Albert Collver the Director of Church Relations for the LCMS is visiting Geneva for a conference and he visited the Ecumenical Center there. You can read about it at abc3miscellany.blogspot.com . Anyway here is a picture of a cross that graces the center. Obviously it is the Cross and superimposed on that Cross is the continent of Africa and figures representing tribal life.
I am fascinated by this image. Art can make you think about stuff. Depending on my mood I can look at this and say “The cross of Christ is for all”, or I can say because of recent history, ‘the Africans too must take up the Cross and follow Him’, and I’m sure when I look again I will see another idea.
This blog was started because a group of church folks were sitting around and talking about mercy and human care and the ways that Minnesota North and the North Dakota District relate together and work together now in various ways. We also wanted to start thinking about how to galvanize all the people of good will out there to do one or two things together and bring to bear this mighty power for good on one or two things rather than scattering it over 1000 different things.
Anyone interested in this should just ask around in your circle of friends and you will see all the ways that people in our churches “do something” for mission and ministry or mercy and human care. What we are finding more and more is that not everyone appreciates all these things. So here seem to be the different ideas about Africa for instance –
1. There should be no mercy work in Africa because human care projects cause unhealthy reliance upon others, foster mercenary conversion, cast people’s minds to money rather than the Gospel, and the money should be used to pay for Pastors and translations etc.
2. Where there is a partner church operating we should be doing only mercy work and human care projects, or helping with education of indigenous clergy, when requested. My own opinion is there should be no white missionaries in any country that has an established church that we are in fellowship with. Our mercy work should be a true partnership and we should be learning from them as much as we might be helping them in the physical alleviation of suffering and need.
3. We do our mission and mercy work and don’t bother with the partner church. They do their thing and we do ours.
4. We as individual Christians do our thing in human care without any input from our church body. If I want to support a heterodox church in Kenya rather the the ELCK for instance, I will because it is my money and I can do with it what I want.
As you can see these all have a bearing upon “Witness, Mercy, and Life Together”. Somehow we need to get on the same page with this stuff. When I first came on the Board of International Missions one of the things that we wanted to get rid of was a duplication of services. It must have been raised at the convention. People look out over the vast amount of work that is done in our church everyday and we see a lot of different groups with different names doing the same things. Part of ‘stewardship’ might be figuring out who should be doing what, where, when and maybe even how. We all have our crosses to bear, but there are some things that we can bear together without wasting time or money or other resources.