creating culture

Life is full of adventure. Even the smallest things can be exciting when we see them peppered with the uncertainty of human experience. One would think the simple act of preparing dinner for her family would be uneventful until the electricity spends almost equal measures of time being off as it does being on (leaving the delicious contents of the fridge untouched), and the adventure begins. Or a preacher taking the elementary act of stepping into the pulpit would seem routine, but this time words come more cautiously because (although he’s practiced each line, each word repeatedly) everything is different. The heart and passion are the same but the language is new; an adventure in every syllable.

For Elise and I this month has been a proving appraisal of our family’s mission of “creating space to grow a movement.” No matter how long we’ve lived in Africa the challenges of wise stewardship, like stewarding food in cold storage while living in an area of town known universally for its flexible relationship with electricity, never gets easier. We sit in the dark with a faint glow of a candle more evenings now, sweating in the heat of the night, to see the first church planted in this neighborhood. And not just the first church, but a church planting movement born from a passion to create culture.

After preaching the first time in Senegal I told the pastor of the church the next time I would preach in Wolof. I thought he would wait longer but within a matter of weeks he was ready for me to step into the pulpit again, and after only 153 days in Senegal, my promise sent me into an interpretive frenzy! I could more easily preach in English and sought out help in translation, but to create space in which we more readily engage the Wolof in their own culture, it must happen in their own language. Even now, as I write these words I am writing a second Wolof message to ring in the new month.

In the middle of all that our family had the adventure of my traveling to the central African island of my parent’s missionary calling. It is inspiring to be back in the first church my parent’s planted, the first of its kind ever born on Guineano soil. And it is worship-inducing that after less than 30 years to see now over 80 churches throughout the country. It is humbling to see pastors come from distant villages along the coastline and mountain crests to hear me bring a passionate plea for their partnership in reaching the unreached peoples of this world, like the Wolof. It is unequivocally culture creating to bear the shared mantle of global responsibility to carry the Gospel to the humanity made in the image of God.

The truth is life is full of adventure, of new experiences. Opening the door each morning can just as easily yield itself to adventure as it can to the mundane unvarying rhythms we so often create around ourselves. What will you create in your intercession and interactions? What adventure will you live today?