Moving Beyond Ourselves
The spiritual health of a Christian depends on the vitality of an interior life that centers on understanding ourselves and our relationship with the One who created us in love, the One we have met in Jesus Christ. But for a Christian, the inner life doesn’t exist unto itself. Rather, it allows us to move out of ourselves and into the world to engage in all that is beyond.
You can’t miss it biblically. Go. Feed. Love. Reconcile. Gather. Serve. Give. Invite. We could fill the page with the verbs that make clear we are thrust into the world, not one by one, but as Christ’s body. We are nourished—our inner life is fed—in the communities of faith we call our congregations, and there we are also equipped to move out into the world. Two directions. Both essential. Both needing attention, Both together making us full and healthy beings.
IringaFor nearly two-thirds of the congregations in this synod, our relationship with the Iringa Diocese in Tanzania, has become one life-giving source of outward engagement and vitality. Out of the initial—and continuing—leadership of a few, the fire for this mission has become contagious.
Since 2000 more than $10 million has been gathered from congregations of our synod for the congregations and other projects in that diocese. We have literally brought life and hope and education and health in many ways.
All was begun and carried out by volunteers who have worked mightily to make all this happen. When I reported to the synod in June that we had become aware of bookkeeping discrepancies, I promised we would set about the work of bringing the whole system up to the level of sophistication that such size demands. We need to have in place the groundwork to carry this work on as new people step into leadership roles, not allowing the unparalleled work led by people like Don and Eunice Fultz and Gary Langness to drift away.
For this work I’ve convened a small group of leaders from the synod council and Iringa task force to assist me in developing the changes that will lay this kind of groundwork. A bookkeeper has been hired in Iringa, new financial systems are being developed and put in place, and clearer lines of accountability are being drafted. We are exploring what staffing may be needed in the future to oversee this complex web of projects.
I anticipate that this work will continue through this fall so that by the end of the year, we will have a much clearer picture of how the next decade of our partnership with the people of Iringa will unfold.
The vitality that this work brings to the people and congregations of this synod is immeasurable. It is one clear example of the health and vitality God gives when we stretch beyond ourselves and join our lives to others.
Originally published in FaithLink, September 2012