"Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" - a person is a person through other people (Zulu phrase).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). Missionaries from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda gathered together for the Eastern and Southern Africa regional retreat at the beginning of the month. Our regional retreats are a time of fellowship, a time to be refreshed and to celebrate our life together. Relationships were strengthened as we learned together, laughed together and worshipped together. Rev. Dr. Detlev Schultz led our team daily in sessions on “Life Together - How koinonia, hospitality and impartiality help shape our lives with others”.
Koinonia is a Greek word that describes Christian fellowship or communion, with God or, with fellow Christians. We have koinonia with all who are in Christ by faith. When we practice hospitality it is an extension of koinonia, loving our neighbors as ourselves. Missionaries share their knowledge of the Gospel and faith experiences with others. They share life together, they are enculturated into life experiences and witness the Gospel. The Church is engaged in mission, the mission of Jesus which helps us to live and express our Christian identity.
During the second part of March I traveled to Chiayi, Taiwan along with fellow missionaries and workers from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Executives, regional directors, business mangers and communications specialists gathered together for meetings, training and to present on Lutheran identity. Missionaries serve in varying cultures and contexts, but when we gather together, even in yet another new location, our Lutheran identity is the tie that binds us together.
Who are we and what is our identity? We are The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The Missouri Synod is based on visitation which has led to the structure of the Lutheran Church.The LCMS also has a rich liturgical life as well as missiological life. Liturgy has a seriousness of purpose and has become a way of doing mission. The biblical story is fundamental to mission. The liturgy is the way in which the church tells the story.
Visitation is missiological, serving to increase unity and works of love within the church. Jesus himself walked about visiting people, proclaiming the Gospel, encouraging people and giving them hope and comfort. He sent out the apostles to do the same.
Missionaries are visitors in their countries of service. Walking alongside partner churches, they serve to encourage and strengthen them. This is done through the work of regional directors. Visitation shows our partner churches that they are not alone. Regional directors are visitors with missionaries and partner churches...taking part in the sufferings of those they visit as Jesus did.
March was a celebration of life together, being in fellowship with my co-workers for Christ. It was especially fulfilling for me to meet fellow missionaries from around the world and to learn about their lives and ministries. As we serve together in God’s mission we have different vocations, different calls, different roles, but are united in Christ.