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Quieter Voices in the Global Church

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    Why should we listen to the quieter voices in the global church?

    How do we keep our church family together when the government has forced us to close our meetings? Imani and I were talking about this question as we sat drinking tea. The Church in Algeria was once again under pressure from the government. Imani was concerned for the flock she and her husband had been nurturing, worried how they remain faithful and grow whilst being scattered.  

    Alia and her husband had started a gathering for believers from their religious tradition and found ‘evangelicals’ rejecting them for not bringing them into the traditional protestant churches. Their own family had tried for some years to be a part of the existing evangelical church, but that became a barrier to reaching out to their community. They’d become outsiders in their own families and the close-knit community their families were a part of. 

    I have been doing Covid-19 lockdown in a community from an ancient church in the Middle East. I have worked alongside the sisters (nuns), and we have often talked of our witness to the world, how to live this out faithfully as a controlled minority that is tolerated by few. We have worked, prayed, studied Scripture, worshipped, eaten, done life together every day since we went into lockdown in March. I have been changed through this discipleship in community in the everyday. 

    What I’ve Learnt

    Here is what I have been learning about mission as I have been listening to these quieter voices in the global church.   

    Mission is about community. The community of Interserve is important, and we want to nurture deep relational connections that are fundamental to our discipleship. However, living in a community in lockdown, and listening to these other friends, their stories call us to become part of local communities that daily bear witness to the living Christ. Discipleship needs a safe space for exploring, experiencing belonging, identity building, for growing and learning together. 

    Mission is about hospitality. It is an invitation into the safe and inclusive spaces of community where encounter with Jesus is made possible, bringing wholeness and transformation. Hospitality is about seeing the other as they are, welcoming them as they are, listening to their stories, sharing the abundance of the household of God for the blessing of the other. 

    Mission must refuse to pass by or pretend it does not see the other. COVID-19 only brought home to us the reality that was already before us: globalisation has had negative impacts. The refugee crisis was in front of us, but we largely passed by on the other side. Covid-19 came into our living rooms, and we had to face it. In this post-pandemic world, mission must see those whose lives are being increasingly marginalised by the negative impacts of globalisation. Mission must listen to their stories so we can walk alongside them and together bear faithful witness to the glory of God. 

    As I listen to the marginal voices of these friends in the global church, both ancient and newly born, I hear their invitation to come and be a part of their communities, not with my own preconceived agenda but as part of them. That is the heart of mission in the future. 

    Written by Cathy Hine, Interserve partner, co-founder of When Women Speak

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