The Powerful Witness of Unity
Our team went to Uganda with a sense that the gift of unity that God has been working into our lives here in Hamilton was something he wanted to use there as well. We had no idea just how powerful that unity would be.
It was only our second day of teaching–we were really only just getting to know the students and them us. During the time of question-and-answer that we ended most days with one of the students asked a fairly intricate, very culture laden, theological question. We looked at each other with a bit of panic in our eyes–who was going to take that one? A couple of us gave initial answers. As we did so it became clear that we had different opinions on this subject–two of us saw it one way, three of us another. Quite by chance we had blundered into an amazing illustration of the unity at the core of our team.
We stopped answering the initial question and shared about how our commitment to each other trumped our perspectives on more peripheral theological subjects. You could tell that the witness of this moment was powerful. Being able to answer in different ways and then to talk about how we are still committed to each other and unified in Christ despite our differences brought the witness of our unity into sharp relief.
Having a team of five leaders from five different churches whose roots are in different streams of the church was continually sited as our most powerful “teaching.” Over the ten days we taught on a number of topics–given our different background and gifts we provided quite a smorgasbord, but amazingly God not only tied it all together, but used the differences to heighten the witness of our unity.
The impact was not limited to our African brothers and sisters. Each of us on the team felt deeply impacted by it as well. Having two weeks together in another culture knit our lives much more deeply together. Seeing another culture through each others’ eyes opened up insights for us we would never have had on our own. We each saw different things and we were enriched by the dialogue and mutual learning that took place.
Our team’s unity gave our host, Anne Mwangi the opportunity to speak into the lives of those gathered for the training based on what our team was living out before them. “Unity does not mean uniformity” she emphasized. “To be the body of Christ as God intends we need each other.” We became a living illustration of this as our different strengths and perspectives came out in our teaching and interactions with those gathered. It brought home for all of us what a gift our unity in Christ is and how powerful a witness it can be.