I know many missionaries. And many of them are well established, well protected, well funded and simply do not NEED anyone in their local ministry context. I don't want this to be true of us, but without careful attention, it could. A friend recently forwarded me this article from Nik Ripken about Western Missionaries. It really provoked me and moved me.
Essentially, here is what it was about: Local Somalian believers were interviewed about "a man they truly loved." The man was a missionary. But why was he so loved? What did he do so right? Again and again, locals were pressed to reveal what they so appreciated about this man. Finally, it came out.
When this missionary’s father died, he came to us and asked for our help. We didn’t have much, but we gathered an offering of love. We bought him a plane ticket so that he could go home to America and bury his father. This man and his family give everything they have to the poor. They struggle to pay rent and school fees, and put meat on the table. And when he has a great need, what does he do? He doesn’t go to the other Westerners for money. He comes to us. He comes to the scattered and the poor, he comes to local believers, and he asks for, and gets, our help. Do you want to know why we love him? He needs us. The rest of you have never needed us.
THIS has me thinking. And feeling. And wondering. Maybe I will never "need" local friends financially. Maybe I will. Perhaps there are many, many others ways in which I need them? What are they? I am wrestling with this. I WANT to NEED my Tanzanian friends. And in may way, so far, we HAVE! But we still have so much to learn.