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The Browns – Tom, Ali, Crescena, Bez, & Ber
June 23, 2014 9:13 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Imagine for a moment that your social network/community consisted of 20 people. Now, if you are like me, you are starting to select in your mind who would make the selection of 20 to surround you. In this scenario, however, you don’t get to choose. In fact, most of the 20 you don’t know. These 20 are different ages, have different theology, come from different social-economic classes, and have differing views on parenting, marriage, finances, worship, etc. One common thread binds you together: faith and a willingness to “go share the gospel to the ends of the earth.” Today as I took my weekly solitude time, I spent a bit of time reading a book that is now required reading for our mission: “The Call to Joy & Pain” by Ajith Fernando. (Go buy it and read it!)

In a chapter entitled: “A Theological Blindspot?” the author writes:

“Later we will see that it is commitment to people that causes much pain in our lives. Many church structures are fashioned so as to not leave much room for such pain. There isn’t an opportunity for people to grow uncomfortably close to each other and get frustrated with each other.” (my emphasis)

I was used to structuring my “community” in such a way that if your kids annoyed me, I’d find someone else to hang out with… but what if your child is one of two close to my child’s age? I am often at a loss to explain life here. One aspect that this quote helps me identify and communicate is that we are in CLOSE proximity to a group of people; close enough to annoy and hurt one another. We work together, we do holidays together, and we are the pool from which we can invite fellowship for a vacation. When someone has a need, I am one of the few people to turn to; when I have need- these are the few people I can turn to. No spreading out my favors like I was used to in the US! In college I chose a small group of friends to be my community out of the thousands of students at Whitworth. Post-college, we chose our community from those we liked best from our work and church environments (hundreds of people to choose from). Here, we are on a team of about 12 other AIM Air families- chosen by God.

In “Life Together” Bonhoeffer wrote:

“If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian community in which we have been placed, even when there are no great experiences, no noticeable riches, but much weakness, difficulty, and little faith—and if, on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so miserable and so insignificant and does not at all live up to our expectations—then we hinder God from letting our community grow according to the measure and riches that are there for us in Jesus Christ.”

I am keenly aware that I have been placed in this community, it was not of my choosing. And, I am learning to thank God for it. I celebrate that there are great experiences and noticeable riches. Still, this struggle with the expectations I have of the community and the pain it sometimes causes is an aspect that God is using to refine us and draw us to Himself, and it brings me to my knees often. Pray for us as we allow this aspect to grow and teach us as we live intimately in the body of Christ.

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One Response to “Community”

  1. Joanna Says:

    Ali, such good words here and really timely wisdom. So glad this was passed on to me. Hopefully we will see each other while we are down here, seeing as we are around the corner from each other! I would imagine Daisy and Crescena would like to play. (Then again, Daisy might be one of those annoying ones…;) ).

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