Imagine visiting with your partners in a country in Asia and having the son of your hosts die while you are there. Then, a few days later, you find out your son is suddenly in the hospital near death, and he dies before you can leave to go home! This true story was shared by a lady at a partnership gathering I attended last month at First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs. She went on to share how she and the partner-mother have grieved together, encouraging and upholding each other.
Not many of us experience cross-cultural partnerships of that depth, but I discovered last month that this depth of relationship is characteristic of the leaders from the church in that Asian country and those who are connecting with them from the US. The number of believers in the country has grown from 6 to around 50,000 in the last 25 years or so! First Pres has led the efforts to build a healthy partnership with the emerging church that is fully mutual, not just “we send money and people to do things for you.”
If you haven’t been reading the ECO blog, you might check it out at http://eco-pres.org/blog/. Recently Rob Weingartner wrote an excellent piece on partnership, part of a series of blogs on mission. As I first read his blog, it reminded me of all the things I had seen lived out last month in that gathering I attended. There were 13 national leaders out of the 52 who attended. The focus was on sharing together how God is at work in everyone involved.
The core value of ECO’s mission outreach is that it be based on local churches, not top-down. What I want to see happen is for other churches to be able to learn from what First Pres is doing (and other churches!) and see similar partnerships develop. We have a unique opportunity to learn from each other in new ways, and my focus is on seeing these kinds of things happen!
Rev. Bill Young, ECO Director of Global Engagement (pictured with his wife Judy)