“When we do mission, we need one heart. So we can do it together.”
These two sentences best sum up our commitment to live and work in community. Pastor Yukimasa Otomo shared this with me to describe his partnership with A3 missionaries Robert and Roberta Adair.
Video Description: A3 missionaries have deeply connected in partnership with Japanese Christians. They work together and live together in community as friends. Watch here... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxn2f8WnuL0
The partnership between Japanese pastors and A3 missionaries is deep. As Yukimasa Sensei added:
“Having Robert [here] is good for me, because I can share my heart.”
Robert was excited to partner with this pastor, too.
“The senior pastor’s son [Yukimasa Otomo] is about three years older than me, and his wife is about the same, so they’re close in age to Roberta and me. They both have some English capacity, so it is easier to communicate with them. [The church] had an exciting vision to plant churches in the areas affected by the disaster and a very robust post-disaster recovery and relief ministry going on.”
The Adairs have been blessed by their partnership with Pastor Yukimasa and his wife. Roberta reflected:
“I'm really grateful for our partner church because they've navigated faith issues like what it means to be a Japanese Christian in a way that I will never understand. I might be able to understand it cognitively, but I won't ever have the heart understanding. So it's been really neat to be able to ask them questions about why baptism is important, for instance, or how to communicate the need for a savior, and questions that I have about communicating faith.”
It goes well beyond working together as co-laborers. It’s living together in community and being friends. As Roberta clarified, “But also their friendship means a lot. I'm really glad that we're not doing this alone, but we're doing this in partnership with Japanese Christians and Japanese friends."
Robert has become extremely close with his Japanese missional partner. He shared:
“My closest friend right now is my ministry partner. The highlight of my week is Wednesday morning at 7am sitting down at McDonald’s and spending two hours talking, chatting and doing devotions together. So spiritually, I am being fed by and hopefully feeding a Japanese man close to my own age.”
Dan and Casi Brown have also deeply connected with their Japanese pastor and his wife. Casi has been blessed by this partnership, and summarized:
“I knew that we would be close with our partners. But our partners have just really gone above and beyond to support and encourage us. And our pastor's wife has been the rock for me. I don't think I could have made it through the past eight months without her. We just felt so blessed by our partnership, and I hope we are blessing to them.”
Kent Muhling put it this way:
“As A3 missionaries, we want to come alongside, work with, and support. It's a really neat opportunity and an honor to be invited in. My wife and I chose our theme verse for ministry from 1 Thessalonians 2:8: ‘Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very lives as well, because you had become very dear to us.’ So for us partnership is not just working together, but really living together and loving together.”
All of this simply underscores our value to live out community in all that we do and all that we are. Yes, missiological strategy is important. But much more significant, I think, is how we live out Christ's prayer in John 17 for His disciples to be one.