Auteur: Jim Harries
Category: Partenariat, Évangile de la prospérité, Pauvreté et richesse
Cody is right (http://conversation.lausanne.org/resources/detail/10174) to advocate ‘global partnerships’, when partnerships can be truly partnerships. That I understand, from the basis of the word, where two (or more) people or groups agree to cooperate in some venture in which both contribute and benefit in ways that are glorifying to God.
Partnership is problematic if the above conditions do not qualify. For example, if one group becomes dependent on the other in an unhealthy way, if benefits are of dubious value, or if in the end God is not glorified. How to understand and avoid these kinds of situations?
Difficulties are particularly likely to arise if one’s partnership is inter-cultural. The question “do you want to enter into partnership?” may in one part of the world prompt careful consideration and then a considered response after weighing the likely costs following a number of meetings by key people concerned. In another part of the world, the response is an automatic ‘yes’. This is for various reasons. 1. They only see themselves as ‘benefitting’ through the partnership. That is, they see that they have nothing to loose, so of course they say yes – without looking at all the ramifications of what they are entering in to. 2. There are people around the world who do not say ‘no’ very often at all! The default answer (in so-called ‘shame cultures’) is always ‘yes’ and it is not at all easy to know whether someone’s ‘yes’ is actually a ‘no’. 3. Different understandings of ‘God’. To some, God is he (it) who brings us prosperity. He can do nothing else, and to prove that God brings prosperity is thus to confirm his nature and to glorify him. Others call this the ‘prosperity gospel’.
I am sure most will say that partnerships should be entered into ‘with care’. But – just what kind of care? This can mean; have a number of meetings amongst key people in the church before launching out. But, that is ‘care’ on the ‘home’ end. What of care at the ‘other end’? That is – how can I enter into a partnership with care with a church amongst people of a different culture to mine, where the ‘care’ is about ‘them’ and not about me or us?
At a very basic level, I suggest that international and intercultural partnerships must only be entered into if a church has a ‘member’ who is very conversant with the culture and language of the ‘other’ and who is intimately connected with ‘the other’. When I say a ‘member’, I mean someone of the dominant ethnic group of one church who is very familiar with the ethnic group(s) of the other church. I do not mean, for example, a person from Timbuktu who is a member of a Western church providing a basis for that Western church to initiate a partnership with the Timbuktu church.
The initial stage in entering into partnership, then, is for a church to send a member to live in the context of the ‘other church’ (socially, geographically and linguistically) for, say, 10 years. Then after 10 years the church who has sent that person can ask them ‘what kind of partnership can we enter into’? The home-churches link is with their own person, who is on the ground ‘over there’. Because that person is mortal and fallible, of course no partnership agreement should be entered into that assumes it will continue when / if the person concerned leaves the scene. That is – it should be understood from the beginning, that if / when the person leaves, all relationship ends. This will affect the kind of partnerships that will be entered into.