The claim that we know someone is a big one. It indicates that we have invested in who they are, their life story and their ups and downs. It is to say we appreciate who they are. We can only do this if we take the other person seriously.
We arrive at this depth, having given them time, listened and shared together. Doing this requires intentionality and it becomes a two-way process. It is impossible to know the other without we ourselves also being known and so it becomes a mutual experience of relational depth.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica he describes his spirit and outlook in working with them.“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us” (I Thess 2:8). What a picture this verse paints.
The relationship Paul established was one of deep care, mutuality and motivated by love. In the centre of this is the sharing of the Gospel. This picture is warm, strong and long term.
Partnerships in mission, wherever they are located, are relational at their heart. To enter into a partnership in mission is to enter a journey of being known and getting to know. Partnerships are not a contract of convenience or a passing moment in time. They are long-term mutual investments in each other with the gospel of God at the centre.
Such long-term commitments seem to be unfashionable in the fast paced and increasingly temporary culture of today. Yet, it is these long-term investments in each other that lay the foundations for long-term transformative change. The change we seek in mission partnerships includes growth in self-reliance, sustainability and governance.
GMP’s partnerships are shaped by a desire to know and understand each other. The investment in them is both personal and formal. We know our partners and they know us through the teams, representatives and staff that visit. What is exciting is that as they know us, and we know them, so we experience mutual growth and encouragement.
I trust that as we move forward and consider opportunities in mission, we will do so, entering into relationships based on trust, warmth, commitment and joy.