My name is James Henderson. Together with my wonderful family, Erin, Kate (11), and Caleb (9), we are now into our 12th year of urban ministry in Mexico City. For the last several years, I have served on Mosaic’s executive team and in the spiritual care of the Mosaic team, my friends who serve the urban poor in integral change.
I find it difficult to express just how much gratitude and joy I find in accompanying these very rare change agents from diverse backgrounds (Mexico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and the U.S.). Every day I notice how God is using this very special team to shape my own character toward closer Christlikeness. I notice the Lord using my friends to challenge and stretch my faith. And together with them, I consider it a very tangible grace that I am allowed to do my small part in contributing to something so beautiful…something way beyond myself. We know that we are living in the Kingdom of God made already available by the life and announcement of Christ.
You see, we think that God is up to something very big, and it is beyond anything we can possibly image for good. Together we imagine a world in which people’s lives flourish in every way as they increasingly become like Christ.
My role on this team is so cool, so very fun. I love it. I get a front row seat to watch transformation take place in our immediate circle as a community of coworkers and friends. I thought you might like to see what I see,…Mosaic through my eyes… (some names have been changed to protect their privacy)
• I watch Pepe confront local mafiosos by stepping into courage that is similar to Christ. It’s powerful to see. We call Pepe “4 X 4,” because he is all-terrain in community field work.
• I notice the Christlike quality of Yolanda and Guadalupe’s caring about women and promoting healthy living as a part of Christ’s peace. God cares about our bodies. So they dance Zumba and become friends.
• I see that youth in schools intuitively trust Fernanda.
• Like Pepe, Daniela convenes citizen committees that follow her into lasting change. They are generating such creative change, that their contemporaries jealous of the difference they are making.
• Before my eyes, I’m watching young Israel “catch” this vision with a growing hunger to share his gift on the fútbol fields, homes, and in community gratitude gatherings.
• Lately I’ve observed the always-widening responsibility and impact that Patricia María carries so well, this sister makes sacrifices that most of us can’t imagine.
• Without Chelle, Alejandra, and Vero, the organization would be in real trouble, because not only do they keep us administratively afloat, their effort is always done in excellence. I don’t make a move without those three.
• Phillip and Beauty have such an authentic faith and share such deep wisdom. When Phillip prays, it’s like listening to the Psalms. Beauty creates safe circles for women to heal their broken hearts.
• I have never met someone with as much community transformation know-how as Oscar. When Oscar talks, people listen. I’m telling you, world class organizations want to know what Oscar knows.
• Jean Luc and Shabrae have been given by God an uncommon vision that is so attractive, that it shapes our strongest commitments and draws out our deepest passion.
• And in my own family, our kids are growing up cross-culturally, and what’s normal to them is serving others….serving the world that God loves so much.
We want to become like Christ in the inner dimensions of our character. We do not work without the transformative presence of the Spirit. We know that the generative goodness and love of the Father overflows into all his creation.
So we purposefully ask what it would like for Jesus to convene that citizen committee, or build the bathroom at that school, or write that grant, or confront that corrupt leader, or console that despairing single-mother.
Because we hang our hat on Jesus knowing what it took to introduce the kind of living that would change everything. Absolutely everything. He not only announced that a life of union with the Trinity was possible, he also showed us how, too. He continues to do so.
So we rally together each week, and share practices that help our attention be wrapped around God. Specifically,…
• We practice silence. we slow things down intentionally.
• We do heart check-ins. Not a week goes by that we don’t know how each other are truly doing.
• We open up. We don’t keep it superficial. Sometimes what we share is too painful to talk about.
• We engage the stories of scripture and challenge our false narratives. We do this through meditative reading of the text, and prayerful lectio divina.
• We pray for each other. We always bless one another. Sometimes we sing our prayers together.
• We practice missional coaching and spiritual guidance together.
• We eat together, go on retreat together.
We’ve recently finished a re-reading of the Gospel of Luke together. If you’ve never read the Gospel of Luke with slum workers who work by the love of God, what an extraordinary experience it is. They naturally see the compassion and universal-inclusive-love of Christ. They compare it to their own field work, struggles, and desires in the communities.
Now, we’re embarking on an adventurous re-reading of Luke II (Acts), seeing that Jesus’ early friends and followers were actually becoming like Him and actually working by the gift that came to them by a promise, the life-changing power of the Spirit. The kingdom of heaven was a reality at work in real lives, where people were actually living. And it fell nothing short of world revolution.
At Mosaic, I am seeing that we are beginning to believe that Luke II, or Acts, is still being written all over the world. And here, around us, too….Written in simple ways through the lives of our friends in the marginalized communities of Mexico City…it is being written line by line, page by page, life by life, community by community.
Aren’t we all doing something in collaboration with God?…small but good, contributing to the timeless and overarching narrative that God relentlessly pursues us all and is renewing all things.