My fingers are not as fluent as they are with a pen as they are with a keyboard so here is my confession that my journal writing was not so up to scratch as I would have liked while being away. In a small way my brain stalled. I will share what I did wind up writing, but the perpetual blow by blow will present itself in the group journal – to which I contributed to on Day 11. Trivial information for you, but I do not have access to that particular entry until the rest of the crew return, so there will be an intentional gap alongside the many unintentional.
What I do want to recount tonight is not the blow by blow nor the vague emotion based recap of revisiting where I grew up but some thoughts on mission. Despite my desire for the experience of a short-term mission (after seeing so many of them trepass ‘my country’), I don’t really feel like I got one. We lugged a lot of boxes, waited around a whole deal, handed out flyers and generally seemed to do a whole heap of menial tasks – yes it was useful and intended and part of being on the trip…
Tonight I had a read of The Pink Elephant in the Missional Room and had to agree on the lack of courage displayed in the act of my generation sharing ‘their faith’. My biggest fear or hurdle or perhaps ‘bother’ was something I didn’t end up actually doing. As part of preparation for the trip we were asked to work out how we would share what God has done in our lives – in a way that was vaguely culturally appropriate, should we have to share it in the Solomons. And I got stuck in pinning it down. And this is a position that I’m not exactly comfortable in being in, because opportunities can launch themselves at you very unexpectedly. It personally disturbs me that I don’t really know how to talk specifically about God in my life.
While away, we had a ‘day off’ snorkeling down at an old haunt, Bonegi Beach. My sister Laura managed to get into a conversation with a western (aka. white) diver and they wound up having an indepth chat about Christianity and belief…
Although God can use our mouths and willingness when approached, I don’t think that we too often go searching for those conversations. I know I pretty much wait for them to drop into my lap, at most I might pray for an opportunity.
When it comes to ‘mission’ – and by that I mean, talking about Jesus, we are cowards.
On the outside she looks like a fairly average Solomon Island, Malaitan woman. She has five kids. Her husband is a pastor. We used to play with their girls, Sherry and Queenie.
On the other hand Bev is an a-typical Solomons woman. She is outspoken, her wantoks (relatives) extend far beyond her blood. She is mother to many, pastors her own church, advocates for HIV education – telling UNICEF to take their condoms to hell* (HIV is a recent occurrence in the Solomons and will soon become a huge problem, there’s been a jump from 3-300 affected by AIDS in the past few years), and she somehow raises enough money a year to send one of her ‘street kids’ to Bible School, she wants to build a youth centre.
Bev tells this story of two local gangs based on islands in Lunga river, based just outside Honiara. Gangs like these formed after the ethnic conflict that began back in early 2000. She went down to this ostracised group of young men and asked to speak to them. The gang leader threatened to shoot her and she retorted with something like, “A man who shoots a woman is a woman forever”. He let her approach. She hugged him, accepted him and shared Jesus with him. Those same Lunga gangs no longer exist.
She is entirely legitimate. She talks about the Kingdom of God as if it runs through her blood. She seeks out people to love and to share Jesus with and her home. She expresses her frustration at churches who sit singing and never go and ‘do the work of the gospel’.
This is courage and makes the rest of us looks like pansies.
Mission is not for pansies. Yet sometimes that’s all we’ve got to work with – ourselves. Let us at least be willing.
*In relation to their request for her to distribute them to some of the young prositutes she helps rehabilitate.