Friday 15 July 2011

Learning from the past

Picture: jeffrey james pacres
It has been said that to do well in the future you need to have a good understanding of the past. Our history shapes us in both good and bad ways and, without a deep revelation of where we come from, the bad parts of history have a way of repeating themselves. In the same way, our present decisions and actions have consequences for the shaping of the way things will be done in the future.
Technology has been both a blessing a curse for this. We are blogging/ discussing/ recording issues with each other more than we have ever before. But there is little-to-no structure in how we record what we are doing right now. Letters received used to be filed, recorded and responded to. But now, with email, most of us 'clear' our inbox when it gets too full, thereby deleting a section of our past, without (much) consideration for usefulness for others in the future. We are so abounding in information nowadays, most of us have little thought for what is good, or bad, and therefore no reference on what to keep or chuck.
One of the organisations I (Pete) once worked for was founded in 1701. They had an archive of minutes of decisions that were made for the past three hundred years. This awesome amount of information was neatly collected and categorised by an archivist who diligently kept us abreast of where we have come from.
Without the diligence of, let's say Paul or Luke, we would not have such a record of Jesus' life and teachings and ways that the early church learned to 'be' church.

As I take on leading the communications team for Africa (YWAM AfriCom), I am learning to understand that it is important that I take time to learn about what shaped this continent in terms of history, missions, politics and so on. As we talked and prayed as a team this morning about where we are heading, there was a realisation of how thin our personal/individual knowledge of this vast continent is. We have therefore made a pledge to one another to investigate more, listen more and read more, so that we have a good foundation on which to build our communications ministry. We are also writing a diary of the major things that we are praying about and big projects that we are planning, with notes on successes, failures (and the reasons for the failures), so that others can look upon what we have done well and what we have done badly!
For us as a family, we have started to journal in a similar way, so that, when our children grow up, they can look back and see the journey that brought us to Africa and develop a better understanding of who we are and where we, as a family, come from.

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