Upon starting my first job out of college, one of my older brothers gave me a piece of advice: “Don’t wear out the ‘I’m the new guy’ line”. I understood his point: a well-timed and clever use of “What do I know? I’m the new guy.”-type joke can, in fact, get a laugh or ease the tension in certain situations, but is gets old in a hurry. The line has a short shelf-life.
It’s been 7 months since we arrived in Oaxaca, and well, I feel like I am wearing out the joke. It get’s tiring responding to the constant and understandable inquiries about our role here with something along the lines of “well, we are are new here so we are still discerning our role.” This was one of the hardest changes for me in leaving Monterrey and coming to Oaxaca — the loss of clearly defined ministry roles and structure.
Thankfully, there are several things that are helping diminish the new guy feeling. First is that the big picture is coming into focus: in a previous update we asked for prayer as we met with the church leaders to discern our role here in Oaxaca. The result of that meeting was not a concrete project, but rather what is essentially a mission statement for our ministry here. The main gist of this is that Erika and I will “accompany the Covenant churches and non-profits of Oaxaca in holistic ministries.” Again, this is not a specific project, but it does give focus to our ministry here and most importantly it reflects our gifting, God’s calling on our lives and the reality of the local church here. We are excited that the Covenant church here desires to reach out into their communities in new ways that seek to address their emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
Then, there are more concrete activities each day that make me feel like I can honestly use the statement as a description of what I am doing here. These are things that put meat on the bone and begin to point towards the end of our orientation stage. One example of this is that next month I will be leading a series of sessions of strategic planning with Fuentes Libres, the micro-enterprise ministry organization that is part of the Covenant here in Oaxaca. The idea is to facilitate a process of planning to move forward in various areas of holistic ministry, but also bring into focus how Erika and I can be more directly involved in ways that are empowering to the team there.
So, each day I am feeling less like the new guy and am able to see projects and ministries where God is calling me and using me. But it is a slow process and I would humbly ask that you pray for me and for us, as Paul prayed for the Ephesians:
I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Eph 1:15-19 The Message)