When you encounter third world poverty it’s easy to make assumptions. They have a broken system. We can fix it. They have familial issues and cultural norms that are unbiblical, we need to bring wisdom and drive out that darkness. And while these intentions may have been for the greater good, they often left communities and missionaries wounded and grasping for a better way.
But I see big changes in the way American missions are trying to engage the world around them.
We are asking questions about how to help without devaluing what God is doing in the communities we say we care about. We are having conversations about the best ways to engage a world that needs the gospel even on our own doorsteps.
We are learning to use our gifts to bring value to God’s kingdom without extinguishing the ways God is using others.
We want to shine a light on what’s happening in the world. And those are all noble things. Truly. But even in trying to be a voice for the voiceless we’re making assumptions about poverty and oppression.
In many ways,it’s not so much that they’re voiceless, rather that we stink at listening.
We want to give a voice to poverty,oppression, and justice issues. But is it our voice or theirs? We want to make our lives matter. We want to go and do. But do we also long to sit and learn, to really stop and listen to what God is already doing? Because He’s not on a hiatus over yonder while we work hard in our American churches.
He’s moving in the hearts and minds of his people, globally. He always has and he always will.
Which is the major reason that I am the giddy-happy-clappy-crying- girl who tears up at the drop of a hat or a worship song or anyone talking about community or faith or God or… you get the picture. I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore (I have never been one to cry, like ever) but there is a softening going on as I’m seeking what God has me do in this season.
I love that when we love like Jesus we do it right up close and in relationship.
I love that the places God orchestrates to make that happen are all relationship based. We grow in our families, in our churches, in our communities and in our world. We rub shoulders and break bread, we gather and laugh and share and sit with each other in the joys and sorrows of life.
I love that the women God has chosen and called to go on this trip each have something so beautiful to offer and that as we come together, I see the picture so much clearer than when I’m looking on my own.
I love that God gives vision as he leads and that each of us is walking in tandem with Him but also with each other. I praise God for the women on this team, every day. I don’t want to be a tourist and I don’t want to be a spectator, but I also don’t want to be so blind to think that I’m going with all of the answers. I am going with the knowledge of a God whose grace ransomed the most impoverished of souls, my own.
I am going with the knowledge that together is better than alone, two are better than one, and to be a global community means taking the time to link lives not just theology and projects.
We don’t do missions for the sake of chalking up numbers or sponsorships or souls saved, we don’t just want to dig wells or paint buildings or build schools, we do missions because God calls us to obedience in him. To care about the things He cares about, to love those He loves, and to work towards the things He calls us to even if those things mean sitting with open hands instead of building with closed ones.
I want to be a learner, a listener, a grab your hands in mine rejoicer.
I want to see how God made you and what he’s doing and I want you to come alongside me and show me the beauty you see when you follow God each day. I want to share with you mine. I want to remember that social justice and human care matter not just for the sake of doing more but because when you are in right relationship with God, you want to love better. And when you’re surrounded by women who lift you up and surround you with prayer and grace, as I am, you see that love clearly.