Five things Friday roundup: Jesus’ subversive revolution

Kid-powered four-wheeling on the building site, propelling the local kiddos with joy. — Joshua S. Garber

Answering the call to serve outside of one’s passport country brings with it the cautionary tale of many others who have come before us. How does one partner with the Holy Spirit and serve with a pure heart, while also naming and tenderly addressing the atrocities of colonialism and whitewashing that have happened in the name of Christ?

Regardless of where one calls home, we must strive to adopt a posture of compassionate accompaniment, radical ministry at the margins and radical inclusion at the table. When Jesus shapes our practices, partnering with rather than asserting power over, we make space to love those outside our own culture with grace-oriented, justice-fueled and peaceful intention. 

Last weekend, our congregation of Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Ariz., set out for Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, for an 11th housebuilding in the outskirts of town, where folks live in ramshackle sheds, many existing without running water, indoor plumbing or reliable electricity. Driving into the neighborhood on dusty roads, we dodged potholes, stray dogs and debris, and carried with us the good intention to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of the families there. Shaped by Drew G.I. Hart’s writings in Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, here are five practices we engaged in to join the work of the Holy Spirit moving in our midst:

1. Share life together

Breaking bread together has a way of uniting folks. Each meal was prepared by our local hosts, but we ate together, each serving one another. Knowing smiles were shared across the table as we all delighted in the warm tortillas and delicious fresh salsas. This was common cooking for the local families, but for the church who came to serve, a delectable exotic feast. This exchange of skills — expert builders for expert chefs — had a way of making mountains low and rough places smooth. We were all equals as we shared and supped together.

2. Practice solidarity together

For six weeks before this trip, participants from Trinity Mennonite Church gathered in the fellowship hall on Sunday evenings to share a potluck and learn basic Spanish. The goal was more than to build a house and honor people in their context. Choosing to communicate and build relationships with the folks we would serve in Mexico, rather than only swing a hammer, stretched us. This stretching is an act of solidarity and compassion, rather than an act of charity.

3. See the world from below

There’s something miraculous about the grace of kids. Our church brought over 20 kiddos and teens with us, and to see them interact with the locals was nothing short of inspiring. Without skipping a beat, they effortlessly jumped in to play a pick-up game of soccer, make friendship bracelets, and constructed a Monster Truck track in the dust that would rival any plastic set from a store. There was no discomfort, only sharing. They played and laughed together and were united in a spirit of Christlike joy.

4. Soak in the Scripture for renewed imagination

Personally, I (Alisha) engaged in morning and evening devotions, with the hope of enriching my spiritual life and digging my toes into the holy ground where we were invited to serve. I used Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, which shares words by siblings in Christ from around the globe. This practice invited solidarity and consideration of how to bear witness that another world is possible, especially in our role as a holy counterculture of people, a people “set apart” from the world around us. Micah 6:8 became my heartbeat: Love God and love our neighbor. Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.  

5. Seek first the kingdom of God

Joint worship at a local church was a beautiful way to see how the Holy Spirit is already here — and not brought in someone’s suitcase. Daily prayer walks in the community opened our eyes to the ways our privilege can inform our purpose in a ministry of reconciliation. The wisdom of Saint Patrick’s lorica prayer was all around: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, and Christ in me. 

Many people in the U.S. spend their time on a long weekend shopping for a discount mattress or grilling in the backyard. The alternative of choosing to accompany Jesus in a subversive and revolutionary movement of love and compassion in the midst of a troubled world tastes better than any burger. My prayer is that short-term missions like these will disrupt reality and refocus us on God, reshaping perceptions and tuning our hearts to truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

Alisha and Josh Garber

Alisha and Josh Garber are in a season of discernment. After over a decade of mission work in Europe, they Read More

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