What significant conversations would you have, if you knew you only had a few talks left with someone?
Seven years ago, in Southeast Asia, I visited a remote farming village with an amazing husband/wife development pair. Spent the last 15 minutes trying to remember their names, but with limited success.
I will always remember what they taught me.
Before we went to the village, they sat me down on a weathered gray couch, and spent hours talking through:
- the origins of humanity (delving into Hebrew translation the first three chapters of Genesis)
- the theology behind “wholistic” community development (from the first three chapters of Walking with the Poor, by World Vision‘s insightful thinker, Bryant Myers).
These together had shaped their work with rural farming families. The idea is that we were created to walk in shalom– more than peace: wholeness and restoration– with God, other human beings, ourselves, and the rest of creation. We fell; and evil separated our ability to connect healthily with God, others, ourselves, creation.
Ah, but the second story… God did something to restore those broken relationships. And as our relationship with Him is being restored through the Son, we also experience healing with regard to others, ourselves, and the rest of creation.
So on the farm, families talked about being made in the image of God (a concept shared by Christians/Muslims), and how this would impact their interactions. My hostess tirelessly modeled caring for one another, walking from plot to plot to pick bugs off plants and swap stories with women, in a local language. The families refused to use the prolific chemicals that made land temporarily productive but barren after only a few years. In that way, they found an untapped market for “organic produce” nearby. Starting with an understanding of who they are in relationship to God, change was happening in their relationships with their community, the rest of creation, and themselves.
Friends and I here asked each other the question, If you only had a few conversations left with someone, what would you want them to know? We were full of ideas. For me, it always comes back to the conversation on the worn couch: people made in the image of God, in perfect relationships, broken. Unable to find restoration again, without Jesus’ reconciling presence. A second story.
A couple of days ago, a few university students and I talked about the beauty of confidence. Their faces, framed by scarves, shone with delight as they realized that significance is not about appearance or performance. It does have something to do with knowing who you are, and aren’t…and I realized that I am on that journey with them.
I’ve been restored to God, and am being restored to Him, others, myself, and creation. So when we talk about development of body, mind, and soul, I come as a sojourner, a co-learner.
And A & T– I did remember your names in the end– if you see this, deep thanks.