Phil Miglioratti interviewed Paul Borthwick, author of Great Compassion, Great Compassion
Phil ~ Paul, no book is easy to write but some are smooth journeys, others are hard. Which was this?
Paul ~ The book I did three years ago, Western Christians in Global Mission(IVP, 2012) was a greater challenge because of my attempt to collect, read and synthesize dozens of interviews, experiences, and writings from around the world.  This book had it’s own challenges of course, but Great Commission, Great Compassion is a more hands-on application of developing a lifestyle that integrates the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel.  In one sense, it’s a long-term product of many years trying to encourage the average person-in-the-pew to live with a sense of being 24-7 “sent by Jesus” into the world.
Phil ~ Your bio indicates you teach, consult, mobilize. How do these roles shape the perspective you bring to this book?
Paul ~ interacting with college students, speaking at North American churches, and teaching leaders from many countries who live at the “grassroots” level has shaped my perspectives greatly.  As a person involved in global missiology, I would love to have people understand the issues of contextualization in the Muslim world or the difference between an unreached people group versus and unengaged people group,  but as a practitioner, I realize that the first engagement point for most of my readers might be encouraging them to start a friendship with their Hindu co-worker or the Muslim family down the street.
Phil ~ Agree or disagree ... The 100 year divorce between evangelism-driven and compassion-motivated Christ-followers is ending, not in a truce but in a return to a biblical integration.
Paul ~ I hope the biblical integration has happened, but I still see the potential danger of imbalance.  If 40 years ago we emphasized proclamation and made demonstration secondary, I think the church in the USA today has swung in the other direction.  Compassionate care, liberating captives, and fighting against injustice reflects Kingdom-of-God living, but our Gospel includes a proclamation-of-truth, invitation-to-a-relationship with God through Jesus component.  We always need to remember that justice and justification, freedom and forgiveness, demonstration and proclamation go hand-in-hand.
Phil ~ Some of us talk about being intentional to express a prayer-care-share lifestyle. How could that be similar to your call to live a "Great Commission, Great Compassion lifestyle?"
Paul ~ I have not heard those three imperatives expressed like that before, but I think you’ve grasped one of the main themes in the book.
Phil ~ Spiritual gifting, calling, and passion from the Holy Spirit seem to direct some into sharing their faith easily while others seem drawn toward acts of mercy, justice advocacy or community development. How do we live in our "sweet spot" without ignoring the other "great" commandment of Jesus?
Paul ~ I’d add personality types and even Christian-conversion experience to that mix (gifts, call, passion).  The insight that has helped me most emerges from the word “witness”.   Some of us find it easier to be outgoing, engaging, and assertive.  Others of us prefer the long-term, more behind-the-scenes lifestyle.  But we are all witnesses in the case that God is building in other peoples’ lives.  God is at work and He calls us in as His witnesses.  Occasionally our lives and actions might be the definitive action that helps a person step into a personal relationship with Jesus.  Other times we are witnesses early in the case – and God is using our words and deeds to soften the heart of a person who might turn to Him months or years later.  If I live with what Bob Jacks calls “24/7 Availability” I can ask God for grace to live as a witness to the reality of Jesus in my own life.
Phil ~ Please comment:
   >Sensory evangelism ~ My concluding chapter challenges us to live lives of witness to all five senses.  We share the Good News to the sense of hearing.  We are salt (sense of taste) by looking to enhance the quality (flavor) of the lives of those around us.  We are light (sense of sight), living our lives in Christ in an effort to push out darkness.  The way we treat the hungry, the lonely, the prisoner, etc. is an expression of the touch of Christ. And we are the aroma/fragrance of Christ (sense of smell) by the unspoken action, the random-deeds-of-kindness and the kind gestures throughout our daily lives.
   >Leaving our culture zone ~ The great commission statements of Jesus do not allow us to stay put in our own cultural comfort zones.  The mandates to “all nations” (Matthew 28, Luke 24), all creation (Mark 15), or “Judea, Samaria & the ends of the earth” (Acts 1) call us out – to build friendships across cultures, to start the conversation with the guy named Abdullah, or to venture out in service cross-culturally on a mission experience.
   >Every 10 seconds, 26 people die ~ I heard this when I heard Dr. Ron Blue of Dallas Theological Seminary speak.  Dr. Blue uses this stat to remind us of how many human beings pass into eternity without a relationship with Jesus Christ.  He has synthesized data on who-dies-where, and he cites that if 26 people die every 10 seconds, 2 are Buddhist, 4 are Hindus, 6 are Muslims, 7 are Christians (of all forms), and 7 are “other” (agnostic, atheistic, other religious belief).  I carry these stats in my wallet as a simple reminder that there are many people who need to be invited to follow Jesus.
   >Welcome and celebrate ~ The global migration of peoples (students, refugees, immigrants) is one of the greatest mission issues of modern times.  We can react in fear or we can see the hand of God in this.  He is bringing people into our midst from locations where they may have never heard the Gospel so that they can hear it from us.
   >Advocacy (not just for the "professionals") ~ All of us have opportunities to stand against injustices – whether by considering issues of “free trade” in relationship to the coffee we drink or by serving to help immigrants complete their documentation paperwork
   >Applying your teachings to small groups, study classes, ministry teams, families ~ The first section of the book covers the theological foundations of the Great Commission & Great Compassion, but summary chapters in Part 1 list “take-aways” or “putting it into practice” ideas.  Part 2 is all about application – living it out.  If I were using this with small groups or in a class or even as a sermon series, I would always be asking the participants/ listeners, “OK so what do we do with these truths?”  The book is for practitioners so let’s take action. 

Phil ~ Paul, please write a prayer we can pray for you from a scripture that calls us to a Grest Commission, Great Compassion lifestyle...
Paul: Lord Jesus, as I (we) go into this day, help me by the power of the Holy Spirit to realize that I’m on Your mission.  Help me to see people the way that You see them.  Help me to open my mouth to speak and open my arms to care.  The Bible describes You, Lord, as full of grace and truth.  Reflect that quality in me I pray – grace to care for human need, and truth to invite people to know You.  Amen.    

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  • An FYI ~ The #MAC16 Leadership Consultation is pursuing this discussion in both best practice and think tank/interaction modes.

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