Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Partnerships in Mission (Once again)

Well, those of you following this blog consistently, will know that the topic about partnerships is one of my favourites. I fail to see how mission can be done without partnerships. Unfortunately I’ve seen many people trying to do it on their own, mainly, I think, because they do not want to share the glory with others. (Hey! Does this sound strange? Christians doing God’s work to receive glory?) The fact is that Christians struggle equally with pride as non-Christians do (although it should not be so) and I find that the one thing that helps me in this regard is to focus on a larger vision. When missionaries try to do things on their own, they receive the glory for the end-result, but the work will hardly be able to continue without them. When missionaries partner with other organisations without fear of sacrificing the glory, the work will prosper and continue, long after the missionary had moved on.
One of the outcomes of receiving the “Runner Up” position in the Courageous Leadership Award, (of which you can read more by clicking on this link: http://www.courageousleadershipaward.com/2008_swazilandRC.html ) is that I immediately made contact with a number of people who indicated interest in joining hands with us in the fight against AIDS in Swaziland. As my wife and I left the main auditorium at Willow Creek on Friday, after the Courageous Leadership Award winners were announced to those attending the Leadership Summit, a great number of people came to greet us, of which many mentioned that they would like to visit us or get involved in some way. And this, of course, places a great responsibility upon my own shoulders, to discern between people who want to partner for their own benefit and those who are genuinely focussed on further improving the services we render.
I remember, not too long after we started with the home-based caring project, that someone asked to meet me. He had great ideas on how we could work together. But his main objective was to make money. He wanted to start a small business, include us as partners and then we would all share in the profit (and needless to say, he wanted us to finance him – with what, I wonder!!!). As I was speaking to him, I realised that he was trying to use the success of our ministry (albeit small at that time) to benefit himself. And I gave him an answer (and I think it was Rick Warren in his Purpose Driven Church from whom I learnt this) that really helped to give a solution to his request. I asked him what his vision was for this partnership. It boiled down to making money. I then explained our vision to him (“Becoming the hands and feet of Christ in our community”) and said that I have difficulty in seeing how these two visions could be combined. He looked at me, agreed that I was right, and left us.
Compare this with a request to partner which I received yesterday. I intentionally leave out the name of the organisation for the present: “XYZ is a non-profit, nondenominational, Christian organization providing relief to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, XYZ has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine. XYZ offers assistance to anyone in need without discrimination and regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin. Within Africa, we are active in eight countries operating directly under XYZ field offices. We do not have presence in Swaziland except through a local partner we support in OVC work.
XYZ’s main HIV related work is in prevention (AB focused) and care; we have a ***** funded youth focused prevention project across four countries (Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique) and we have a number of community based prevention and care projects, OVC projects.”
If I compare this with our own vision, then I can foresee that there is a great chance that we should be able to partner with this organisation. We seem to share the same rule of ethics. We focus on the same communities. We both want to see the effects of AIDS being addressed. And also important: We complement each other. We are strong in the “caring” part, but lack a proper “prevention” program. This group has “prevention” high up on its priority list. This may just become an ideal partnership.
The days of the “Lone Ranger” missionary is long gone. There are literally thousands of organisations and missionaries wanting to make a real difference. By taking hands and working together, so much more can be done so much more effectively. All we need is the willingness to work together.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 Posted by | AIDS, Building relations, HIV, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Partnership, Swaziland, Theology | 2 Comments