I loved being with so many of you at the fall retreat last weekend. Our planning team did a superb job, the weather was perfect, and the content was challenging. As you may know, a couple days after the retreat, Jeff Walton and I went to Singapore for their diocese’s triennial Mission Roundtable. It has been such a good time to be with our friends from Cambodia (Jesse Blaine, Gregory Whitaker, Wong Tak Meng) and our friends from the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (Bill Deiss, Bill Haley) and our friends from Anglican Frontier Missions which is the sending agency for our folks in West Asia and on whose board Jeff Walton serves.
I love being around people who are passionate about the expansion of Jesus’ Kingdom and fame, who are creative about getting people interested in the Gospel, and who are courageous in getting to places that are hard to get to with this good news. I REALLY love getting to be around those people on their turf, outside of the US. This has been fun and encouraging.
A few highlights:
- I joined the guys from ARDF to do a workshop on why relief and development is used by God to bring His Kingdom shalom. I talked about how the local church partners with ARDF and how ARDF serves the local church to connect us to the needs of the world. Quick reminder– Restoration responded within days to the 2 earthquakes in Nepal back in 2015 by giving over $8ooo to ARDF. Today, 85% of the churches that were destroyed in that earthquake have been rebuilt and the remaining 15% will be done by the end of the year. The Anglican church in Nepal has grown by 50% since the earthquakes because of the witness of generosity, relief, and development.
- The diocese of Singapore is a STRONG church. I love their intentional, plan-filled hearts. They have 6 mission ‘deaneries’: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, and Nepal. I attended a workshop where the folks from Cambodia gave a robust update on the good work that God is doing through the church in that country. Quick reminder– Restoration sent Jesse, Sarah, and Clara Blaine to serve in Cambodia back in 2011. Since that time, they have had 2 more girls, Jesse has been ordained to the priesthood and now leads a Khmer-speaking congregation, and they are leading the Alpha Course which they hope might become a church plant.
- I spoke on a plenary panel about mission partnerships. Jesse, Tak Meng, Stewart Wicker (of SAMS), Daryl Fenton (ACNA canon to SE Asia), and I talked about the relationship between Restoration (sending church), SAMS (sending missions agency), Singapore (Anglican diocese), and Jesse (mission church planter). It was such a privilege to tell the story of our church and Cambodia– the multiple teams we have sent; our desire to refresh the workers; the visits to Restoration from Tak Meng, Bolly Lapok, Jesse Blaine; the Holy Week financial gift we gave to CCOP for their church building project; the way we pray for the Blaines and Cambodia each month during our worship services. Quick reminder: I have been reminded many times of how unusual it is that we have such good, healthy, and deep global partnerships. Most churches don’t have what we have and we have 3!! (Cambodia, West Asia, and Bolivia). I am so grateful to Liz Gray and her tireless work to help us stay connected and to go deep in these places. And I am so grateful for the dozens and dozens of volunteers who have gone on trips, showed up at Resto prayer meetings, and given generously. We have a vision to plant, to reproduce, to multiply (in Arlington and globally)– and it was fun to tell that story this week.
Set up by the Fall Retreat…
Our topic at the fall retreat was ‘the problem of race and the power of the cross’. Joe’s talk on Sunday morning was so educational for me. He connected lots of dots as he spoke from Ephesians 3
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Ephesians 3: 4-6
Joe explained that when we talk about multi-ethnicity, we are not just talking about a diverse room. Paul was describing what would happen as Jews and Gentiles followed Christ together– there would be a multi-racial, multi-cultural church, whose members would be heirs together, ‘body together’, and sharers (partakers) together.
I have seen these 3 traits on display this week in Singapore. It is a very diverse group: ethnic Chinese, Tamil Indians, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Nepalese, Khmer, Americans, folks from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Thailand. I have heard stories of national churches sharing resources so that there is a ‘shared inheritance’– so that one church is not a ‘have’ and the other a ‘have not’. I have watched churches ‘body together’ as they feel pain that is not their own, but treated as their own because another church is feeling it. And I have watched churches ‘share together’- decide that ‘we are making it together.’ They are doing it across cultural and ethnic divisions, in spite of national pain, in defiance of being separated, as a declaration of unity for the sake of the Gospel.
It is beautiful.
Such is a week in my life at Restoration. It doesn’t always involve such a swing of time zones, but every week seems to hold moments of God reconciling, empowering, emboldening, and healing. Sometimes they are spectacular and public. Most of the time they are quiet and hidden.
The mystery of Christ.
Grateful to be with you on the journey.