We, Mary Lou and Gary, when explaining part of our vision for ministry in Colombia, often mention how we are “walking alongside of the Covenant leadership and people”. This accompaniment is a result of many years of ministry and life in Colombia. But, it is also a “walk” in motion, in progress, a walk that is still taking place. We haven’t reached the end of the journey or path or sidewalk. We are learning as we go and we are learning together with those with whom we are walking.
A case in point is our continual learning as to how to best walk “beside” the other. Does it mean to walk a few steps in their shoes? Can it ever mean to walk a few steps in front of them to show the way? Does it mean to literally walk “beside” them and never “behind” them? We try to take the necessary time and effort to “hear” the needs and the concerns of others and take what we hear seriously, not judging or expressing opinion, just listening. Of course we want to encourage and help, but, we are finding that a part of that encouragement and help is the need to help the person be prepared for what is coming – to look ahead to what will be happening if the current plans are realized. One of our friends here has said it well, “to prepare the people to receive the gift.”
So many that we walk with are looking for help, for assistance, for a “way out” of their current situation. Or they may be looking for a reason to hope for a better future. Especially when any level of desperation is involved, the looking to others, or the looking to something outside of oneself or one’s situation is very often a given. When desperate, one often looks “outside” because they haven’t found the resources needed “inside” of themselves. When we look outside of ourselves, we are hoping to “receive” something or “get” something that will provide the solution or help “lead” us to the solution. We are “hoping for” or “looking for” a “gift”. But, are we prepared to receive that gift?
Our experiences so far, both the good and successful experiences and the failed ones, have brought us to agree with our friend that it is necessary to include in our accompaniment of others the discovery of the steps of being prepared to receive what we hope to get. Otherwise, getting what we want—receiving a gift—only gives us what we wanted or hoped for. It doesn’t necessarily help us or assist us or show us the way out. Because, what we want isn’t always what we need. And, we aren’t always ready to receive and benefit from the “gift” we are looking for. So we end up in the same place we started because the gift was nice, but we weren’t ready for it.
Pray with us as we live and learn together about being ready to receive a desired or hoped for gift.