Mission Crossroads

SUM 2018

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/983828

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4 Summer 2018 introduced us to a fledgling group forming a new, essentially Presbyterian denomination. is year, that group, the Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador (IRCES), will celebrate its 30th anniversary. IRCES is a unique church partner. ough small in number, they are big in vision and commitment to the gospel. Grounded in their Reformed identity, they are always taking the time to analyze and discern their call based on the context in which they serve. ey understand church as being a body that goes out and serves the community around them. Evangelism, for them, happens through their educational ministry of preschools and primary schools in marginalized communities and diaconal work that I n 1993, during a study abroad program to Central America, I visited El Salvador, a small Central American nation that had just recently signed peace accords aer more than a decade of violent civil war. In a unique exchange with Salvadoran youth, during a Bible study on the beach, we privileged and somewhat sheltered North American college students were interrogated about our countries' policies and forced to reflect on our own complicity. My eyes began to open — not just to injustice, but also to the promise of the gospel and the power of God's presence among those who suffer and are marginalized. It set me on a path of walking with and learning from Christians who have had very different life experiences than my own. It convinced me of the importance of discerning and building God's kingdom together. Even with that formative college experience, I could never have imagined that I would become a "missionary." e term felt colonial and wrong. Even talk of "doing mission" felt rather paternalistic. But, at the same time, my experiences in Central America, which taught me to listen and value others, had been framed by Presbyterian mission workers. I felt drawn to that world. I saw "doing mission in partnership" modeled. e only way I could really understand what God wants was by really getting to know other perspectives and realities. Like the snowball effect, it started with a semester, then a year as a volunteer, followed by a three-year commitment that turned into five, and now, 25 years after that first transformative exposure to hearing God's challenge to injustice, I look back and see that I've now lived nearly half my life as a "missionary." e key to personal transformation that I hope to facilitate for others was and is partnership. In order for those partnerships to be mutually transformative, we need to humble ourselves and really listen. I believe that our Salvadoran church partner has taught me the most about true partnership. Our Presbyterian presence in El Salvador began in the 1980s and early '90s, when we gained eyewitness testimony to the reality of their civil war. We were first invited by the Lutheran Church, but due to the overwhelming number of church mission teams from various U.S. denominations, the bishop of the Lutheran Church of El Salvador True partnership from a Salvadoran church partner's perspective Be humble and listen — really listen Tracey King-Ortega Kristi Van Nostran Commissioned Ruling Elder Joyce Mwangi and partners visiting from Riverside Presbytery celebrate Communion.

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