Relational People Serving a Relational Savior

Dove Family

Do you ever wonder what life is like for special workers who live internationally? What do they most enjoy about their work? How do they make connections? What are their dreams?

Zach and Jennifer Dove, IMB Church Planters in Norway, have not been called to pastor a church or lead a particular group. Instead, they spend their time working “behind the scenes.” The Doves partner with people in their communities who are interested in beginning new churches or who wish to revitalize churches that need revival and growth. They provide training and direction and discipleship for local church leadership, and they work to connect people who can meet each other’s needs.

When asked what they most enjoy about their work in Norway, the Doves share that they love meeting people and developing relationships. They enjoy hearing life stories and learning what is most important to people.

hugsIn Norway, there are few physical needs, and the people are known for being the happiest people in the world. Norwegians are also known for their great generosity. However, no matter how happy and generous people are, there are always needs to be met. The Doves tell us that in Norwegian culture there is a great longing for going deeper in friendships. Many Norwegians deeply desire to develop a sense of community and safe relationships wherein they can share their struggles, their challenges, and their dreams. People there need to be encouraged in the knowledge that they are loved and that they are not alone.

The Doves’ methods of building relationships may sound familiar to you. Going out for dinner or ice cream. Hanging out in coffee shops. Hosting dinners and cookouts. Going to the beach and talking while the children play. Planning movie nights. As relationships develop, the Doves seek to have meaningful conversations driven by compassion and sincere interest. The Doves never look at their new friends as “projects” or “targets” or “fixer-uppers.” Instead, they want to share life together, seeking to learn what people aspire to, what they fear, and what they cherish. They want to connect with their community in genuine ways.

coffee breakAs their relationships in the community deepen and grow, the Doves are able to share who they are and what they believe. They always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and listen for Him to prompt them and to give them opportunities to tell others of the hope that lives within them. Zach and Jennifer Dove want to see their neighbors through God’s eyes and to love them with Jesus’ love.

As you read of the Doves’ work in Norway, did you think of your own church’s ministries in your community? As I read the Doves’ stories, I was struck by the fact that methods of sharing the gospel are universal. Like the Doves, we may not be called to pastor, but we are called to live authentically Christian lives and to share the gospel within our own context. We Christians are relational people because we serve a relational Savior.

How often do we tell our preschoolers, “Jesus said, ‘You are my friends” (see John 15:14), or “God loves us” (see Psalm 107:1)? How often do we tell them to love each other and to pray for each other and to work together? As our preschoolers grow, and even as they enter into adulthood, the truths you are teaching them will remain foundational. Do you see how the simple lessons you are teaching preschoolers will transcend time and help them become authentic disciple-makers?

It is easy, especially during the hectic holiday season, to get so bogged down in the details that we don’t see the big picture. While planning interest area activities and reading through the group time components of each session, remember that you are implanting eternal truths into the hearts of your little ones.

My prayer for you this season comes from Deuteronomy 32:2. May your teaching fall like rain, and your words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I pray that your teaching will sprout and grow in the tender young hearts that have been entrusted to your care, and that the truths you sow will grow into a mighty harvest.

Photos Credit: Copyright © 2016 International Mission Board, SBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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