O.K. Let’s face it. Corvallis is an academic community. It has more than its fair share of academicians. According to the “Visit Corvallis and Benton County” website, “More inventions pour out of Corvallis than most other cities in the nation, and “USA Today” listed Corvallis fourth in the nation for the number of patents issued.” Also, at this same website, we read, “America’s Promise named Benton County & Corvallis as one of the ‘100 Best Communities for Children’ (2005).” So, what do children and academicians have in common? One answer to that would be curiosity. Curiosity, of course, is fueled by inquiring minds.
Pastor Tom Christiansen, who served many years as a missionary in Cameroon, encouraged participants at a 2008 Convocation on “The Church in Mission,” to employ curiosity as a mission tool. What, one might ask, does curiosity, an inquiring mind, have to do with spreading the gospel? As Pr. Christiansen employed it, it seeks to give us clues about those to whom we are sent. Those to whom we are sent may have perceptions of the world and exist in a culture very different than our own. They may be of a different ethnicity and live in a different country, or they may be N. American eighth graders in our own congregation.
The apostle Paul employed the tool of curiosity when he traveled to Athens and addressed a crowd very different than previous crowds he had addressed. He made observations and considered his context before speaking. “. . . I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, [and] I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:23)
If we don’t understand those to whom we are speaking, the words we speak, and the message we wish to proclaim has less of a chance of being meaningful. We put our own understanding, our own perceptions of the world aside to learn from another. Once we have been successful in doing this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we may then bring the two together. At this point, we are able to speak and act in a way in which brings new life, not only to others but to ourselves as well. In this way, the power of the gospel is refreshed and released anew to do its transforming work in the world.
Wishing you an active, inquiring mind employed in the service of the gospel,