Each 3rd Sunday of the month TEG happens – “The Early Gathering” where we meet over breakfast for worship. We have different speakers each month and reflect on a wide variety of themes. This last TEG (15th May) Johnny Fisher shared about his work with Amplifying Voices. We asked Johnny to summarise what he covered:
First, let me introduce Amplifying Voices. We are a faith-based organisation, sharing in the vision to see Jesus’ promise of life in all its fullness become reality. You can read in the Bible that Jesus’ mission is to reconcile all things to himself and in the Gospels we see lots of examples of his healing, forgiveness and inviting people into new ways of living. We see ourselves following this “way of Jesus” in a very practical sense. Through equipping communities with media tools, we help to get people talking, listening, and taking action together, to build peace and improve community wellbeing and resilience.
“Listening” is key to our work. At TEG we looked at a Chinese word for listen, “TING”
The character is really fascinating because it’s made up of five other words that all contribute to what it means to listen.
So there is listening with the Ear as you’d expect, listening with your Eyes – watching the body language.
Listening with your Heart – what are the emotions that are happening?
Listening with your Undivided attention (character element means “one”) – there is only 1 speaker that matters
And then listening with Respect (character element means “King”) – I respect what you say – therefore it matters
So when Amplifying Voices does media training workshops, we encourage people to TING as they make radio programmes or podcasts. I.e. don’t make content that’s just all about you speaking. Instead, always be listening and including the voices of others.
We heard some stories from Amplifying Voices’ partners in Uganda, South Sudan and Pakistan. Hazeen Latif from Pakistan, shared an experience from one of his projects which you can listen to here …
As we listened to this story at TEG, one thing Hazeen said that stood out to us was – if they had simply gone into the community with a pre-conceived plan for “educating” or “informing”, without listening and understanding, they would have probably wasted time and resources.
We read a story from the book of Acts in the Bible, (Acts 17:16-28) where Paul does some community engagement - listening with his eyes and ears as arrives in Athens. He responds to an invitation to the talk show of the day - the Areopagus and he shares what he has seen and heard -That the people of Athens are very spiritual – He admires and affirms this. But he also acknowledges the need he saw – the Athenians didn’t know the God they are searching for – something highlighted by the altar to the ”Unknown God”. Paul admits that this is a common human need - the desire to know the God who made us, and that our common origin is common ground for understanding each other. From this point, he goes on to share his unique message about Jesus.
So what does mean for us in Duns and district? Well, we want to pray for God’s Kingdom to come in our community. (This song is a really helpful way of expressing that prayer).
And when we are out and about in our community we can listen and ask the Holy Spirit to show us where God’s Kingdom is already evident – what is good and lovely - and where are the needs – (for wellness, for wholeness, for restored relationships, for hope)? We can listen and understand what is it that connects us with our friends, neighbours and work colleagues? What are our shared concerns and hopes? (This song is good for expressing our common humanity)
So you try that yourself - print off and cut-out these figures, write down some prayer ideas as follows …
Think of the ones you’re praying for – in Duns, Scotland, Ukraine, Yemen or anywhere. Think of things you’ve heard them say recently and make a note on the figures of:
Strengths (the good) - the Needs – our Connection.
Then just talk to God about what you’ve written down – Remember to give thanks for the good stuff and for the connections!