THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
I was once told of a conference in Nairobi “to reach” sub-Saharan Africa. Asked why Americans were not on the invite list, the organizers said, “We have enough money!” The story forced us to ask ourselves, “Don’t we as the North American church have more to offer than money? What about our problem-solving brilliance or our charming personalities?”
Barton suggests that the best thing we can bring to the table “is our transforming selves.” Not our strategies, nor our dollars, nor our convening abilities.
Approximately six years ago, our missions leadership team suspended normal missions committee work for 18 months to ensure we had the fundamentals right, that we ourselves were in the process of transformation. We revisited the basics of discipleship, incorporating spiritual disciplines into our daily rhythms. We studied and practiced as a leadership community (no longer just a “committee”) our “hear and obey” response. As a result, we entered a whole new dimension of spiritual vitality. Our global friends were inspirations (see the stories above) and cheered us on our transformational journey. We now have something meaningful to bring to the partnership table: our stories of transformation from our walk with Jesus.
Dana Robert in Global Friendships says it plainly, “Faithful friendships are difficult, but not impossible…. It can also be revolutionary: it points to God’s Kingdom.” She adds “Even in difficult circumstances with no apparent chance of ‘results,’ friendship remains a Christian calling.”
Our idea to friend a few global churches and to journey together as peers came from a desperation for new Kingdom possibilities. On that journey we have been discerning and discovering a common missional agenda with His people, for His people.
We have not arrived, but these transformational moments, and others, continue to bring life and vitality to our community of faith and a message of hope for the nations. In the process, our church also began to bridge the gap between discipleship and global missions. We discovered the gifting of many in our congregation and the richness of cross-cultural friendships. And we are gaining a better understanding of missio Dei.
This post written by Matthew Philip at https://catalystservices.org/transforming-friendships/, and used by permission of Catalyst Services. Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash.