Mission Crossroads

SUM 2017

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/826794

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 23

18 Summer 2017 person from the global north charging into the global south with all the answers. Even though she had participated in service projects through her church, she wasn't comfortable with anything called "mission." During Ellen's senior year of college, the chaplain approached her with a letter from the Volunteers in Mission office of the then-General Assembly Mission Council. e letter described a mission opportunity at a Presbyterian church in New York City. Although Ellen had spent seven months in Ecuador during college and wanted to return to Latin America after graduation, she decided to consider volunteer mission in the U.S. and applied. "I thought I might have something to learn from serving in the United States," Ellen says. She ended up serving as a mission volunteer with the Reconciliation and Mission program the same year I participated in it, but she was invited to Honduras rather than New York. Despite her concerns about mission, she I grew up in the church but at one time in my life was skeptical of mission. My childhood experience with missionaries from the U.S. was colored with memories of positive leadership as well as abuse of status, power and privilege. ey prohibited church members from many things like playing sports, going to movies and parties, drinking alcohol and being physically or emotionally abusive to their spouses — but in their private lives they oen did these things. People would go to them as advisors when it came to interpreting church doctrine, but the missionaries oen lived by a different set of rules. I came of age in Honduras during the height of the Contra war, when my country was used as a training ground for the U.S.-backed Contras in Nicaragua. My teenage years were spent with an eye on the sky for U.S. war planes. e tell-tale noise of military trucks rumbling along the two- lane highway that ran through my village would send my brothers and me off the road to hide as they passed by; these trucks plucked up youth and conscripted them into military service. With this personal background, I had many questions about the harmful ways the gospel and government policies sometimes have been brought from the U.S. to Honduras. When a Honduran church leader invited me to an interview for the PC(USA) Reconciliation and Mission program, a 10-month mission exchange experience between Central Americans and U.S. citizens, I hesitated. is program would place me with a host family and as a volunteer with a church or nonprofit in the U.S. Would the program let me be open about the questions I had about the U.S.? I went to the interview and learned that the program was about asking the kinds of questions I was asking about church and government. My wife, Ellen Sherby, also grew up in the church, but the idea of mission didn't sit well with her as a young adult. She understood it as paternalistic and colonial. She thought of mission as a Anything but 'mission' God has a way of sending us where we don't think we want to go Elmer Zavala The Rev. Elmer Zavala (left) leads house church gatherings three nights a week. Bible study, prayer, fellowship and food are always part of the gatherings. Ellen Sherby Katie Rhodes Ellen and Elmer even share the same birthday.

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