Community Thoughts from Stephen Montgomery

This past week, the Cropseys have been visiting Ann Arbor, and a veritable torrent of meetings have taken place. It's given us all a lot to process, and we're grateful for everyone who has provided input to us. We'll try and update the blog with some of our thoughts and recapitulations.

Stephen Montgomery, 3-year veteran of Niger, soon to return as a hospital administrator to Galmi Hospital, Niger, came as spoke to us regarding Serving in Mission, or SIM, an agency that sends many people, often in medical contexts, to several hospitals in Africa. We enjoyed Moe's burritos together, and then sat in the shade next to Jessica's parents' pool, and talked about many things. Among them, we were interested in his perspectives on life in community, as he not only had lived in the communities in Niger, but also had long-lived in a very close community in the Chicago area. Since we have undertaken to pursue this as 3 families together, we are interested in learning how to best make this aspect of our lives fruitful.

Certainly the take-home quote from Stephen went something like this: "It's true that wisdom can be found within a community, but it's also entirely possible for the sum thoughts of the group to be stupider than any one person's individual wisdom." Noted.

He also spoke from a Jean Vanier (founder of the L'Arche community, often thought of in connection with Henri Nouwen) book. Namely, that the pursuance of community itself can be held so high as an idea, that one begins to see the faults of the members of the community merely as impedances to the idea. In other words, you can't see the trees because of the forest. Community itself can be important, but it is only important because of the people involved, who thus must be upheld above the community idea.

Strong thoughts, and worth learning for us at this point of beginning with this community. Thanks much for your travel and your time, Stephen. God bless your family's work in Niger.

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