Select Page
photo: canva graphic: Martha G. Brady

photo: canva graphic: Martha G. Brady

Fellowship, the true koinonia kind is not easy. We had quite a group of missionaries in Jamaica. Single, married, young, old, middle-aged, with children, childless, with grown children and everything in between! To look at us, you wouldn’t see much that we had in common…except that we were working there at the Bible College.

We were there a semester when a new principal came to the school. His personality was quite different from David Calhoun! He was what many Navigators call a Cruncher. If you are unfamiliar with the Navigators, you probably won’t understand what I’m talking about. Don’t worry. You can probably tell by the word.

By education, Bobby was an engineer and linguist. They had planned to go with Wycliffe to translate the Bible. Due to the ages of their kids, they came to feel that the living situation their children would have to adjust to for a translation lifestyle was not wise for that stage in their lives. Next thing you know, they were headed to Jamaica!

Trying to develop koinonia among the faculty

One thing he wanted to do was help us work together and become close to each other. I think that was a bit of a new concept…especially in some of the areas he was trying to push for it. Bobby was a friend of ours but he was not the kind of person who instantly made friends in this kind of situation! His wife Marilyn was the one who made friends. Bobby was very single-minded. He had goals and plans. He wasn’t as inclined to think about the feelings of the people involved. He was loaded with ideas. I loved it! I loved new things. Not everyone did. I was in my mid 20’s. That may explain some of my enthusiasm.

One thing he wanted to do was help us work together and become close to each other. Share on X

We had get-togethers where we shared things about ourselves. As you can imagine, there were introverts and extroverts and everything in between. Out of those times, in spite of our sharing that often brought tears, not always the healthy kind, developed a closeness and love for each other.

Looking back, I can’t even tell you exactly how it happened except that GOD did it. Some of our meetings that forced the closeness did open up wounds and they were painful and raw. But out of them came closeness with time.

I was very clueless, insensitive…and young

For some, it was very threatening to say the least! In one of the meetings, I asked some questions that in hindsight I realize felt much more like an attack than I meant them to be. I was really dumb back then when it came to relationships and how easy it was to hurt others. The side benefit was that the woman I hurt by my questions was defended and encouraged in ways she probably never had been.

No, it doesn’t justify my total stupidity, unawareness, and lack of sensitivity to her. But it showed me how much she was respected and honored. It broadened my view of others in the Body of Christ there. I realized how young and stupid I really was! It was a good thing.

And that’s how koinonia happens. It isn’t magic. It isn’t easy. It can often be raw and while you are in the middle of the process, you will often think it is hopeless and will never happen. But suddenly, you find a tenderness toward the very people you didn’t think you had much in common with. That isn’t natural. It comes from the Holy Spirit working in you…changing you in ways you never dreamed. GOD builds bonds between you that is not natural. It is one part of our Jamaica experience that was very helpful for the rest of my life! Thanks Bobby for your perseverance!

That's how koinonia happens. It isn't magic. It isn't easy. It can often be raw... Share on X

We all lost our work permits and were going to have to leave the island

The final straw came when we all lost our work permits partly through the school year of 1976-1977. We didn’t know if we were going to have to leave quickly or not. But GOD answered prayer and we were able to finish the school year.

It was a relief for me because Holly, our youngest, was due in April and I didn’t want to change doctors  and move half way through the pregnancy. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. We moved to the U.S. when she was 6 weeks old, but at least she was born and we got through it all together.

For certain, I learned that there are no neat formulas for developing koinonia

As a result of our 7 years in Jamaica, I have no neat formulas for developing koinonia. One thing that has to happen is that we need to be able to be vulnerable and honest with one another. We need to realize that we will fail and need to apologize and repent before GOD. We will never NOT make mistakes in relationships. We need to be committed to one another, realizing that without Jesus we will never do relationships right. When we fail, we apologize and make things right with those we have hurt.

It sounds so easy. Why is it so hard?

Challenge: Have you experienced both the rawness and the joy of koinonia/fellowship? What does it entail on your part to have true fellowship with another person?

Do you find it difficult to apologize? To be honest? To be open and vulnerable?

Are you willing to hang in through the messy process…raw, scary, joyful, loving, caring & supportive?