the weblog of Alan Knox

Partners in the Good News

Posted by on Feb 25, 2010 in blog links, community, fellowship, missional | 2 comments

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.


2 Comments

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  1. 2-25-2010

    Alan,

    We’ll be praying for your trip to Ethiopia. I’ll let you know, Dougald and I had been (I say had not because we are done, but the doors haven’t been open lately, we want to continue) partnering with my wife’s church in Kazakhstan. We believe that our role in going to Kazakhstan was to participate in something God has already been accomplishing with that church. Our viewpoint is that wind is already blowing over there, we’re just putting up our sails. (yes, metaphors don’t always convey everything exhaustively).

    But more than anything its an attitude. The preparation we made for our trips were primarily spiritual. Certainly we wanted to understand cultural differences, we wanted to be prepared to minister, but we spent most of our time in prayer, Bible study, and encouragement of one another (like weekly for several months in advance). The result of such an approach not only bore fruit on the trip, but has so afterwards. God bound me and a good buddy together as a result of our first trip. We still meet regularly and truly love each other. Its unbelievable to me! But the results on the trip were amazing. Yes, we had some teaching that we brought with us, but we came with the attitudes of servants. But we desired, and expressed our desire, to spend any time we had in ministry up close and personal. For the first week we were there we “enrolled” in the local Teen Challenge program (run by the church) where we would lead the daily chapel services and teach English. We participated in every aspect of the program. kept the same schedule, ate together, and worked together (one day, myself and two other guys made mud bricks the old fashioned way–mud and straw and legpower!). The next week, we stayed in the home of a pastor and from morning to night were with local believers, going from home to home praying with families who were believers, and witnessing to lost friends in their homes. But we weren’t the leaders, but participants. And we consciously kept our mindset in that pattern.

    Two years later, we went to visit one of the church plants of that first church, but rather than go alone, we flew into the city of the home church, met up with a team from their church and took the 18 hour trainride to the other city. I will never forget that ride (or the one back!). We became one team!

    Again, I’m not trying to brag or boast but to give some examples of how God worked on our trips. We knew we had something to bring with us, but we also expected to receive something. And I believe to this day that we received much more than we ever gave!

    Alan, brother! It all comes down to attitude, and it has to be planned for and maintained. Your team must decide to hold each other accountable in this area too because cross-cultural factors are fighting against you all and so is the Devil!

    with love, and excitement!

    Wes

  2. 2-26-2010

    Wes,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences in Kazakhstan. I hope that we’re able to learn from your example.

    -Alan