Our Last Missive
Larry Colvin serves with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana.
Since August I have been back in the United States meeting with churches and other groups, mostly in Missouri, which makes up the greater portion of the Mid-America Region. The region has been immensely helpful in making this time successful. First, the region has provided an automobile for our use as we travel. The kind people of First Christian Church in Windsor have provided us with a furnished residence.
This is the first time I have had the experience of visiting and interpreting the ministry I shared overseas since the advent of Covid-19. As with most life’s experiences, Covid-19 has created differences.
Because of restrictions in place in many congregations, invitations have been withdrawn. Some congregations had originally planned to have larger events or dinners. Many have been scalded back. At several churches, Debbie and I have been told attendance is down. Yet at other congregations, we have been told the service is being viewed by a larger number beyond the church.
Several of our presentations have been virtual. Mid-America held a virtual assembly where viewers were able to call-in questions or comments. We have met other groups via Zoom. These opportunities did not exist in previous years. On the personal side, I miss direct contact with people. At the same time, most of the Zoom gatherings have been smaller and more intimate than the in-person gatherings. This has afforded more in-depth discussions. To me, an unexpected and positive experience. These small groups often focus on a specific theme, and we have had the opportunity to explore that interest. Some have wanted to discuss teaching techniques, others want to look at the history of mission and colonialization, still, other groups have had an interest in the integration of Christianity with an indigenous understanding of spirituality.
In-person visits continue where it is nice to meet people and make personal contact. Here, in general, the discussions are often not as in-depth or focused on a theme. However, at many of these events, people are more likely to share a personal experience or tell of an experience of someone in their family who has had an opportunity to participate in some form of overseas mission or learning. Many of the questions are also more personal. The people often want to know about our living experiences, how we traveled, what we ate, what was our relationships with the people. Here we share about our 92-year-old neighbor, Margaret who sang a Ghanaian farewell blessing for us, or the student who insisted on carrying my books for me, or the unknown woman to tend to my scrapes and abrasions following a fall.
Another opportunity I had was teaching a class at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. It allowed me to put on my teaching hat, which was a great joy. This was a class on Christianity in the world. Here I was able to discuss the growth of Christianity in Africa, the differences between the traditional European churches, and the development of what is known as African Indigenous Churches.
As I write this letter, I am preparing to be on the road to visit a woman’s group, two pastors’ gatherings, and a church in Illinois. Virtual meetings are less exhausting in terms of travel. Travel is more physically wearing but it, in the end, it is a good tired.
For me in the end, I have enjoyed each style even as I learn more about meeting virtually. I enjoy meeting the people, in person or virtually, who have been supporting me these past three years and thank them.
As the time ends, I thank God for the opportunities and experiences I have had and continue to pray for those whose lives have touched mine.
Larry Colvin serves with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. His appointment is made possible by gifts to the Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, OGHS, and your special gifts.