14) The BackPage: “So I was Watching the GM Commercial… –“

Did you catch the new GM commercial? See it at…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr94zStsk8E

The essence is — yes, we’ve blown it. We’ve been knocked down, but you know what? The difference between us and everybody else in the world is that we have managed to get back up. I thought the commercial was exceptional. In one fell swoop, GM said, “Hey, we blew it but — we’re back, we’re better, and we’re grateful.” They probably also attracted a certain kind of follower — someone who respects honest and heart. Which gives me pause: how many times do we all become defensive and confrontational when we’re forced to come face to face with our own vulnerabilities? How often do we strike back in an attempt to regain footing? When’s the last time you heard someone truly admit that he or she made a mistake — but then fixed it.

And beyond that, this wasn’t just a baseball through a living room window. This was a giant conglomerate with thousands of employees. You know, when the chips are down, some things become very negative. Stress increases. Tempers flare. And people sometimes quit or move on, partly because they’re scared… and sometimes because they’re angry about something. (I don’t know — maybe being scared makes them feel angry?)

Have you ever been playing soccer when, after about 90 minutes have passed, someone leaves the game because he’s tired? I’ve noticed that when someone leaves, it makes the game very vulnerable. But I’ve also noticed — it depends on who leaves as to whether or not the game will fold. If it’s a novice player or someone that few people know or love, then the departure goes unnoticed. But if it’s the best player on the field, or the one that keeps everybody jazzed and pumped, then there’s this critical moment when every player on the field asks himself (or herself), “Do I want to go on playing?” In many cases, one departure will prompt several and, before you know it, the whole game folds. It’s a cascading effect not unlike “mob psychology.”

Which brings me to my point: You never ever know how crucial your attitude will be when the chips are down. Someone at GM must have believed that it was worth it. Someone had a titanium will to succeed. Someone *believed*.

How ’bout you? Do you have a story of overcoming the odds? Have you experienced a time when someone quit and it caused you to consider it, but you decided to tough it out for the good of the cause? If you’re shy, you can always choose to make it anonymous. We just want to celebrate with you — or mourn, depending on the case. Just click “Comment” below this item on the web and tell your story. Thanks in advance for your help!

1) Who says Mexico isn’t safe!? (New School to Learn Spanish) —

It was necessary to add a “safety” page to the website at

http://rocablancaspanish.com

because some students (and their scared families!) have only heard the border horror stories, and don’t know that the Roca Blanca Spanish Language School is a long way removed from Mexico’s problem areas. You also easily avoid those areas when traveling there and back. The dates for the 2011 courses have also been revised, and new information has been generously added. Take a look!

The school is for those who are serious about communicating in Spanish. Located on the campus of a Bible school, Music school, and Medical Clinic for Oaxaca’s indigenous, it’s an ideal setting for learning, conversation, cultural integration, practical ministry, and rich interaction with both missionaries, Mexican staff, and local townspeople. The setting is beautiful, too, right on the Pacific Ocean. The course is written by missionaries who’ve learned the language themselves, and the grammar classes are done in English by a native English speaker. All of the other classes (six other distinct classes every two days) are taught by Mexicans trained in teaching their native language. Mission agencies send their new missionaries (presently from four countries), and then there are those who simply want to learn Spanish as part of God’s general plan for their lives.

All levels have openings now for the 2011 sessions. The school exists to equip you, and all profit goes to the Clinic and Bible school operations. Organizers say, “Come on down, and/or tell a friend!” (Thanks to the organizers for a $50 gift to Brigada!)

2) New book great for religious, secular, & especially Vietnam vets —

“My Vietnam, Stories of the War Years from the Inside Out”, is a riveting collection of 28 stories filled with cultural insights, humor, and amazing God-orchestrated events. From rubbing elbows with Bob Hope’s USO tour, to lighting Ted Kennedy’s cigar, to catching life-saving rides on military planes, this book chronicles the fascinating lives of the Stemple family ministering to the Vietnamese people during the most turbulent years of the war. Author Charlotte Stemple, former C&MA missionary to Vietnam and internationally known speaker, has deliberately written biographical material in a style that reads like fiction. Both secular and religious readers are excited about the book, and those who have served in Vietnam are finding it helpful and healing. Contact the author

href="http://wwwdotbrigadadotorg/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/stemplesataoldotcom_.jpg">title="stemplesataoldotcom" src="http://wwwdotbrigadadotorg/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/stemplesataoldotcom_.jpg" alt="" width="141" height="20" /> for purchase information. (Thanks to “My Vietnam” for a $35 gift to Brigada!)

