Sevcik's Blog

A year in Cairo Egypt

Monday, August 29, 2005

Orientation thoughts

"Of one hundred men, one will read the bible and 99 will read the Christians." -Dwight L. Moody During this week of orientation, Moody's quote comes to mind. I am gathered with 60+ other young adult volunteers in Chicago, IL for a week before we leave for Argentina, India, Kenya, Ireland, the Philippians, etc. for our year of service with the Young Adults in Global Mission through the ELCA.
We are going into parts of the world where Christians are the minority, whites are a minority, and empowered women are not free to express such liberty. We will confront people who love us, hate us, want to befriend us, and want to use us. And we are going with eager hearts with the faith that this year will bring a positive change for those we serve and those who serve us.

For most of us, when we decided to spend this year serving abroad we went into it with the expectation that we will really make a difference. We all have passionate hearts about the people and situations we are going to know and there is a part of us hoping we can bring some dramatic positive change for these people. What I've come to realize, though, is the people we are going to serve don't need us. They don't need us to help develop their family life, their social structure, their churchs, or their government. They are capable, intelligent people who, of course, want the best for themselves and their country as well. Our goal is not to move in and blow them away with 'all we do.' The programs we are involved in survive and thrive without us, and that is the desire. The programs existed before we came and they will be there when we are gone (we hope!). We do not go to bring God to these people, but rather to discover what God is already doing there-and to humbly and graciously participate in it.
Historically, Christians have not been seen as incredibly friendly and accepting peope. As we go out to be missionaries, people will be suspicious about what we are doing. This begs the question, why do we do what we do? And do we, as Americans, _really_ know what is best for everyone everywhere? Luke 15:1-7 explains the parable of the lost sheep, and these passages have been used to define the "lost ones" in the world. Missionaries of the past were determined to go out and "save" these people. As one speaker explained, when we do that, we are making them the object of our action, and this immediately separates ourselves from "them."

In light of this, when I think about my role for this year in Egypt I believe it's really about loving God and loving my neighbor as myself. Jesus is the example for my understanding of servanthood. Jesus begins ministry by walking with people--he accompanies them on their journey and meets them where they are at, without expectations, assumptions, or demands. Then, he actively listens. Next, he shares. After a time of sharing trust is built and a community is formed. Through this community and fellowship transformation occurs and lives are filled with hope, joy, and love. Idealistic, yes, but without a doubt I believe it with all my heart. Micah 6:8 states "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God." I pray this year I learn to live accordingly.


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