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“See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.” — Malachi 3:1

God's Mission Matters

Stand by me!

Dependency, independence

and interdependence

By Cláudio Carvalhaes
Bear one another's burdens” (Galatians 6).

When you think about mission, how many people do you think are involved? When I grew up, I learned that mission had basically three parties involved: God, the missionary, and the people the missionary would work with on God’s behalf. 

However, when I became a missionary myself from Brazil to the United States, I learned that mission work was a much more complex networking of people and institutions with lots at stake. Any work I did or hoped to do was inextricably connected and dependent on what had happened before me and on the relationships that happened through my work. People  I didn’t know had dreamed and cared about and loved a people they didn’t know. Because of their love for this people, I ended up working with them. Church bodies were involved as well as leaders and lay people, here and abroad, all connected making mission work possible. We were strangers from different cultures and languages blessing each other and working together for the sake of God’s love for the world.

When this mission grew, the blessed people started to bless others. This little church to which I was appointed in New England started to do mission work with four poor churches in Brazil. As a result 150 little children received two meals every day. 150 children and their families interrelated with the people of this small church in Massachusetts who were also deeply connected to the people who loved them in the United States and Brazil. Interconnection, interdependence, intercorrelation: that is what mission is all about.

Listen to this episode of “God’s Mission Matters” and hear stories by Karla Koll, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission worker in Guatemala for more than 10 years (now in Costa Rica), and by Kristin Anne Schmor Rice, former Young Adult Volunteer in Guatemala from 2001 to 2002.

Stand by me! episode toolkit

Use these resources to equip your congregation, network, youth group and other groups in your church for mission involvement. You may use any of these for activities in the context of Bible studies, Sunday Bible class, Sunday worship service, and committee or session meetings.

  • God’s Mission Matters: Stand by me!
    Prefer printed? Download and read this ready-to-print booklet  including the text of the podcast, a study guide for group leaders and a reflection on popular culture. This is a great tool for a learning session in your congregation or mission group context.
    • Use the Playing for Change “Stand By Me” song/video on YouTube as a reflection piece for interdependency and interconnectedness around the world.
    • Listen to the song “Lean on me” while carrying out the reflection activity. Think about the message of the song as it relates to important people in your life whom you’ve “leaned on” and who have “leaned on” you.

  • Matters from Pop Culture: Cirque du Soleil and Christian Mission
    Reflections on how Cirque du Soleil, a circus act, can bring us closer to God. As we think about Christian mission from the experiences of Cirque du Soleil, what are the connections that can be made?
  • Matters of Worship 
    • Prayer:
      God of Hobab and Moses, of partners in mission in Africa, Latin America and all around the globe, you weave us together in a tapestry of life. As we depend on you to live, so too are we connected with one another and with the many parts of your creation.  Help us to learn how to build relationships in your mission that strengthen your creation and bring us closer together.  Teach us to pay close attention to what we can truly gain from—and what it is that we are called to offer to—our mission relationships close to home and far away.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

    • Hymn suggestions:
      Sheaves of Summer (Presbyterian Hymnal, #518)
      Gather Us In (Sing the Faith, #2236)
      The Servant Song (Sing the Faith, #2222)

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