By Shane McNary
The appeal of participating as a member of the group of editors working on a special Roma Ministry edition of the Central and Eastern European Association for Mission Studies’ (CEEAMS) mission journal ACTA Missiologiae was that it allows me to work with good friends who are much smarter than me!
Dr. Anne-Marie Kool organized a mission conference on Roma ministry at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia several years ago. I was glad to participate and share from my own research on cultural issues in Roma church leadership at that conference. I have known Anne-Marie for years and am always encouraged by her reminder that progress—whether in academic work or ministry—is accomplished in little steps.
The other member of the editorial group is Dr. Melody Wachsmuth. Melody is a long-time friend who has published extensively on Roma Christianity among other topics. Her publications on Roma Christianity was instrumental in the formation of the international Roma Networks organization. For members of any short-term ministry team we hosted who heard me mention missions and the Lord’s Supper as we looked at local churches, you can thank Melody who co-authored the paper I cited.
Clearly my interest in saying yes is to continue to learn from these two brilliant missiologists. I am happy to participate in helping promote the work of CEEAMS as well as the ACTA missions journal. Further, I want to help highlight the brilliant Roma voices who are actively researching and publishing about what God is doing in and through these beautiful people. What I did not count on is the number of edits required!
The first challenge involved editing a paper by a Slovak missiologist. Dr. Soltesova is familiar with Roma ministry across all of Slovakia. In addition to teaching at a seminary in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, she is involved in the review of the Roma Bible translation project I also work on. Her original article includes an overview of selected churches and ministries among Roma. It was a powerful reminder of how much is going on and a reminder of the many friends involved. Still, after two edits so far, the other members of the ACTA group tell me, “another edit needed.”
The second challenge involved editing my own work. I thought when I hit the send button on my research back in 2015 to my professor at Fuller Seminary, completing the requirements for the ThM program I was taking, that I would not have to edit it again. I was wrong. First I was to change formatting and reference style. Then I needed to take a look at some updated literature. And just when I think I have reached the finish line, the goalposts are moved. “Another edit needed.”
The back and forth of creating something in community is an exercise in humility, boldness, grace, and always living into the truth that, in the words and blessed itsy-bitsy-spider hand gesture of Anne-Marie, “we make progress in little steps.”
The process is also a reminder about faith. Through Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, our own personal journey is never finished…another edit is needed.
Shane McNary is CBF field personnel serving alongside his wife Dianne in Slovakia. Learn more about and support their ministry at www.cbf.net/mcnary.