Think Tank 2018: God’s Speed

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I have found this think tank very fruitful. I felt the conversations crystallised a shift in the way we understand, talk about, and respond to what we believe God is calling us to do. It was very encouraging that as a team, we embraced uncertainty in the way we go about the work of the JMP. I think Acts 16 made this shift easier for us. The long hours spent dwelling on The Macedonian Call opened up the possibilities of hearing the text in a new way: Why didn’t God instruct them at the beginning of the trip in Phrygia to go straight outside the city gates of Philippi to a group of women praying at a specific place on a specific day? Why did the vision involve a man when actually the significant connection would be with a gentile migrant woman? Luke joins the team at Troas; was this the reason behind their having to go through Troas? What does Luke bring to the team that enables the team to fulfil God’s call for them in Philippi and beyond?

This intentional embrace of uncertainty, of slowing down to listen and learn from the strangers among us, also signifies an epistemological shift — God’s speed is not ours. My peoples in Malawi would always remind us, ‘if you want to go fast, walk alone. But if you want to go far, go in community, but know that it will take longer.’ This slowing down of the journey – the ambiguity and uncertainty – make the conversation and the journal itself more open to non-Western voices.

I enjoyed the community. It felt like home. It was a great context for me to get a better understanding of the journal and what it is called to do. I found the articulated calling both challenging and exciting at the same time. There is little clout in curating and reflecting other people’s stories of God’s mission in the local and yet this is what we believe God has called us to do. This is exciting. The more I have thought about it, the more I believe that the journal is actually a rich resource for the many types of faith communities in different parts of the West and maybe the world. I look forward to what God will do with this ‘bread and fish’ in our hands.

Harvey Kwiyani

Harvey Kwiyani teaches African Christianity and theology at Liverpool Hope University. Following many years of missionary work in the West, and having planted and led a white-majority church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, he has become a regular commentator on the implications of race and racism on mission in world Christianity. Through Missio Africanus, an initiative that he started, he works with congregations through the cultural — and sometimes, racial — challenges they face as they engage Westerners in mission. He is the author of Sent Forth: African Christianity in the West and a member of the JMP editorial team.