The TIMO Philosophy
One way to describe the TIMO philosophy of cross-cultural ministry is that of “walking together.” We are called to “walk together” with the poor and oppressed following the model of Jesus’ incarnational ministry on earth. Christ moved toward the poor and oppressed. He did not necessarily seek to lift them out of their predicaments or circumstances. Rather, He entered into their lives and walked with them, identifying with their situation, not trying to make it seem better than it really was, but instead showing them that God understands what they are going through. This is clearly seen in John 4, where Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. At a time when it was unthinkable for a Jew to interact with any Samaritan, much less a woman who had been married several times, Jesus chooses to enter into her life of brokenness. He shocks her initially by asking her for help (“Give me a drink” John 4:7). This simple gesture of asking for a drink is a subtle, but powerful way of putting Jesus and the woman on equal ground. He needs something from her, and thus her existence in this moment has value. Eventually Jesus reveals to the woman her need for salvation, but His ability to speak to her with a combination of equality (give me a drink) and honesty (I who speak to you am He) is the approach we need to take as we minister to anyone, but especially the poor and oppressed.
Jean Vanier summarizes this perfectly in his book From Brokenness to Community, “When someone has lived most of his or her life in the last place and then discovers that Jesus is there in the last place as well, it is truly good news.” As agents of His kingdom proclamation, we are called to the “last placers” of communities throughout the world, including the Nyamwezi in Tanzania.