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We Are Co-creators

Author: Ruth Callanta
Date: 24.02.2010
Category: Partnership

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Originally Posted in English

A Response to Valdir Steuernagel’s ’More Partners at the Family Table’

To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent Christianity Today magazine or the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.

We hear that partnership in mission is much more complex today because it is global and the people taking part are so diverse. I don’t believe that. Our relationships to each other are not a question of rich and poor, they are not a question of culture or race or nationality. They are a question of the heart. If we bring it down to basics, it is just you, the Lord, and the other person. Together you stand before the Lord.

I appreciate Valdir Steuernagel’s emphasis on God’s call to community, and the importance of listening if we want to experience partnership. If anything, I would want to state the case more strongly.

My organization, the Center for Community Transformation, works with the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. When you work with the poor, prejudice and stereotypes come easily, often because of a lack of experience and a lack of relationships. You hear that the poor are not capable, the poor cannot manage work, the poor will take advantage of you, the poor will vandalize you, the poor smell. And so the poor become an object of charity.

Instead, we have to grasp that the poor are created in the image of God. They are not only our co-equals, they are our co-creators. Understanding that, we enter their community with humility, and we take each person at face value.  We understand that we are there not on behalf of our plans, but as part of God’s plan. We take on the attitude of a servant.

Once we have the right perspective and attitude, we must also have a clear sense of purpose. When I started out in development work, I was there to deliver services and report on outcomes. I was essentially a technician. As I grew in maturity and in my relationship to the Lord, that changed. My purpose became to build the community—a community that reflects the new heavens and the new earth. Ultimately this is a covenant, not a partnership. It starts with a covenant with the Lord.

In that covenant, you go from being a technician to being a servant. As you grow you may become a servant leader. As you are given even more responsibilities you may become a servant leader-visionary.  But you are not a servant of certain outcomes. You are a servant of the community, and most of all a servant of the Lord. You are nameless because the only name you have is the name of Jesus.

Keywords: covenant, mission, community, image of God, co-equals, humility, Gods mission, servanthood, people

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Timoy (0)

What you wrote was very affirming.  We have a ministry among domestic helpers here in Singapore. Many times they are looked down because of their jobs.  But when you are involved with them and struggle with them as they try to understand the Bible and apply it in their lives you will begin to see that the Gospel is for all.

Thank you for your growth in understanding what it means to serve the poor-it also means being a true servant to them.

The heart is the answer as you have said. Does it mean to say that we do not need to change structures?

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Melluna (2)    

Building a Christian community among the poor and those in the margin is like building a little heaven down here. One wonders why God did not just build these by Himself, as in a miracle. I guess, God wants us to participate in the process of Kingdom building. Each one of us has a role to play, according to the gifting He has endowed on us. It is very encouraging to see people like you modeling to us what it means to be Kingdom builders.

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down dhackett (4)  
United States

I love what you’ve written! In fact, the transformative moment comes only when we grasp that the poor are our equals as persons and as people made in the image of God.
So, for example, no one is too poor to give out of gratitude and with the spirit of sharing - through this they gain an awareness that they are God’s agents of ministry (see the Widow’s mite story). To say they are too poor to give demeans them, robs them of the high honor of reflecting Christ.


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PhContributeBy Ruth Callanta
Location: Manila
Country: Philippines

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