I flew halfway across the world to build relationships. To meet new people. To talk shop with missionaries, missiologists, ministers and friends. So far so good.
Today I spent the day interacting with all sorts of people from around the world. I met a man, Jose, from Brazil, who is doing great work there with reaching the next generation. I talked books with Vonette Bright. I shared a bit of my story with a professor from Biola. I prayed with a girl who is working in Mexico City. I sat with folks from Latvia.
The conference hasn’t started yet, but I spent the day in training to be a table group leader. One of the presenters said that even as he has rubbed shoulders with leaders around the world, some of them he wanted to emulate, and some were cautionary tales. I appreciated his candor, that even in the upper echelons of missionary service, there are folks who aren’t walking right, aren’t the kind of people you’d want to follow.
Which echoes back to all of us. You’re going to encounter people in this life who wear the title of minister. And yet they are not humble shepherds. They live for self. They bully. They control. And even though they have the title, they may not have the character.
May it be that we seek the character over the privilege of title.
After a day-long session where I yawned my way through (not purposefully, mind you, I’m just worn out from all that travel and sleep deprivation), I found my friend Christy and asked if she’d like to catch a bite to eat. She did. I just knew I needed some good one on one time.
We’ve only met once, in Dallas, when the US delegates congregated. She was the kind of person that I wanted to become–artsy, joyful, risk-taking. So I knew it would be a privilege to spend time with her one on one.
And what a blessing it was. We poured out our hearts, shared our stories. Gave the gift of vulnerable authenticity to each other. It’s that kind of relational exchange between new friends that completely energizes me.
So I may tackle heady issues. I may talk of missiology and evangelism and poverty. But please know that underneath all those words is just plain old me who needs connection with people. Who revels in a long, leisurely conversation about God’s outstanding grace. Who is tired and a bit crabby, yet still blessed by close conversations with God’s people.
Christy is someone I want to emulat when I grow up. And I’m meeting more and more Christys as I walk along here in South Africa.