Many Gifts, One Spirit
Scott Couper & Susan Valiquette – South Africa
World Wide Communion 2005
Rev. Janis Dey
- Joy comes from spreading the news about God around the world.
- This psalm almost speaks of the fulfillment of the “great commission” (MT 28:18-20) when Jesus commanded that the Gospel be taken to all nations.
- We can count ourselves among the great crowd of believers worldwide who know the Savior; praise Him for His Good News and share that Gospel until there is an abundant harvest.
How do we do that?
1 Corinthians 12:4-12
Gifts given to each person by the Holy Spirit – special abilities that are used to minister to the needs of the body of believers.
- Many gifts—this is not an exhausted list. Many gifts for the purpose of building up the body, the church.
- We must use our different gifts, together to spread the Good News of salvation and to build up the body of believers.
- Many gifts, but it is the Holy Spirit that binds these gifts together and gives them meaning. What good are gifts if we don’t give them away? Are they gifts then?
Just as there are many gifts there are many ways to serve. We serve through our partnerships with other Christians who also strive to use their gifts to build the body, the church.
Pastor Bryan asked me to tell you about a few of our partnerships that have developed here in the past 4 years.
It began in the Board of Christian Outreach. I began my three-year term four years ago. As we got to know one another they learned about my son, Scott Couper, and my daughter-in-law, Susan Valiquette, both UCC ordained ministers who serve as missionaries in South Africa. Scott serves as a pastor of a church and Susan serves as a chaplain at Inanda Seminary, an all-girls boarding high school of about 300 students. The Outreach Committee wanted to become “partners” with Scott and Susan through Global Ministries. We don’t provide direct financial support in any way although they receive monies through OCWM. We are “partners” through visits, emails, prayer, and the sharing of spiritual gifts.
Six hours ago (due to the time change) Pastor Bryan was preaching and our visionary team was celebrating worldwide communion with the communities that Scott and Susan serve!
While in South Africa our visionary team will be visiting HIV/AIDS clinics, orphanages, and churches to see how a venture with Florida Hospital can help. South Africa has the world’s fastest-growing AIDS epidemic and KwaZulu Natal where Scott and Susan serve is the epicenter. Up to 30% of its people and an astonishing 40-56% of teenage girls test positive for HIV. One out of every seven children will be an AIDS orphan in 2005.
Florida Hospital personnel couldn’t send someone on this preliminary trip however, they sent some very specialized medical equipment with our visionary team that will allow doctors in the Kingdom of Lesotho to hook up by satellite communications with Florida Hospital during difficult surgeries and for consultations!
In the future, Florida Hospital and our church hope to make more trips to begin parish nurse programs, work in HIV/AIDS clinics, work in orphanages and explore other ways to collaborate with our growing list of partners in South Africa.
All of these partnerships have developed slowly and thoughtfully over a period of 4 years. We at First Congregational Church have so many gifts to share here and overseas. The Outreach Committee, our Pastors, and our church leadership seek new opportunities for more people to share their gifts. But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that WE are the givers only. We have been the receivers of Scott and Susan’s gifts and we will receive countless gifts from our new partners in South Africa. Our visionary team is being welcomed and our team is getting a good sense of all the gifts Inanda Seminary and those churches fighting on the frontlines of the war on AIDS have to give their own communities and our community here. Our visionary team will be energized by the incredible work being done by our spiritually gifted new friends in South Africa. They will return to us with stories of great needs but also of great strength and great faith. Each community is sharing their spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit in the hope and promise of a fulfilled Kingdom of God. We have many gifts to share. We have One Spirit.
Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette are missionaries serving in South Africa. Scott serves with the UCCSA as pastor at a UCCSA congregation in Durban. Susan serves with the Inanda Seminary in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa as chaplain.