Ever since I first started reading Down We Go by Kathy Escobar I’ve been promising you a discussion of some of the main points of the book. So here we go…
Chapter 3 – There is No “Them or Us”…Only Us
This is the chapter that drove me to explore my new “missional” calling at Interfaith Housing Coalition. Kathy says:
Missional ministry often begins with an us/them mindset that is built upon a foundation of, “We’re going to be good Christians and go help those poor people who are not like us.” I believe this heart to serve comes from a sincere place, but it perpetuates a dangerous divide.
I am reminded of the classic ‘Murder in the Orient Express’ an Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot thriller where in response to Poirot’s question, Ingrid Bergman says, she left the USA to look after the ‘poor brown babies of India’.
1. When you think of “to,” “for,” or “with” relationships, which type comes more natural to you? – I have always had a revulsion to approaching mission work as if I were the “great, white savior” ministering to the poor, downtrodden unfortunates. So much so that I have, for many years, refused to participate in “mission opportunities” that were hit and miss and designed more as an excuse to travel and visit exotic places than as chances to get to know and work with other people.
2. What scares you about “with” relationships? What inspires you about them? – I can be timid about approaching new people in new situations, so it’s difficult for me to get out of my comfort zone and try to meet folks who are not like me. I’m always afraid of appearing like the “Lady Bountiful,” to people who have less than I do materially. I’m usually inspired by the resilience, and faith of those less fortunate than I am monetarily. They have plummed depths of fortitude unknown to me.
3. Think of some paradoxes in your own life. Write them in your journal “I am __________ and __________.” How easy or hard is this to accept?
- I am knowledge-wise and relationship-ignorant. – I’m self-aware enough to know that this is so, but I struggle daily to become more relationship wise.
- I am quick to complete tasks and I dislike correction. – I know I should be more careful about being sure tasks are correct before I declare them finished, but I struggle with this.
4. Do you have more of a tendency to be codependent, independent, or interdependent? Write which one best describes you and why. – I am very independent, and I know I will have a hard time sharing control of meetings with my resident that I am mentoring at Interfaith Housing Coalition. I’ve only had two meetings there, and I know I will have to lean heavily on the techniques I learned in Stephen Minister training, of being non-judgmental, and listening carefully, and fully, before jumping in. I will have to be careful not to be controlling, but to allow the resident to work out their own problems, only offering advise when asked or when absolutely necessary.