The Commodification of Mission in the Muslim World

This is an challenging reflection on the tendency to commodify mission but has a challenging application to our attitudes to church, family and life in general.

By Mike Kuhn A commodity—something that is bought and sold. Mission—the loving and joyful response of Christ’s followers to disciple the nations, holding forth Jesus’ life and teaching among all th…

Source: The Commodification of Mission in the Muslim World

Our Favourite Things

abm-glazenwasser-en-schoonmaakbedrijf-uit-lisse-voor-nieuw-vennep-bord-21 Nearly eight months in Nieuw Vennep – time has flown! We have been ‘counting our blessings’ and thinking about the things we enjoy most here, so here are a few of our favourite things:

 De Symfonie – This is our local ‘Winkelcentrum’ (shopping centre). Of course it has lots of shops but our favourites are the bakery with its delicious coffee shop, a bookshop that sells English language newspapers, the Post Office and the Jumbo supermarket. There you have it: our favourite Saturday morning programme! symfonie-0101

 Open spaces – After living in Amsterdam for two months, we really do appreciate the open spaces here. The fields outside Nieuw Vennep are used for growing flowers (roses, peonies, tulips and other bulbs) and later in the season potatoes, cabbages and other vegetables. Closer to town there are parks, sports fields and cycle tracks everywhere. imagesvdjydx2g (Dot told someone recently that ‘There are cycle paths everywhere’ and realised it sounded like ‘There are psychopaths everywhere’. She needs to get her English pronunciation right before worrying about Dutch!).

IBTSC – our workplace in Amsterdam. We are really blessed to have such stimulating and interesting jobs – Dot editing the academic journals; David as ‘Manusje van Alles’ (Dutch for ‘Handyman, the man who does a bit of everb7zf0_aiqaauunz1ything’), officially termed ‘operational and academic support’. We have wonderful office colleagues from Scotland, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa and Estonia and we meet students and part-time staff from many parts of the world. It is a privilege to be part of the team here.

Dutch language – Although we have not yet made much headway with learning Dutch, we do enjoy listening to others speaking it! We have even found some words that remind us of English, or more accurately, of English as she is spoke in Norn Iron. For example, the Dutch word ‘uit-stekend’ when reversed is remarkably similar to the NI term ‘stickin’ out’ which means ‘excellent’ (as in, ‘How was your dinner?’ ‘Stickin’ out!’). The Dutch word ‘raar’ is obviously stolen from the NI word ‘rare’ (as in, ‘Thon’ was a rare wee woman’). The sign we saw on a Dutch train directing passengers to ‘shuiven’ the windows out in case of emergency needs no translation to those literate in NI English. However, if this makes the Dutch language look easy, don’t be fooled!

Dutch food – The writers of ‘The Undutchables’ (White and Boucke) joke that the level of global respect for Dutch cuisine is demonstrated by the number of Dutch restaurants you see in cities across the world! That may be true, but we have found some delicious Dutch food – mainly in the sweet department. ‘Gevulde koeken’ are little cakes filled with marzipan; ‘appelgebak’ (spicy apple tart) is on nearly every menu; ‘Roomboter koek’ is a moist, creamy madeira cake. These are all delicious! David has adopted the Dutch habit of drinking ‘karnemelk’ (buttermilk) with his lunch, but we have not yet developed a taste for ‘erwtensoep’ (pea and ham soup) or some of the other specialities such as ‘brune bonen met stroop’ (brown beans with syrup). Hmm! how-to-eat-a-stroopwafel1 Anyway, here is a Dutch treat you can try at home – even in the UK. Stroopwafel are available in most supermarkets and here’s how to enjoy them to the full:

  1. Make a cup/mug of hot coffee or tea (make sure the diameter of the cup is smaller than the stroopwafel or culinary disaster will ensue);
  2. Place stroopwafel on top of the cup for 2 mins. then turn it over for 2 mins.
  3. Remove stroopfwafel and eat slowly, drinking tea/coffee as you eat. Mmm!

Estonia is closer than you think!

That’s according to the Estonian Tourist Board ( ) who say that the 10 best reasons to visit their country are: it is clean, scenic, accessible, rich in contrasts, quality, atmospheric, curative, delicious, inspirational and easy to visit. All true, I’m sure, but our reason for going there last week was to attend the Annual Council of the European Baptist Federation.


Some of the delegates attending the EBF Council in Tallinn 


The impressive Oleviste Church, not a typical Baptist church building!


The EBF Council met for three days in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, and the 140+ delegates came from around 50 countries across Europe (including the Brexit nations) and the Middle East. The hum of conversation during coffee breaks was fantastic – so many languages and gestures used to communicate so well! On the first evening we all walked in the rain and wind (it’s cold up there, so close to the North Pole) into the beautiful Old Town to the Oleviste Church for the opening service. During the fifteenth century this church was considered the tallest building in the world. Its present-day spire is a mere 124 metres high and the tower provides a wonderful viewpoint over the capital city. But the most interesting feature is that ‘during Soviet times’ (a phrase heard frequently in Estonia) several Christian denominations (Lutherans, Baptists and others) were evicted from their places of worship and given this church building to share, presumably in the hope that they would argue over the practical details and the churches would fade away. But they made it work (in the face of a common enemy) and the church communities stayed strong through all the persecutions and difficulties of those years. When Estonian independence was re-established in 1991, these churches had the option of finding new and separate buildings. Instead they took the unusual step of voting to continue to share the building and to work together as Christians in a nation that claims to be the least religious in Europe. The church building does not look at all like a Baptist church – and that’s why!

Finally, a few little-known geographical facts: Tallinn is closer to Dublin than Naples is; Tallinn is closer to London than Reykjavik is; Tallinn is closer to Frankfurt than Malaga is. Estonia is closer than you think and it’s well worth a visit.


We found the Irish Embassy in Tallinn but we think the Ambassador had nipped home to Ireland.