Everything will change. A Ministry of WorldVenture.
I just returned from West Africa where I meet with our pilot team. I heard many stories about God's faithfulness. Do you know that Scripture text that talks about God being able to do more then we ask? It goes like this, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,". Well that is exactly what God did in West Africa this past year. I desperately want you to see it for yourself, but you will have to settle for this one little glimpse.
“She is my daughter, she is good for my family!” Backary, one of our host fathers and an elder in a local church, expressed his thoughts in broken English. He was talking about Stephanie, a 24 year old Journeyer who has been living with his family for the past six months. As I saw Stephanie interacting with her host family I came to believe that he was sharing his true feelings. Her presence in the courtyard had changed his family dynamics in a good way but Stephanie had been effected too. His family had taught her French and Ivorian culture. They had offered her the resources she needed to serve Christ in their world. They had grown to love her and she had grown to love them.
I asked him how well she was integrating into family life. He searched for the words, “make food” and then explained that she did chores alongside his daughters and spouse. Actually, that night Steph’s Ivorian mom was at the market buying charcoal so stephanie and her sister had prepared the entire meal. It was encouraging to hear him tell us that she was contributing to family life, but it was even more amazing to see it happen the way it did.
Women in Ivorian culture are NOT stoic. They are quiet and respectful toward men but around the cook fire, its girl time. Stephanie and her sister have become best friends. As they sat propped up by six inch stools, they took turns stirring the contents of a blackened pot, they leaned against each-other and held hands. The objective was to create something eatable but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have little fun in the process. Although Stephanie has become quite proficient in French, the language she and her new sister used was a language of few words. It’s vocabulary consisted of smiles, rolling eyes, whispers, giggles, and an occasionally belly laugh. Can teasing be a love language?
Journey Corps, although filled with quite a few exciting ministries stories, is much more then the tasks that Journeyers complete. This program is about cross-cultural life, its about creating new normals, and its all done through relationships. One of the Journeyers said it this way, “the blood of Jesus is thicker then culture.” These families have taught this team so much. There is nothing glamorous about being a missionary, its too normal to be glamorous anymore. Things like family and friendship are just as hard and just as gratifying in Africa as they are in America. Journeyers aren’t supper spiritual their just learning to live the Christian life wherever they are.
When we launched Journey Corps we hoped that Journeyers would be transformed through the program. We also hoped that they would impact people in Cote d'Ivoire. We even hoped that Journeyers would make a few friends along the way but I had NO idea how deep they would go. Rod Ragsdale (the Journey Corps West Africa Director) has said from the very beginning that ministry in West Africa is all about Relationships. When I heard him say that I agreed whole heartedly, but I didn't sense the gravity of his words until now. The relationships that Journeyer have made are so deep that they are effecting the very ethos of the national church, the homes they live in, and the future of Journey Corps around the world.
It is through these relationships that we have seen more God work in ways we hadn't foreseen. Journeyers have become catalysts for ministry ferver in their Ivorian churches. This already mature church is being challenged by the faith and boldness of this team. The national church has had to rethink they way they interact with "missionaries." One of the pastors I spoke to even said, "these are not missionaries." He explained that Ivorians expected missionaries to come and to teach. These Journeyers have come to serve and learn. According to this pastor, they don't quite know what to do with these Journeyers. This teams desire to serve and learn have caused the churches in the country to question the way they have always done things. In several cases there are ministries being started by the church as a direct result of the Journeyers presence. The most exciting part is that the national church is spearheading these efforts. Journeyers simply generated the transformative question marks.
I could write more but this will have to do for now. Pray for this team as they create redemptive relationships for the sake of the Kingdom of God!