Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reflections on mission as transformation

by Ken CruzGBGM missionary from The Philippines serving with Community Health and Agricultural Development in Cambodia

"You can count the number of seeds in a mango, but you can't count the number of mangoes in a seed" Kenyan Proverb

As a missionary in a foreign land I always wonder how my life an ministry can communicate the gospel in such a way that people who live their lives in worlds far different from my own can understand and believe it. Bringing the message of the gospel that is appropriate to the local situation without losing its truth is perhaps the most challenging aspect of my work in community transformation.

As I continue to work with the CHAD program that aims to enhance local church empowerment through holistic ministry, I have increasingly noticed that effective communication of the gospel is a two-step process. Firstly, I must be aware of my own cultural context from which I understand and communicate the gospel. Secondly, I must gain an in-depth knowledge of the local culture specifically its underlying assumptions. This on-going learning process demands that a missionary, on outsider, and the local people, insiders, undergo a never-ending cycle of unlearning patterns of thinking that conform with the fallen systems of this world and learning a pattern of thinking that alligns with God's truth.

Only through this humbling process of unlearning and learning can a person truly understand how to communicate the gospel within the contexts of the local culture so that it is properly understood yet remains faithful to the truth as revealed in the Scripture. In my view, the primary task in mission is cultural transformation which means challenging people to forsake the mindsets that keep them in bondage and asking them to be renewed by a pattern of thinking that gives life and conform to the Kingdom of God.

This is why I believe that our work in church empowerment training for holistic ministry is transformative. Through this effort we encourage our local congregations to challenge their cultural assumptions while at the same helping them to see/appreciate the individual and collective resources they have around them. In this way, they can help their neighbors without relying too much on outside help.

"For as man thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23:7

Personal note from the field.

Grace & peace!

When our two sons (Kim & Kyle) left Cambodia to pursue university, we finally came face to face with what many have called the "empty nest" in their marriage life. But God is gracious in helping us cope with the changes so far. In face, this gives us time to reflect on how blessed we are to have been given the chance to be parents of our children. In the same way, this is also how we feel about our partnership. Always thankful and feeling blessed that you have given us the opportunity to journey with you in ushering the Kingdom of God amongst the people of Cambodia!


Your partners in Christ,
Ken, Jomil, Kim and Kyle Cruz

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