I thought I had left language barriers behind when I left South Africa. I thought it would be easy to talk about mission and Mthatha now that everyone (or most everyone) I would be talking to spoke English as a first language. Ha!
A few weeks back I spoke at diocesan convention. There was a sign language interpreter there and I later asked here what the sign for “mission” is. She showed me it and said it was the same sign for “work.”
I thanked her and walked away but I was horrified. All my time in South Africa I had realized that mission is not about work but about presence and relationship. I started using the phrase “mission being and doing” to capture this reality. (This phrase was picked up at a higher level in the church.)
And now deaf people were hearing me talk about my “work”! It’s enough to make me scream with frustration.
And then I remember that mission happens as much in the overcoming of barriers as it does once those barriers are overcome.