Missions Development...#6

I woke up the next morning feeling really ‘light’ in my spirit – rested too, but mostly light because I was feeling thankful that the heavy weight had been lifted off of my shoulders… a weight that I hadn’t even known I could be ‘done’ with. It was especially cool because I hadn’t even known that we’d be coming to Germany…

My two American traveling companions & I went down to the ‘eating room’ & found an open table… after the ‘interesting’ foods (read: stuff I wouldn’t want to eat again even it was based on a dare,) I’d experienced during our time in England, I was overjoyed to have my 1st real experience with the German breakfast: dark, hearty, whole grain breads & rolls, baked that morning; what appeared to be salami, along with quite the variety of smoked meats & cheeses; Nutella. German coffee. Ahhh.

In between stuffing my face, I ended up in conversation with the guy sitting on my left – turned out that he was a youth pastor as well – at ICHTHYS church - & his name was Johannes. Fortunately for me, he spoke great English, with a touch of American thrown in from a 7-month stint/internship at a church in the greater-Seattle area. We had a great time swapping stories, talking about life, fussball (soccer) & church stuff. From the first conversation, we connected at a deep level, & I really enjoyed his outlook on life, sense of humor, & ever-present laugh, which, when I close my eyes & concentrate, I can still hear in the recesses of my brain…

We ended up skipping a couple of meetings (one of my favorite conference activities, by the way,) to hang out, talk, & visit the bistro for brats & Hefeweizen... by this time, I felt like we were getting to know each other fairly well, & that we could trust each other enough to speak openly & straightforwardly… So, I asked Johannes if he (& ICHTHYS) would consider the possibility of us coming on a mission to Frankfurt. He said “NO!” without even blinking - & then qualified his answer with an explanation & a few stories about teams from the US that he & ICHTHYS had hosted in previous years. The bottom line was that the aftermath of the teams was anything BUT life-giving & beneficial to the host church…

Too many times they had been left holding the bag financially for some unforeseen & unplanned shortfall. The name/reputation of the local church had been dragged through the mud by some short-sighted & inconsiderate actions by someone on the mission team; the insistence of the team at doing their own program/method/ministry came at the expense of the long-term relationship & respect the hosts had attempted to cultivate with their friends, neighbors, & people of their city, people who the team didn’t see as “people” but as potential notches on the proverbial missions statistics belt; the hosts had often their hospitality criticized/belittled as “not being up to standard” (aka different) than what the ethnocentric Americans were used to at home… as though the ‘foreign country’’ should have been blessed & overjoyed just to receive the Americans, & like a good restaurant/hotel, should have done everything they could to accommodate their ‘guests.’ And there was no offer of continued relationship beyond the cursory (& known to be meaningless) “I’ll write.” So, rather than “do” missions in that manner, they didn’t host American (or Canadian) teams anymore…



Curiosity must have gotten the best of him, because he asked, “What would you do if you came?” So I asked, “It depends – what would you like us to do? Is there something that you’re already doing that we could help with?”

He smiled & said, “Hmm. Perhaps we can talk about this some more.”

1 launchings into the blogosphere....:

Plucky said...

I was here . . .