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May 13, 2016

Are We Together?

I am so grateful for this opportunity to participate in one of our Africa Learning Teams. In my role at The Meeting House, I am part of the team overseeing our compassion strategies, and so I know this trip will be an excellent source of learning and understanding how we can effectively and sustainably support our compassion partners. But more importantly, being here enables me to come back and advocate on behalf of our partners when addressing The Meeting House community. Obviously, the learning team can’t visit every project— but seeing some of the projects that we are supporting motivates me to do all I can to share as much of this experience as possible with all of you.

As expected, I’ve experienced aspects of this even in the first few days. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit and learn about a youth mentorship program whose mentors our trained through MCC— one of our biggest compassion partners. It was encouraging to hear stories of impact and to see 27 mentors committed to investing in youth in their small rural community. Also, as we spent most of this week sitting in on sessions with the 30 students at the Africa Peace Institute, I have seen the benefits of an amazing peace education program that was established by MCC.

The participants are from more than 10 countries across Africa, and when they head home at the end of the month they will be taking the peace building skills and tools they have gained and applying them in their own settings at the local community level.

Beyond all the significant and strategic reasons for this trip, I believe that there is still more that is possible. I am praying that God will use these new experiences in new places to teach me new lessons. I feel that this is already happening, as I reflect on the first few days of our trip.

Whenever I want to check if people are tracking me, I tend to ask:

“Are you with me?”

It’s a helpful little question I use when teaching, leading a meeting, or sharing with others. But earlier this week, I heard it used differently by two instructors after they had mad a point. They asked:

“Are we together?”

Subtle yet so powerful— changing two words in this phrase creates a whole new focus on inclusivity. This is what I want to be in my heart in leading others. I feel that it already is, but I wonder if verbalizing what I am feeling regularly could serve as a helpful reminder (for me). I also wonder if this could help signal to others my desire to eliminate the ‘us and them’ that may be secretly hiding behind “Are you with me?

I also think this could have application in the broader objectives of this trip. Both instructors used this phrase repeatedly as they continually checked-in with the group.

As The Meeting House, you all give so generously to support our partners here in southern Africa. We want to continue to support the good work being done in partnership with our African sisters and brothers.

So. Are we together?

As we think about being a part of the global body of Christ we can ask:

Are we together?

-Ron Burkholder

One Comment on “Are We Together?

Jon Rose
May 28, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Are we together? Yes, and how beautiful and pleasant it is to see such unity and joy. I have been tracking the Meeting House from a great distance (the Middle East) for nearly five years now, and I have recently tried to follow your ALT whenever I could find time on the computer. I greatly enjoyed your blogs, vlogs and wonderful experiences, the meeting the wonderful people of Africa. I want to study the MCC Peacebuilding Education and Peace Clubs ideas and see if some of it can be adapted to here. Thanks so much for the labour of love and your sacrifices to communicate your work, which is so appreciated! Sincerely,
John

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