Honouring diversity

“One of SIM’s most defining characteristics and strengths is its diversity, including different nationalities, ethnicities, skills and gifts, life stages and experiences, families, communities, and church denominations.

“We are so different, but God has found it fit to bring us together. This is something to celebrate,” Joshua Bogunjoko, International Director, said as he opened SIM’s recent Global Assembly.  He emphasised in this anniversary celebration year that if we as an organisation truly believe that because of Christ’s death we do not live for ourselves any more, we must be willing to re-evaluate everything we do in the light of that truth.

“My prayer is that … we will no longer see each other as black or white, yellow or red. We will not see locals and missionaries, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, well supported or less supported. Rather, that through the work of the Holy Spirit, we will see one another as people called together by God, serving in synergy with one another, making Jesus known, making His disciples in communities where He is least known.”

This week on the website A Life Overseas a blog suggested that of the top five preventable reasons why mission partners leave and come home early, three are around such issues as conflict or cross-cultural misunderstandings in the mission team. Joshua Bogunjoko’s heart is to see these kinds of all-too-human but unnecessary hinderances to the loving integration of mission teams disappear, so that everyone from the leadership to the most part-time, locally-recruited staff member is honoured. Truly honoured.

At SIM New Zealand our home team is studying Erin Meyer’s The Culture Map, a fascinating and very telling set of insights into how and why things can go so wrong between people of different cultures, and very applicable to missions.  But in the end such honouring of diversity takes spiritual maturity, humility and each individual’s submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

— Zoë Cromwell