re going to have Mitt Romney as the nominee.  The question we have to ask ourselves is a simple one: why bother?

Lesson from Tim Tebow: Life Is Better When We Focus on the Problems of Others

ESPN’s Rick Reilly believes in Tim Tebow, after a long search for faults:

I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster’s), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

It’s easy to try to portray all of this as a distraction, or pure heroism, but Tebow doesn’t see it that way:

“Just the opposite,” Tebow says. “It’s by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn’t really matter. I mean, I’ll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it’s to invest in people’s lives, to make a difference.”

One thing I’ve learned in all of the years of my Christian activity, be it nursing home ministry, immigrant resettlement, or whatever, is that when we focus our attention and activity to ameliorate the problems of others, our own challenges are much easier to deal with.  That’s something, especially for a generation as self-focused as mine, that isn’t obvious.  It’s come from following a God that commands me to reach out to others rather than constantly strive for self-fulfilment.

As far as the Broncos’ loss to the Patriots and who God wanted to win, the blunt truth of the matter is that, with Tebow, the Broncos got further this season than anyone expected, with ratings and enthusiasm following.

Maybe the Costa Concordia Needed a Native Guide, Too

Among other things:

Gianni Onorato, general manager of Carnival (CCL) Corp.’s Costa Crociere line, said the ship had embarked about 7 p.m. from Civitavecchia near Rome on a trip that was scheduled to include stops at ports in France and Spain. The vessel hit the rocks and Captain Francesco Schettino, after assessing the damage, decided to secure the ship and gave the evacuation order, Onorato told news channel SkyTG24 in an interview. A Costa Crociere spokesman confirmed the comments.

“This is a terrible tragedy and we are deeply saddened,” Carnival said yesterday in a statement. Carnival, based in Miami, is the world’s largest cruise line owner, with brands such as Cunard, Princess Cruises and Costa.

Schettino is being detained for allegedly abandoning the ship, Francesco Verusio, the prosecutor in the city of Grosseto, said in a SkyTG24 interview. The Costa Crociere spokesman, who declined to be identified because of company policy, confirmed the arrest. It appears the ship was on a wrong route, the prosecutor said, adding that he’s investigating whether other people also are responsible for the incident.

The accident was due to a “reckless maneuver,” news agency Ansa quoted Verusio as saying. The captain is also accused of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck, Verusio told Ansa. Italian newspapers including Corriere della Sera said the captain may have steered the boat closer to the coast to allow passengers a better view of the island’s lights.

I come from a long line of people who went to sea for a wide variety of reasons, including naval architecture, shipbuilding, yachting, offshore oil and of course military service.  And, yes, we had our near disasters too, as I describe in When You Need a Native Guide and Safe in the Harbour (Barely.)  But in reading this it seems to me that everything that could go wrong here did–poor navigation, bad judgement, and last but not least the captain abandoning the ship before everyone else was off, which is unconscionable.  (When we had a bomb threat in our building at UTC, I made sure the classroom was evacuated before I left, a reflex from my father’s insistence that the captain always leaves the ship last.)

In an age when GPS rules navigation and the technology seems to make events like this a thing of the past, this is a reminder that good old judgement and adherence to the conventions of the sea is still essential to getting the ship, her passengers and her cargo safe in the harbour at the end of the voyage.

To Go Back to “The Old Time Religion,” You Must First Prove That It Is

Dan Tomberlin’s post on the “old time religion” deals with a subject that conveys one thing to one group of people and one thing to another.  The whole business of “religion” has gotten a great deal of press thanks to Jefferson Bethke’s video and this relates to that in an indirect way, but this is as good a time as any for me to “pick a bone” with my colleagues in the Evangelical world on the whole subject of the much-loved “old time religion.”

Up until the Reformation, virtually all Christian worship was liturgical.  After that, surprisingly, not much changed.  The two largest groups of Protestants–Lutherans and Anglicans–stuck with some kind of liturgy for the most part.  The outliers in the process (excluding the Anabaptists) were the Reformed churches, including the Zwinglian ones.  In the early years their reach was surprisingly small–parts of Switzerland, Holland and of course the Huguenots in France.  Their shift towards a “preaching-centred” worship was doubtless fuelled by both a desire to get back to a New Testament style of worship and (especially for the French) to be different from the Roman Catholicism that surrounded them.

