Why were we invited to Queens, NY? God is up to something. Not long ago, Bryan received an e-mail notifying him that Covenant Church in Queens, NY wanted to learn more about our family’s ministry in Africa and more specifically in Tanzania. As missionaries raising support, it’s not real often in our process that a church will seek us out with an intent to give toward our financial needs. It was a bit startling and when I first heard of their desire to learn more about what God is doing in the ministry of TIMO in Tanzania I think I said something like, “Are you kidding me? They want us to go to New York to tell them more about our ministry because they want to support us?” This may not sound surprising to you but anyone who has had any experience with raising support knows that it’s a rare, yet beautiful occurrence when partners reach out in faith to support that which God is calling them towards.
Having said that, now that I think about the handful of individual supporters we have and how they have come to a partnership with our family it has been people seeking out in obedience to God’s will. It is about people making their hearts known to God and us, being vulnerable before our Father and one another, and giving according to the gifts God has blessed them with. In this very moment I am blessed by the small discovery I have made. Our brothers and sisters who undergird us, who we depend on for mobility, have done so in obedience to the Father and each of them ultimately has sought our family out in a way that reminds me of how our Heavenly Father seeks us out when all we truly deserved was to be lost and left alone.
When we found out that Covenant Church is a Chinese congregation we were blessed beyond what we had in mind. When I mentioned this to a friend their response was something like this, “White folks partnered with Chinese going to Africa.” How do you acknowledge the uniqueness without coming across as stereotypical? I’m not sure that’s possible. Here’s how I might put it into words, “The McReynolds (side note: Caucasian-American, pretty much white, can’t jump and can’t dance) partnered with our Chinese-American Christian brothers and sisters at Covenant Church entering relationship with our brothers and sisters on the vibrant African continent in the country of Tanzania. I like that!
As Christians, we are a people called toward movement, toward crossing cultures, toward relationship, toward seeking out the reality of our diverse, colorful, multi-lingual, multi-cultural Heavenly Father and Christian brotherhood. Does that comfort you? I think perhaps the answer is both yes and no. Yes in the sense that when we study the biblical characters of the Old Testament we find examples such as Abraham and his family following God’s calling to a new and foreign land where they won’t even know the language, or Joseph and the dilemma with his brothers and his being sold into slavery to be used for God’s plan; forward to the New Testament where we find Paul becoming a Greek for the Greeks and a Jew for the Jews in order to deliver the message of God’s faithfulness, and Jesus Christ, God in human form, crossing a divine realm to enter into his people’s broken realm. Jesus’ life and ministry is a constant challenge to us to seek out relationship, diversity, and an understanding of his ways which most often cause a struggle within our ways of thinking, being and acting. The answer “No” to the comfort question is obvious to me when I think of what it takes even to enter relationship with the unfamiliar person or family at our apartment’s pool. Getting out of our comfort zones is not easy.
Thank you to our brothers and sisters at Covenant Church for being a model of this movement that God has designed. You are a tremendous blessing to our family and we deeply appreciate your hospitality, the most amazing home-made Chinese meal you prepared for us, our time of worship, fellowship, time across the table together and the opportunity you gave us to share a small piece of what God is doing in our lives and how he is moving us and a whole team to Tanzania in 2012. Your relationship with us highlights the beauty and diversity of God’s Church.
Your servant in Christ, rebe mcreynolds