Thursday 15 March 2012

Going through a paradigm shift

How quickly we allow things to become our guides, rather than taking our leading from the voice of God and then using things for that purpose. I read a challenging and thought-provoking article this morning from a fellow YWAMer Daniel Norris entitled Taking back your timeDaniel highlights how we easily become a slave to technology, rather than letting it serve us and our God-given purposes. His sacrifice of his laptop has resulted in more quality time spent with his wife. Something I need to learn too.
It's amazing how this penetrates our ministry too. Even though we think that we are getting on the right track to where God is leading us in AfriCom, it is always good to ask others with a more objective perspective to challenge us - especially in the area of allowing tasks/things/technology to lead us. One of the newest members of staff, Susana, challenged us about how we appear to be a media agency, yet we claim that we're not.
As I was unpacking the vision of how AfriCom is a ministry of YWAM which aims to embrace the idea of Christ centred communication and that we need to allow Him to guide us in the actions/tasks that we do, Susana mentioned the importance of the language we use and how that affects how others view us. It also affects our approach and shows our worldview. She has noted that the terms we refer to in the tasks we do are generally media terms. As we look to productivity in meetings, many words like video, podcast, article, website, photograph are used when dealing with tasks. Then the relationships are put in a place that leads us to complete these tasks. She challenged us to rethink that mindset and look at how we can change it so that the media side of things serve us, rather than the other way around; that our focus when we meet people shouldn't be immediately 'where's the story?', rather 'what is God saying to us here?'. This is a great challenge, as it requires a paradigm shift in our approach to everything we do.
The vision that God has laid before AfriCom, includes building bridges between French and English speaking Africa, and developing a resource centre for missions. But this won't necessarily be achieved by writing some articles or raising awareness through our channels, though these will still be some of the tasks that the team will do. It goes much deeper than that. We are now tasked with embracing the vision that God has given us, but developing immediate tasks that take steps towards that vision. This doesn't fit nicely into a tick-box 'to do' list. Obedience in this way will mean walking in repentance of where we have found ourselves (i.e. serving the task, rather than God). Our first step of obedience is to go, travel into the field and meet those working on the ground. Then, ask God what His purposes are. Then we can build tasks from that, which may, or may not, include some kind of media output.
We have started this journey with our recent trip to Bangui, Central Africa Republic. It was a great time of deepening our understanding of central Africa and really listening to the people who work there. We are now regrouping and praying through our responsibility and actions that we need to take to fulfil what God wants us to do. This will take time and we know that if we are obedient to His call, it will bear fruit.

Monday 5 March 2012

Learn as you go

The strange part of God equipping the called is that you end up walking a path which is a lot less firm than if all the preparation had been done before. If I had spent years in Africa, travelling the continent and learning the ways of the people; if I had been in YWAM for many years, working my way through different departments, learning and growing, then I would be much more equipped to do the job I am doing now. But God put me firmly in a position and a place where I feel like I am daily walking on water. Yet I struggle to step out and act on that.
For those who aren't used to such metaphorical language to describe how we are feeling and what we are going through, let me explain. Because I've got a firm foundation to stand on, I'm able to walk on water. Most of these metaphors are difficult to grasp and are often over-used. That's why we need to regularly unpack what we mean and use plain language (by the way, thank you to David Ker for his excellent blog entry on cohesion and coherence.)
So, here goes:
Prov. 3: 5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
I have to remind myself that my foundation for living, and what I am doing in life should not be based what I see around me - my physical surroundings, my financial circumstances, my emotional state, my health or my well being. Rather, the foundation lies on a promise that God makes to everyone who calls on him that they will be saved from eternal damnation and live a life that is purposeful and rich. So, that's the foundation: believing the promise. Then there's the walking on water bit. That is about doing things that God calls me to do, even if they don't make sense in a 'logical', or 'normal' way of doing things. An example of this is being played out right now by my colleague Beth who is currently in central Africa to meet and greet someone who has asked us for our support. As a team, we heard the call and knew it was from God. Without money or means, and without asking anyone for help, she was sponsored to travel there by someone who didn't know the calling. God made a way.
When I see such provision and guidance, I realise that, all too often, I do not personally allow these to enter into my life enough. I talk freely about firm foundations in Christ, and the need to step out in faith; to walk on water. But I struggle to do it, and therefore I don't always see the miraculous provision and guidance that is part and parcel of walking a life of faith. In my brokenness, my prayer for this week is that God would bring me back to that place where He is the one providing and I am the one trusting.