The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) organizes a variety of programs throughout the country to promote development and public participation. Through the Climate Change Resilient Agriculture project, the CCDB is training farmers in innovative and efficient uses of climate adaptation and mitigation techniques and technologies.
Bangladesh is exposed to some of the most extreme climates, making climate change a priority to address in communities across the country. In response, the CCDB has opened five “Community Climate Resilience Centers” in five coastal villages, which are operated by local residents. The Community Climate Resilience Centers provide capacity-building courses and mobilize funds from community contributions to implement actions in collaboration with local governments. These actions include climate change risk assessments for households, climate-resilient agriculture and livelihood opportunities, and installing freshwater technologies to increase access to fresh water. Through this activity, each community develops a long-term resiliency plan in coordination with technical experts. The agricultural training program offers support to families who farm in high-risk areas on how to adopt alternative agricultural methods or training in alternative livelihoods. The project is improving access to freshwater through rainwater harvesting and desalination technologies. Additionally, the centers are increasing access to irrigation through new excavated ponds and canals. Through these adaptive techniques, livelihood opportunities, community engagement, and risk assessments the CCDB is working toward long-term solutions for becoming climate-resilient communities in Bangladesh. Global Ministries welcomes gifts for this project.
Lady Doak College (LDC) was established in 1948 by Miss Katie Wilcox, a U.S. educational missionary sent by the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a predecessor mission body of what today is Global Ministries. LDC has grown into a lovely campus with more than 20 buildings. LDC achieved autonomy in 1978 and was awarded the highest Five Star Status by the Indian National Accreditation Council. It is an autonomous, progressive women’s college with an international outlook and provides a high quality, holistic education.Read more
As part of the Southern Asia Initiative, seven members of the Common Global Ministries Board traveled to Sri Lanka and India in September. There, they met and visited projects of various Global Ministries’ partners to celebrate relationships and to walk Together in Hope. The following reflections will take us through their pilgrimage around these colorful and vibrant countries.Read more
The life of the capital “C” Church is bright and active! I was given that opportunity to experience the living out of Christ’s call for the Church through the efforts of the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) as a short-term volunteer with Global Ministries.Read more
If you open your browser and type in "Seko, North Luwu, South Sulawesi," the satellite image will show you a yellowish patch surrounded by dense forest. That patch is the dry bed of an ancient lake where the Seko people have been cultivating rice and raising buffalo for centuries.Read more
I admit it, church is not always the contemplative space for self-reflection and meditation that I need, especially in October when by 8.00 am the sun’s heat already blisters through the zinc roof.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Luke 17:5-10
Prayers for East Timor:
Loving God, in our fractured world you have brought us together with partners all over the world. You call us to unity and make us one in the sharing of bread and cup, the water of baptism and meditation on your Word. You ask us to be your people wherever we are. We are thankful for all that we learn from all our global partners. On this day we pray for the Protestant Church of East Timor. We ask that you lead and guide them in their ministry of the Word. Bestow upon its ministers wisdom, patience, and courage. Strengthen the faith of its members. Bless the clinic workers, teachers, and young people. May their ministries in your name be salt and light for all your children in East Timor. In Jesus name, Amen.Read more
International Conference on “Migration and the Human Trafficking Crisis in Asia” – 21-23 August 2019, Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Concluding Statement
We lament the exploitation and suffering of millions of people around the world who are victims of forced and unsafe migration and human trafficking. As people from Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and the United States, engaged in addressing the variety of challenges posed by human trafficking in many parts of Asia and gathered at the International Conference on “Migration and the Human Trafficking Crisis in Asia”, convened by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (USA) and Life With Dignity (Cambodia) we strongly appeal to all people of faith or belief and all others of good will as well as governments around the world to respond to the forces which perpetrate this crisis.Read more
by Karen Campbell-Nelson
For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1.11–12
Paul’s greeting to the Christians at Rome helps to shape and breathe life into the theme of the Southern Asia Initiative (SAI), “Together in Hope”. What does it mean to be together in hope? As I reflect on this theme and its accompanying Bible passage from West Timor, Indonesia, I am drawn to the word “longing”—together in hope has something to do with longing.
Paul writes to the Christians in Rome on the eve of his departure to the church in Jerusalem where he will deliver offerings from Gentile Christians to Jerusalem’s Jewish-Christian community that needs assistance, perhaps because of hunger or some other hardship. Paul’s got a lot riding on this, for if the Jews won’t accept help from the Gentiles, it also means they reject his ministry to the Gentiles. So maybe Paul is nervous when he reaches out to Christians in Rome to pray for his journey to Jerusalem. Perhaps he’s also introducing himself and his understanding of the Gospel to them since he plans to travel on to Rome after going to Jerusalem. In any event, Paul writes this letter before he’s been to Rome or ever met the Christians there. That he chooses the word “longing” in his greeting to virtual strangers says a lot about Paul but, I think, even more about the Gospel.
John and I long to see our first grandchild, recently born half a world away from us. Longing is also conveyed well through stories and images of East Timorese reuniting in passionate embraces with members of their families after decades of separation, having been taken from their families as children during Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste. Longing is what I feel for a handful of women activists who are close friends, my church within the church. The rejuvenation of relationships free from mediation, posturing, or subtle negotiation; of relationships that offer meaning without judgement, that challenge me without threatening me—these are relationships for which I long because through them I am rejuvenated. I connect longing to close familiarity. Why, then, does Paul talk about longing when he communicates with strangers? This juxtaposition between my understanding of longing that presumes familiarity and Paul’s longing for strangers begs further reflection.