4) Wow — Free Team Building Course from the O’Donnells —

I’m tellin’ ya. These people are cool. Kelly and Michele O’Donnell have made available to our entire Brigada audience a Team Resiliency course which provides a quick infusion of practical concepts and tools that mission/aid teams can review together. Each lesson includes a core reading, discussion items, handouts, and either a 10 minute audio lecture or a power point. The topics cover: Team Characteristics, Health/Dysfunction, Team Leaders, Team Building/Conflict, Summary-Applications. Though they didn’t choose the Brigada Training site :-), the service they used is free, easy, and maybe more fun than the Brigada site anyway. :-) You’ll have to set up a user name and password there, but that took us all of 30 seconds. Find their course at…

http://www.nixty.com/course/Team-Resiliency

After you sign on, click on the course title. The password for the course is: strongteams

We are very grateful to Kelly and Michele for partnering with us in this way. May God bless their unselfish spirit for the good of all our teams and for the growth of God’s Kingdom!

5) What are You Reading about Team Building? —

Here’s how Kelly and Michele O’Donnell answered:

Project Management Memory Jogger: Pocket Guide for Project Teams (2010, rev.), Martin/Tate

The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams (2009, revised edition), Ken Blanchard

Working Virtually: Managing People for Successful Virtual Teams/Organizations (2003), Hoefling

Teamwork: How to Build Relationships (2003), Gordon Jones and Rosemary Jones

Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (2002), Patrick Lencioni

The Discipline of Teams: A Workbook… (2001), Katzenbach/Smith

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork (2001), John Maxwell

Building Credible Multicultural Teams (2000), Leanne Roembke

(Thanks Kelly and Michele!)

6) Hearing Great Things about this Multicultural Congregation Book —

Check it out at…

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Cross-Ocean-Reach-World/dp/0800794478

Author David Boyd operated by the principle, “The key to reaching the nations with the gospel is to first reach the stranger who dwells among us.” So he set about identifying and equipping bicultural people to share God’s love across borders of race, culture, and language. What happened? A way of doing church that honors Christ’s call to reach every nation with his message of salvation while making connections between previously disconnected people. “You Don’t Have to Cross the Ocean to Reach the World” shows readers in any country how to reach the world through building multicultural congregations. With a firm biblical foundation, compelling case studies, true stories, and practical suggestions for implementation, this is the ideal book for everyone who wants to reach the world for Christ by starting at their own front door.

7) What do you make of the “Last Mile Calling Network? —

One of the ongong efforts of the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation held May 11-14, 2010 is the availability of a resource web site called Last Mile Calling

http://www.lastmilecalling.org

This is a ministry freely offered to the global mission community to enable global collaboraation with the objective of fulfilling the Great Commission.  The developers, who are funding and maintaining the ministry in cooperation with the Tokyo 2010 Missions Network – Making Disciples of Every People In Our Generation, are currently working on a major update and further development.  They want to hear what will best serve the mission community.  If you are interested in and gifted to participate in the design stage, please contact

Looks like nearly 500 people are already subscribed. Seems like the concept is good: Set up a secure environment to form networks around people groups, countries, and cities. Vet all new subscribers. Give them tools to share resources, networks, relationships and ideas. Let’s hope it gains traction. It could become quite a nexus of activity someday.

One of the ongong efforts of the Tokyo 2010 Global Mission Consultation held May 11-14, 2010 is the availability of a resource web site called Last Mile Calling

8) Cool Book about Scattered Peoples —

Now you can get J.D. Payne’s book, “Scattered to Gather,” free at…

http://www.jdpayne.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Scattered-to-Gather.pdf

Note: That link will likely wrap. You might have to reassemble it in the “To:” box of your browser. If you have trouble, just use the link immediately below to click to this item in the online version of Brigada, and click it there. The next steps portion, alone, is worth the read. (Thanks Dr. Payne!)

9) Can’t afford Operation World for now? —

At least you can pray. Take a look at…

http://www.operationworld.org/countries-alphabetically

That’s where the Operation World folks give you a teaser of some of the information you’ll find in the latest edition of the earthshaking volume. And honestly, they’ve given quite a lot of information for free. If nothing else, that level of nobility ought to convict all of us to go out and buy the book. Well done Jason & company!

