Along with celebrating the independence of our country, Jenny and I have been earnestly preparing for our orientation in Toronto. We’ll leave on the 8th of July, this Sunday. As part of our preparation for this, we have been reading a pile of articles that the directors of the program asked us to be familiar with. Many of the readings describe difficulty in cross-cultural living. Others explore the changing definition of “mission.”
The term missionary and the theology that surrounds the idea of mission has been changing since the beginning of the Church. Even today, the term mission is broad and used to describe many different ideas. So when Jenny and I tell people that we are going to be missionaries, the term itself doesn’t do very well to convey the exact meaning and substance of our work.
Luckily, these two weeks that we are about to spend in Toronto will be a chance for us to learn about the history of mission, the ideas associated with mission today, and what our place in this term will look like. I’ll share a few of our favorite thoughts we’ve come across so far in our readings below:
“A Journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
- John Steinbeck
“If those who are with you always agree with you before you open your mouth, they are not companions but shadows. When disagreement is not a form of systematic blocking, when it rises from a different vision, it can only enrich us.
“It is possible to travel alone, but the good traveler knows that the journey is human life and life needs company. ‘Companion’ means one who eats the same bread.”
- Camara, Dom Helder. The Desert is Fertile. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. 1974. pg. 15
“The missionaries of the future will promote understanding and appreciation among peoples of different—and sometimes conflicting—religions. The missionaries of the future will be bridges and bridge-builders.”
- Fr. Dave Warren, Mission Redicovered. Forum Focus Annual. Issue 2007-Number30. p 2. The Canadian Churches Forum.
“Mission belongs to the very being of the church. Proclaiming the word of God and witnessing to the world is essential for every Christian. At the same time, it is necessary to do so according to gospel principles, with full respect and love for all human beings.”
- “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct,” by the World Council of Churches, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the World Evangelical Alliance
We’ll post a lot more on this subject as we move through our sessions in Toronto this coming week.
Other than reading a lot, we’ve been celebrating the 4th. We traveled to Camden, Arkansas, where we had a big fish fry and red-neck golf game. My family had set up a money tree to collect donations for our mission. Thanks to everyone who pinned up a green leaf for us!
Then we came back and got the first round of our Japanese Encephalitis vaccinations, which didn’t hurt too bad. Then we watched the fireworks at Fourth Fest. Patrick Russell, a friend of ours from college, came over to share his Japanese Rosetta Stone with us. It was good for two downloads so we bought half of it from him! We are super excited to dive into this language, this world of many faiths, and continue building bridges of love and understanding.
Your friends and companions on this journey,
Doug and Jenny Knight