Friday, July 4, 2014

On Fire (Friends of Pravaham Partnership Development)

I have shared before about the emerging ministry of On Fire: Faith and Fitness and some of the ways in which you can help; prayers are our biggest need and I'd love for prayer warriors to be praying regularly for us.  On Fire is coming out of a grant given by the Presbytery of Los Ranchos to the Friends of Pravaham to build a partnership among 3 or more churches in our presbytery with Pravaham in rural south India. A second goal of the grant is to expand the "Booty Ballet" program that was introduced to Pravaham students in December 2013 to audiences here in So Cal. Thus, Jennie and I also have a vision for this ministry now named On Fire to build on the common thread we share with Pravaham students. We have a heart to reach out to people, here in So Cal too, not just India, and not just to have them serve and give to foreign mission or local outreach but to worship our Triune God, in spirit and truth. To love God as Jesus commanded and in ways that may be very different from traditional "church" understandings about worship. I call this 24/7 Christian living in the Kingdom of God. And, our faithful God is leading us, slowly, little by little. One very important way in which he is doing so is in the way we're developing Partnership Covenant. Huh? Did the words Partnership Covenant throw you for a loop? Are you, like me, new to the idea of a Partnership Covenant while doing mission? Welcome :). I will try to explain the Partnership Covenant and share the process we are using to develop one. 

When the Presbytery of Los Ranchos awards a mission grant, they recommend that the partners develop a PLR Partnership Covenant. This comes out of the rich and centuries old history and experience of the Presbyterian Mission Agency in global and national mission. A partnership covenant or agreement is created together. "Together" is a key word and here's the rationale expressed in the opening statement of their document Create a Partnership Covenant or Agreement together.
Mission in partnership is a transformational adventure. We do not realize when we initiate a partnership what kind of dynamic will be unleashed on the journey. Something new will be created which neither partner controls, which neither can anticipate or foresee. We step out in faith with a commitment to interact in a state of release and trust, rather than control and subordination. We are not sure where the partnership will lead us, so we feel vulnerable. We leave our safe haven, edge out of our comfort zone, and make a leap of faith. There is no guarantee of what will happen along the way to God’s future. A risk. A discipline. An adventure. Heirs of Christ sharing grace. Sherron George, Called as Partners in Christ’s Service: The Practice of God’s Mission.
The PLR Partnership Covenant expands the components of the agreement between the partners further, thus:

Elements to consider:
  • a brief outline of the preliminary relationships/contacts that led to the partnership
  • if not included above, a description of the partners; who are they?
  • a faith statement; purposes of the partnership; why does it exist?
  • mutual expectations of the partnership a description of the partners’ roles and responsibilities (e.g., what part will each play to make events and projects happen?)
  • any agreements about the financial component of the relationship, including who has the authority to raise funds and approve expenditures and the process through which those funds are raised and expenditures are approved and executed
  • a plan for regular evaluation of the partnership
  • duration of the agreement
  • concurrence by both parties (signatures of the accountable officer on each side)
Accordingly, the Friends of Pravaham, since our first meeting in March 2014, agreed to set aside time at each of our business meetings to discus the development of our Partnership Covenant. Covenants, we agreed, are healthy tools for spiritual growth. We also agreed that it would take time; we would use the duration of the grant - 2 years - to learn to work with each other and flesh out the Covenant. We also sent the PLR Partnership Covenantto Pravaham and asked the leaders there to develop their side much as we were doing.

At the March meeting each of us, representing different churches and organizations, identified our individual roles and responsibilities.
  • Anita and Jennie – Development of the On Fire program
  • Anita – create a blog for ‘On Fire’
  • Larry – Accounts management
  • Christie – Building connections with Pravaham students and Friends of Pravaham in the US
  • Shanti – Communication (emails and minutes of meetings)
  • Marilyn – Prayer warrior
At our June 28th meeting we shared about our faith and goals only in terms of the short term of grant duration (which ends ~ Dec. 2015 or Feb. 2016 latest) and long term of 5 to 10 years.

Marilyn: My connection is India. My family has had missionaries there, I have a heart for India, and I feel that the work being done at Pravaham with the students is most worthy.

Jennie brought a written statement which she shared: My faith: God comes first in all I do and I seek his will first in all decisions and the direction I go. I rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance and seek to share God’s kingdom in unique and subtle or bold ways. I choose to obey even when I don’t understand because I know God has the master plan and I can’t see the big picture. I choose to walk in love and let that guide me. My role with Pravaham: I seek to support the mind/body/soul connection of the girls in Pravaham by 1) praying for them; 2) developing Booty Ballet curriculum for them; 3) making people aware of Pravaham through Booty Ballet and On Fire Fit; 4) using the common thread of body image between Pravaham and our culture to create more awareness and a loving connection. Full disclosure: On Fire (faith and fitness integrated partnership development grant and program/ministry) is different from On Fire Fit - Jennie’s private business which she is feeling led to develop. I believe God has called me to be an encourager, especially to women, in body image and how that relates to our creator. Because women make food/body, etc. an “idol” I believe our imperfections and drive to be perfect, pulls our eyes away from God. I strive to help strengthen women’s/men’s bodies through proper eating and exercise but in a way that honors God. Ultimately, I would like to coach women, do seminars/workshops or training classes where fitness/food and God’s Word are shared.The foundational base will always be Pravaham – the launching pad – and will be mentioned at every event.

Anita: Pravaham is Jesus’ gift to me and I want to follow where he leads; the long range vision is self-sustainability for Pravaham
Community College (fee-paying + scholarship students) and On Fire to be a new worshiping community here in the OC helping people – multi-generational, multi-ethnic - worship Jesus authentically with our bodies, not just our minds (24/7 Christian living, I call it);

Larry: I am exploring the partnership for Trinity which has now left the PCUSA and is in a new denomination;

Christie: I visit Pravaham every year for a month bringing Art to them. I have been going for 5 years and I feel the girls are my daughters. I have made a commitment to support the kids of my sister in Christ, Kumari (cook) and Raghu through High School.

The Partnership Covenant process is helping each of us think about our faith, its meaning in our own lives, deepening our understanding of where and how God calls us, and most of all keeping us focused, obedient, committed, and accountable to our Savior. The semi-annual report of our grant - which lists all the things we've done and are planning - is available on the PLR Mission Summit blog. Do visit and read and learn more and keep us in your prayers. Thanks. And, of course, I'd love for you to come alongside and join me in this ministry or in any of my other fun projects that God is always showering me with as well :).

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