Of course we know that most mission takes place locally and goes unnoticed and unreported. We also know that mission doesn't require organizational backing, but is often found in the slow and humble work of learning to love your own community.
The organization I am a part of, Word Made Flesh (WMF), falls into a traditional missional community as it relates to the international communities we've help nurtured all over South America, South and Southeast Asia, West Africa and Eastern Europe. However, rather than framing the organizational infrastructure after a franchise model where the USA office would control the international projects, we've opted for a federation. A federation of similarly named organizations that share vision, staff and sometimes funding. Each international Word Made Flesh community has a locally registered board of directors and a local Executive Director.
This model has been humanizing in its attempt to form a partnership around a metaphoric "round table"—one where each member of the federation has a voice that contributes to the development of the global movement. This is also placed within the recognition that in a globalized world, our realities may be flattening, but they are still slanted in the favor of the so-called Developed or Western World.
Working to flatten this round table has been an exercise in mutual submission and dependency upon one another. We have found that mission actually unifies us and unites us around our shared vocation. Within this affirmation we have begun to work out what we mean by partnership.
In February of this year, 36 Word Made Flesh staff and board members from 11 countries representing 15 nationalities, met in Nepal for a week long consultation on the issue of partnership. This month, as WMF “hosts” the Towards 2010 blog, we have asked participants from these consultations to reflect on partnership from their local context. Voices from India, Peru, Brazil, Sierra Leone and Moldova will reflect on the practicalities of partnership in mission for the blog.
This is only a starting point for conversation, one that we hope will take place in your own communities and one that will continue to unite all Christians hoping to bear witness to the hope that there is a good God in a world that has reasons to question God's goodness.
An activist, author, visionary and public speaker, Christopher L. Heuertz has traveled with his wife, Phileena, through nearly 70 countries working with the most vulnerable of the world's poor—Roma (gypsies), children with AIDS, prostituted women and girls, recovering drug addicts, children on the streets and refugees.
Chris has led the Word Made Flesh community as the International Executive Director since 1996. He and Phileena reside in Omaha, Neb.
Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World is Chris Heuertz' first book. It shares touching stories from Chris' life and working among the most vulnerable.
Also see Chris's response to October's Lausanne Global Conversation topic of "whole Church, whole gospel, whole world".