Three points about the longing of which Paul writes are particularly salient to the “Together in Hope” theme—seeing, strength through sharing, and faith that encourages. The object of Paul’s longing is not abstract but involves physical sight for he knows that truly seeing one another is an essential part of fellowship. Being able to match a person’s name to his or her physical being—complete with flesh, smell, body language, verbal quirks, etc.—helps transform a psychic disconnect devoid of emotion (knowing a person’s name without knowing that person “in the flesh”) into a deeper relationship. Longing to see is a longing for the embodiment of relationships.
Seeing is a bridge, but the ultimate goal is to share purposively. Experience teaches us that connecting and sharing with others is not necessarily positive. The process of relating to others may just as readily exhaust and debilitate as stimulate and refresh. Paul, however, longs for positive connection that he conveys as gift-giving because he knows he has gifts to share with a young Christian community. All we know is that Paul has in mind some spiritual gift when he mentions sharing. However, we never find out what it is because Paul immediately realizes he doesn't know which gifts are most appropriate until he actually meets the community in Rome and gets to know its members. He quickly corrects himself from unidirectional giving to write about a two-way exchange.
With his call for mutual encouragement, Paul arrives at the point of his greeting. His longing remains purposive but now shifts from the longing for self-disclosure and for teaching something to a longing for mutuality. The recognition that faith is dialogical in nature is not only the crux of this greeting but the crux of Paul’s theology. It is through dialogue that faith is expressed and nurtured.
Paul’s trajectory of longing is relevant to the SIA theme, “Together in Hope” in the three ways mentioned above. To see is a crucial aspect of togetherness. “Seeing is believing” is one thing, but here Paul seems to suggest that “seeing is belonging”. To see with our eyes can touch our hearts in ways that figurative sight cannot. Sharing one’s self is also central to an understanding of mission, yet stands in need of ongoing vigilance. Matthew’s rendition of going forth to make disciples (28:19) carries this sense of sharing something “we” have (the Gospel, mission dollars, knowledge, “development”) with “others” (those with fewer dollars, unrecognized ways of knowing, those considered under- and undeveloped). Such an interpretation traditionally lacks a needed critique regarding the relations of cultural and economic power that accompany “sharing”. Paul’s longing to share, then, serves as a reminder to be ever vigilant with a discipline of self-reflection and self-correction, just as Paul corrects himself. Paul’s move from sharing to mutual encouragement is an expression of hope grounded in faith.
John and I call ourselves “partners”, a comfortable locution that seeks to express relationships of equality. But as a woman who has benefitted from multiple privileges—white privilege, economic privilege, and educational privilege—in relation to most of those with whom I have lived and worked in East Nusa Tenggara Province in Indonesia over the years, the conditions of this partnership must be named as unequal. I have many colleagues and some genuine friends, but I long for the leveling of privileges that are perpetuated by structures on which those very relationships are built. As one who loves to give gifts, it can be painful to admit that giving gifts often simply serves to exacerbate the disparity of power relations rather than gulf the distance if there is never any chance for the receiver to reciprocate. Giving from a position of economic strength doesn’t level the power of economic privilege.
Timorese have helped me to better understand the mutuality in faith of which Paul writes. The exchange economy of Timor and other cultures of eastern Indonesia has taught me that reciprocity helps to ground the spiritual virtue of mutuality. When our son, Sam, turned five, we celebrated with a party in Lelobatan, a village in the mountains of central Timor, with members of our extended Timorese family. There were a few children Sam knew well, and their parents helped to decide what other children to invite. I remember we prayed, ate roast pork (celebratory food), and organized relay races and some other games on an open grassy clearing surrounded by forest. The notion of party and birthday are not culturally matched here. Timorese children’s birthdays are marked, at best, by a home worship service with the offering going into an envelope that is placed in the church offering the following Sunday. So having a party to celebrate Sam’s birthday was a novelty for these village children who showed up in their Sunday best. There was a lot of laughing and running around; and every single child who came brought Sam a gift. Many of the gifts were hand-woven cloths or hand-carved bamboo containers. But the gift I best remember was an egg that one boy gave Sam. Sam gave the children the gift of a party and a meal; the children reciprocated with weavings, carvings, and an egg. It is not the value of what is given that matters so much, but the value of the giving if it is extended and accepted as being reciprocal.
May the Southern Asia Initiative be an opportunity for us to see each other, repent of patterns of sharing that reinforce positions of power, and that remind us that faith grows, indeed can move mountains that separate and hurt us, when it is experienced as genuine mutuality. May we accept the gifts that others share, from others we have yet to meet, trusting that even strangers for whom we long can encourage us even as we find ways to share with and encourage them—each of us in our own contexts of challenges, yet together in one hope for the future of God’s mission in the world.
 For more, see “Nina & the Stolen Children of Timor-Leste”, engagemedia.org/Members/AJAR/videos/stolen-children-timor-leste/.
Karen Campbell-Nelson serves with the Evangelical Christian Church of West Timor in Indonesia.
Lectionary Selection: Luke 14:25-35
Prayers for Thailand:
You ask us, Gracious God, through the words of Jesus, to “count the cost” of the holy journey. Help us to appreciate the freedom that comes from placing our life and our hopes in your hands, God of mercy. Let us, like the Christians in Thailand, be brave enough to appreciate “sacrifice,” and to trust that the Way of Jesus brings new life and beloved community. Then let us be that community for others, through Christ. Amen.Read more