One of the things I love about the field of Mexico is our value of a team approach to ministry. The field is made of up many ministry teams. From the maintenance team, to our consultant team, to our security team -each team works together towards the goal of seeing Mexico’s indigenous people reached for Christ.
When I consider the importance of team, I think of Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Each of the ministry teams we have the privilege of being a part of in Mexico reflects a range of diversity- in gender, background, culture, marital status, age, gifting, experience and skills. Everyone participates and everyone has a perspective to share that enhances the quality of our ministry. No one person carries the weight of all of the decisions or the responsibility to do all of the work. No one person has to have all the gifts, strengths and answers. A team approach to ministry means that my weaknesses may be someone else’s strengths, and vice versa.
One aspect of the team diversity that I have come to really enjoy in Mexico is the international component of team. Our field leadership team is a mixture of Mexicans, Colombians and Americans. Our consultant team is a mix of Mexicans and Americans, as well. Our cross-cultural training team is also a mix of Americans, Mexicans and Colombians. Not only is the language different, as each of these teams and many others on the field function solely in Spanish, but there are also cultural values at play. It has been generally observed that Americans are more direct while Latins are more indirect. Latins are more relationship oriented, while Americans are more time oriented.
I was talking recently to one of our field leaders, a Latin brother, about Mexico and the future of our organization here. I commented that it would be great to works towards the complete nationalization of the mission in Mexico and to see the Americans take a back seat on the field. Surprisingly, he disagreed with me. He explained that it really wasn’t about either Americans or Mexicans leading our work, but rather about the international team working together in unity to lead as one. This would lead to a richer and fuller future for the field, benefiting from the culture, experiences and values of each team member. In his mind, it was not either/or, but rather both/and.
Working on international teams has its challenges, for sure. Hours of meetings in Spanish can be exhausting for a second-language speaker and of course every once in a while, we run into misunderstandings that have to be talked out because of culture. However, the end result of international community and unity, a small reflection of the universal body of Christ, is incredible and beautiful to be a part of. We don’t have to reject or bemoan our own nationality or culture to come to the international table. We just have to commit to learning from one another and loving one another. It reminds me of this image from the book of Revelation:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
It has been a huge privilege to grow, learn and serve alongside other believers from other cultures. It was a journey that began for us in Papua New Guinea and continues to this day here in Mexico. It has changed us as people and something we deeply value on the ministry teams we serve on today.