God's Mission Matters podcast - Listen up!
Learning from and listening to our partners
By Sherron K. George
“Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Rev. 2.7, etc.)
Recently the president of the Treasury Department of Brazil said: “The world wants to hear the lessons that we have to offer.” After years of being corrected and controlled by financial institutions in the North, Brazil appears to be the country that was least affected by the global financial crisis.
The church in the Northern hemisphere is battling with declining membership, attendance and budgets. The vibrant church in the Global South is growing and sending out many mission workers. Do we want to listen to the profound lessons that our partner churches in the South have to offer?
In order to listen and learn from our partners, we must approach them always as equals, as dialogue partners. We go to other countries not with attitudes of superiority, but as guests who are eager to learn. We go not as big givers or donors, but simply as friends. We go not to complete our work projects in our time and with our methods, but as helpers who will follow the schedule, suggestions and style of our hosts.
Listening and learning requires time and patience. We ask questions and patiently listen to the answers and stories of our partners, even when the English accent or the translation time seems tedious. We can learn a whole new way of reading the Bible and of interpreting world events. When listening is our priority, we learn much about the deep essence of faith, prayer and perseverance.