The Body speaks
Costa Rica 2016
Indy Call 2016
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor.
— Matthew 11:5
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
— Matthew 12:13
“It seemed a bit hokey and awkward at first,
but once we practiced and found a rhythm,
it was life-giving and encouraging.”
I heard this statement more than once in reference to a greeting I incorporated in all of the workshops, trainings, and retreats that I facilitated this summer. The opener is an adaptation from a Zulu greeting from South Africa that goes something like this:
My name is______________________and I am here to be seen, to be heard and to be honored
We see you, we hear you, and we honor you
I am here.
For some participants it was an awkward stretch to repeat this phrase over and over until everyone in the room’s name and presence was acknowledged and affirmed. For others it was empowering and transformative. The idea behind the greeting is to practice giving and receiving welcome, to practice seeing and being seen, to practice listening and being heard and to practice honoring and being honored. It is not just a greeting, but also a life practice. It’s the reason why we pray the Lord’s Prayer over and over again, so that when we say “On earth as it is in Heaven” it becomes a life practice. We are living into what we believe. We are practicing new behavior until it gets into our bones. Establishing the structure through the ritual creates a safe place to practice into something new, until the new becomes the normal and we gain ground and grow. I believe it is what we all need, what we long for, and how we were designed to thrive. We grow into our best selves when we learn to stretch with confidence and curiosity to something “just outside of our reach” where growth and healing happen. The words I see you, I hear you and I honor you bounce around in my head and heart now not only during the trainings and “doings” of my work, but when I am home with my husband, when I spend time with my kids, when I’m in my neighborhood and yours, in the grocery store, at the airport and on the road when I travel, and whenever I encounter and interact with people. The practice of seeing, hearing and honoring others and being seen, heard and honored feels like Heaven on earth. It is why we do what we do.
Speaking of what we do, in the busyness of travel and significant work, I have been lax in communicating my whereabouts and prayer concerns with all of you. See, hear and honor what your prayers and support have made possible in the last few months. Since my last update from Cuba:
*I have co-facilitated 3 Healing Arts Toolkit trainings with First Aid Arts in Mexico City, MX in April, Milwaukee, WI in June, and Managua, Nicaragua in August (FIA#3S:D/FIA#2 S:F)
*I co-facilitated two, 2-day workshops on Women in the Bible with CICEM and IM colleagues Debbie and Keith Meyers in Chiapas, Mexico in April (FIA#3S:D/FIA#2S:D)
*I designed and co-facilitated the Conference for Overseas Missionaries re-entry retreat with Stan Slade in Green Lake, WI in June (FIA#3S:D/FIA#4S:E)
*I designed and facilitated worship for the International Ministries Call Retreat in June (FIA#3S:ABCD)
*I helped produce the large group gatherings at the World Missions Conference in July (FIA#3S:A)
*I designed and co-facilitated a 2-day Transformation of Conflict workshop with Gary Baits for pastors and lay leaders in Costa Rica in July (FIA#3S;D/FIA#2S:B)
*I spent 5 days at the beach in Costa Rica with family on vacation (FIA#4S:D)
*I participated with most of my regional IM colleagues & MKs in relationship building with our new Executive Director Sharon Koh in Costa Rica in July
*I designed and co-facilitated a Young Adult Vocational Call Retreat with Gary Baits, Sarah Strosahl-Kagi, and a team from the Greater Indianapolis and Indiana Kentucky American Baptist Regions in Indiana in August (FIA#3S:ACD)
*I designed and facilitated a Vicarious Trauma and Resiliency Planning and Self-Care through Expressive Arts workshop for the staff of Outreach Indiana, Inc., a ministry of hope for homeless youth in Indianapolis in August (FIA#3S:D/FIA#2BCF)
*I designed and facilitated a 2-day Facilitation training with key leadership from AMOS Health and Hope in Managua, Nicaragua following the Healing Arts Toolkit Training in August (FIA#3S:D)
You may have noticed from this list that the last few months for me have been quite full. I spend a lot of time designing and facilitating trainings. Those trainings have a lot to do with trauma recovery, health and wholeness, peace and justice, prevention, abolition and recuperation of trafficking in persons and global slavery and care for those working in the field.
