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18 November 2019

By God’s grace: partnerships around the world


Partnership and humility go hand in hand. Out of that humility and mutual grace, CMS missionaries (and those they work with) can report wonderful stories of gospel growth and spiritual progress. These are just a few of those stories from some of the places where we work:

J in the Middle East: learning to listen

I arrived on location here with many ideas about best practice in ministry. But in this culture, submission to church leadership goes far deeper than in Australia. This has meant sticking with some things that were outside my preferences. But this year, patience has born some fruit. As unity and trust with my team leader has grown, some of my assumptions have been challenged and I’ve even been asked for ideas.

I was co-leading a group with an Arab colleague. We agreed I would demonstrate how to facilitate discussion, but each week he talked for most of the time, and my Arabic couldn’t compete. This wasn’t a new issue, so I sat through several weeks, praying and intentionally affirming his (genuine) teaching gift. Eventually I found a very specific suggestion to offer, which he took on, and our trust was deepened.

M and L in SE Asia: there by invitation

Partnership in ministry in our location does not look the way I expected. I had always thought of partnership as something that implicitly implied equality. But, in an overseas mission context, I came to realise that I was only there at the invitation of the local pastors who ran the college. There was a partnership, but it was not equal. This at times caused me anxiety—because ‘the locals’ didn’t do things the way I would. But God quietly reminded me that mission in someone else’s ‘patch’ is about service, and that means lots of prayer, humility and patience.

S and C in the Middle East: relying on others

When S was sick, his local colleagues regularly prayed for our family, encouraged us and longed for our return. It was a lovely example of our partnership together and our reliance on their help and support. Our desire was to go and serve them, yet we feel that we have received even more than we could ever give!

Na in South East Asia: overcoming through trust

In my context there are lots of different people groups and they often don’t work well together. Even among believers, different ethnic groups do not fellowship together. They tend to have their own gatherings and their own separate programs.

Recently a local church within ethnic group A has deliberately partnered with believers from ethnic group B for the sake of sharing the gospel. The believers from group A know that people from group B are in the best position to reach others in their own communities.

Working together, they have overcome the standard obstacles of distrust and disunity because they want to make Jesus’ name known amongst a people group in which very few believers exist. Slowly, out of that relationship of trust, fellowship, and unity of purpose, people are coming to know Jesus.

Chris and Karen Webb in North West Australia: teamwork extends ministry

We work in a team with Michael and Steve, the ministers of Broome Anglican Church.

Michael has taken on a greater preaching role in the Aboriginal congregation so that Chris can have more time to focus on leadership support in the wider region. By working as a team in partnership, Chris has the extra time to prepare Bible seminars and travel long distances to teach Christian leaders who are serving in remote places.

Daniel and Kate Morris in France: learning through listening

This ministry context is different to the context in Australia in lots of ways, so we benefit greatly from listening to the wisdom and experience of the locals. One example of this is that it’s not usually possible for the GBU to be officially recognised as a group on campuses. We have developed some appropriate strategies to overcome this challenge through working with local ministry partners.

Kevin and Karen Flanagan in Tanzania: joy in Jesus

My (Karen’s) greatest joy in partnership has been the experience of visiting local women with the bishop’s wife, who is sensitive and gracious. She patiently facilitates conversation—’interpreting’ my poor Swahili for the benefit of others and rephrasing theirs for my benefit. As we read and discuss God’s word on each visit, her eyes light up with joy. Her enthusiasm for Jesus is very evident.

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Would you be open to the challenges and joys of learning under local Christian leaders in another culture? Contact your local branch to explore how God could use you to advance the gospel.