Editor's Note: In forming Resonate Global Mission, Resonate staff developed six core postures that are essential for effective mission work in and through the Christian Reformed Church. While the postures can stand alone, we’ve asked staff around the globe to give them some substance by sharing examples from their own experiences on the mission field.
This fifth post is written by Renee Aupperlee, whose role as a Member Care Coordinator for Resonate gives her a good glimpse into the importance of care and accountability. You can read the previous posts in the series here (The Posture of Peacemaking; The Posture of Prayer; The Posture of Listening; The Posture of Learning).
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — African proverb.
I am a dog person.
Sorry to all the cat-people, but let’s be honest, our canine friends really can teach us a host of life lessons. The number one lesson: you were made for a “pack.”
Dogs are pack-animals. They protect and serve their pack members.
They not only belong to this group, but they need and love this group. They understand that life is good inside a pack; that life is not meant to be done alone, but is richer and better with companions. You wonder why they are so happy when you come home? The pack is back when you walk in that door.
They also know they are stronger together than alone. They know that if they are alone, they are more vulnerable to attack.
It can be easy to talk about mutual care and accountability. We all nod our heads and agree that yes, we are not meant to function alone. Scripture teaches us again and again that we are invited to care for one another: we are a body of many members (I Cor 12, Romans 12:4-5),
Jesus sent the disciples in pairs (Luke 10), and Paul spends a great majority of his epistles giving instructions on how we are to live with one another. Clearly, we are meant for community. We are invited to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” (Romans 12:10). What a gift!
Yet, we struggle with this. We can falsely believe it is easier to be a lone ranger. The enemy whispers the lie that it is actually safer to be alone because then no one will know your struggles, and plus, then you can just get the work done yourself. In reality, he quietly lulls us to isolation where loneliness and temptation and a host of other fiery arrows await.
Recently at the Asia retreat in South Korea, World Renew and Resonate Global Mission international staff gathered together for a time of wonderful fellowship and sharing.
Each person was given time to share a photograph representing where they are right now: what they are experiencing of the Lord, of themselves, of His world. Some were currently in “pleasant inns” along the way, as C.S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain.
Others were in desert places of questions and longings. We shared life, truth, and authenticity with one another. Christ’s shepherding care flowed through that place. We carried each other’s burdens, heard each other’s stories, and sat together at the feet of Jesus with it all. Mutual care and accountability is a beauty to behold.
Listen to the African proverb. Learn from the pack animals. You are not meant to live or serve alone. But, most of all, hear the invitation of Christ who prayed that we would “be brought to complete unity to let the world know” (John 17). You belong to a wonderfully broken, fiercely beautiful, amazingly trustworthy pack. Let us love one another well.