Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alline Serpa

I first got to know Initiatives of Change some 18 years ago at a taxi-drivers’ meeting in Sitio Sao Luiz, Petropolis. As I got involved in different activities my ideas about the world in which I live changed and my understanding about relationships between people across the globe matured.

Despite getting to know amazing people in the IofC team in Brazil and abroad – including people who had known it as Moral Re-Armament (MRA) in earlier days when it was extremely active and tackled world issues – I had never managed to grasp the full spirit of change and the heart of its aims until I read “The Worldwide Legacy of Frank Buchman”, compiled by Archie Mackenzie and David Young. Its impact on me was so deep that I took on the task to print it in Portuguese. The whole IofC team in Brazil supported me in this.

Strangely, it was only possible for me to read the book after I became unemployed for the first time in seven years. Over six months I had enough time to read the stories, reflect, learn and think deeply about the personal change I needed. It is strange how God sometimes gives us the time we need (even when we don’t know we need it) in such different ways.

I was totally inspired reading about how Buchman forged a revolutionary idea which brought thousands of people to a true change of heart and then fought with them for personal change. And now I am asking: “Who has the courage to do the same, to be the Frank Buchman of the 21st century?” I am totally convinced that we are badly in need of such personal experiences of change in our training courses and in our workshops – even though these are highly significant and valuable for the work of IofC in the whole world. I challenge veterans and young people alike to stop, read, reflect and then develop a work that is truly inspired by the practice of silence and searching for guidance from God or from our consciences. Perhaps we may have skipped out a vital phase in the process: the phase in which we could really inspire the people by our sides, those closest to us; to have deep conversations, with conviction and care for them, for their lives, their preoccupations. To build friendship and trust with others before we even talk about IofC.

This is what I learned from Buchman – that each colleague was important to him, their family, their work and their future. As a result, people were happy to be by his side. They appreciated his way with them and really wanted to follow him, because they wanted to do for others what he was doing for them. Today IofC has its place in the world, but we are in the middle of a debate about “how to be more effective” in our mission to help global change happen. I suppose that the answer lies in the heart of every man and woman who wants to truly offer themselves to fight for a world where relationships might be totally different and improved. It starts with your relationship with the people you love most. Change should begin right here, turning to look at the person right beside us.

We need to take more care, much more care, of each other. With the utmost sincerity.

Alline Serpa