Building and Nurturing Relationships
Relationships are fertile soil for growing disciples; they are the cement that holds our connectional system together. Wednesday (8/15) I dropped everything to make a quick trip to King’s Restaurant at the Barkeyville Exit of I-80. Rebecca Airgood Miller (GBGM missionary Michael Airgood’s sister) called as she entered Pennsylvania on her way to Kane and we agreed to meet at Barkeyville. With her was Nazar, a newly commissioned GBGM mission intern who has been her house guest for the past two weeks. Her husband was 100 miles behind driving a semi containing a monster truck which will “perform” at the McKean County Fair Friday (8/17). Nazar is from Ukraine, where Michael serves as a GBGM missionary. Nazar will serve in South Korea for a year and a half – as soon as his visa comes through. When that is finished, he’ll return to his home region to serve another year and a half. Over lunch, Nazar shared his faith journey – I sensed Michael Airgood’s mentoring.
Nazar has created a blog – with only one entry so far – the story of his faith journey. A conversation with a 22 year old who is excited about his faith and eager to share it was refreshing. Realizing that English is his third language (after Ukrainian and Russian) was a sad reminder that many of us aren’t willing to put much effort into communicating our faith. Nazar will work with the National Council of Churches in Korea, and is looking forward to learning to speak Korean. Michael has already taught him the alphabet.
Sometimes I obsess with fulfilling the requirements of bureaucracy and neglect relationships. Those relationships might be in need of beginning, encouragement or mentoring – or they might provide me with inspiration or nurture. They are important, but not urgent – they don’t demand, they invite. It’s one of the most important concepts of VIM – building relationships. The project is not the project; the people are the project! The United Methodist Church is a connectional system that works powerfully when we take the time to both share our stories and listen to the stories of others.