Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Battling for Oneness - Sarah and Ivan

Nestled in a valley in the Andean range of Venezuela lies Merida; this is where Sarah “Sage” Miller and Ivan Bucher are leading a STINT Team. Sarah writes, “The view from the Sciences campus for example is awe inspiring. It is literally surrounded by mountains!”

Their team has been in Merida almost seven weeks now. The movement they've stepped into is pretty exciting to see too! Their team is holding weekly meetings where about 45 students have been attending regularly. Many of these same students are involved as disciples or are actively discipling others, having been with the movement for a couple years, and some will be praying about being sent in the near future as graduation draws closer. They had our first outreach yesterday (Tuesday). They put up a sign asking "Do you want a date...?" and then talked about how to have a "date" or a relationship with Jesus Christ. The team talked to about 200 students and got to explain how to have this "date" with at least 25 students. Today they are doing the same thing on another campus.

Sarah also writes, “It has been awesome to see how Ivan and I have come together as a team of leaders. We had a bit of a rough start trying to figure out how to work and plan together, to the extent of having our very first conflict and mediated conflict resolution time about the third day of briefing in Colorado!” (Here’s a re-enactment of that day in Copper Mtn.) It continued to be rough for the first week or two here, but I feel like now we are really learning to understand and appreciate each other. It has been great to see how we are on the same page and can support each other in dealing with team conflicts and other issues as they arise. It is so wonderful to know that you have someone ‘on your team’ like that.” Continuing the theme of team, Ivan says, “The most obvious thing I'm learning is that my team is my family. This is a family culture and people share everything; especially food. We get together for a team breakfast Monday through Friday at the girl's apartment and then have dedicated prayer before heading off to campus. This has proven a challenge since the implication is that we do this together out of our love for the team. But the idea of team seems very work-focused in my mind, and it's hard to remember that love is the top priority when you're thinking about reaching goals. The reality we come from in the States is not necessarily that of a ‘close’ family, especially with any prayerful involvement in each other's lives, and so the idea of living with your ‘team’ makes the stretch even farther, in my opinion. The idea of team as family makes it easier to remember that I do love them first and foremost, always recalling that above all else I am called to love these teammates over anything that could disrupt our unity; our witness in Christ.”

Ivan included John 17:19-23 NASB:
"For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

About this passage he says, “Christ set Himself apart by going to the cross. He was betrayed and He still went there. We as a team and family are always being betrayed, and we must choose to die to all sin, especially that which is so obviously against us, because we are now perfect in Christ. By acknowledging Christ's sacrifice we stay free from this world and unified in love because our glory is His. Glory is fully revealed on the cross, and only the cross. ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends’ (Jn 15:13).”

I don’t think I have any profound thing to add to Ivan and Sarah’s thoughts on team as what they share is gold. Just a reminder that it’s a battle to be one and remain one. Like you need to be reminded of that. The meaning of Jn 17:11 is that we ‘continually be one’. Every day, every moment there is a battle to go it alone… to not be one… to not be a team… to not dive into resolving conflict… to giving up… to not strive to be a family, a real family and not to choose to lay down our lives for another. Let's don’t give up the flight.

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