May 24, 2013

Global Notebook: 2013 COSIM Conference

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Representing EduDeo Ministries on the ground in Phoenix, Arizona at the 2013 COSIM Conference (Coalition on the Support of Indigenous Ministries), EduDeo Ministries International Partnership Coordinator Tim Bootsma joined ministry leaders, Monday, May 6 to Wednesday, May 8, for the 18th annual event.

“EduDeo Ministries is committed to being a learning organization,” Tim noted.  

“As a ministry that partners globally with national school organizations, it was important for EduDeo Ministries to participate in the conference,” the International Partnership Coordinator explained.

Over thirty ministries serving in almost every region of the globe were represented at this year’s conference.

Keynote speaker,  Brazilian native, Alex Araujo, a senior partnership consultant with Partners International and founding member of Interdev Partnership Associates, directed conference participants to Matthew 11:15 – “He that has ears to hear, let him hear,” – and the theme of listening and deepening the conversation in cross-cultural partnership.

A mutual learning and networking community, COSIM is a community of evangelical Christian organizations with a common interest in the support and capacity building of majority world ministries.  The vision and mission of COSIM is to expand the understanding and practice of cross-cultural partnerships with indigenous ministries for the advancement of the Gospel and to share best practices with an emphasis on partnerships between North American and majority world ministries.

A veteran of cross-cultural ministry, formerly serving World Renew (formerly known as the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee) along with wife Andrea in Eastern Zambia, Tim shared a number of key takeaway notes following the COSIM conference.

“I was impacted by the metaphor of partnership as a sail boat,” Tim noted.

“Picture a sail boat.  What do you see?  The hull of the boat in the water, people trimming sails, and handling the rudder.  Sails tight with the strain of the wind.  It’s not always easy working together between partners representing different cultural backgrounds, capacities and resources.  Participants at COSIM were challenged to greater unity.  Just as the people on a sail boat, the boat itself and the wind all need to be working together for maximum performance so our North American organization needs to be able to work together with our partners, need to work along with and be powered by the ‘wind’ of God’s blessing.  It’s when we are working together that we are able to effectively transform the lives of people through our partnership.  One lesson from the conference was that we as North American ministries need to take the time to listen to both what God is saying to us as individuals and organizations and to our partners in the field.”

The International Partnership Coordinator highlighted a second key takeaway note:

“It was also interesting hearing from a majority world-based ministry at the conference,” Tim noted.

“The Central American-based mission, Pueblos Musulmanes Internacional (PM International), receives support and missionaries from twenty-two Central American countries sending missionaries to work in the Middle East ministering to the Islamic community.  It was interesting to hear what PM International, as an indigenous ministry established and operating in the global South, has learned about cross-cultural partnership.” 

Tim cited a number of lessons PM International has learned over twenty years in collaborating with both Northern and Southern partners:

  • Having a well-defined project plan that is clearly understood by all participants.
  • Sharing staff members from partnering ministries.  PM International collaborated with a Northern partner staff member to address data collection and reporting requirements.
  • Not only identifying and sharing available financial resources, but personnel, expertise, structures and knowledge.
  • Ensuring appropriate training and capacity building of partner staff where necessary.
  • Cultivating honest dialogue – sometimes a difficult task, because different cultures communicate honesty differently.  Partnering ministries should identify staff members who have a good understanding of both partnering cultures.
  • Implementing partners should take the lead in coming up with ministry ideas and plans.
  • Promoting genuine friendship and relationship within cross-cultural partnership.  This is a key priority since Northern partners often operate within an individualistic and task orientated culture while Southern partners operate within a relational and community orientated culture.

Summarizing the central theme of the COSIM conference, Tim stressed the key theme of Biblical listening and hearing in the ongoing global ministry of Kingdom transformation, in both listening to God and to partners in the field.

“The global church is called to unity in diversity,” Tim stressed.

“My prayer is that EduDeo Ministries will be able to implement a number of the cross-cultural lessons learned from this conference work more effectively with our international partners.  Our desire is to continue learning how to be a more effective ministry and blessing within the global body of Christ.”


Jun 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend this conference. Is there any written report, video presentation or recommended reading available from the conference? Thanks.

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