A Gospel of Presence – probably not a phrase you hear very often. The entire WORD of God though speaks about a Gospel of Presence. Our whole ministry is based on this phrase – to live a Gospel of Ministry. Presence is a strong and powerful ministry in Africa. From early mornings to late evenings Africa practice the ministry of Presence. Through stories that is being passed on from one generation to another – around campfires …. word of mouth! It is usually said that when an old person dies in Africa a whole library dies too.
But how does a Gospel of Presence look like? In an African context it usually speaks of people showing up – consciously and unconsciously! Showing up at someone’s doorstep in Africa literally means that you CARE about them. You care about their wellbeing, their pain and even suffering. Showing up means – ‘yes – we understand that you stand with us’. Being present is thus a ministry in itself.
Here are a few guidelines if you need to practice this important discipline:
- SHOWING UP means you identify with someone
- JOIN in the grief – the word sympathize or console literally” means: to shake the head or to rock the body back and forth as a sign of shared grief.” It was no longer a broken family crying alone—it was now crying together at the city dump.
- SHOW RESPECT for the current situation people find themselves in. Have you ever noticed that no one is ever invited to a funeral? Invitations are never mailed out. Friends do everything they can to simply come—and if they cannot come, they send flowers, notes or cards to communicate to the sufferer, “Listen—count me in. I want to show my respect and awareness of your grief.”
- ALLOW people to SPEAK FIRST: Do not miss this; underline it in your mind. “The best way to help people who are hurting is to just show up. Say little or nothing . . . do not try to explain everything; explanations never heal a broken heart.
- EARN the RIGHT to SPEAK: To exercise the ministry of presence, you do not have to have anything figured out. You can be positively inspiring in your silence, but you might err when you speak. You may have heard the anonymous quote, “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence.”
To make this more than just a philosophy we DO this practically every year with various great transformational agents – follow their story as that discover a Gospel of Presence.