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Missio Dei in the Solomon Islands

Normally, when I get complaints about my speaking, they are of the “You spoke too long!” variety. Nearing the end of our school-year today, I delivered a short, impromptu chronicle of the year to our school community. So much has happened. I was surprised, however, to discover how difficult it was to fill my ten-minute window. How odd, I thought, walking home. And then the reason came to me this afternoon in conversation with my wife, Tess. For obvious reasons, this year has been short on big events – which usually fill school chronicles and make for interesting stories – and long on the kind of relational drama that you cannot talk about in front of everyone. “Like what happens to a family in quarantine?” Tess offered.  

In past years, Trinity STM (School of Theology and Ministry) has been engaged in outward mission weekly by:
- Prison visitations  
- Praying for the sick in hospitals 
- Taking Bible studies into people’s homes 
- Preaching and singing in the marketplace 
- Reading portions of the liturgy on festival days in other villages 

The value of this has been unmistakable. But this year we were given something different. Stay at home. Work together daily at close quarters. See the same faces every day for weeks on end.  

At the best of times this has looked like: Wake up for prayer. Go to class. Go to work session. Pray before the evening meal. Study. Sleep. Repeat.  

At the worst of times it has looked like: Be annoyed by someone. Gossip about them. Be alarmed at the relational chaos that ensues. Say sorry. Repeat.  

It has not been easy. But we have, like so many this year, learned some important things in the process. Outward mission, taking the Gospel to places where it has not been heard or is not yet believed, is not total mission. Outward mission can assume a dimension it should not for the Church. We can overlook the work of God that is taking place in our homes and churches among people like us who have believed the Gospel already, but who need deepening. When this happens, we pursue shoots at the expense of roots. The outward and visible replaces the subterranean. Far from preventing God’s mission this year, the coronavirus has opened up to us afresh its grandest scope. God is at work everywhere, but chiefly in the Church.    

Jonathan and Tess Hicks, NZCMS Mission Partners in the Solomon Islands

3 thoughts on “Missio Dei in the Solomon Islands

  1. Jon’s reflection expresses so well how the pandemic has affected our lives as Christians. We seek to follow Jesus and can so easily get caught up in activities that distract us from that commitment. The roots really do need attention as much as the shoots, which are so visible but do depend vitally on their roots. So, thank you, Jon for your thoughts, and let us thank God for the gift with words He has given you.

  2. Thank you for these thoughtful and important words, Jonathan. It is so necessary to remember the ways that we need to be deepened and enriched in the faith — through the daily disciplines of Prayer, Scripture, the Eucharist, and simply being with one another as Christians being summoned from the messiness of our lives and communities to grow into the luminous likeness of Christ. Our fundamental calling, on which Matt 28:19-20 depends, is to remain close to Jesus, which we can only do through those spiritual disciplines. Only then can His glorious light shine through us sinners. Know that you and your whole community are loved and prayed for from afar.

  3. Good article. Jay Matenga has been mentioning the great Committment outlined in John 17 as a focus rather than just the great Commision in Matthew 28. Living with and becoming one in unity with each other and with God,is a huge part of mission.

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