Recently, I had the privilege to lead my second short-term mission team to Zimbabwe, Africa. The purpose of the mission was twofold: train pastors and church leaders in theological education and model racial reconciliation. The team consisted of 8 African-American pastors and 5 Anglo pastors. The team was not only diverse ethnically, but also demographically. We had team members serving in the inner city, suburbs and rural areas of KY. We had the privilege to partner with Nick and Kyndra Moore, IMB missionaries serving in Zimbabwe.
No one on the team knew every team member of the team (well). In fact, the day we left for Zimbabwe was the day some of our team met each other for the first time. We arrived in Zimbabwe and hit the ground running. Spending the first night in a central location, the next day (Sunday) after the team split up for worship in two local churches, we grabbed our bags and loaded our vehicles and ventured out into twelve different locations throughout the country. Some of our team members stayed in larger cities and enjoyed more modern accommodations (such as warm bread pudding and ice-cream), while others stayed in huts with hammocks and dodged giant moths, just being grateful they were not bats! Regardless of where our team members stayed, they loved on the people of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe loved on them.
Each team member was responsible for teaching a set curriculum in partnership with World Hope Bible Institute. The material consisted of courses ranging from hermeneutics to expository preaching to soteriology to New Testament to Systematic Theology to Ecclesiology. Each location received teaching in three courses.
Relationships were built and churches were strengthened through the teaching ministry of our team. Even more impactful were the lessons learned by our team as they observed the hunger and passion by the Zimbabweans to the learn the Word of God. As always, our team received more than they gave.
While the whole mission was designed to intentionally create an environment for multi-ethnic cooperative missions, our team spent intentional time at the end of our week discussing what that looks like for churches today. We used the new book Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention as a springboard for our discussion. Kevin Jones, one of the book’s editors, who also was on our mission team, facilitated our discussion. While much was said during our time of dialogue that was extremely beneficial, what stood out to me the most was that relationships are key to racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Convention and Kentucky Baptist Convention. We must live life together and do ministry together before the ills of racism will truly crumble. So, let’s not just talk about racial reconciliation, let’s live it out together for the cause of the gospel and the glory of God to all nations.