Like many students, the participants in this Brazilian mission training had to take their graduation celebration online.
Earlier this summer, the team at ReVive in Olinda, Brazil, celebrated a group finishing their studies. Yet this time it wasn’t the vulnerable girls in their care marking school achievements, but rather people in mission who have taken part in pioneering training.
CMS mission partner Andy Roberts put together and led the training:
It all started when CMS had a number of people saying God was calling them to ReVive specifically. And we couldn’t really understand why. We had to think about what we were going to do, and thought some kind of training would be good – to take these couples who were testing a calling and help them reflect on where God was leading.
We put together a two-year programme with 18 months of teaching and six months “catapult”, when they’ve had their training and some hands-on experience through ReVive and can then explore putting the training into action in a different context. We didn’t want them all just to stick to ReVive, although some might end up staying. We wanted ReVive to be a stepping stone.
We had three semesters of teaching: first about mission theology; the story of the Bible and what is mission. And then poverty and development: Christian views on poverty, causes, all that kind of thing. And then the final semester was focused on what we are doing – this whole idea of transformational development and the restoration of relationships. We also covered how to practically go about starting up NGOs and transformational projects: accounting, fundraising, how to hire staff, interviews, etc. All very practical things, but also with a community development focus about how to help without hurting, how we as foreign missionaries and rich Westerners go about working with poor communities and facilitate their response to issues that they have deemed appropriate.
It wasn’t just me doing the teaching – the main other person was Joaquim, a missionary and university professor who is Brazilian but has lived in the States for a while. He was instrumental in helping plan the course and do a lot of teaching. And we also involved other missionaries and local business people, as well as CMS mission development manager to Latin America Paul Tester.
It was pretty intense, but I really enjoyed it. I think it perhaps stirred up more questions than answers. But that’s what teaching should do, encourage more learning. Reflection is a major part of it, each person was asked to take what was being taught and apply it to what they think God is calling them to do.
Course participants Rosie and Stu Bayford comment:
We had the privilege of participating in ReVive’s mission training over the last 18 months, alongside Daniel and Sarah Brito Medeiros, Evaldo and Rebecca Reid Rodrigues and the Lewrys (AOG missionaries). It was a brilliant number to learn, debate and share with. The idea of this training was to help each couple to better understand their calling and work out what next. It has been challenging, thought-provoking and has given us a lot of food for thought. We have grown as disciples and as people in mission, better equipped for the work we are doing.
I [Rosie] have had my ups and downs through the training. The theology of mission was the first module we covered and I struggled greatly with some of the philosophical debates around apologetics, when we were seeing extreme poverty on a daily basis and just wanted to help! But I have had to learn patience as the training helps us work out what that help looks like and how it is most beneficial to society. I am now thankful that we learned these things before getting stuck in.
It has been insightful, helped me think more deeply and in turn given me more questions which I believe will help in my journey with God. My hope is that each one of us who have taken the training will continue to explore these questions that come with a broader understanding and wider perspective.
So now that the course is over, what next? While the participants reflect on where God is calling them, Andy tells us “We’d like to translate it into Portuguese, perhaps distil it a bit, and create short courses or workshops that we could take into churches and run a weekend training for the local team.”