No one wants to be changed by someone else. No one wants to become someone's "project." Our goal is not to see a one-way process. We desire to see mutual influence and mutual change.
The EM Model for Mutual Influence was designed to help us understand how we best can influence people toward positive and mutual change. No one wants to be changed by someone else. No one wants to become someone's "project." Our goal is not to see a one-way process. We desire to see mutual influence and mutual change.
We firmly believe the people we serve on mission trips are not our "mission project." They are valuable creations of God with so much to offer. While it can be obvious that change needs to happen in their community, we believe change needs to happen in us as well. This model seeks to show how this kind of mutual change can best take place. Change cannot be forced, and we know we will not succeed if we try to impose our thinking, values and beliefs on others. We believe there is a better way.
1. Love & Accept
vs. Judging Others
As followers of Christ, we become a visual picture of God's love to those we come in contact with. We come to show His love as we care for people.
What does God's love look like?
What is our ultimate motive for caring, interacting and sharing our life?
Out of love we are able to resist our natural tendency to judge and change others. When we give RESPECT to another person as a genuine act of love it allows us to simply accept them as they are: unique creations of a loving God. Our job is not to change people, but to love them.
Once we change our focus from judging others to loving them, we are free from the need to change them and they are free from the pressure that comes from that expectation. The scripture tells us to "Love one another" and also to "Accept one another."
3. Serve & Partner
vs. Directing Others
Servanthood is love acting in life's relationships. We serve others best by partnering with them, by recognizing what they have to contribute and how our collaboration will bring a better, longer-lasting result while maintaining the DIGNITY and sense of worth of all involved.
Our job is not to take care of people, but to serve in partnership with them.
"I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now." (Philippians 1:4-5)
"As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you." (2 Corinthians 8:23)
2. Listen & Learn
vs. Correcting Others
How we enter into new relationships within a cross-cultural setting is very important. We come to listen and learn, which begins with an intentional focus that moves our attention away from our own personal interests, values and faith. We must center our attention on another person's world in order to build TRUST.
How do they see life?
How do they see the world?
How do they see faith?
Our job is not to teach people, but to learn alongside them.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Result: Mutual Change
vs. Forced Change
As we interact and demonstrate respect for people, the diversity of our lives creates opportunities for reciprocal learning, growth and life change. We have something to learn from everyone once we set aside our personal judgments and cultural prejudices, things we may have previously used to determine a person's worth.
Our job is not to change others, but to change ourselves.
The EM Model for Mutual Influence provides an approach to the important issues of establishing respect and trust when forging new cross-cultural relationships.
By understanding the importance of respect, trust and personal dignity, our hope is to avoid forced change and push toward an the influence of growth and change that is mutual among all people involved.
Is it possible to serve others in a way that causes more harm than good?
At EM we seek to serve others in a way that is sensitive to their personal dignity. We must never enter a needy community with the attitude that we are somehow "superior" to residents there simply because we were born into circumstances that provide easy access to employment, food, shelter and education. It is always important to take time and consider how those we intend to serve might see our efforts.
We go to a community to share our time, love and resources with the people there, to work alongside them as brothers and sisters and to spread Christ's love. But we must always keep in mind that when serving people with desperate needs, it can be very easy to make them feel that we're only serving because we have pity on them or because we want to feel good about ourselves.
The people we serve persevere in the face of extreme hardships. They are champions, and they should be treated as such. The only difference between us and them is our easy access to resources. Our goal is to develop relationships with mutual feelings of respect and honor. We must be always be sensitive to our posture and our attitude so that when we do offer our resources, others feel the love, respect and dignity they are entitled to as God's children.
What steps can we take to remain sensitive to personal dignity?
EM projects are designed to encourage partnership between community residents and volunteers who come to serve. Every person involved is encouraged to be both a giving and receiving partner in ministry.
In order to demonstrate that we really care, we must treat people with the genuine respect God's creations deserve and be sure they do not feel like "targets." We must continually check our motives for service. We will acknowledge and correct any service that is done in a way that represses others in order to elevate ourselves.
We will not simply serve—we will be servants.
A Network of Communities, Leaders,
Supporters & Volunteers
Often broken and hardship exist because people lack connections to those with resources. Human nature is such that most people with excess resources are generous with their family and friends, but they are less likely to give without some sort of personal connection. This simple principle dictates that we can assist those in need by enabling them to build genuine relationships built on mutual trust and influence with those who live in abundance. This is the amazing value of a network.
Mission Trip Volunteers
Through short-term mission trips, EM partners with many churches, para-church organizations, and nonprofits. We have partnered with volunteers from over 300 churches and organizations in 44 states and over 850 cities. We love that our volunteers come from all over and from all different church denominations and types of organizations. Without this growing network of people going on mission trips, we would never be able to have the kind of impact we desire in the communities where we serve.
Full-time Staff & Interns
Our full-time staff is born and bred Africans. At the moment our interns come from the U.S. They all do incredible work facilitating mission trips, developing leaders and increasing the impact of Experience Mission Africa.
Our office is located in Centurion, South Africa.