The greatest prize for the Reformed religion, however, was Scotland.  John Knox’ zeal for the place was legendary, and that zeal paid off.  The Scots were able to pitch Roman Catholic type of worship in its entirety and still have a state church.

The trout in the milk (then and now) for the Scots are the English.  With James I the two countries had the same monarch; with Charles I same monarch got the idea that the two countries, both with the force of law behind them, should have the same worship.  With Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud at the forefront, the attempt to impose Anglican liturgical worship on the Scottish Kirk came to a head on 23 July 1637, when Jenny Geddes threw her stool at the hapless Dean of Edinburgh, James Hannay, in St. Giles, who was attempting to read the Collect.  One good stool thrown led to another (some Bibles got thrown in the melée,) and with that liturgical worship at St. Giles came to a grinding halt.  The rebuff spread to the rest of the Kirk, and the entire dispute was one of the events that fuelled the English Civil War, in which both Charles I and Laud lost their heads and both England and Scotland ended up with Oliver Cromwell.  (Those years in Scotland were also the beginning of the Celtic Protestant obsession with the whole business of “covenant,” and that hasn’t stopped either.)

Eventually Cromwell and his progeny passed and the Crown was restored along with true Anglican worship in England.  As for the Scots, eventually their independence was ended in the Union.  The English, however, seeing discretion was the better part of valour, left the Kirk’s worship as it was.  Many of the Scots, enclosed from their land and their independence, sought refuge in the “colonies,” where they had as little use for English worship and liturgy here as they did back home.  One thing led to another and the preacher-centred worship that is the hallmark of Evangelical churches became very much the rule in American Protestant churches, and this in turn was spread to other parts of the world.  It even was passed to Pentecostal churches, who claimed that only the Spirit of God led the worship.

Now, with music lyrics projected on screens and repetitious (and occasionally homoerotic) choruses becoming the norm, many long for the “old-time religion” of brush arbors, clapboard churches, revivals and (most importantly) Southern Gospel music.  But is it really “old-time?”  From the standpoint of Christian history, the answer is no.  And it should be noted that many of those whose ideas are enshrined in the “old-time religion” knew that this was the case.  Charles Finney, for example, introduced things such as the “anxious bench” (the ancestor of the modern Evangelical altar and the altar call) under the supposition that the New Testament never laid out the specifics for Christian worship and the methods by which souls might  be brought to Jesus.  He referred to many of the innovations as “new measures,” and spent some time lampooning those who stood for their own “old time religion.”  Today we see Finney’s construct being defended as the “old time religion” that’s good enough, but neither history or Finney would see it that way.

Now with even the pastor of this continent’s oldest continuing Pentecostal church admitting that we actually follow a type of liturgy in our worship, it’s time to come clean with ourselves on this subject.  If we really want to get back to an “old time religion” that’s worthy of the name, we will end the innovations of those from Zwingli to Knox to Finney and beyond and return to real liturgical worship, along with ending the endless schism and spawn of autocephalous institutions we have to support all of this.  If we don’t we need to say that we do what we do in the way we do it so “…that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God–and that, through your belief in his Name, you may have Life.” (John 20:31)  We waste far too much time in Evangelical Christianity–especially on this continent–making our Christian life an endless appeal to the past when we either need to move forward with the mission we have at hand or actually go back to something more firmly rooted in the history of the church. (And that, BTW, doesn’t obviate the need for the mission, as the Anglicans have found out of late.)

As I like to say, it’s our move: we need to make it.

An Interview with Abu Daoud (Part II)

We continue our discussion (the first part is here) with Abu Daoud, Anglican missionary to the Middle East.

5) How have your financial arrangements been for the work? What could be improved about this for you and others?

Like most missionaries all of our income comes from churches and people who support our work. Some people send in in $20/month, some churches send a couple hundred. Most of our support comes from Anglican/Episcopal churches and people, but we are very ecumenical, and have supporting churches and people from other traditions as well.

The American branch of the Anglican Communion is the Episcopal Church (USA), and it has been losing churches and people by the thousands over the last years. So this has been hard. We are theologically conservative and evangelical in spirit, but even those churches that really get what we are doing have lost people and money, which I understand. Our main sending church in the US was originally supporting us with $2000/month, which is fantastic. Then that was cut to $1600, still very good. But then last January to $800/month. In 2010 that church split in three. The funds are still a big help, but it is a one-way trend, it seems. The churches that leave TEC for some new group also don’t usually have time for us. They are spending money on lawsuits so they can keep their old church building, or if they are sponsored by some African bishop, they send their ‘mission’ money to Nigeria or Rwanda. Maybe our four bishops in the Middle East should start a new mission to the USA! Christianity is growing well in sub-Saharan Africa, and meanwhile the Middle East is bleeding Christians.

