Around the table
Posted on: 27th March 2023
CMS missionary Zoe Creelman, currently learning Kriol language and culture in North Australia, reflects on vulnerable mission, building trust, and the role her kitchen table plays in sharing Christ with others. She writes:
“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)
Some say the kitchen is the heart of a home, but more accurately I think it is the kitchen table. I was thinking recently that if my table had ears, it would have a lot of stories to tell!
There have been afternoons of uproarious laughter, evening sing-a-longs, tedious hours on the phone to the bank, emotional times of praying through family problems, vulnerable sharing of stories, wrestling with Bible passages, impromptu language lessons, and sketching of family trees when I’m too confused with verbal explanations.
But it’s taken a while for people to feel comfortable coming into my home, and some still prefer to sit outside. Culturally it’s a bit odd to go into people’s homes. It’s much more common to sit outside, normally on the ground and with a steady flow of people coming and going. There’s something quite intimate and familial about going into someone’s home and sitting with them.
When Jesus broke bread at a table with his disciples, he told them that his body would be given for them, giving them a glimpse of what was about to happen (Luke 22:19). He came into our world as a helpless baby, so that people could understand his message in their own context rather than as an abstract intellectual exercise, and “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).
This is the ultimate picture of ‘vulnerable mission’: the idea that we don’t go out in the world to stay in our comfort zone and work from positions of power. Wherever possible we want to enter other people’s worlds so that there are as few barriers as possible for people to understand the good news of Christ.
Leaving my comfort zone
Going out bush has been the main way of leaving my own comfort zone and entering other people’s comfort zones. My naivety is humbling for me but reverses the power dynamics. I might get the wrong wood for the fire; people instruct me on where to sit to fish and take my line out of my hands when I get snagged. Out bush I’m definitely the learner! But it’s the time out bush in silence that builds the trust for people to come into my home later and have those deeper conversations.
Sitting around my kitchen table having these conversations, I’m the new one. These guys have sat at this same kitchen table with previous generations of CMS workers, as they sought to support each other in life and ministry. I praise God for the relationships of trust that I’m forming and for the legacy of those who have gone before and paved the way.
Could you give financially to support the ongoing ministry of CMS gospel workers in North Australia? Go to www.cms.org.au/get-involved/give/ for more information.