It’s good to be around a number of good young men and women dedicated to serving God with all their minds, souls and hearts and willing to engage in conversation that is not just about comfort but rather God and his people. In a society divided by many human constructs and definitions and demarcation, this is a real opportunity to learn more about what it means to be in ministry with God and also the people we serve with.
It’s a great learning opportunity for me to get to understand that i have a narrow perception of the world and many times because of the way in which we were socialized we seem to have stereotypes about certain communities that are not appropriate and the most important question that comes to my mind is how then do we see the world through new lens. How do we begin to view people not just from the popular media which portrays one story, which is largely dependent on economic and political forces, but rather view people from a way that helps us embrace diversity in a positive and construction manner in the understanding of equality of all men and women!
I have spent a lot of energy blaming missionaries for the many negatives that Africa has experienced and struggling but i find myself today in the same situation, moving to the Philippines. The important aspect is how i do ministry with the people and not to the people. It has come to my understanding that ministry with people is about helping them shape their own destiny through collaboration. If i am to do mission with the people, i should come to the level of a fellow co-worker and the expert in the society.
It is because we had a narrow view of other communities, we tend to believe that we have all the answers they need and will need to minister to them. We put little focus on the fact that we are not perfect yet ourselves and have a lot to learn and sometimes we may be wrong. I have come to embrace the concept of unlimited grace and love of God for humanity defines the nature of mission work and should offer us the best way of doing it.
I blame the western missionaries for demonizing the African traditional religion and other social facets, it’s because they never understood the African context and thought they knew it all and had the audacity to challenge the norms and values of society. My greatest challenge is one of contextual relevance. I need to find relevance in the community in which i serve and even be able to challenge my own values and act differently from my beliefs. A key to this, which may be a weird view but is the understanding that there is no universal truth, truth is contextual especially in issues that affect the daily lives of individuals, and this is defined by tradition and experience. Doing mission with, involves learning how to be contextually relevant and not be the rebellious agent of society because of my belief and definition of what is wrong and what is right which in most cases lies from media and the biases it has for the sources of power. It also means, stretching myself beyond the comfort zone and be able to understand deeply that i have no right interpretation of the Bible and throughout my life my goal is to search for the truth. I am only but distant from the truth, the truth about God and his will on earth.
It’s only but normal for us as humans to hold onto our views or those of our communities and find comfort in them and justify it through scripture but i do believe that the gospel is more than our view of the world. God is greater than ourselves and that we can’t compartmentalize God in our faith tradition or belief but rather spread his love across the world and embrace his unfailing grace for the redemption of our sins and the life everlasting.