I only learned about this a few weeks ago. For most people, you’re probably like, “I don’t even know what a missionary is, so what if the first one was black?” But when you’re a missionary kid like me who grew up in church hearing stories of missionaries all the time, the fact that this was unknown to you throughout your childhood is kind of a big deal.
I grew up hearing stories about Hudson Taylor and the Judsons (I distinctly remember two-tone flashcard pictures to go along with these Sunday school lessons) who were missionaries to Asia. My parents were always good about colouring the flannel-graph Jesus in a little bit darker to be more realistic for the Bible stories, but we didn’t do that with the missionary stories because, duh, they were all from England or America (or Sweden) and all very white. Continue reading “The first American missionary was black”→
In Christian communities (churches, missionary groups etc) there often springs up this debate about whether we should be putting funds and resources towards social justice issues or towards evangelism. Here’s how the debate goes, for those of you who aren’t privy to Christian internal disputes. Continue reading ““Not in my name”: How injustice inhibits evangelism”→
So, I want to tell you about some volunteers that are coming to iThemba that I am super excited about! Firstly, I’m excited because I know them– Rachel and David are two friends from Taylor University where I attended. Secondly, I’m excited because they are volunteering their awesome photography and video skills to iThemba. For two weeks they will shadow our staff, capturing images that we can use in the future.
Sometimes I think in the Christian community there is this idea that if you are going to go on a short-term missions trip the purpose should be some form of evangelism so you can go back and tell your church how many souls you saved. (Maybe the same goes for long-term missionaries as well?) And while I think that evangelism is so, so important and I don’t want to undermine that, God has not given everyone that spiritual gift. Besides that, evangelism in a cross-cultural context is quite tricky, especially if you’re just there for two weeks. But that’s okay, because the whole world belongs to God and there are so many gifts and talents that God can use all over the world to share his good news.
Rachel and David are only here for two weeks, but their contribution to the long-term sustainability of iThemba will be huge. By donating their time and their photography/video skills, they are going to leave behind images and videos that we can use in the coming years as we try to share the story of what God is doing through iThemba. These professional-looking images will be used in donor reports, in presentations to corporate funders, churches, individuals, on the website… and all of that will hopefully raise funds for more staff to join iThemba and more children can be reached.
Let’s be honest. If Rachel and David were just coming for two weeks to play with kids in Sweetwaters and tell them about Jesus, the biggest impact would probably be… on themselves. Your impact working cross-cultrually increases with the amount of time spent learning a culture and a language. You can’t learn enough to be super-effective in two weeks. So, you might have a life-changing experience seeing a foreign country for two weeks, but the actual impact made on the community would be quite small. But because Rachel and David are bringing their mad photography skills for these two weeks, the impact they are going to make on this community will continue on for years.
So I want to challenge you… do you have some skills you think aren’t “spiritual” enough to be used by God overseas (or in your own community)? Maybe you do finances (uh, I know plenty of organisations that need good bookkeepers), maybe you’re a graphic designer (ever consider volunteering your skills to put out a quarterly newsletter for a nonprofit?), maybe you work with computers (soooo much you could do for others with that skill)…. maybe you’re like my awesome mother-in-law who has the gift of organizing things, and you’re able to help missionaries overseas with basic admin tasks like sending out prayer letters.
“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!'” – Abraham B. Kuyper
How about offering up your skills to God and seeing where he leads you?