Thursday night at the Mission Next Conference, we had a panel of Majority World leaders answering questions. The questions had been collected throughout the day and they ranged from "What pictures to take on the field" to "What a good partnership looks like."
All that was good, but one thing struck me more than anything else. One question was, "What does your country bring to a partnership?" Of course, as we talk about parity and mutual benefit, that is a very critical question. If Western countries are bringing funding and resources, what are other countries bringing that they view as equal to the resources.
Some of the answers were:
- Experience of the church
- New Questions / Answers about the Bible
- We love Jesus, we love others and we want to get the job done
- Able to live with little
- Godly insight and wisdom
- Sheer desire to survive
What caught my attention about these answers is that these are not things you can put in a suitcase. They aren't things you can physically hand to someone. And they are definitely not things that you can grasp easily via phone and email.
Bottom line, as I have been listening to the issues, the greatest challenge seems to be "face time" with global partners. The value that Majority World people bring is something that has to be experienced in person. We can't have a conference call and say it's done. It is deeply personal and any effort to depersonalize it and comoditize it will fail.
Are Western organizations and individuals willing to make the commitment to this type of personal and long-term investment in partners? I think many were asking that question on Thursday night.