International Missions (IM) has spoken and written about partnerships a great deal lately. But what is a partnership? Who are the partners?
At our National Convention in Louisville this past July, a gentleman approached me to let me know he had been praying daily for partnerships. After a short pause, he said, “…but I don’t know what they are.” He’s not the only one. Since that day several other people in various churches have told me they don’t know what we are talking about.
In our context, a partnership is a cooperation between IM and other organizations working internationally. We are a small organization when compared to many others that work internationally. We have limitations in personnel and finances. We don’t have workers in every country around the world, nor do we provide all the different types of missionary ministries available. But we are able to expand our capabilities and scope when we work with others in a cooperative way—a partnership.
When someone performs a benevolent act for someone else, it is not a partnership. You only have a partnership when all those cooperating “bring something to the table” to accomplish a common goal. They don’t all necessarily bring the same thing or in the same quantity. At a potluck dinner, one may bring a meat, while another a vegetable dish or drinks. Some won’t bring food but will help cook, set up the tables, or clean up after the meal. In our partnerships, some of the common contributions are personnel, finances, expertise, labor, and materials.
Let me give you an example of a partnership we worked on in 2017. Our FWB hospital in Ivory Coast (Africa), administered by an organization called BERACA, needed to recruit medical personnel. While in Cuba, I mentioned to the Cuban missions committee that Ivory Coast needed medical personnel. Several Cuban medical personnel wanted to go as missionaries. I put the two organizations in contact and contributed by doing a good bit of translation back and forth. BERACA could support the workers while they were in Ivory Coast, but could not pay for the five tickets necessary to get the personnel to Doropo. Women Active for Christ (WNAC) entered the partnership by helping to provide the funding for the tickets through a national project. Each organization contributed what they had to accomplish a common goal.