Saturday, September 27, 2008

Full Circle

Two years ago - Sept 2006 I said this (excerpt below)

Tonight we were reading a couple of blogs written by young, visionary Pastors. One of the posts we read struck a chord with us. He was talking about a few things ... but this paragraph below is what jumped out at us:

There are divided agendas/visions because we won't submit to or honor Biblical leadership. There's division because we compete instead of cooperate for the sake of the Kingdom. There's division because we don't look after each other a
nd just busy ourselves in our own little kingdoms, (contrary to Philippians 2:4, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.") Not to mention how this type of 'living' ignores Jesus' prayer for His people. (John 17)

So this got us thinking. About a lot of things. We were somewhat surprised to learn that the 'competing thing' applies not just to churches and ministries in America, but to ministries abroad as well.

There is a place for competition, like on a football field.

Everybody (ok, not everybody -- but the majority) is focused on making sure the next dollar is going to come in to keep the ministry floating... so this competition thing gets going. It is almost as if we have forgotten that we are all (at least in theory) trying to do the same thing. It is also as if we don't really believe that God will provide for us.

Then about six weeks ago I said this- (excerpt below)

One of the really maddening things for us these last couple of years is the realization that many ministries are not networking and helping one another ... there is some sort of competition to be the best, the biggest, the lone ranger. There is a real , "I'm kind of a big deal" feel to a lot of it.

Apart from God - none of us are a big deal.

We have always enjoyed seeing what other people are doing and introducing their work. We don't believe that telling you about countless other projects and good ministries will cut into our own bottom line. God is bigger than that. He operates above the bottom line. We've seen that with our own eyes.

Our vision is to bring people together and work in cooperation (hear the kumbaya in the background?) with many ministries.

Why would we not want to help someone out if our talents, time and resources allow it? We all have a common goal.

Yes, we are different and we serve varying needs, and use multiple approaches - and yes, we all have our opinions about what approach is best -- but ultimately the goal is to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone we meet.

We should help each other at every turn.The trouble starts when ministries begin to build their own kingdoms, not focusing on the people they are here to serve but rather the people they can impress in the USA or the numbers and fund raising opportunities. At that point ministry becomes business and it is a competition to have the nicest place and claim the biggest numbers.

Jesus (a rather cool guy - and TRULY a big deal) stopped to help the ONE in a crowd of many. He was never impressed by numbers or showiness. Every ministry focusing on one or one thousand people can benefit from supporting other people in ministry and trying to set aside the differences and just help each other.

We have some plans and partnerships in the works to tangibly bring this idea of working together for the common good to reality. It will take time and effort and prayers. But we believe that we would all be better examples of Christ if we worked together rather than competing against one another. That is easier said than done. We're human. We're fallen. We tend to be kind of sucky. Setting aside our suckiness, our
pride ... who knows, we might just show people who Jesus is!?!?!!!

Tonight, fully two years after my first frustrated post about this topic, I am thrilled that the plans and partnerships are beginning to unfold.

It is early - but a networking group created exclusively for humanitarian support personnel presently serving in Haiti, either in part-time or full-time capacity has launched. The goal is to reach out to one another, to work together and to set aside pride, judgment, denomination, things that divide - etc, etc and just SUPPORT each other.

The effort is called "HANDS Across Haiti" (Humanitarian Alliance and Network Development Strategy). Our friend Luke shared his thoughts on it when we first met him in August of 2007 and we've been behind the idea since the first time we heard about it. The networking site is the beginning of what could become a big thing ... God willing.

There is no reason for us (well, other than human nature, ego and pride - but those are small things) not to connect and work together. There are tons of folks who have been in Haiti for many years that have great wisdom to share with the younger crop - (and I for one want to hear from them) - there are people with unused resources that could be put to use -- there are ways in which we can encourage each other just by saying "Hey - I hear you -- that is a tough situation and I GET IT! I got your back, I'll pray." We are excited about this new endeavor and are anxious to see what God might do with us when we gather in His name.