Huyser Prayer Letter, March 2009
Christian Reformed World Missions
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“For now we see in a mirror dimly . . .” I Corinthians 13:12
One of my highlights this past year has been teaching a Nicaraguan history and culture course to college students. The Nehemiah Center has partnered with Dordt for an off-campus program in the fall semester and with Trinity for an off-campus program in the spring semester.
As one of the exercises I have had the students interview Nicaraguans about their memories of recent Nicaraguan history. All of the Nicaraguans interviewed talk about the same events: the Somoza family dynasty that dominated Nicaragua for over 40 years, the earthquake that destroyed Managua in 1972, and the Sandinista revolution.
But the perspectives were very different. Some saw the Somoza years as the golden years. Others saw them as years of oppression and injustice. In contrast, there were those that saw the Sandinista revolution as a movement of liberation while their counterparts saw that same revolution as ushering in the “noche oscura” (dark night). And yet, in many cases, the same persons who held such contrasting views professed a shared faith in the Lord and gave a common testimony to his provision in difficult circumstances.
I am reading Exclusion and Embrace by the Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf. In his book Volf talks about the need for “double vision.” “Double vision” involves the ability to see the world from the perspective of another person or culture without losing the unique perspective of our own experience or culture.
Let me say that a little differently. A Christ-centered Biblical worldview stands at the center of every activity of the Nehemiah Center. We talk about that worldview as the lens through which we see the world. But it is still your and my pairs of eyes, with our particular experiences and cultural formation that are looking through that lens. And that can mean that, even professing the same Lord and observing the same events, we as Christians can still view things from distinct angles.
As Paul puts it, we “see in part.” The truth that “our world belongs to God” is objective, absolute reality. But we are finite in our knowledge of that reality. In addition, we are still in the process of renewing our minds from the contamination of our “worldly” ways of thinking. That is why “double vision” is so important. When we our able to look through the same Biblical lens through the eyes of another person, perhaps with very different experiences and cultural formation, often we see a little better God’s truth about ourselves and our world.
We often have called the Nehemiah Center a community of learning. We are a community of learning precisely because we are so diverse. We come from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, New Zeeland, Canada and the United States. Even those of us from the same country often look at things very differently. Sometimes we are aligned on opposite sides politically. We certainly come from different denominational traditions. And yet our differences, rather than dividing us, have helped us each to see God’s truth about ourselves, our neighbors and the world a little better than if we would not have had the opportunity to use “double vision.”
Nicaragua is one of several fields in which the CRCNA is learning how to do partnerships between church in the northern hemisphere and church and communities in the southern hemisphere. We desire something more than the traditional “work team” experience. Could it be too much to expect that both Christians in the North America and Latin America might be able to see God’s purposes in our world with a little more clarity because they have learned “double vision”
from each other?
Joel for the Huyser family