10) Get “Round Trip:” Top-level Training for your Short-term Team —

I’ve been hearing great feedback on the training course at…

http://www.roundtripmissions.com/content/round-trip%E2%80%93-short-term-mission-documentary-and-curriculum

(Note: That link will likely wrap. You might have to reassemble it in the “To:” box of your browser. If you have trouble, just use the link immediately below to click to this item in the online version of Brigada, and click it there.)

This video curriculum is for individuals who are considering a short-term mission trip, churches who are sending short-term teams, the teams themselves as they prepare to go, and anyone who wants to do short-term missions with excellence, integrity, and real partnership with the church around the world. They even give you permission to make up to 1,000 copies of the participant’s and leader’s guides to be distributed in a church or educational setting. All this for $20. How in the world? I love it when somebody produces something then doesn’t charge $200 for it. Hopefully, they do well because of economy of scale. God bless them.

11) New Search Engine Reportedly Gives Less; is Less More? —

Imagine an internet site at which less is more? But that’s the promise at

http://www.blekko.com

Our Uganda Desk discovered this site after seeing it referenced in the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/technology/01search.html

The basic mantra seems to be that less is more. In other words, sure it’s great to see millions of results [at Google.com, for example]. But what if you want the search engine literally to cull down the listings to something more manageable — and trustworthy, by the way? Well, you’re in luck. Meet Blekko. So — let’s try it. We just might like it. (Thanks Lissa!)

13) Can You Help Brigada Make its Goal for 2010? —

Each year, in recent years, Brigada has set a reasonable fundraising goal of $17,120 for the entire year. And each year, God has supplied abundantly through His workers around the world. Thus far in 2010, friends of Brigada have given $4245.61. God be praised. But that’s way low of our goal, by a factor of $12,874. It might look impossible to every make up that kind of ground, but the truth is, if just 130 true fans of Brigada each sent $100 between now and Christmas, the entire amount would be covered. Many have appreciated Brigada’s missions news, resources, and articles down through the years. Now, with our backs against the wall, it would be a fantastic time to step up to the plate. Thanks to God, in advance, for whatever He can accomplish through His people worldwide, for the growth of His Kingdom worldwide. Just click the “Donate” link at the top of the page at brigada.org. You won’t have to register with PayPal if you don’t want to. (Just click “make a payment without logging in” if you prefer.) We can also set up a regular once-a-month automatic withdraw from your checking account or major credit card. Or, if you prefer, just send an old-fashioned check each month, payable to Team Expansion to: Team Expansion (Brigada), 13711 Willow Reed Dr., Louisville, KY 40299. (Team Expansion is a 501(c)3 incorporation so for USA citizens, your checks made out to Team Expansion are tax-deductible.) Thanks to those who have suggested this cause to their local church missions teams. We appreciate you!

14) The BackPage: What distinguishes a Heartfelt Holiday?

Google's Thanksgiving 2010 graphicI was thinking, since it’s Thanksgiving week and all, that maybe we should ask the question, “What distinguishes a heartfelt holiday?” Now I have my own ideas, but you’re welcome to write yours as well — in the comments immediately following this item on the web. So here’s my list:

*** A noble purpose — So you’re already guessing where I’m going here. I just really can’t get very excited about holidays that celebrate witches, goblins, and spells. With all due respect to some lady who writes children’s books in England (and gets rich over them), I’m not a fan. Nor do I get jazzed about bunnies, chocolate [ok, I like M&Ms], flying reindeer [let me think one more time about the reindeer], or getting up at 4am to stand in line for 2 hours in hopes of buying my cousin just the right toaster oven. I mean, puh-leeeeze. Don’t show me another giant pumpkin — especially if I’m supposed to camp out in the garden to wait for him to *come*. Nope. Really *classy* holidays have to have a purpose that points heavenly, or uplifts the soul, or creates a positive dynamic for the community — and especially for the *family*.

*** A community memory — The community could be the whole country, but it could also be a town, church, or even a family. Sometimes I wonder, for example, if 9/11 will become a classy holiday someday. Sometimes I think it has the potential. In some ways, we’ll never know — until that community memory develops. Classy holidays cause families to remember being together around a piano, singing Christmas carols. Or going sledding. Or, in the case of Thanksgiving, joining hands around a noon meal, giving thanks to the Creator for another good year. Even if the year wasn’t so good — giving thanks for another year, at least.

