In Philippians 1:5, Paul thanks God for those in Philippi who were partners with him in the task of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ! The word “partner” and the idea of “fellowship” (same word in this case) are very important to Paul and the other authors of the New Testament.
I’m planning to go to Ethiopia this summer as part of a group led by Dave and BeckyLynn Black. One of the things that I’ve been struggling with over the last few weeks in how to go to Ethiopia as a partner, not as a specialist. How can I go in a way that engenders mutual learning, fellowship, and discipleship?
While I’m continuing to work out these issues, I was excited to read Dave Black’s latest essay called “Missions as Partnership.” Here is one paragraph:
Becky and I view our relationship with the Ethiopian churches as a partnership. Indeed, partnership is a very important word to us. Daniel Rickett, in his book Building Strategic Relationships: A Practical Guide to Partnering with Non-Western Missions (p. 1), defines partnership as “a complementary relationship driven by a common purpose and sustained by a willingness to learn and grow together in obedience to God.” Such is our desire everywhere we go in Ethiopia. Our goal is to establish partnerships between autonomous bodies in the U.S. and Ethiopia. This is one reason we prefer to work at the local church level rather than at the denominational level. A parallel commitment of ours is to develop a sense of interdependence among the churches we work with both in the States and in the Horn of Africa. We might call our work a joint venture between full partners.
This is very much in line with my study of mutuality. I am very excited about partnering together with brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. Not only do I hope and expect to help the churches of Alaba, Ethiopia, I also expect the churches of Alaba, Ethiopia to help me and the churches in my area. It’s a partnership.