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Don't Add Another Brick

People are a little shocked when we tell them that we are “Missionaries” who don’t start any programs.  As servants of Christ we come beside individuals and see what their dreams are for their community. We work together on how we can support them.  

Our good friend Steven cleaned up his life and wanted to give other men in the community a different alternative at least once a week.  Steven loves basketball, and heard about a pick up league 1 hour away. Not only did he want the guys doing something physical but he also wanted to have a sharing time while driving.  “A good topic each week.” Anyway Anthony’s reply was, ‘you get the guys, I’ll drive.’  That was 5 years ago. 

Now when the guys first started to play together our van was quite old, tape deck and no aux cord old.  They soon stopped bringing their head phones and started listening into Anthony and Steven’s conversation then over a few weeks they started to join in.  Now this next basketball season is about to start, we have a new car with Bluetooth but the guys don’t want the music they want a conversation. 

Doing ministry like this is messy, I can guarantee that there will be bumps

At the church we help run, we have been focusing on raising Christian leaders. One of the ladies who comes out is a single mom and wanted to have a weekend retreat for other single moms. Her dreams for this event were huge and in some ways I had a little doubt.  Our church is quite small and to finance this event is a huge undertaking.  But with Ruth at the helm we fundraised the whole amount with the community support.  So the single moms didn’t have to pay anything for the weekend. The Chief and Council donated.  Other’s donated for all the food to be catered.  If Anthony or I had tried to run this event the community would not have backed it as well as they did.

In a traditional Missional mindset when we leave is that program going to continue? Maybe, for a while but it will eventually fizzle out.  But by empowering the community member, first it will thrive, secondly the individual will take pride in it and want it to keep going and thirdly the community will find more value in the program. Doing ministry like this is messy, I can guarantee that there will be bumps and it may not look/run how you envisioned it, but remember it was never your idea/vision in the first place.

I have a question for you, when you first meet someone and they flat out refuse Jesus and tell you they’re an atheist, do you shy away?  Or do you keep investing in them?  When we first moved to the Island 11 years ago we met a man in this exact situation.  Anthony never backed down or pushed Jesus on him. Instead they built a friendship, now when Anthony is away this man will call me to check in to see if the car is running properly or if I have a problem with the house.  I even get Mother’s day flowers from him.  We know that when the Holy Spirit does get a hold of him, he will be an amazing ambassador for Christ. Is this a valuable investment?

Come with an open mind and as a learner, every day, every conversation.

In our context and many others around the world, the name Jesus and the idea of church comes with a lot of baggage due to the atrocities around the world: residential schools, genocide and apartheid.  This has built walls, caused hurt both around the gospel and relationships.  So we have to be different, we have to give a new perspective of who our Creator is and how He can change lives.

So where does this leave us? How can we create relationships? Do we have to say sorry even if we didn’t cause harm?  My skin colour builds walls, I’m a Christian - add another brick, I have a house with a bed, and food in the cupboard. Brick, brick, brick. I come in the name of Jesus BRICK!  We have to be real, let down our guard, show our pain and our struggles.  Come with an open mind and as a learner, every day, every conversation.

I have been studying and digging into reconciliation, and what that means for a generational settler like myself. Studies in childhood trauma tell us that for every day a child is living in trauma they need a day to heal.  So in Canada if our First Nation friends have been in trauma for 150 years it will take that many years to come to a complete healing.  So how do you do that?  One conversation at a time, one person at a time.  If Rwanda can heal after the genocide in 1994 so can we.  A really good guide for reconciliation within ethnic groups started in Rwanda called Healing Hearts Transforming Nations. (HHTN)  Check out their work and upcoming events in North America.  If you don’t see an event close to you don’t hesitate to reach out.

Don't miss a post in this series! Justice & Mission: Good News for All

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

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