The Importance of Contact
My life now depends on others in a way that it never has before. I live in a foreign country (South Africa), have a job I volunteer at (work visas aren’t a possibility) and spend half or more of my time in ministry (with a healthy dose of community development thrown in for good measure). We wouldn’t be here without the prayers and support of friends and family across the US, and it’s those prayers and support that sustain and allow us to continue doing what God has before us.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world — my wife and I were just talking this evening about how fulfilling life feels — finally we are tangibly walking out the dream God placed in our hearts many years ago. Anyways, all this introduction is important and leads me to what I want to discuss right now: the importance of contact. I’m finding a couple of things to be true as we start this journey of living as missionaries, reliant on the support of others: (a) contact is a necessity when living as any form of community and (b) as people build into my family through prayer, encouragement and/or finances, I want to be able to build into theirs as well.
Backing up, it may be useful to start with some meaningful definitions of that word, contact. Their are two that immediately jump to mind: to be in some sort of close relationship with, perhaps better visualized by touching analogies (ie, a spark flew when my hand contacted the door) and an entity that you communicate with, in some form or fashion (ie, my contact database has about 200 people and 5 organizations). The first definition necessitates some form of close relationship whilst the second demands almost no relationship, as in I could (and do) have contacts I’ve never actually met or know on any real level.
I’ll readily admit that I have many folks in our contact database that fit this second definition to a T. There are names that I don’t recognize and people I haven’t met. As I sat pondering this some time back I decided that this needed to change. It’s been something growing within me — a recognition that a community based on anonymity and a lack of real contact (definition one again!) isn’t really community at all. And a community is what my wife and I want surrounding us. We don’t believe this thing called life was meant to be walked out alone. We want to be able to build into others as they build into us. It likely won’t take the same form — we are certainly limited in the ways we can financially give, for example — but we can still pray and encourage and visit and live transparent lives that hopefully sharpen as we ourselves are being sharpened.
To that end be mindful that if you receive our monthly email updates, give financially, pray for us or feel a part of the community surrounding my family in any other way then we want to know you. If you have prayer requests, we want to be praying for them. If you need to be encouraged, we hope we can fill that role in some way. If you just need a friend, well, we gladly offer our friendship. It may not always look normal because we live so far away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good or needed (on both party’s parts!).
We are currently going through our contact database and beginning to email people to hopefully begin breaking barriers and truly learning about one another. And I’m excited about the friendships that are already there and those that very well could be soon.
ps. If you want in on our community email me at mbjones AT gmail DOT com or comment on this post.