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Cally Rogers-Witte, GM Co-Executive of Global Ministries, gave a summary of the MissionWorks event in her concluding remarks. We share them here as "Words to Inspire" each one of you in telling the story of God's global mission:
My assignment is “Words to Inspire” …. It is a joy to get to remind you and me of MANY words to inspire!!
We have heard so many words of inspiration these two days, three days!! We have met people who inspire us; we have heard about ministries and projects and activities that are incredibly inspirational!!
I sat down last night and simply thought back to our coming together on Thursday – what an amazing journey we have been on! How much we have packed into less than 48 hours!!!
We have been led in moving worship by some of our very dedicated missionaries who are serving on other continents. We have met fascinating people from other parts of our own country. We have reconnected with old friends who make us feel “at home” right here and we have met new people who have stretched us in enticing new ways.
We have been inspired by stories of interfaith dialogue in Lebanon for young people from many countries and by respected older representatives of different religious traditions in the Middle East. We have been revitalized by stories of training in conflict resolution offered to Iraqis living in the midst of such terrible violence. Thank you, Jean-Paul! We have learned how to help our own local churches become “global mission churches” and we have been inspired to nurture a “global mission partnership” in our region or conference. We have connected with other people with similar passions and dreams. We have shared “best practices” in mission partnerships. We have learned from each other around these tables!
We have had opportunities to learn how to do everything from:
- Fold an origami paper crane, the sign of peace, to
- Sing a Chinese hymn, a cappella
- From how to have a profound conversation about mission by talking about a frozen wooly mammoth to
- Discover how we can make a “planned gift” which can benefit some part of God’s global mission long after we are dead but which can give us a decent interest income for life ( a very useful learning for someone my age especially!)
We have learned – or been reminded once again of the deep learning - that WE NEED OTHERS! Isn’t that a basic learning of these 48 hours?
We have internalized – once again - the importance of “mutuality” and “equality” and “acompaniamiento” and “sharing” and “caring”! We have been “born again” to the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ!!
We’ve learned to:
- Empty our bags - - to let go of our “excess baggage” – to give up our need to initiate a partnership, or to control a relationship, or to come up with a solution, or to flaunt the power of the dollar, or to answer the question before it has even been asked, and we have learned to:
- Fill our bag with, of course, extravagant hospitality and deep spirituality of course, and also kindness, joy, stories, forgiveness, and gifts of genuine listening, new customs and knowledge and a deep connection with God’s creation, thank you, Sandra!
We have purchased delicious fair trade chocolate and wonderful handmade Christmas gifts for family and friends. We have laughed together at singing various versions of “twinkle, twinkle little star” in a Bollywood style tv show (Marcy, you’ve got to share the web address for that U-tube video with all of us!). We have made new friends over meals and engaged in significant conversations around dinner tables and meeting tables. When next we see George Washington’s image on a quarter, to say nothing of John F Kennedy’s on one of those relatively rare half dollars or the reflection of the moon on still water, we will remember to look for the image of God reflected in the next person we meet. We have shared many of these moments together as a group, and we have also each had our own personal highlights as well. Those of us, like me, getting ready to “pass the torch” have been inspired by the knowledge of a new class of seminarians from our UCC and Disciples’ seminaries who have a global mission passion! And for me personally, one of the highlights has been getting to meet the great, great, great grandson of Gordon Hall, one of those very first ABCFM missionaries sent out to India in 1812; Dan Hall has continued the family tradition of working for the common good with his own life-long ministry of high school teaching and then working with homeless people.
We have learned the truth of one powerful message, probably said by an immigrant who was made to feel very unwelcome in our country: “If you ask me to return to my homeland, I would ask you to take your businesses out of my country.”
We have heard about Christian churches in China with overflow crowds for several services every Sunday morning. We received the invitation to pray for and support Nanjing Theological Seminary so that more and more ministerial students may receive higher education. We have remembered those brave grandmothers and mothers in Argentina from the Plaza de Mayo who still search for their missing children and grandchildren 30 years later – and we celebrate the one who was joyously discovered only a few weeks ago – aren’t we grateful for the new gift of DNA evidence?! We have been inspired by stories of Christians risking their lives to work for political and human rights in occupied Palestine, in Nepal or Bhutan, and in the Philippines.
We have made promises to ourselves to go back to our home churches, and neighboring churches, to tell other people what a huge difference our donations to One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion make to transform human lives and communities! We have been inspired, again, to advocate for our own local church’s generous contributions from our church budgets to Disciples Mission Fund and Our Church Wider Mission. We have learned about opportunities to volunteer and ways to prepare for natural disasters here at home and to respond with generosity to disasters around the world. We have internalized the huge area of land that was underwater in Pakistan by seeing it superimposed on a great swath of the middle of our own country – just by typing in Myrbeth Culver’s zip code! We have learned how to navigate the many web pages provided by the UCC and Disciples to educate us and our churches about opportunities to engage in God’s mission at home and around the world. And we have promised ourselves to go back home and really USE those web pages frequently and to teach other people how to do so too. We have discovered the opportunity to sponsor a child in one Global Ministries’ Child Sponsorship centers.
We have heard stories of how one person can make a gigantic difference – collecting 15,000 black dolls for children in townships in South Africa who previously only had white dolls to play with – and of organizing a community to partner with farmers in Haiti to provide clean drinking water: Drink Water for Life!… and on and on and on – 48 hours of inspiration from keynote speakers and from each other’s examples!
And how inspiring was the amazing music of Oikos last night – our emotions and artistic sensitivities have been refreshed in such creative ways!
In all of this, I have only one regret – and I have no one to blame but myself for this disappointment – I have eaten far too much these past 48 hours ……. but I did enjoy every bite, especially that chocolate cake at lunch yesterday!
Seriously, we go out from here committed to redouble our own efforts to share the good news that “God so loves this whole world”! And we are ready to rededicate ourselves to answer the call to this ministry of reconciliation that truly can change the world!
In closing, we remember the power of prayer. Omar told us that promising to pray for each other, and David reminded us to pray “with” each other, as partners, (and actually keeping that promise!) may be one of the most important things we can do!
May God continue to bless us all!!