What does it mean to you, to be told, “We are all made in the image of God?” How do you relate to your own self-image and to the others you meet, reflecting on this passage from Genesis 1:27?
Often mission work focuses on the challenges in a particular place at a particular time. We find ourselves absorbed in the “work” and less inclined to see the creation as God sees it. To see each one of us as made in God’s image. To seek and see beauty and truth.
Having the “veil” removed, or the speck of dust taken from out of our eyes or what ever we need to do to see ourselves and see one another as children of God, created in and for love, can leave us breathless and in awe. Or it can be a devastating blow to our world view. Either way, it’s a humbling opportunity to be re-united to God and one another – even for a brief moment.
The last two days in Kinshasa offered us some of those moments. Tuesday gave us the chance to see a group from the Baptist Youth who have been working in the neighborhoods of Kinshasa to train young people who live in poverty.
Rev. Pierre Ndonganani reminded the group of 40 participants that they are created by God and have been given such great resources – in themselves, their churches, their community and in nature. That within themselves, God has given them the means for real transformation. These 40 will be taking the training they received over the past two days into the neighborhoods to train other youth on how to first appreciate their own God-madeness and then to creatively and systematically form enterprises that can not only lift them out of poverty, but also in fulfilling their own dreams they will help to transform their communities.
This gathering focused first on the spiritual foundation for transformation and faithfully responding to God by utilizing the gifts given to each of us. This was followed by several sessions on the practical means of growing an enterprise from the seed of an idea or dream, into the reality of a sustainable business.
Seeing how this particular group of leaders volunteered their time and expertise to regularly train and follow up with the youth, brought to mind the words of John Wesley: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” We tend to find a lot of Baptists who remind us of Wesley in the DRC.
Wednesday was a very different kind of day. We moved from the quiet, air-conditioned office space in Gombe (the business/government district of Kinshasa), to one of the neighborhood churches in Limete for an inter-religious gathering, “Non aux mariages precos et forces, oui a l’education des enfants.” or “No to early and forced marriage and yes to education for children.”
The Religions for Peace organized this event to discuss the importance of all faith groups promoting the end of early and forced marriages throughout the DRC. A compelling take away from this event was the inter-faith interaction.
Wow, such a great witness to who we are when we reach out to one another. We heard from a variety of faith leaders who, in unity spoke to the need to end these practices. It was the young women from the Islamic, Bah ‘ai, Kimbanguist and Protestant traditions who asked great questions and expressed themselves so eloquently, who moved me to see them – not as potential – but as they are, in that moment, created in the image of God, beloved and with real resources, not just in some future time. We are blessed to live in a world with these sisters. And how thankful I am for the leaders who are encouraging them.
May each of you see God today, in yourselves, your families, your neighbors and across what ever divisions – real or imagined you carry with you, and in all of creation. We are all beloved.