The Spirit Gives Life

The Spirit Gives Life is a session built upon our new discipleship material, “Foundations for Life”. I’m currently writing a few chapters for my organisation Dignity. We have multiple authors from multiple backgrounds all callaborating to make a fantastic resource. As you can tell from the recording it’s really informal and the session would normally be done as a small group study in a village.

I’ve intentionally left the banter and interpretation in so you can get a feel for what speaking in Africa is like. This session is being translated into Bemba as I speak.

Also note, the importance of ‘story’ in speaking within Africa. The story of Faith and her sail in the Okavango Delta is designed to be memorable and a modern day parable of how the Spirit works in our lives.

Have a listen and visit another world!

Recorded at Dignity EQUIP Camp September 2016, Mkushi, Zambia.

© Jon Paul Witt and Dignity 2016.

© Image Copyright. Spyderonlines.com

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Mission for Everyone

This morning I’ve been for a walk in the what some would call, “the freezing cold wastelands of North Wales”. Yet it has snowed, it is icy and I love it! There’s something about the clarity and deadness of sound that fresh snow brings. You can see for miles and the snow deadens the noise of the world so everything seems pristine and tranquil. I can really think and see clearly!

I’ve been off for a few weeks and as well as getting on with some things other than ministry, I’ve been thinking and praying about what the future holds. I don’t know about you but I need threads, ideas and facts upon which I can base my future actions and movements upon. God understands this too. Faith is often not blind faith, principally it is faith in the one who calls us. He is totally reliable. In my experience faith is often not unrelated from the present either. The God who beckons us forward is the same God who has been preparing us, shaping our circumstances and leading us to the point where we may make a leap of faith or two. We notice the leaps but we seldom notice the quiet movement that the Spirit has been making behind the scenes for years.

There are all kinds of exciting ideas that I have looking at the future of Dignity, most of them are significant upgrades and developments of existing work. Yes there are some new leaps of faith as well. The one concept that we have always been about is that mission is for “everyday people”, wherever you are. We know the poor can be used mightily by God, how about everyone else? Over the years I’ve become experienced in cross cultural, rural and community based mission. Maybe it’s time to use some of these very hard learned lessons in equipping others and reaching others.

I do believe that God is moving anew in his people. Some of the ideas we have worked with for years are gaining traction in wider circles. There’s a revolution coming that doesn’t base itself on superstars in the faith, but on the church, a people, a mission for everyone. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have a calling to serve, to reach out, to be Jesus to everyone we come across and to seek out those we don’t come across. We need to up our game in the forgotten and rural areas of this world. We need to reach more people and equip more people to reach others also. Simple really 🙂

Dr RT Kendall recently at The Evangelist’s Conference got all prophetic. Of course it was very biblical, he is a renowned theologian. However the sense of now-ness of what God is saying really spoke to me. “God will work through the faceless”. That phrase resonated with me powerfully. You can listen to the whole talk here.

Heidi Baker again not so long ago spoke about similar themes at a conference here in the UK.

Here’s an example of a call to action about mission and what God is doing from the leader of Ivy Church, Anthony Delaney. Ivy are the church that send Jude and I out on the ministry we have. Again, we are all needed and it’s about redoubling and focusing our efforts on the lost, together.

Whatever you think of the prophetic elements there’s one element that speaks to me loud and strong, God will move through ALL of his people. The Spirit will empower us to do this. The future of the church is for everyone to fight together in unity. For those of us who get a little twitchy at the sound of prophetic words and anointing let me remind you of something very rooted in the word. Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ? We are meant to move together with Christ as our head. At the moment we have limbs all over the place. Arms flail in different directions, parts of the body who don’t know what they should do, everyone thinks they are the head…. it won’t do and I do believe God is calling time on this. What God will do is not new in the sense that we have not seen it before, but it will be in out time, in our generation, because let’s face it, his world needs it.

Are you one of the faceless? A person that has never been a superstar? Never called to the spiritual heights? Well that doesn’t really matter because God has a role for you, in his mission, in his plan to reach this world. That’s the move of the Spirit that’s coming.

