MACHINES, HORSES AND VULNERABLE MISSION

MACHINES, HORSES AND VULNERABLE MISSION

Machines are awesome. They enable us to do so much more, better and faster. They are also relatively easy to build, maintain, and fix.
Compare, for instance, a horse and a motorcycle. You break an axle of a motorcycle; you buy another one, remove the broken and replace it with the new.
You break the leg of a horse, and you have a more cumbersome and time-consuming solution. The whole horse needs care, and the healing process involves a complex relationship among all of the parts that make up a horse. We cannot simply remove a broken leg and replace it with a good one.

The industrial age we live in has retrained us on how to think about problems and problem-solving. It has taught us to think mechanically about problems by defining them as finite and discrete parts that go together in a precise way to maximize function. As a result, we have become highly efficient in resolving all problems that can be reduced to mechanical structures and processes.

The Kingdom of God is alive, therefore organic. It is not inanimate like machines. Finding solutions for problems in how we give money for missions needs to be understood organically. We will never find the one solution that fits exactly, because solutions in living communities are based on relationships, and relationships are dynamic. Living things are constantly interacting with their environment and resolving problems through the management of relationships specific to that moment.

There are valuable principles for how to better give to missions, but they only inform and serve the living process that is the church. Their contribution is only partial, because in the end, it is the loving relationship that defines the community of believers, not objective fixes for objective problems.

One thing I like about VM is that it proposes a form of distancing from mechanical relationships and stepping into a situation where organic relationships are free to express themselves, with all the confusion that they generate for a mechanistic paradigm. And it is precisely the reason VM can be a blessing. It is humble, simple, and limited in any given situation, but it opens the door for the organic paradigm of the gospel to reveal itself more clearly, as the missionary and the host community navigate the awkwardness that it generates.

Alexandre Araujo
araujoone@gmail.com
A contribution to the pearl discussion forum of the AVM (Alliance for Vulnerable Mission), July 2014. (If you would like to join this list-serve discussion, write to jim@vulnerablemission.org )