This bridge crosses the Mekong River in Cambodia.
I was talking with another missionary mate the other day, Arthur Davis. He described the missionary as a bridge between two cultures ; not fully in one or the other, but connecting the two. I have found that idea immensely helpful as I think about mission and I think it sums up a lot of what this series of posts has been about. A ship may have been a more appropriate image in the past. But the context is changing. For me, the picture of missionary as a bridge works because bridges live in two places; they have two ministries (for want of a better word) just as Harries described in vulnerable mission. Bridges enable the riches of one place to be brought to another, while at the same time allowing different riches to flow in the opposite direction (assuming this is a two way bridge).
The focus on missionary as bridge also encapsulates the relational nature of mission. I came across this great quote by Meek referring to teaching but applicable for mission, “Teachers don’t teach information; they teach themselves.”1 We won’t bring goods, we’ll be bringing ourselves. This quote gets to the heart of mission as personal and relational. We will be learning personally from others, and others will be learning our person, as they receive us and we receive them. The missionary is the site of connection of two cultures, just like a bridge. May the result be for the glory of God as the connection of two cultures grows our knowledge and love of God’s Word in His Son through His Spirit.
- Loving to know, p.137. ↩