If you need a few threads upon which to base your future, there’s some for you.

Don’t we understand? It’s a mission for everyone.

So if all I have said is true I wonder, what will our response be? Answers on a postcard please……

Responsibility

Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir (now that is a surname!) is in what could be deemed as a difficult situation. About a year or so ago after her country’s economy collapsed, she is facing legal pressure from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to take responsibility and pay back the money the country defaulted upon. The issue is that her population do not see things the same way. They point out, why should they pay more than their ‘fair’ share of the responsibility. After all they lost money too.
I’ve only met 2 Icelanders (I’ve no idea if that is the correct term). They were a mother and daughter on a Portuguese Course in Faro, Southern Portugal. Quite what 2 icelanders were doing learning Portuguese I don’t know. They seemed good people though, and had a very good idea of fair play and responsibility. Probably the icelandic people have a very good point. Why should they pay for a banking collapse…..
Now is this post about Iceland? Well no! It’s actually about Africa and in particular the area of responsibility. While Iceland struggles with the implications of international fiscal responsibility, African countries can struggle with responsibility for their own people. African villagers can struggle with a sense of responsibility for one a wider section of their rural area.
As a European who works in Africa, you are constantly fighting two enemies. The first is cynicism, the second is your own naivety. Somewhere in all of that, my faith in God sits, somewhere between, or despite the two. Constantly it is this question of responsibility that prompts my thoughts.
On one hand you have naivety. I am kind of jaded from hearing about different ‘projects’ that many people embark upon from a UK perspective. (and you could lumps in the Americans and the rest of Europe with this). Take what happened in Haiti as an example, with children being inadvertently trafficked out of Haiti by a naive and well meaning missionary. A lot of the church to church missional work that goes on, is of this variety. It is naive and the difference in responsibility is where it is shown.
The project in Africa tends to believe that it is the responsibility of their partner to fund, work and generally get them out of any hole they get themselves in to. The naivety comes when a partner accepts that at face value and does not recognise these attitudes are born of poverty, dependency and non- responsibility. The responsibility gets shifted to one side of the partnership and well it ultimately fails. Africa has a problem with responsibility. Whether it be families who believe that a wealthy relative will help, or wether it is a pastor getting blessing from his western brother, the problem is the same. Someone else will do it, someone else will take the can, someone else will bail me out. You see the similarity to the UK’s attitude to Iceland now don’t you….
That naivety if not understood, learnt from and framed properly leads to cynicism. Your view of everyone and everything becomes coloured by the experience, which is a bad. All because of responsibility not being exercised. Ask an Icelander what they think of the UK at the moment and you will see that. Ask many a ‘burnt’ missionary about Africa and you will also see it. Long term missionaries in Africa are often a cynical and quite bitter bunch, why? It is simply this issue.
Our lack of responsibility takes the following face. We believe that it is our responsibility to help the poor at any cost, even if we take the prime responsible position in a venture or relationship. This actually can show a shocking lack of responsibility and foresight. If you take initiative away from those who struggle with it in the first place, you and they will ultimately fail.
I’d love to see many people take a fresh look at what they are doing and in particular the area of responsibility. I think mission work would truly get pulled into the 21st century if we did this. The idea that we are somehow to save the poor is well an affront to them (and I include some big campaigns in that view) but the view that the poor can do it themselves is completely unrealistic and naive. What is needed is some servant hearted work, where we serve and encourage people with God to take responsibility for their own lives.
Going back to Iceland. Maybe those people who saved in Ice-save need to recognise that they have a responsibility. It was their decision to settle their accounts there and so whilst maybe not their fault, they are partly responsible. As humans we are always looking for someone else to blame, someone else to compensate our misfortune. That is as true in Africa, as it is in Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Some would call it human nature……. part of God’s work amongst those in this world whether they are rich, poor, lack or white is to recognise that our actions or lack of them have a consequence. That is called responsibility.