This summer has been a wonderful time of meeting up with fellow missionaries.
We have been back for just over a month and we have met up with all the SAMS-USA missionaries to Peru. To my right is the visit in California with Bishop Godfrey. Bishop and Judith Godfrey are missionaries with USPG from England.
Earlier this summer I met with Shaw and Julie Mudge at the Diocese of Albany annual convention and diocesan retreat.
Also there was Bishop Evangelist elect Mike Chapman.
We all had a fabulous time together.
Later in the month we were visited by John and Susan Park.
They were on their way to Canada.
Last week I went to Dallas and Plano Texas where on Sunday morning I worshiped and lunched with Allen and Rachel Hill, Ron and Vicki Robertson.
All this has me reflecting on friendships and mission relationships. One aspect of our lives in the US is that we can effectively choose our friends. By friends I mean those folk with whom we share our lives, get close, laugh, cry, pray and whose very friends
hip changes and influences our lives. On the mission field this is just not the same. We are a small minority community. We are thrown together because of our shared calling. We are told that team conflicts are one of the greatest problems that can afflict missionaries and yet we are called and told to work through these and thus become a new family. This is all very new to me.
I am not one who shares close friendships easily. Decades of being “in charge” of parishes has made me leery of getting too close. I used to laugh at the advice given in seminary about the dangers of trying to make friends in the parish. After over thirty years I have to say that they were right. It was partly the fact of inequalities of relationship. It was partly feeling betrayed by some who sought to “befriend” and whose hidden agenda eventually would emerge. Some sought to come close and then control either us or things in the parish. The long-term effect is many relationships that I do very much treasure and people whom I love. However there are few who would fit my definition above.
On the mission field we are thrown together with folk not of our choosing, but God’s choosing. Indeed the fellow missionaries might never be those we would “choose.” The reason being probably having few things in common in our busy US lives. I count it a privilege to be linked so closely with these folk. God is so good in bringing us together. We are the family of God – truly. HUGE blessing and what a trust.
Happy Independence Day
I was in error for missing out our dear brother and sister in Arequipa – Sandy and Gloria Johnston whose presence so enriches us. I am praying for there to be another missionary couple soon to join you. Also for more opportunities for gathering.
I also did not mention the large community of missionaries who are up in Lima. These folk are such a blessing and we are getting to know them more slowly. We already have found special blessings being in fellowship with Rusty, Sara and Colleen. They are truly friends of God’s choosing. God has put them in our path in wonderful ways.
6 responses to “Friends of God’s choosing”
The body of Christ image works here. Friendship is complicated, I agree. I also think of C.S. Lewis’ four loves and how those work with the concept of friendship. Perhaps storge (one e?) and agape help define it.
Mmm.. I think I am somewhat lucky to have avoided this when I was alone in Kenya, but your points are very valid. I am sure mission teaming as a ordained person is quite different in and of itself.
Well now, Ian, you didn’t meet up with us! At least not since New Wineskins! So you didn’t see ALL the SAMS-USA missionaries to Peru!(I’m giving you a hard time here!) That is a fabulous picture of Ron and Vicki – they look well, which is an encouragement to me. Hope the rest of your time in the States is blessed 🙂 Give our love to Polly.
Mea Culpa. Genuinely – you both came up in conversation so frequently that it was as if you were there. I so nearly called you both on Skype the other evening – I wish I had.
Please forgive my omission as you are indeed precious to me and in the love of God.
I think you are right about friendships – one of the reasons pastoral leadership can be such an isolated place to serve.
Amen – this is why our clergy friends are so important – yet in so many of these we in fact do the choosing as we are riven with parties and get competitive. This makes the missionary community so different, and such a blessing