What does global mission look like in the 21st century? Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission, sat down with Living Lutheran to explain.

Living Lutheran: What is the primary focus of ELCA Global Mission today?

Malpica Padilla: Global mission is the responsibility of the whole church, not of a unit. My staff’s role is to steward relationships with the ELCA’s global companions.

My goal is to map out the total engagement of this church in global mission ventures, really knowing what each expression is doing and how that is contributing to a commonly agreed upon goal. Not necessarily the goal we set for ourselves, but a shared goal with our companions. We must ask: Whose needs are we meeting—theirs or ours?

What is accompaniment and why is it important for the ELCA’s global mission?

Accompaniment is walking in solidarity that is characterized by interindependence and mutuality. And we (the ELCA) walk with our companions and our companions walk with us in the same way that God through Jesus walked with us. It is patterned after that kenosis—when Jesus emptied himself to assume our humanity. Because of that relationship, we have been working together [with global companions} for more than 20 years.

What do ELCA members need to know about the global church?

We are both donors and receivers of gifts from the global church. Each gives according to their own capacities. When we had Hurricane Katrina, one of the first contributions we received was $200 that came from the Lutheran church in Madagascar. When we needed to find people for specific ministries, we have turned to the Lutheran church in El Salvador. Let us share what God has given to God’s church to do God’s work.

For more information about ELCA Global Mission, visit elca.org/globalchurch.

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