My role at Capturing Courage International Ministries is a full mix of out-front edge of the wave activity and then behind the scenes nurturing of infrastructure and CCIM community.
As you can well imagine I go to a lot of churches. I often joke that my job is going to church. As I minister overseas I am sometimes in three different churches in one day. Preaching, praying, and rushing to the next. This, of course, is not really my favourite way of ministering but sometimes it happens. More often I am in one or two churches in a day, for as many days in a row as you can imagine. Out of this I have seen a great many congregations and have observed a great many things.
There has been an entire generation grown up with ‘don’t talk to strangers’, and now we find ourselves, our businesses, our ministry, our interests, and more, completely dependant on our ability to talk to strangers.
How do we now change our entire tactic from fear-based to giving the benefit-of-the-doubt in our communications?
What shifts must take place inside our own hearts and minds to welcome others even when we haven’t yet met them?
The work we do at Capturing Courage is completely dependant on this benefit-of-the-doubt kind of communication, and so if you’ll permit me I’ll try to outline a few of the shifts in my own person to enable authentic relationship with strangers.
For starters, the problem with ‘don’t talk to strangers’ is that it sets us up into a fear space. We then hold that fear space as the ‘un’welcome sign for others. And others respond to it.
If we believe all strangers are bad, are out to get us, will do us in, or take advantage of us, we will in fact find and attract this kind of person to us. After all, the thoughts we think have incredible power over our lives. It is why the Bible brings up a number of times the importance of renewing our mind.
Negative expectations will reap their full reward in our lives.
So the first step to giving the benefit-of-the-doubt in our communications with strangers is loosing the lie that strangers are bad. Painted with this broad brush stroke we don’t even have a chance. The brush must be put down.
We do this by confessing (admitting) that we have painted all strangers in this one bad light. Our judgment must be released and put down and identified for the lie that it is.
Getting rid of our overridingly negative paradigms is the first thing to do.
The next thing we can do is to become more acquanted with our own emotions and responses to life. When we are honest about our emotions, when we are familiar with hope, despair, joy, fear, passion and ambivelance, with all the spectrum between these, we are then equipped to recognize these same emotions in others.
Instead of being critical we find empathy and compassion. We are not much different from each other. As human beings we all experience the same emotions regardless of any differences in culture, socio-economic status, race, gender and more.
Differences become smaller when we are emotionally intelligent.
Becoming used to and accepting of our own emotions is the second step to benefit-of-the-doubt relationships with strangers.
Another thing that we can do is to come to an understanding that others have something for us, and we have something for others.
I’ll never forget the time I was on a bus and sitting next to an elderly man found out that he had been an archeologist who had worked all over the world. We had little time to chat but I went away from that encounter understanding afresh that people’s lives are interesting and varied. And that we are richer for inquiring and being genuinely interested in the lives that they have lived.
Recognizing the inherent value of each person, the experiences they have had and the life they have lived is another great way to engage benefit-of-the-doubt encounters with strangers.
These three things:
Putting aside judgments and belief systems that would keep strangers at bay
Becoming emotionally attuned ourselves and then empathetic with others
Valuing the experiences and lives that others have lived
All these will launch you into a world where people are friendly, strangers are interesting, and we are more alike than we ever would have guessed.
‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ has had its day – This week, make sure to talk to a stranger.
You just might be pleasanly surprised.
Years back I would wander the halls of Missions Fest looking for organizations that were working with indigenous pastors around the world.
I remember finding barely any. Merely one or two each year was only sorta like the kind of organization I was interested in collaborating with. I had a few interesting conversations but there wasn’t any conclusive sense that, ‘This organization would be a fit’.
Little did I know at the time that I was to in fact found and direct the kind of organization I was looking for.
And even when we launched Capturing Courage International, there was still only a vague idea of the international aspect of the work.
Looking back I realize I had many if not all of the dots, but in the moment I couldn’t connect them.
Thankfully, the Lord is the master dot connector! And so here we are, as an organization, now ministering to thousands of pastors who are in turn ministering our material to tens of thousands of people.
The work has solidified, personally I’ve navigated the concentration stage and with the work picking up momentum, we know exactly what we do and how we do it.
Simply put, we are equipping and encouraging indigenous pastors around the world.
We do this through:
1. Building authentic relationships of mutual prayer and encouragements via email, facebook, phone, and texting.
2. Sending out Capturing God’s Heart on a monthly basis – this is a topical Bible study that is assisting in the spiritual formation of both pastors and their congregations.
3. Providing Walking in Spiritual Authority, a CCI Discipleship School curriculum comprised of three parts – The King’s Heart, At the Cross, Spiritual Authority.
4. By being on the ground with our colleagues around the world, participating in pastor’s conference, preaching and praying the heart of God, bringing inner healing and deliverance.
I’m heading to Mozambique in October. Pastor Daniel along with 9 churches have been waiting for me for over a year and a half. It’ll simply be good to in fact show up, to fellowship and to experience the Lord touching and encouraging and healing lives and hearts.
It is his specialty after all!
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
To find out more head over to Capturing Courage International.
Over at Capturing Courage we are privileged to be connecting with leaders from all over the world.
It is our task to simply bring our strength alongside their strength. Rather than a one-sided view of things, thinking we have all the answers (as those in the west are so prone to do) we are instead simply building relationships.
We are finding friends we didn’t know we had, experiencing family we’d not yet met before, and walking in ministry as partners and colleagues.
Head on over there and check out what is happening. We can always use some support for the work, that and prayer.
The good Lord is extending his touch through us, and we are simply honored.
Thank-You God for profound privileges within the body of Christ.
We put untold amounts of pressure on our spouses and close friends when we refuse to build community beyond just them.
Those closest to us do not have all the answers for us. To be honest, often those closest have become a little deaf or worn down by our manner of being.
Whether we are neck-deep in character flaws, or soaring on the wings of eagles, the ones right around us do not have full perspective of who we are.
They are either numb to our boy-who-cried-wolf troubles, or can’t really affirm the gifts either – they are just too close.
It is imperative that we build community beyond ourselves. We need the perspective that fresh eyes bring. We need the gut responses of those who have just met us.
Honor those closest to you, by bringing others into the mix. You will all be happier and strengthened.