Friend of Team Arequipa (as well as co-founder of TA and CUDA, co-founder of Luminous Coffee, but of course, better known as friend of Team Arequipa), Greg McKinzie wrote a great piece for Fuller Studio connecting his 6+ years in Arequipa reading Mark with Peruvians to what he's studying now at Fuller. Here are a couple excerpts to whet your appetite:
I have to confess that, as far as the struggle to live in solidarity went, I failed far more than I succeeded. Yet there were moments when, reading Mark with my Peruvian friends and neighbors, their struggles, their wisdom, and their wonderful culture gave me eyes to see. What follows is one example of the ways that reading Mark in solidarity with Peruvians shaped me as an interpreter.
I remember attending a conference before our mission team moved to Arequipa. A man who had been a missionary kid in Peru spoke about the work that remained unfinished a generation after his parents had returned to the United States. He interpreted the perpetually unfinished houses of Peruvian barrios as an analogy for the problem—the unsightly image of rebar sticking up from nearly every rooftop. Yet after I had lived in a few of those unfinished houses, hung laundry on their flat roofs bristling with rebar, and watched the families around me build additions poco a poco (little by little), rebar jutting toward the sky became a symbol of hope. Faced with the impossibility of building multiple stories at once but committed to making space for multiple generations of the family, Peruvians leave the rebar sticking out of the roof level so they can tie into the existing structure when they add the next floor of the house. This is a long-term proposition that often becomes the inheritance of the next generation. I can’t see rebar now without thinking of the tenacious hope of the working poor who make up the vast majority of Peru’s population.
Reading with the hopeful is one example among many. I might also write about reading with the poor, the thankful, the wounded, and the generous. All of these and more were aspects of reading Mark with Peruvians that shaped me in ways that defy prosaic description. And the difficulty of putting these experiences into writing is very much the point: the practice of incarnational evangelism is hermeneutically formative in ways that merely reading the perspectives of others is not. If we could gain the perspective of the other just by reading about it, we wouldn’t need to read with the other. The fact is, reading with, in the fullest sense of the phrase, is uniquely transformative.