Taken from Josh’s journal, 7.17.2016
Community. I see a pattern running through my life lately, a thread that binds the pieces together, and it all comes down to community. Kim and I just had a good talk where we really examined this core desire in our heart and how it has manifested itself especially over the last couple years. Very interesting. Let me try to explain.
I think this idea of community, or team, or partnership has become very important to us. I realize just how deep this is when I see all the many ways we have tried to create this in our life in various ways. But before I get into that I think it’s helpful and interesting to chart how this all got started- and now why we are the way we are.
I don’t want to over analyze this, but just off the top of my head I see Indonesia having a lot to do with our desire for community. Ever since we left the mission field we’ve been striving to re-create that sense of community- that sense of team that we used to have. We were very close to our local team over there- Joshua, Natalie, Beth, Marie, Jeremy and Lindsay were like family to us. We developed a very tight bond with them because we were so like-minded and in it together. We struggled through so many of the same things with them, and were working towards a common goal.
Raising support to go overseas we also had a team of prayer partners and supporters who “came with us” in a sense. We shared newsletters with them, prayer requests and updates, and came home and spoke at their churches. It was so encouraging to go through this experience with these people back home knowing that they cared and were praying for us. We really learned the value of community through all our partners back home. We couldn’t have done it without them- our local team and our “home” (back in the States) team.
We also experienced the depth and richness of community with our Lembak friends and neighbors in our house in Bengkulu. The idea of “community” is wired into the DNA of the culture over there, and we experienced this and lived it first hand. Living in community isn’t a choice over there- it happens whether you want to or not. I suppose you could be really rude and hide out in your house all the time. But aside from taking extraordinary steps to avoid it, if you live over there in a village-like setting you’re in community. And even this was a really cool thing. Yes it was hard at times but it was really special too. We were a part of something. We were accepted and adopted by the people. They loved us and we reciprocated it. The mutual sharing, mutual responsibility and trust was really cool. People didn’t hold fast to their stuff but many things were open and shared, especially if there was a need. But anyway this idea of community and sharing openly really got a chance to be lived out and practiced while we were there. We saw it, participated in it, and were really blessed by it.
I could name other communities too (Wycliffe, Campus Crusade, etc.) but you get the point. And ever since we left Indonesia to a large degree we’ve been trying to replace or re-create that community that we lost. I think that was one of the most abrupt transitions for us on returning to the States. One day we were on a team with people we loved, engaged in similar work- and then we weren’t. One day we were in the culture, in community with our neighbors- and then we weren’t. And for about seven years we had a worldwide network of prayer partners and supporters- people we kept in touch with, shared prayer requests, and letters- and then one day they were gone. Just like that, virtually overnight all of our communities vanished, and for the first time ever in our marriage we were on our own. We were still a part of Wycliffe when we first got back, so at least we still had that. And our prayer partners didn’t dry up that quickly. Maybe I over-exaggerate a little, but certainly in one years time we did lose all that. It was rather abrupt and I see now just how important these things were and are to us in the way we’ve tried to re-create it.
To put it bluntly, we long for this fellowship again. I see this in many of the things we’ve struggled with over the last couple years. We’ve tried to get this with my family, my brothers, and sisters-in-law. We’ve tried and failed to get this through our church (and then they went and had that terrible church split). We’ve tried with our apartment neighbors. I feel like a large part of why we’re adopting is so we can be in community with other people again. Indeed [adoption] has given us an opportunity to reach out and engage with a large number of people again. We are in a sense forming a team again around ourselves by sending out adoption updates, email campaigns, fundraisers, etc. We are inviting people to join us in something big. Of course we do have other reasons for wanting to adopt but it is so nice and so refreshing to be in touch with everybody again.
But we want even more than that. We want a local team. We want to be in a local community, not just far flung partners all over the world. We’ve been talking about moving lately to Deforest and Sun Prairie and the primary motivation for this is to find a good church, and get involved, and maybe do ministry again. It has a little bit to do with my job, and it’s closer, and we like Madison and don’t really want to be in Portage- but really it’s again mostly about community. Finding a good one and getting involved, and we think we have a good chance, or a better chance, of doing that in the Madison area.
We long for community. We long to link arms with others and do great things for the Lord. We have seen that our family really is the body of Christ, and those who are like us in mission and purpose. These are the people we really want to be in community with.
It was sort of interesting to see the larger picture and to connect many of these dots together. I think community is biblical (God is in community with Himself, the trinity) and it’s a noble pursuit. We do really hope to perhaps do missions work again one day and we’re praying that God would lead us and help us find community again before we do that. We so desperately need it!