My next few blog posts are going to be stories and thoughts from the recent trip I took to India. So here is “India Trip – Part 1 – Family.”
I have just got back from a really fun time in India. This was not my first trip to India. When I was a young boy my family would holiday in India when we lived in Bangladesh. All my memories of India involve family, and this most recent trip was no different.
Part of my background is that I grew up in The Salvation Army. They use the Army metaphor a lot and so discipleship can be viewed as becoming a good soldier. If we are soldiers in an Army then God is the General commanding His troops. Therefore mission, or mission trips are seen as invasion, conquering and colonising.
To many other people their church background would describe things a little differently. Many, basing their views on Matthew 28 would recognise discipleship as learning to obey. Therefore God is viewed as the one with rules and directions – or in better terminology a boss or a leader. Mission trips then are about obedience to God, and completing a task that you have been assigned.
Now, whilst both views have some great themes of obedience to God, sacrifice, dedication, and even Kingdom Come, their concept of discipleship and view of God is problematic for a healthy understanding of mission.
The problem with these views is that they both end up with a “us” vs “them” mentality in mission work. They end up making us incredible conquerors who have to come and save the day. We are coming to serve, to bless, to preach, to build, to do something. etc It implies that mission means coming from a place of power and insists on control. Jesus showed the total opposite of a “me” vs “you” mentality, and although the fullness of God dwelled in Him He humbled Himself by taking the very nature of a servant. (Philippians 2:7)
When we arrived in India it would probably be fair to say that some of us on our trip were thinking that we were the ones with power. We thought we were the ones to save the day. However, God decided to show us how mission looks in the Kingdom.
Jesus said that if we want to see or enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again. He said that the Kingdom belongs to little children. He said we should have faith like a child. Jesus is spelling out what a disciple looks like. A disciple is a child of God. I believe the most significant revelation Jesus brought to Earth was God is a loving Daddy – not a leader, boss, or military General. Therefore mission now becomes about connecting with and growing a family. This approach is entirely relational. It means you look for sustainability in friendship, not quick hands firing up in a frenzied altar call.
Friends First, my Church community, has embraced this family concept. We are working to establish a Kingdom family Community and it has been working. We don’t focus on programs or events. Rather we seek ministry in the context of relationship. That means we create spaces where we can be real, and establish deep friendships. We combine this with the value of vulnerability that allows us to deal with the stuff in our hearts. My life has totally changed since being involved here, I am way more whole, have more life in me, and have some amazing friends that I call family.
The team we sent to India has just completed a year in our Academy. The Academy takes people on a journey of heart transformation. Our team was positioned really nicely for mission as family, and not as soldiers coming to defeat an enemy. Still, some of us still had some remnants of the old “mission way” left over in our minds.
When we landed in India we met some incredible people who we automatically connected with. They have been on the same journey as Friends First and so the easiest way to describe our connection was that we (Aussies and Indians) all felt like family straight away. They were extraordinarily generous and did not allow us to pay for anything. They honoured us time and time again. They simply wanted friendship. In this context of Kingdom family we loved each other, encouraged one another and felt comfortable to be vulnerable with one another sharing our dreams, struggles and victories. No one was above another, we were all brothers and sisters, mums and dads.
As we took the “3 hour drive” to the Taj Mahal that took 6 hours we shared stories of the goodness of God. We heard of incredible miracles of salvation, deliverance, and freedom. Some of the stories would blow you away like the time Jesus met with a girl to teach her English, or how Jesus radically saved a family that had been dealing with some pretty serious demon issues, or cash from Heaven being deposited into bank accounts, and I could go on and on. As I sat there listening to stories I realised how different this trip was compared to many I have been on before.
Some of us may have ideas of coming to save the day, but very quickly the time we spent with our Indian Family showed us what Kingdom Family was all about. We were not above anyone, we were all simply family celebrating our Daddy.
What we had been calling a “mission trip” was now a “Family Holiday.” As much as the salvation, deliverance, and healing miracles we experienced were breathtaking, (and I will blog on these soon!!!) the thing that I enjoyed and valued most was meeting my Indian family.