Stephanie Craker grew up on the mission field as an MK and recently volunteered with In Word and Deed Ministries in South Sudan. She blogs at Joy Unspeakable, and shared a powerful perspective on missions philosophy based on Jesus Christ’s own example:
“The more I travel the more convinced I am that ministry is all about doing life alongside people in the context of their own environment. It’s not necessarily about the programs and the strategies as much as it is about “being with” people. After all, isn’t that what Jesus modeled? He lived life WITH His disciples…living in their environments; experienced their struggles; and was able to use everyday examples to teach powerful lessons…but those everyday examples would have no relevance unless He Himself experienced them firsthand. He engaged in the festivals of the locals; went to their marketplaces; ate their local foods; slept where the locals slept; traveled as the locals did; and didn’t separate Himself from the locals just because He was the Son of God.
How many times do we as ministers and missionaries go into other areas, different communities, or foreign countries and neglect simply doing life alongside the local people? We come in with our agendas, our strategies, our programs and oftentimes don’t even take time just to listen and ask questions. We think we know what the problem in a certain community is and quickly come up with a solution, all the time neglecting to ask what the community sees as the problem. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…”
Stephanie leaves us with a great challenge today: “When was the last time you took time to just “be with” someone in your community? When was the last time you sat and just listened without trying to jump to solutions? When was the last time you were more passionate about someone experiencing Jesus than you were about your own comfort?”