By Donn Engebretson, Project Leader of Covenant Kids Congo
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6
At the end of June this year I will conclude a season of my ministry that has been of deep personal impact. After five years of service I will conclude my work as the Project Leader for Covenant Kids Congo: Powered by World Vision. Words do injustice to the wonder, privilege, joy and also the deep pain of this journey. I am so grateful to have walked with the truly faithful Covenant people and churches who have supported and continue to support these children and this project. It has been such a joy to partner with World Vision and the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM). It has been amazing to walk with the strong, wise, resilient and Christ-centered people of Congo. And most of all, it has been a profound privilege to see the impact of these amazing partnerships on the beautiful children who are Covenant Kids Congo and the ways their lives and their futures have been blessed.
The key word in this experience is what Paul is writing about in his opening salutation in his letter to the Philippian Church when he says, “I always pray with joy for you because of your partnership in the Gospel.” Partnership. Partnership is the keystone of the work of the Covenant Church through Serve Globally around the world and certainly the keystone for the work of Covenant Kids Congo.Covenant Kids Congo is the partnership of Covenant with World Vision. It is the partnership of World Vision with not only the Covenant Church of Congo, but also with the Evangelical Free Church and the Catholic Church in Congo and many local ministry and development groups. It is the partnership of the Covenant in the U.S. and Canada with the Covenant Church of Congo. It is a kaleidoscopic network of truly wonderful, effective partnership.
However, it is also a network of profoundly challenging partnerships. Yes, I included that last part—truly challenging partnerships. All of the partnerships of Covenant Kids Congo involve us in relating across many cultures: corporate, racial, social and socio-economic. There are huge variations in agendas, goals and expectations. Language alone is an enormous challenge.
When I speak of Covenant Kids Congo as a network of challenging partnerships I am asking you to think about partnership as a journey in which humility is essential. The path of discipleship is that journey where we follow Jesus as Lord and work together in partnership to advance Jesus’ Kingdom in the world and throughout eternity. Why do partnerships demand humility? Partnerships mean that others and their priorities come first. Partnerships mean that we learn to look at the world through the experience of others rather than just our own. Partnerships mean that we continue to invest in our work together, we hang in there, even when the way is difficult and frustrating. Partnership means we recognize that the growth in Christ we experience through the challenging parts of our investment in partnership is central to the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Partnership, especially for those of us from the industrialized West, means that we need to give up our deeply inbred assumptions of superiority and humbly learn from the experience, knowledge and wisdom of others.
When you support the ministry of Serve Globally through Covenant missionaries, Covenant World Relief, Paul Carlson Partnership, Merge Ministries and Covenant Kids Congo, you work with entrepreneurs opening up new and innovative means to communicate and live out God’s love and grace. It means that you are supporting pioneers who blaze new trails and open new doors. It means that you are a part of amazing stories of the advancement of God’s Kingdom in the lives of communities, families and children. But it also means that you are working with incredibly humble people who do their work as patient learners in Christ-centered partnerships all over the world.
It has been such a privilege to work this past season as a part of the Covenant Serve Globally team. Never think that it is only the work we do through Serve Globally that matters. Because we follow Jesus it is also and always the way we do that work that matters in this world. We do that work through the humility of the cross, through the humility of Jesus-centered partnerships. So please let me paraphrase the Apostle Paul:
“I thank my God every time I remember all of the amazing Christ-centered people who make up the partnerships that together are Covenant Kids Congo. In all my prayers for them I always pray with joy because they humble themselves to live and work and serve together. And I am convinced that the one who began this good and humbling work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”