Another thing you might see in the list is that I do a lot of networking and collaborating with others: my International Ministries colleagues, our national partners and First Aid Arts. By partnering with First Aid Arts I have been able to equip care providers from many different organizations serving marginalized and vulnerable populations to use trauma informed, therapeutic arts-based activities for healing and empowerment. I believe that the tools practiced and honed through these trainings in some way allow caregivers and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, forced immigration, war, prejudice and poverty to be seen, heard and honored. When it comes to creative and Gospel work, together just works better.
Finally, the last things you may notice are the letters and numbers at the end of each event. They correspond to the Focused Impact Areas and Strategies of IM’s new strategic plan, Responding to the Call that may not make sense to you unless you read on.
Over the last few years, International Ministries has been stretching “just outside of our reach” to discern God’s call. By seeing, hearing and honoring the Spirit through the Responding to the Call appreciative inquiry process, we believe we are on to something good. As a result of countless hours of work, thousands of conversations, and fervent prayer, the Responding to the Call statement of vision, purpose, context, core values and ministry priorities seek to guide us, the stakeholders in mission, you and me, to have a greater impact in the service of God, God’s people, and the world. The four Focus Impact Areas we’ve discovered together where the Spirit is calling International Ministries to deepen its engagement in mission are:
• Inviting People to Be Disciples of Jesus
• Proclaiming God's Reign of Justice, Peace and Abundant Life
• Equipping the Body of Christ to Engage in God's Mission
• Pursuing Organizational Excellence
These are made evident with corresponding strategies, the ‘doings” necessary to live out the call.
The Focused Impact Area that I fit most into based on what I do most is FIA#3 Equipping the Body of Christ to Engage in God’s Mission with key emphasis in strategy D: Training and Capacity Building: Contributing to the strength and vitality of partners around the world, helping them develop increased capacity to do their ministries, sharing resources and the building of skills. International Ministries prioritizes training and skill building with partners around the world by equipping with practical models, methods and tools to promote local leadership among partner organizations and ministries. IM also encourages the expansion of networking and collaboration among international partners for the purpose of building capacity and sharing resources.
Though my primary Focused Impact Area is in training and capacity building FIA#3, the core areas that I train and build capacity in are found in Focused Impact Area #2: Proclaiming God’s Reign of Justice, Peace and Abundant Life: based on the Kingdom principles of transformational development that seek to restore God’s shalom to marginalized and at-risk individuals and communities. Distorted relationships with God, with others, with one’s self and the environment are redeemed and healed, leading to transformed individuals, families, churches, communities, and local economies. I train with key emphasis in strategies B, C and F: Peace and Justice, Abolition of Trafficking in Persons and Global Slavery and Health and Wellness.
Sometimes strategic planning and measuring impact and outcomes feel awkward and clunky in the intangible life transforming ministry work we do. Before having the Responding to the Call vision statements and structure though, I found it difficult to describe what I did as a global servant working with International Ministries. Now I can learn a common language that explains it better in ways that others and I can understand. It will feel strange at first, like learning any new language, but with practice, we’ll figure it out, it’ll get easier and begin to make all kinds of sense. When the rhythm is caught, others can sing along and something greater than our selves will be expressed. It is life-giving and empowering! We grow into our best selves and serve in the way we were designed to, so that all might thrive.
Thanks for hanging in there with me in this long overdue tome. The future holds great promise for us because of God’s redeeming love and our participation in it. Starting in January of 2017 I will be on US/Puerto Rico assignment, which means that I am available to COME TO YOU to share what God is doing through YOU throughout the world. My calendar fills quickly so if you’d like to see me face to face, hear what God is doing in Iberoamerica and beyond, and honor our relationship and mission partnership, please contact me soon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pray for the following upcoming events:
First Aid Arts Facilitator Retreat/Training: Sept. 19-23, 2016
Preaching at First Baptist Olympia’s International Sunday Mission Faire: Sept.25, 2016
Listening and visioning trip to Croatia with the IM Croatia Team: Oct. 3-10, 2016
US/Puerto Rico home assignment: Jan.-Dec. 2017
10 day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers training with Dan Buttry and Ray Schellinger in Central America: March 27-April 7, 2017
ICAP Global Conference: May 21-26, 2017
I SEE you, I HEAR you, and I HONOR you,