Ministry Partner Model
For better for worse. . .
For richer, for poorer. . .
In sickness and in health. . .
This familiar covenant language well describes the steadfast way God has so loved the world, through thick and thin, in good times and bad across the ages. The covenant language also helps us understand the partnerships the Alliance seeks to strengthen and enrich. Our ministry partners frequently comment on how different our relationship model is from those in traditional mission enterprises. Unlike the older models, the Alliance doesnʼt divide the world into mission agency and mission field, with the better serving the worse, the rich helping the poor, and the healthy ministering to the sick.
Whether we are fostering theological education in Latin America and Africa, supporting addiction recovery in inner cities, or providing needed shelter for people who are homeless, we are discovering that each of us in the partnership embodies our own respective wealth and poverty, wellness and dis-ease, better and worse, and we minister to one another in recognition of our gifts and needs.A recent conversation between partners highlighted this paradigm of mutuality. A small group of leaders from the Alliance met with leadership of Cubaʼs Fraternity of Baptists to brainstorm ways we can sustain and strengthen our 20-year partnership. Javier Pérez, president of the Fraternity, offered a simple but profound suggestion: Each side of the partnership needs to be able to articulate clearly its own poverty as well as its own riches, its health as well as its infirmity, and bring it all to the table.
By understanding—and celebrating—what we need from each other and what we have to offer one another, we become true partners. Anyone who has traveled to Cuba knows that while they have relative poverty there in terms of material resources, they also have a treasure trove of cultural and spiritual riches that could greatly benefit U.S. faith communities, especially in areas of theological education, arts integration, and community solidarity. Recognizing the power of this kind of mutuality is at the heart of each of our partnerships.