Here we go, continuing on to Part Two:
The first event on Saturday morning was another Gathering. Some things in particular that struck me:
- These two lines from a song sung by a soloist: “God sees beauty where I see dross, / God sees value where I see lost”
- The concept that worship is what makes me more conscious of God, not more conscious of myself (so, doing anything in worship that makes me particularly self-conscious may not be worship)
- This statement by Mother Teresa: “You can’t feed everyone, but you can feed one.” Which makes me think: You can’t serve everyone, but you can serve one.
The morning Gathering’s speaker was Beth Grant, a renowned author and missionary to India. Her message was titled “A Biblical Framework for Compassion and Justice.” I admire Beth Grant’s work greatly and had high hopes for this message after seeing its title on the screens. She began with this question: What makes Jesus’ compassion and justice life-changing? That definitely peaked my interest because I find it to be quite the significant question. Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t quite follow her points after she asked that question; I kept trying to connect the points back to the question and couldn’t really make sense of it all. I may just be confused, so somebody help me out if you understood!
Some key statements:
- You can free people physically, but mental and spiritual brokenness must also be addressed; so, people usually experience a healing JOURNEY, not a healing MOMENT.
- God’s Truth is powerful enough to replace the enemy’s lies.
- We must combine the offer of physical help with preaching. Think: John 4. Giving only physical help is half the solution and only a temporary solution at that. Giving both physical help and words (preaching) is the whole solution and permanently transformational.
- The carrying out of social justice requires collaboration, a kind of corporate difference-making.
- Sidenote: “If we’re trashing each other [gossiping, as Christians and, really, humans are wont to do], why should they [those receiving help] trust us with their story?”
- The transformational aspect of social justice is wrapped up in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit.
This thought sprung into my head somewhere in the midst of Grant’s message: I wonder if the notions of experiential faith and experiential learning in schools are at all connected. (Random, I know, I know.)
After the Gathering, we were given one hour to pretty much do what we pleased: visit the Exhibit Hall (where many booths about different missions opportunities were located), attend an Experience, attend a breakout session, or just hang out. I chose to attend the Asia Pacific Experience, and it was by far one of my favorite parts of TWMS3. First of all, we all know that I’m biased because I love Asia Pacific, I love Asia Pacific, I love Asia Pacific. But apart from the bias, I promise that this Experience was actually awesome. The atmosphere in the room was very peaceful and prayerful. Mats were set up on the floor for us to sit on (oh, and we all had to take our shoes off before coming inside, in typical Asia fashion – loved it!) while we waited to receive instructions. Six stations were set up around the dimly-lit room, and we were instructed that we could either listen to an audio tour of each station via smartphone (by going to apspendyourself.org) or read the printed tour of each station. The stations were truly unique, and each one correlated with a verse from Scripture and a characteristic of Asia Pacific. My favorite station was the Communion station. Communion was set up on tables in front of several banners which displayed images of the prominent religions in Asia Pacific, and we were free to linger before and/or after taking Communion, or not. I honestly did not expect this station to be my favorite, but it has a marked place in my memory. My desire for human beings everywhere to experience the ridiculous, awesome, huge grace of God and the fullest life ever, brought by Jesus, welled up in me all over again as I stepped close to the table. I don’t often feel focused in prayer, but that was one moment when I felt a deep, focused desire to pray for the people of Asia Pacific, that they may experience this awesome, full life that Jesus offers.
Afterwards, we all headed to lunch for Meal With a Missionary. As I mentioned yesterday, hundreds of AG missionaries attended TWMS3, and most (if not all) were assigned to various tables during meals in order to talk with the rest of us about their lives and ministries: how they ended up in missions, what they’re currently doing, and pretty much anything else related or unrelated to missions. I was surprised to find that the missionary assigned to my table was Eric Ojala, a missionary to Colorado who I had met several months earlier when he came to speak in chapel at my school. Eric is one of the few missionaries who has a thought process that I really connect well with. So I guess it’s not surprising at all that I found myself jotting down some notes as he talked with us. He pretty much talked about anything and everything, so we got to hear some of his life perspective as well as stories about life in Breckenridge, Colorado (which, by the way, is worth researching: he and his wife do missions simply by loving people and inviting them into their lives, whether that be by inviting people over for meals, having house church gatherings, or buying tires for someone who needs them). He said the phrase “philosophical and physical picketers” at one point, meaning that some people hold up physical picket signs, but others are just as much picketing in their mental judgments. We’ve probably all seen Christians picketing some “sin” or at least have heard of the occurrence. Well, as Eric said, “I’ve never seen anyone cross a picket line” (in the sense of surrendering a previously-held belief in order to accept the picketer’s perspective). Good, good point. One more significant statement: we are all called. We are not all called to be missionaries in the traditional sense, but we are all called to Christ. Beautiful.
After lunch, I attended a breakout session about teaching English as missions and then attended the Africa Experience. During the last hour before dinner, I took a break from the Experiences and breakout sessions in order to relax by myself (which, to me, counted as reading some more of Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood). I had consumed so much information and had begun to process so many different threads of thought that this break was extremely needed, and Rachel Held Evans’ humor was a nice change of pace. For the Meal With a Missionary dinner, I ate with a 20-something who is heading out to Nepal later this year.
And, finally, we come to Saturday’s last event: the evening Gathering. I think that this was my favorite Gathering of the entire TWMS3. I was most focused during Saturday evening’s time of singing than during any other singing time. (I know I’m being picky, but the “singing time” is what most people refer to as simply “worship” – I just like to specify that it’s “singing” because I find that pretty much anything can be worship, not just singing. Whew!) I had such joy, less criticism, and a focus on praising Jesus for WHO he is (rather than solely for what he does for me). Afterwards, someone mentioned this important thought: Missions is not always “shooting the goal” yourself; sometimes it is creating the opportunity for someone else to “shoot the goal,” whatever that may look like. The speaker was Ivan Satyavrata, a missionary to India, and the thoughts that he shared were particularly riveting. His message focused on the word “as” in John 20:21. From this (and from John 15:15), he emphasized that we go AS God’s friends.
Other key points:
- Whether you are called to missions or not, you are God’s friend.
- Go (to the mission field) as God’s friends, or please don’t go at all.
- We do NOT go as colonizers or as philanthropists.
- God’s Plan A is not judgment, for he is a saving God.
- Friends intercede via prayer . . . we are God’s friends, so let’s pray.
- Missions must be grounded in prayer, for it is God’s enterprise.
- We go as God’s friends to make more friends for God.
- God is not looking for people to send to hell.
- We go with God’s fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14). Go, and tell your story. Though keep in mind that missions is more than just words, more than just the mechanics of conveying a message. The Gospel is about the Word of God, but remember that the Word also became flesh.
- “We carry this message as earthen vessels, but sometimes we’re cracked pots.”
- Go where God goes.
- Most people worship gods who don’t see or hear or feel. Christians serve a God who sees, hears, and feels. Christians must see what God sees, hear what God hears, and feel what he feels.
- What should the church be doing? Where should we be going? Go where God goes. Imagine God saying: “I’m going. Are you coming?”
Wow. So many heavy statements. I’ll leave you with that, for I know it is so, so much to process. Part Three comes tomorrow!
January 9 Joy Dare: A Gift Held, Passed By, Sat With
Held: A cup of my first green smoothie
Passed By: Friends who I hadn’t yet seen since last semester
Sat With: Some of my fellow TAs who are either English or English Ed majors. We talked about what books we read over break and various other English-y subjects = the greatest!