So I have come to the conclusion that it is ultimately individuals and families who will keep this mission going. They don’t make us fill out a five-page application every year or inform us of changing mission visions and ask how we fit into that, or what have you. Our supporters keep in touch by my blog (islamdom.blogspot.com) or email or phone. When we are back in the US we meet for lunch or coffee. It is very healthy and organic, for want of a better word. So yes, it has been difficult, but I feel like we are in a better place than many other missionaries. One good thing about Episcopalians is that the lay people really appreciate what we do, and will support us. And unlike most non-denominational churches they don’t have tons of people coming around asking for missions support each month.

6) Where do you see MENA going, especially in view of events such as the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the Arab Spring?

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? First, the people who protested didn’t take political control, so as much as they wanted freedom and democracy, they just won’t get it, I’m sorry to say. The Egyptian elections were demonstrably corrupt, though the international press has not said so—I have no idea why. The Islamists will take power and they will not let it go. And why is this surprising? That is precisely what Muhammad did—engaged in diplomacy and compromise and so on, but once he had power he was ruthless. In the end, an Islamic society cannot be a free society. Islam and freedom are mutually exclusive.

The question I have is this: will it be like Iran? After the revolution in `79 Islam had a chance to prove itself in the political arena, and Islam, unlike Christianity, makes substantial guarantees in this area. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have concluded that Islam failed—it did not deliver politically so it must be false in terms of its religious and spiritual claims too. They have turned to Christianity some of them, and some to secular humanism or atheism. Will this happen in these newly Islamist states? Perhaps. I pray it will. Islam’s love of political power may well be its Achilles’ heel. Meanwhile, that means the native Christians need to stay as long as they can, and foreign missionaries like me need to stay no matter what. I will do it. Maybe the kids and wife need to go back to the US, I will do everything I can to stay here even if all hell breaks loose.

7) How has your time in the region impacted you personally and your family?

It has made a huge impact on me and all of us. Our oldest child has lived most of his life outside of the USA. After a while I came to realize that Islamic civilization, for all its faults, is in some ways superior to Western civilization. I am a harsh critic of Islam, but also of the West—I try to be fair. Muslims still have a great deal of appreciation for family, marriage, and children, something lost in much of the West. The West is on its way out, people just don’t have enough children and we are without traditions. A people without traditions has no collective memory or sense of identity. Consequently, they have no sense of value, no sense of why their culture is worth perpetuating and continuing. Muslims have that. And they have kids.

You could ask my wife this question too, and I’m guessing she would say the hardest thing for her has been trusting God with the kids. For me, I worry about money and visas and so on. She worries about our son making friends with Arab kids in his school and things like that. So I really respect the old paradigm of monastic missions now. I mean, sending out monks and nuns to do mission work makes a great deal of sense to me. American evangelicalism has no way to utilize the great charism of celibacy though, unfortunately.

Finally I would say it has made me more direct and more bold. Maybe I’m just more opinionated. (In case you haven’t noticed.) I would say my faith is much stronger. You really learn that sometimes you just have to launch out in a direction because you sense that is where God is leading you, even without knowing you will arrive. Imagine me telling you to get in a boat and row south-southeast into a huge lake at night, without me saying how long or why or even if you will arrive for sure. It’s like that.

8 ) What can Christians outside of MENA do to further efforts such as yours?

The first thing is to ask if God and his Church are calling you to this mission—to the mission to Islam. Are you called to go to the Muslims? Will you be a missionary with us? That would help!

Second, everyone can pray, and that is very valuable. On our mailing list we send our prayer letter to religious houses and convents and prayer groups all over the world actually. We never get money from them, and the printing and postage and labor come out of our pocket, but I know it is worthwhile. So pray.

And finally, give. I don’t have a secretary or administrative aid. When I need paper I walk down the hill to the paper store and buy it. We don’t have a professional consultant to do fundraising or anything like that. Unless someone lets me use office space for free, I just work out of our home. Our overhead is very low, so I think we are very strategic in terms of finances. So by all means, people and churches can pray about supporting our mission financially.