Dr. Mkwakwami explained it like this: “The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe used to be a project of the United Church of Christ in the United States. That is no longer true. We now are partners in a global church with much to learn from each other, much to share about our understandings of faithful discipleship.”
Our national church guidelines suggest that partnership is meant to help participants deepen their understanding of what each is called to be and do in each setting of the life of the global family of today.
Some ideas that may help us shift from “mission-project” thinking to mission partnership visioning:
- Partners seek a reciprocal and mutual relationship, each respecting the autonomy of the other and the gifts of the other.
- Ask questions like, “What is our own story, our faith journey that we want them to know about?” “What do we want to know of theirs?”
- The relationship takes time, imagination and engagement to cultivate. Some possibilities that can help: sharing worship through audio and video taping, sharing Bible study, individual and/or group correspondence, special days of prayer arranged and shared, visits, and exchanges/work camps for youth.
- Among partners, money is not a main determiner of worth and power. It is simply one of the resources in the mix of gifts that include spiritual, social and cultural resources. What might we learn from our friends about making do with very little?
- Godwin Hlatshwayo, missionary to the U.S. from Zimbabwe, challenges us with the following: “You have been used to caring for us. Your natural impulse is to be charitable and seek ways to solve our problems. You have also defined in which areas you wish to be involved in our lives, thereby setting the agenda of how we order our social, economic, and even worshipping lives. Now this may be time for the south to care for you. While we receive economic resources from the north, the south can also bring to the altar our rich heritage of social capital, some of which include a deep sense of religiosity, communalism and lifelong friendships, musicality and expression of joy at worship, the incarnation of the gospel in social transformation and a holistic outlook to life. That is our social worth. Are you ready to receive our gifts?”
Let us embark with open hearts on this grand adventure in faith!