One of the joys I have when I travel to Kerala South India, is going out early in the morning and watching the fisherman return from their night of fishing.
Some boats have two fishermen, who have already reeled in their nets. Other much larger boats use a huge net which they bring to land, calling on fellow fishermen to help bring in the catch.
My travelling companion Doug and I enjoy watching these fishermen patiently work together to harvest their fish.
There is no question they need each other.
This job could not be accomplished by one or two or even five men.
Collaboration not Amalgamation
When the Lord provided the vision for the MORE Network it was exactly that. Colleagues working together faithfully giving of themselves to accomplish the work. While the concept of the MORE Network is not new, it takes considerable effort to bring it into reality and to make it work.
MORE works on the biblical concepts of
- being of the same mind and love;
- doing nothing out of selfish ambition;
- counting others more significant than ourselves;
- looking to others’ interests not only our own. When we serve others, God serves us! (Philippians 2:1-11)
On the mission field we work together, largely out of need.
While we all know our “brand”, that is which sending organization we’re with, we readily share our resources with other personnel. This has taken place in every continent for decades. In North America however, its normal to stay separate from others and care for ourselves.
While we’ve witnessed mission organizations amalgamating for various reasons, that’s not the model here. While every mission organization is focussed on their particular work, MORE encourages collaboration where synergy, continuity and much needed support is possible without amalgamating.
Through MORE, people share their gifting in the area of their passion.
Requests around specific needs are routinely responded to.
Encouragement of people to gift their energies to the larger body of Christ yields wonderful fruit.
For example: An organization prepares specialized personnel training and opens it up for personnel from other organizations to join in. Specialized help (e.g. debriefing) is offered for others’ workers. At times, it’s more helpful when an “outsider” cares for and supports workers not from their tribe. The gift of transparency without fear of reprisal helps people unload their burdens.
Mission sending orgs can be quite different, seemingly unique. Often technical abilities & services are provided worldwide. Trans World Radio, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Global Aid Network are three examples. However, whether sharing Christ via radio, providing delivery, rescue operations and drilling wells in the name of Jesus, or planting churches, each organization, while different, has much in common with the other.
The crucially important area in common is people. Christ followers, called of God to share the love of Christ in a particular way globally, and locally. The care and training of mission personnel have much in common worldwide. And it’s our most important task.
MORE is highly relational.
Everything hinges on relationships.
We joyfully acknowledge relationships are everything.
Relationships with Jesus and with people are of lasting value. Nothing lasts like relationships!
A cross-cultural worker may be called of God yet unsure about which mission organization they are to be mobilized by. Some go alone without the infrastructure of a sending organization, while many mobilize with an organization they feel most in harmony with.
The beauty of working together is we don’t have to agree on everything. There are matters debated long and hard. Yet those matters are not of such spiritual importance to stop collaborating with those we differ with. (An example might be women in leadership. While God has mobilized women into serving and leading cross-culturally, some debate on whether women can lead in North America.)
Repatriating to Canada
Cross cultural workers repatriating to their passport country find almost without exception the most difficult transition is returning to the place from whence they started.
It’s not home anymore; it’s changed dramatically; their friends have moved on and have become wealthy; God has given them a heart and love for the country and the people group they’ve served. Many different reasons.
- Supporting repatriating families is a huge need. It’s something we can do better together than alone.
- Training cross cultural workers is better together than alone.
- Helping MKs transition to Canada together has had tremendous advantages.
- While organizations on their own lack critical mass to run a transition retreat, together, we can!
But one asks … “How will you protect our mission distinctives?”
Simply, we won’t. Rather, we’ll work together to achieve something we couldn’t have accomplished on our own.
As Canadian mission organizations/churches, some try to provide member care alone. We can be two-man fishing boats, or we can collaborate in specific areas of importance and accomplish something far better.
Let’s Go Fishing, Together!
When God called me to lead this network all I could think about was my own inadequacies. I had a lengthy conversation with God about my inabilities. Gently, clearly and firmly he reminded me what he reminded Moses, bringing me to a place of obedience.
There are far better counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, debriefers, trainers and equippers working in Canada then myself.
God has not called me to be any of those.
He’s called me to facilitate the bringing together of these resources: Humble Christ followers, well experienced, well trained and equipped, to serve each others’ cross-cultural workers no matter what organization they’re with. “Stronger Together” was the term I used when I had the joy of marrying my son and my daughter in love.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)
I’m very aware of my weaknesses and inabilities. That’s where God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness - through a host of amazing people and through the work of the Holy Spirit.
“How may I serve you?” is the way we approach each other. We’re here to support and help each organization become better equipped in caring for and supporting their workers and children.
Working together has its challenges.
However, we can accomplish more together than we can on our own. Particularly when it comes to caring for our personnel.
Let’s go fishing, together! Would you join us?
Paul is the National Team Leader for the MORE Network (Missionary Opportunities for Resourcing & Equipping) and the CMKN (Canadian Missionary Kid Network), filling a role of Ministry Ambassador and Champion across Canada, working with Church & Mission leaders involved with caring for cross-cultural workers (singles & couples) and MKs. Paul is an MK and has experience in Member Care, Pastoring, Banking and Business Leadership. Paul & his wife Carol life in Abbotsford, BC.