A Bright Future for the Church

A Bright Future for the Church

Through an initiative of David Vargas, Co-Executive of Global Ministries, Global Ministries has been served by three “College of Mission” summer interns in the Indianapolis office.  Aaron Smith, a student at the University of Chicago – Disciples Divinity House, has been serving in the Africa office with Sandra Gourdet and Luis Gierbolini, a student at Christian Theological Seminary, with Felix Ortiz in the Latin America and Caribbean office.  Tracy Siegman, a Lexington Theological Seminary student, has served in the Mission Interpretation and Constituency Relationship office with Bob Shebeck.  Below, the interns reflect on their time and travels as members of the Global Ministries family.

By Luis Gierbolini
Over the past seven weeks as a global mission intern I have seen what the future of the church will be like. On July 10, 2008, I traveled to Hasbrouck, NJ for the 14TH National Hispanic and Bilingual Assembly.  I gave a presentation about Global Ministries’ participation in God’s global mission to the youth and young adults showing them aspects of mission that may have been unfamiliar to them.  Their reception of the presentation and other workshops provided me with a glimpse of what God is doing with young men and women throughout the body of Christ.  They exhibited their desire to serve and be a living part of the Gospel when we traveled to Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Manhattan where more than 50 youth, young adults, and youth sponsors helped feed persons who are homeless and low income families.  There, they saw the need of our brothers and sisters first hand and met their needs through critical presence; many were changed and wanted to participate or start a program in their communities. 

However, God is not only working among the young women and men in America – God is working throughout the world.  That was evident in my travel to San Luis Potosi, Mexico where I participated in the first gathering ever of young pastors and leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Participants from Chile, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the United States attended workshops to strengthen their leadership ability and show their congregation that they too are an asset to the church.  It was encouraging to see how young women and men of God what to serve the Lord – if just given the opportunity. 

The struggles youth have here in America are the same throughout the body of Christ.  They say we are the Church of the future; we are the next leaders for our generation.  Should we wait until the future to use the gifts and talents they possess?  No!  The time has come for the church to start lifting this Joshua generation into leadership and giving them the support they need whether spiritually, physically, emotionally, or economically. Then, we can determine if our future will be successful – as for me, I see a bright future.

By Aaron Smith
A visit to the 20th Biennial Session of the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Memphis, TN this past weekend provided an opportunity to become refreshed, encouraged, and inspired to continue in my seminary studies.  I enjoyed the fellowship of the church and met brothers and sisters who are doing some exciting things, such as planting new churches, leading ministries in innovative ways, and including youth in the worship experience.  Disciples of every age traveled to participate in the 4-day event that proved to be both educational and uplifting.  One of the highlights of the trip was the opportunity to hear young leaders deliver keynote addresses about how they are overcoming their challenges as young ministers in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and bridging the gap between the traditions we cherish and the young people that are eager to participate in ministry.  The visit to Memphis was an overall enriching experience and I look forward to hearing more success stories from the people I had the privilege of meeting when I see them next at the 2009 General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN.

By Tracy Siegman
I had the privilege of traveling to ICYF ’08 at Chapman University in Orange, CA this past weekend.  The southern California sun was hot and beautiful every day and the Son was alive and active in the young Christians who gathered there.  Nearly 750 participants from around the country were reminded to Read the Book and learned how to Be the Movie; more than 400 came early to partner in mission throughout the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Youth leaders from the General Youth Council, keynoter Greg Turk, worship leader Amy Gopp, Sharon Watkins, Don Gillette, and others encouraged the leadership of youth in today’s church, challenged them to discover their giftedness, and reminded them of their eternal beauty.  The youth of the Church always impress me by their acceptance of one another, their interest in peace and justice, and their knowledge of global issues.

I think many missed the message of Whitney Houston’s song, “Greatest Love of All”.  She does say she believes children are our future, but that is not the main theme.  Whitney sings about the qualities that mentors should exhibit.  According to the lyrics, mentors are to affirm and encourage youth by helping them to recognize their own beauty and giftedness and allowing them to lead today.  Mentors are to exhibit self-respect, dignity, and love for oneself.  This summer, I witnessed two examples of this kind of mentoring–the youth leaders at ICYF ’08 and the staff of Global Ministries.