“Mission is something we do with God, we can be the catalyst God uses” is my quote of the day from day 3 of mission training. However, the effectiveness of a catalyst in a reaction can depend on several factors and we want to create positive reactions and much of today revolved around how we can grow in effectiveness in mission.
Today’s sessions included practical stuff about health and well being, mostly familiar advice around trying not to get sick (which I guess has become second nature to me over the years) but also some things about maintaining emotional health which I really should pay attention to in the UK as well as overseas. A session about mission and evangelism which was perhaps more focused on how we can reach out in the UK than overseas and another session about spirituality and how we can develop the kinds of attributes and habits that will sustain us. Whilst a talk I could have done myself it was great listening to Mark Ord using Stanley Hauerwas’ ideas as the basis for forming missionaries – it gets my vote for the most theologically insightful talk of the week.
The session that taught and challenged me the most was the one on cultural orientation and “honour and shame”. This looked at how human culture responds in three different ways to questions of sin: individualistic societies like US and UK respond with guilt; many others (particularly in Africa, the middle and far East) respond with shame and work to restore honour (of family etc) in the eyes of the community; and others respond with fear (where people are afraid of evil spirits). Whilst I’ve been aware that shame has a part to play in honour killings (as seen in the news this week) and that it is part of the cultural context of Scripture I have really never seen it as a complete worldview which colours how people see the world. It’s an insight which immediately helps me make sense of some stuff in Peru and other parts of the world – I suspect it will be the biggest take away of the week, in terms of things I’ve learned.
It has also been good getting to know some of the other course participants, their hopes, dreams and plans for the future as well as responding to one who asked me “I know it’s more than just Sundays but what does a minister do with their time”
And tomorrow is the final day of training……..