Accompaniment is Receiving
Accompaniment is Receiving Gifts from Others
Students at a school of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia.
For North Americans, the newest part of accompaniment is receiving. Accompaniment challenges us to move beyond the donor/recipient model into an equal exchange of receiving and giving.
Receiving a gift from one of our own is easy. Receiving a gift from someone not like us, that may change us, is harder. In the two-way street of global mission, we seek to be open to letting those who are different from us teach and transform us, even when what our companion churches have to say is difficult to hear.
The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Lubawa of Makumira University College, Tanzania, addressed this issue at the 21st Annual Lutheran Mission Conference at Luther Seminary in 2005:
"Churches which have grown from mission fields are always looked upon as churches of the needy who have nothing to contribute to the so called 'Old Churches.'"
"A good example is a story ... about the problem which arose between the Church of Sudan and the Mission Society in England. The Church in Sudan had asked the brothers and sisters in England to help the church in Sudan with bicycles for the pastors and evangelists. The mission society in England responded positively and was willing to send the bicycles. Then again, another letter came from Sudan asking what the church in Sudan could do for the Christians in England?"
"The mission society answered by saying, 'There is nothing you can do for us.' The church leadership of Sudan repeated this question three times and the response was 'nothing.' Then the church in Sudan sent the following note. ‘If we cannot do anything for you, then you cannot do anything for us. Therefore, we do not want your bicycles.’ This story has a common message that real partnership requires respect, trust and freedom to work for common good, in mutual obedience."