The Aidan Way Of Mission

Eighteen leaders from Norway have walked St. Cuthbert's Way and spent three days in retreat with us. They were led by Sven Aasmundtveit, Director of Norway's Free Lutheran Church and leader of our Community in Norway. They are the salt of the earth.

Some of them train missionaries to Africa and to Muslims. One of them gave me their training document. There are challenges. Some Africans become Christians in the hope of becoming more prosperous. Many Muslims are accepting Jesus but the churches are the greatest hindrance to them joining one. The churches are wedded to their culture and their 'rights' and fail to embrace Muslims with unconditional love and willingness to embrace their cultural patterns. Some missionaries press for their 'entitlements'. They visit indigenous peoples in a big car and then return to their nice compound.

The story of Aidan's model of mission fascinates thoughtful mission trainers. Why? I was prompted to think about this when a colleague asked me why our Community chose Aidan rather than Cuthbert as one of its two figureheads. Grossly over-simplying, I replied as follows in the form almost of tweets - but perhaps the reply gives a clue to why the Aidan model of mission is crucial in Africa, Asia and the Middle East today - not to mention the West:

Aidan was little known: Cuthbert was a celebrity.

Aidan pioneered it all: Cuthbert came on his back.

Aidan did cross-cultural indigenous mission: Cuthbert consolidated.

Aidan gave his life for another people: Cuthbert gave his life for his own people.

Aidan walked among the people: Cuthbert rode among them.

Aidan gave all money to the poor: Cuthbert accepted many estates.

Aidan’s body decayed and is not entombed in a famous shrine: Cuthbert’s body did not decay in his superior coffin and he is entombed in a prestigious cathedral.

Aidan introduced spiritual foster mothers to a new people: Cuthbert had one of them.

Aidan introduced soul friends to the English: Cuthbert was one.

Aidan established the first of many monastic ‘Villages of God’: Cuthbert was formed in them.

Aidan is a symbol of the defenceless love of the Lamb of God: Cuthbert became a symbol of a people’s prized possession.

As Aidan’s children we are a community that crosses boundaries marked by our values of simplicity, purity of motive, and the humble, collaborative heart of obedience.

Posted at 13:53pm on 19th June 2014
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