Transformed by the Word: ‘Partnership with God’
By Lyn Wake | Wycliffe Today Spring Edition 2022 |
When my husband and I joined the global Bible translation movement, we viewed it as a great opportunity to ‘do something good for God’. While we were correct on one hand, our incomplete perspective needed transforming. Over time, and in the company of inspirational family and colleagues, we experienced a paradigm shift.
We discovered that Christian ministry is not about doing things for God, but with him!
From the beginning, we have been designed for a loving partnership with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe – a partnership made possible through the redeeming work of Jesus. God can work in any manner he chooses. Yet, incredibly, he seems to delight in wrapping his infinite goodness within the broken beauty of our shared humanity to achieve his good purposes. Yes, partnership with God is his divinely chosen modus operandi.
Saint Teresa of Avila, a 16th century Spanish nun, is attributed with the following poem. It describes in practical terms what partnership with God looks like:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.1
May we all live into this God-ordained partnership – one that will last forever and bear tons of rich fruit for his glory!
Reflect: Where might the flow of partnership with God be blocked in your life and stifling the fulfilment of your union with Jesus?
Be transformed by the Word as you engage with: John 15:1-17
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we acknowledge that without you, we can do nothing. By your Spirit, enable us to partner with you so we can accomplish many glorious things together to bless your world. Amen.
1 ‘Christ Has No Body’ by St Teresa of Avila c 1515-1582 AD.
The featured image is the chapel in Avila, Spain. Photograph by Mario la Pergola.
Isn’t Jesus a Western god?
By Alfinda Herman | Wycliffe Today March 2020
Alfinda and her husband Aidan are preparing to head to Eastern Europe with their two young sons to work among the Roma people in North Macedonia. During one of their church visits, Alfinda was chatting with a Chinese student, Dean*. Alfinda explains:
Dean had been attending church for a while but when I asked him if he trusted in Jesus, he answered ‘No, I grew up in China. Jesus doesn’t feel real to me. I think he is a Western god’.
Dean’s reply gives insight into one of the challenges of cross-cultural gospel ministry, whether in Australia or overseas. When a person encounters Christ in a culture different from their own, and through a second (or third) language, the question of identity is a big deal.
New believers may face some sort of identity crisis. They may grapple with questions such as: Does becoming a Christian mean becoming Western (or a culture that is perceived to be ‘Christian’)? Can I be as authentically Christian when I’m in my own culture?
In the Roma (Gypsy) context, the topic of identity is close to their hearts, and is deeply intertwined with language. During the Communist era in Eastern Europe, the Roma were forbidden to speak their own language, Romani. Many Roma carry a great deal of shame about their language and heritage. One Roma even said, ‘God would not want to speak our language’.
RK*, a Roma Christian leader, said for a long time he did not speak Romani because of the shame impressed on him since childhood. But in recent years, partly because of his encounter with the work of Bible translation into Romani, he has been exploring how reading Scriptures in Romani speaks to him more deeply and helps him see more clearly that Jesus is Lord of the Roma too.
The question of identity has roots that run deep, and discipleship across cultures requires taking the time and energy to explore it. Please pray for God’s work among the Roma and the cross-cultural gospel work here in Australia. Pray that Dean will understand that Jesus is also the Lord of the Chinese and will come to trust in him.
To support the Hermans in their work among the Roma people, go to https://wycliffe.org.au/member/aidan-alfinda/.
*Name changed for privacy reasons
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