Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Transformational Travel

What do we do once we're aware of our tendencies towards a superiority complex and we travel the world to do good works? Personally, I love the concept of "transformational travel". Transformational travel has everything to do with being aware of our tendencies towards the superiority complex and engaging in activities while traveling overseas that reflect humility, respect and true concern and love for the people we encounter. I'm not going to go into it any more because there is already some great resources on this concept.

Greg Taylor's blog is focused on this concept right now. Greg's new book How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions is a must read for those going to new places to share God's love. Tony Campolo's Beyond Borders is a ministry founded on this concept.

As far as individuals go, Sam Shewmaker, has been my personal hero in this regard. I had the privilege of climbing Kilimanjaro with Sam in 1998 and then working with him on several other occasions. Most recently, I heard him give a short speech to Rwanda's President Kagame at Oklahoma Christian University. It was a speech filled with love, respect, and honor. I'm copying the text of his speech below. (I love the "they are not a pitiable people" comment and have already stolen the phrase from him.) That's how you minister to people across the world!

So, if you are traveling to new places or involved in working with the poor, read up on these materials and consider how you can be transformed in your travels as you take the love of Christ with you.

Sam Shewmaker Speech to President Kagame on Behalf of Churches of Christ

Your Excellency, President Kagame and Madame Kagame
Ambassador Nsenga
President and Mrs. Oneal
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Mwaramutse nyose
Karibuni sana mu Amerika

Your Excellency, we wish to express thanks to you and your people for honoring us by a visit to this campus today. Murakoze!

As a son of Africa myself, it is a special pleasure for me personally to witness the beginnings of a relationship between this Christian University and the Nation of Rwanda.

Your Excellency, as a citizen of the United States of America, I would like to express, on behalf of many of my fellow-Americans, and indeed on my own behalf, a belated, though deeply felt apology – that the government of the United States did not come to the aid of the people of Rwanda in their darkest hour. This fact is a stain on our national honor for which we are deeply sorry.

Some of us have visited your beautiful country and have met some of your beautiful people. While we have been moved to deep grief for the tragedy of Rwanda,
We do not pity the people of Rwanda, because they are not a pitiable people.
We see them as a resilient people who are growing in their hope every day.

Your Excellency, we believe that this is in large part due to your effective leadership. We believe that God has put you and your government in this position of leadership in Rwanda “for such a time as this.”

Many of us present here today represent a fellowship of Christian congregations known as Churches of Christ. As followers of Jesus Christ both in belief and in action, it is our desire to partner with Rwandans in the planting of churches that, in a holistic way, will become communities of healing that meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the people.

It is our desire to work in solidarity along side your people to achieve the goals of your national Vision 2020 – in whatever fields, be they in the field of spiritual development and the planting of churches, the fields of education, of training in business, information technology, in primary health care training, or in strategies to assist families to break out of the cycle of poverty.

We look forward to a harmonious working relationship with Rwanda that expresses Christ’s spirit of compassion and service.

In closing, let me say on behalf of churches of Christ, that we wish you, the government and the people of Rwanda great success and the bountiful blessings of God on your path to national unity, prosperity and well-being.

May God always abide in Rwanda. Imana Ikurinde.


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