*** Cultural symbols — This could be music. Music is good. If Amy Grant is involved, she could even sing it in a cheesy television special, as long as there’s amy grant christmassnow. Gotta have snow. Either way, music stirs the soul, gladdens the heart, melts us into a common thread of celebration, or even common suffering over whatever it is we’re remembering. And by singing about it, even if we’re saddened by it, maybe it becomes a memory of the past rather than a page of our present. Other cultural symbols work too. Stars are cool. And even pumpkins are all right, as long as they aren’t alive. You get the idea.

*** A special role for children — I know… this one comes unexpectedly, but I honestly think that the classiest holidays provide some special place for kids. They either sing in a play, march in a band, get a gift, or better yet, give a gift. They look with fascination at a train set in fake snow, or make place cards for mealtime. They laugh. They absolutely *have* to laugh. And they usually have to travel somewhere, eventually. Or — maybe they are sobered by a sacrifice someone made. Maybe a sacrifice that many people made. Maybe even their own lives. Either way, *kids* — they gotta mix in there somewhere.

So, that’s why I’ve concluded: Thanksgiving is a heartfelt holiday. Let’s face it: It has one of the noblest purposes of all. Even a non-Christian can get jazzed about saying thanks — to someone, for something. Or at least the non-Christian will likely appreciate the food, family, and friends around the table. And it has, until now, preserved an incredibly sound non-commercial appeal. Giving thanks for a great harvest — now there’s a fantastic cultural memory for an agrarian community.

Now I hasten to add here — I’m a little worried, just a little concerned lately, about Thanksgiving. This year, just about every store is open at 5am on Thanksgiving Day as well. It isn’t enough that they take over the Friday *after* Thanksgiving. Eventually, it all comes around to selling something. Making a buck. And now, this year, all the stores are open on Thanksgiving Day as well. So maybe the age-old tradition of saying thanks at a special meal will eventually be replaced by thinking that Thanksgiving is this fantastic shopping-crazed weekend frenzy, you know?

Maybe it’s already happened.

Regardless, I’m worried.

So — the way forward. Today, and throughout the week, as you make your way through box-strewn aisles of candy, decorations, and gaming consoles, please help us preserve a strong community memory of saying thanks to the creator for the bountiful blessings of the harvest, and remember Thanksgivings past. Cook up a turkey, even if it’s the kind in a box in the freezer section. And above all, pull those kids together to make placecards for everybody so we’ll know where to sit. Sing “We Gather Together…” and tell a story from your childhood. Reclaim Thanksgiving from Sony and Nintendo, though I’m sure their Marketing Departments are thankful for this week, just the same. Either way, have a great Thanksgiving and — don’t forget the ultimate sacrifice that paves way for the ultimate blessing for which we ought to be ultimately thankful. Amen.

PS. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory? Click comment (at the link below) and share it.

1) New Book on Church’s role in Candidate Prep is a Winner —

Whoa… I just finished reading Greg Carter’s new book, “Skills, Knowledge, Character: A Church-based Approach to Missionary Candidate Preparation.” There’s just one major flaw in this book: I didn’t write it first. Honest… I read it cover-to-cover, word-for-word, because it’s that good. He analyzes the typical preparation track (at least for USA-sent workers; other countries’ mileage may vary), picks apart the process, and helps figure out how to improve it. I *love* it that he blends the agency’s role with the church’s role. (He notes that some churches back in the nineties were previously heading in a direction of ditching agencies. “Big mistake,” he concludes. My kinda’ guy. :-) ) (Course, I lead a missions agency on the side, in addition to my role of editing Brigada. :-) ) He also blends in special training agencies *and* formal college/university training experiences. Actually, the appendix and his “dashboard” are worth the price of the book all on their own.

But I’ll point out just one more fault: In the pre-release version I read, he doesn’t even mention Brigada in the entire publication! (He’s since promised to fix that error, he says. :-) :-) :-)

Seriously, all kidding aside, you’ll want this book… if you’re involved in local church missions.

The cost is $19.95, but because he felt so bad about not including Brigada on the pre-release version (kidding again), he’s dropping the price for Brigada participants. Use PayPal to send $17 to

href="http://wwwdotbrigadadotorg/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/TurtleRiverPressatgmaildotcom_.jpg">title="TurtleRiverPressatgmaildotcom" src="http://wwwdotbrigadadotorg/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/TurtleRiverPressatgmaildotcom_.jpg" alt="" width="221" height="20" />

— and he’s even throwing in shipping for that price. Reason to celebrate. The *appendix* is worth that. You can also mail a check made out to:

Turtle River Press

153 Bedford Court

Valparaiso, IN 46383

for $17 as well.

So hats off to Greg. This book is a keeper.

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