There is a certain clarity and exactness to theory. On the other hand, reality is not so perfect. Does the concept of “Engaging with the Church on the Edge” really work? Is it a viable option to replace the parachuting of years gone by?
Come with me to Zimbabwe in Africa. Tony and Maria Verlaan have ministered with Ethnos’ global partner Integral Vision in South Africa for a number of years. Tony said, “After building credible relationships with African church leaders, it is evident that the African church has a heart for the unreached people of Africa and beyond. While connecting with the church, we have seen God showing them the existing reality of the needs among the still unreached [people groups] in areas such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique.”
THE KORE KORES
One of the Verlaans’ connections was in Zimbabwe, where Integral Vision has not had a presence. There is a church among the Kore Kore people there that desires to cross into Mozambique to take the gospel of Jesus to the unreached Tawara people group. Sadly, the Kore Kores did not have the entire Bible in their own language. Since the initial contact about six years ago, another organization has begun that translation process in addition to training the Kore Kores themselves to carry on the translation work for future endeavours. And Integral Vision’s role? Simply one of facilitating and networking, bringing all parties together.
But the Verlaans want to go beyond simply facilitating. And they don’t want to do it by “parachuting” over the Kore Kore church and placing Integral Vision personnel on the ground to learn the Tawara culture and language. Tony remarked, “We were asked by the Kore Kore church to help train people within the church using our curriculum for their missionary training programs.” And why? In order to help the Kore Kore church grow in their spiritual maturity and to help them become equipped to reach the Tawaras. Tony added, “God in this situation has graciously opened our eyes to the Kore Kore church …, so that together we can reach the Tawaras with the gospel and see a church established by the Kore Kore church with IV in the background, consulting and encouraging.”
Taking that engaging a step further, “there may be a possibility of still allocating a IV family to Zimbabwe or Mozambique to engage with the Tawara people, but it will be the Kore Kore church that will lead in this initiative. In fact, any foreign personnel will be under the leadership of the Kore Kore church.”
Summing up his views on the “new” way of reaching the unreached, Tony said, “[There is] an African proverb that we are trying to live out in ministry: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’”