Up until March 2020, I described myself as a ‘seasoned traveller’.
I had a routine, and it enabled meto travel with minimal stress. A few weeks ago, though, I awoke at night, stressed about an upcoming visit to our Fijian partners, a place and people I knew well. This was unusual.
I realised that my past coping mechanisms – based on the idea that things would not change dramatically – weren’t holding up in the environment of traveling in a COVID-19 setting. Long story, short –all went well, with new experiences of travel obstacles successfully hurdled.
Fiji was different, too. Nadi and Sigatoka both had many stores that were empty and up for lease. Some services I knew had shut down,and a taxi driver I spoke to hadbeen let go by his previous place of employment after 17 years due to the lack of tourism.
However, there was something that hadn’t changed. It was the importance of relationships. I saw new ones emerge and I revelled in dropping back into old ones that had matured in my absence. The relational nature of GMP, based on the value that Christ places on people, was no different. We stillvalued knowing the locals, and thelocals, knowing us.
So, we paused to listen and not just plough through the curriculum, as people shared their hurts and the hurts of their communities. They shared personal stories of pain and of pride in what their churches were achieving, and they embraced new learnings. The solid rock of respectand mutuality still underpinned our relationships.
In Hebrews 13:8, the writer announces wonderful news about Jesus: Jesus Christ is the sameyesterday and today and forever. No matter how our circumstances change – and the pandemic has altered so much – the compassion, the love, the faithfulness and the grace of Jesus is still the same as it ever was.
I don’t know what is different for you now – maybe things or people that you thought would always bethere aren’t any more. Maybe you’vechanged radically. At GMP, we are facing one of the biggest changes inthe past 15 years when our Executive Officer, John Gilmore, retires at the end of November. Things will not be the same, but our values will.
It is my hope that, whatever is going on for you, the unchanging love of Christ touches you.
Craig Brown, Deputy Executive Officer and ICP Director