Reflecting on Our Church’s Global Awareness Week

A couple weeks ago Grace Chapel hosted “Global Awareness Week” which is an opportunity for us as a congregation to connect with our local and regional partners and catch up on what God is doing through people/organizations throughout the world. I thought last year went really well and this year was even better. The theme this year was “Justice and Compassion” and it was appropriate not only for the content but also for what is needed in the world today. May the Church be on the forefront.

The highlights for me included:

Sam Jarvis’ sermon on November 11. He built on from where Bryan preached on Micah 6 the week before which kept the “Justice and Compassion” theme central. Among the most powerful moments for most of us was when he shared the story of a deaf, illiterate, homeless couple in Thailand that “took in” a young girl who escaped a forced labor situation. This couple, who obviously had nothing, took care of her until they could find someone that could handle the responsibility more appropriately. When you hear stuff like that, it’s hard to come up with excuses of why you can’t help.

I loved our mid-week prayer and sharing service where various local and regional partners shared their stories for 10 minutes each. The local partners actually brought people in their ministry. One of the groups offers support and after care to women in abusive situations and a young woman shared her powerful story from abuse to freedom to finding love again. She shared how she was raised in a wonderful Christian family and good church, met and married a great Christian guy, who sadly turned out to be abusive. She chronicled why she stayed, the lies and manipulations she endured and then the realization that she needed to leave. In the years since, she has gone through counseling and as already mentioned, enjoying a healthy marriage and sharing her story with other women could use her support.

I got to co-lead a panel discussion with our Jr. High Pastor Andrew Breton on how Millennials/X’ers see missions work. Many missions organizations are trying to figure out how to connect with them as co-laborers, donors, and obviously an essential part of the Church. We stressed the power of narrative, partnership, and of course, social justice rooted in the Kingdom of Jesus.  Grateful how well it went.  And for those of you on Twitter, follow Breton, he is an interesting and creative fella.

Lastly I got to spend a couple days at the World Relief office in Baltimore with Jeanette (Pastor, Global and Regional Missions) and her members of her very dedicated lay team. It was great to feel the energy and excitement that Jeanette and her team have towards mission work. It was also really cool to spend these hours inside the World Relief office. Though smaller than some of the other relief organizations, I absolutely loved their missiology – empowering the local church is what they are about.

Being the newbie of the group, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I loved listening to Don Golden (he co-wrote Jesus Wants to Save Christians with Rob Bell and served as lead pastor of Mars Hill for a few years) quote Guder and Hirsch and navigate our conversation to what a healthy partnership looks like with Grace Chapel and World Relief. Also in terms of group dynamics our WR host, James Misner, did a great job in getting the best and most real conversations out of all of us over the two days.

So much more to say here but it would take another few hundred words.  Check out World Relief for more though. For those interested, World Relief is hosting the Justice Conference in Philly Feb. 22-23.  Their last one in Portland went really well, this one looks just as solid.

Finally, although I also left with a few questions (sustainability, how to capture more people’s attention/imagination, etc.), I left Baltimore grateful for the many wonderful organizations, churches, and people that are doing great and needed work all across the world, including our backyards in the name of Jesus.  Liking my job these days and hoping to raise my family and influence those around me to have a hearts of compassion and justice for others.

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