It is one thing to be supportive of an endeavor. It is quite another thing to have affection in one’s heart for the context and people involved in that endeavor. It is the difference between a someone on a team, who takes his/her job seriously and yet does not really appreciate the vision and mission of the team, but will nonetheless attempt to do a professional job AND the person on the team who is in fact a team player because he/she has an intrinsic attraction to the vision and mission of the team. The second person has skin in the game and initiates creative, invested, and energized work. My visit to Nairobi enabled the affection stance, which built off my support stance. I am not surprised. As I mentioned on Sunday, this whole idea of global partnerships is native to my constitution as a Third Culture Kid. But, it really did require the power of physical presence, shared experiences, and time to build an affection in my heart. Pastor Benson Xavier (BX) is not just a name anymore. He is a friend. The same goes for pastors Kyama and Murithi, and their wonderful ministry teams. I now can picture Nairobi and the sub-culture of Nairobi that Mavuno ministers to. Something 2D has become 3D.
What does this mean? For anyone nervous about the status of our relationship with this church, be no longer afraid. I have skin in the game. What does that mean going forward? Will we partner in church plants again? Will we keep sending teams? Can we have some of them labor here with us again? Will this lead to more partnerships? Well, I believe the answer is yes on all accounts, but the details only the Lord knows and he must lead us there. But, the affection is there and that must precede the system and structure.
Let me get Biblical on you. Read how Paul begins his letters. Go ahead, just pick one. He begins with introducing himself, then he engages his recipients, and he defines it all within the reality of the gospel. More often than not, he always adds a bit about his deep affection and concern for that local church. He is not just a distant Apostle, reporting in on numbers and such. No, he is a loving pastor who deeply cares for a certain local church. Call it what you will if “partnership” does not fit your language-sense, but the essence of what we are doing with our sister churches in Kenya is what was happening in the NT church – representatives of Jesus, often local churches, partnering with each other in loving relationship for the ultimate purpose of making Jesus great in the world. Hmmm…God’s mission (the gospel), in community, calling to mission – I like that. That sounds like a good vision 😉 !