Partnership is one of the words that characterized this trip for me. I mentioned in my last post about Jamaica working on some construction projects with one of our Jamaica brothers. We were a team. Partners.
The primary purpose of the trip was to determine whether we should attempt to create a partnership between churches, between Northridge Church in Rochester, NY, USA and Darliston Baptist Church in Darliston, Westmoreland, Jamaica.
For us, and for the pastor of Darliston Baptist, partnership doesn't just mean that we come and do things for them. Partnership means we help them do what they see their community needs, and they help us.
It was exciting for me to hear people from Northridge speaking with this language. Here in Detroit, the guys and I have been discussing how talented many of the people at New St. Peters are... but how much our church and our people are held back in ministry by lack of resources and training. As we prayed, God moved us to the idea of partnership. Our church has a lot to offer to a predominately white suburban church somewhere in the metro Detroit area, and they certainly have a lot to offer us. [I plan on writing a future post about some of the specific ways the suburban church in American needs the city church, and vice-versa.] I believe that God is already preparing a pastor or church leader in a predominately white suburban church in Detroit to find New St. Peters and partner with us in ministry. And as a house we have been praying toward that end.
Then I went to Jamaica with Northridge, and I heard the partnership dialogue from the perspective of the suburban church.
In Jamaica, partnership looks like Zach fixing computers and installing some donated ones in three schools around Darliston--but not just doing it himself. He took a woman from the church who is interested in computers, and taught her as much as possible in three days of computer work. Now, if the schools run into a problem with their computers, she might be able to help. That's one aspect of partnership. We come alongside Darliston Baptist Church to further their ministry in their town. And they help us.
Jamaica is not a place of desperate poverty and apparent need. Most people are not starving. They have clean water and good health care. They don't need us as much as man other villages in nearby nations where basic necessities are lacking. So why should we go to Jamaica at all? I'm convinced that we need them. This is the first project of its kind that Northridge is undertaking. And Jamaica is a really easy place to take people who are not adventurous and have little cross-cultural experience. Sending them to a slum in Cairo would be disastrous. In Pastor Thompson at Darliston Baptist we have a comrade who really gets the idea of partnership and desires it as much as we do. And so as a first step into short-term missions projects, Jamaica is a good place for our church.
I hope that five years from now we are sending teams to other places with more desperate needs.
For now, God is sending Belinda and I to 14621, and we long to connect our church to its neighborhood [which is also another post]. Toward that end, the doors of partnership are open. If we can partner with a church in Jamaica, why not a church across the street?