The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
With the departure of BKB Director Peter Harrits, Kirsten Levorson has been named Acting Director for Bega Kwa Bega. She will serve in this capacity on the synod staff April 1 through September, 2022. Kirsten has been involved with BKB since her first visit to Tanzania in 2002 as a member of Shepherd of the Valley, Apple Valley. She has chaired the Iringa Committee for the past six years.
I am grateful for this opportunity to serve this companionship, a ministry that has meant so much to so many. I am grateful to have Caryn in her new role, to have Ryan and Astine Bose continuing their work in Iringa with Pastor Lwila and Frank Mkocha, and to have the expertise and support of the Iringa Committee and BKB Program Team.
Twenty some years ago, on the Sunday that I had to make a decision about whether or not I would sign up for my congregation’s first journey to Tanzania, these were the words I heard proclaimed in worship:
For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. – Isaiah 55:12
I have a photo taken a dozen years ago. Two people walk side by side across the dry savanna, an iconic acacia tree providing a bit of shade. I remember the conversation well. Our congregational companionship had been through a rough patch, a couple years of miscommunication, distrust, and bad feelings. New leaders emerged. Our conversation that day acknowledged mistakes that had been made on each side and cultural differences that had been ignored. Vulnerability was expressed in every sentence. Grace was extended, and new intentions were set. It was the start of a richer, deeper, more joyful companionship that became empowering and sustainable on both sides.
In the photo, the two people are seen at a distance, small figures in a much larger vista. It reminds me that each conversation in this companionship matters. Each time we walk together we have the opportunity to build trust and mutuality. And we are still only a small part of a much larger whole, God’s grace filled mission to bring all people into abundant life together.
We have a long history of bega kwa bega, and I am grateful for all that has brought us to this place and time. Grateful for the founders, for the first travelers, for those who built relationships, and for those who expanded our infrastructure and our understanding so that our capacity for companionship could grow.
As we take our next steps together, let us go out with joy and be led forth with peace.
BKB Acting Director