That hit song from 1966 floated through the back of my mind last night. It was popular when I was a teenager, the only song by the Mamas & Papas to make it to #1. It came to mind because I was listening to Monday, on Tuesday.
"Monday," or more exactly, "son, born on Monday," is the meaning of the Ghanaian name, Kojo. I was listening to Rev. Kojo Amo who, after providing leadership to the Ghana Baptist Convention for ten years, is now the Chairman for West Africa for the All Africa Baptist Fellowship. Kojo is in town as part of a mission trip. He is touring a Ghanaian Baptist mission field. The U.S.A.
As I listened to Brother Kojo last night, I had a complex experience. As I said, the background soundtrack was Mamas & Papas. The visuals were from a brilliant day in October of 2001, when I took these photos as Francisco Litardo and I spent a couple of hours in Accra with the leadership of the Ghana Baptist Convention. The foreground soundtrack was a highly summarized report of Ghanaian Baptist mission work in Canada (Toronto and Montreal), New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and now, New Jersey.
This is definitely not your great-grandmother's world of mission!
The smiling face of my friend Samuel Escobar also flashed through my mind as I listened. For, Brother Kojo was describing a marvelous Ghanaian example of just the kind of thing Samuel has been speaking and writing about for years: mission in our day is truly "from everywhere to everyone" (The New Global Mission, InterVarsity Press, 2003).
From everywhere to everyone. Mission in our day moves in every conceivable direction. And, if we're honest, we have to admit that many of today's mission directions are "conceivable" to us only after we've bumped into the fact that they are "actual"! God's surprises just keep on coming!
So, Kojo Amo is visiting Ghanaian mission sites in the U.S. They are places where Ghanaians who have joined the millennia-long stream of immigrants to North America are busily reaching out to their neighbors with the faith in Jesus that has sustained them on the journey. It is an exuberant faith. Contagious. Their churches are growing. And, in excellent missionary fashion, they are eager to partner with what God is already doing in the places where they are planting churches. Are we equally eager to partner with them?
ABCNJ is! We were sitting in the living room of Judy and Paul Hart, at a regularly-scheduled meeting of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey's Go Global Mission Taskforce, which Judy chairs. It was an exciting evening, as members of the group shared about the ways God is leading New Jersey Baptists into mission in Brazil, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Haiti, India... and... and... in partnership with Ghanaian Baptists, New Jersey! At least 150 of the world's nations are represented in New Jersey. Lee Spitzer, Senior Regional Pastor for ABCNJ says, "We can accomplish 2/3 of the Great Commission in our day, at least symbolically, without even leaving the state!" Lord willing, there will soon be a new Ghanaian congregation growing in the heart of New Jersey, aided and abetted by their American Baptist neighbors.
So, Monday was speaking on Tuesday night. He was describing mission from a former "receiving" country to a former "sending" country. And we joyously celebrated the fact that the Lord invites us all to be both "senders" and "receivers" as we participate in what is truly God's mission, "from everywhere to everyone."
In 1966, "Monday, Monday" was (and for some of us, still is!) engaging--despite the fact that it was a wistful lament for a lost love. This week, Monday/Kojo is engaging in a totally different way: he is bursting with life and contagious enthusiasm for the good news of Jesus, bearing witness to the way God is at work in our world.
Thanks be to God!
May the Lord surprise and encourage you this week with glimpses of the surprising ways God is at work in your own neck of the woods. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!