Spiritual Friendship and Least-Reached People Work
I wanted to do research on the factors that have led to the organic growth of the partnering movement in the southern Philippines. I hoped to record something for a new generation of partnering practitioners who are eager to learn from the experience of those who have gone before them.
I wondered how the small island of Mindanao, in the last three decades, had become a fertile seedbed for people-group focused partnerships, strong ministerial fellowships, and various collaborative efforts. I discovered that, at its heart, was simple Christian unity coupled with a desire to have an impact on least-reached people groups living in the towns and cities.
Today, we not only face an unprecedented number of opportunities to bless cities, people groups, and different spheres of society, we also see an emerging generation of younger leaders with a passionate call to partnering. And they are asking how we can help and guide them.
For this reason, my colleague and I organised a gathering for people from different mission organisations and churches to talk about partnering. It was designed to be an avenue for dialogue, reflection, and mutual learning. I, with pen and analytical mind ready, worked hard to identify new strategies, examine cultural aspects that affect partnering, and look for new missiological insights into the current trends, issues, and needs. Instead, the Lord showed me something else.
In the days we spent in this gathering, people prayed for one another, exchanged stories, cried together, and allowed themselves to be vulnerable. What was thought to be a platform for new LRP-related projects to be birthed was really purposed by God for us to first learn how to be a community. We spent so much time becoming friends in the three-day gathering, we had no time left to agree on strategies or create action plans! The only commitment we could make in the end was to continue to be “in community” with one another.
Within five weeks of this gathering’s end, some of the participants began to receive new ideas and visions from the Lord, which they confirmed with one another. Then they started working together on different LRP-focused prayer events and ministries, even establishing new ones. I was amazed! It can only be the Lord!
Where there is unity, the Lord really does command the blessing. All we need to do is open our hearts so he can do his work.
We only need to let him lead us into kingdom connections and spiritual friendships, according to his design. And, in time, he will show us who of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, what group, what organisation, what church he is calling us to work with. And we just need to say yes. We are his Body, after all.
My research has only just begun.