“You have helped us sharpen our spiritual swords.” This was a memorable assessment from a pastor who attended a Biblical Orality training in South Sudan a few years ago. Training has a way of doing that, sharpening us, so that we may meet the enemy head on. During the first week of May several WGM missionaries gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, where temperatures soared over 100 degrees F!, to attend the International Wholistic Missions Conference. Topics highlighted include: networking, refugees, partnerships, peacemaking, childrens ministry and prayer. Here are some thoughts from those who attended.
“One Body, One Goal” The theme of the conference this year is what really stood out to me. We can do so much more if we’re willing to work together. Networking and partnering with other organizations in ministry can give us new ideas, materials, opportunities, and even open up new countries to work in. Sure, we need to be wise and careful with partnerships, but it was exciting to think about what could be done as One Body. Colleen Hawk (along with her husband Terry the Hawks are Regional Directors for Central and North America)
There were many good things for me, but one of the things I’m taking away is from the excellent presentation on peacemaking and reconciliation: Peacemaking and reconciliation is not the job of a few specialists. It is the calling of all Christians. Only as we work toward peace with those people we are close to (relatives, church family, coworkers, other missionaries ) will we ever be effective in our work for Christ. Debbie Cartwright (Debbie and her husband Steve serve on the American Indian Field in Peoria, AZ)
It was a first time to attend the conference. It was outstanding. I am eager to go again and am thinking of other Native believers to invite next year. I went to the conference happy and excited about work, life, and school. I left the conference challenged that there is more – not just more to add to a full life, but prayer in how to go about the mission more effectively and intentionally. It was encouraging and inspiring to be gathered together with others in the Body of Christ who are serving throughout the world. I loved the reminder of being part of something so much grander than the small part I’m in day to day. I have a few websites to check out, more information on 4Tucson to read through, and other resources to check out to continue to think on what I heard and to help “keep alive” what we heard with those who also attended. Grateful I didn’t miss going. Eager to go again. Sherrie Dodson (Sherrie works as a bi-vocational teacher on a Native American reservation in Sells, AZ)
Partnerships for Children
My take away from IWMC was a reignited fire for children’s CHE (community health empowerment). My Least of These team (LOT) trained and then facilitated a training of others in the ministries we serve, but my two Kenyan teammates no longer serve with us and many of the staff we helped get trained are not practicing it or have moved to other employment. The testimony of one North African Christian working with children’s CHE and how the children are transforming his area was a vast encouragement to me. It also got me dreaming, how could our team partner with this group in the North? I talked with this brother and we are praying and seeing how God will work to enlarger our borders. I want to be sure my new LOT team will get children’s CHE training and continue to see how we can help children help children. Robyn Moore (Robyn lives in Nairobi and works with ministries in Kenya helping orphans and children with disabilities)
It was delightful attending the breakout sessions. They had 5 sessions on strategic prayer. Each one focused on a different aspect of prayer such as: Prayer Leadership, Listening to God, Establishing places of prayer, Facilitating Effective Small Group Prayer Times and the most unique presentation was Involving the Whole Family in Prayer. This session was led by a 9 year old boy! He presented different ways to get children involved in prayer. His favorite way to get kids involved was using Legos, mine was building a wall with pictures representing people or places the kids were praying for. A very stimulating session.
One of the special things about the conference was that the break out sessions used active participation. Not very likely to fall asleep like in a lecture!
There were many other topics like coaching, mentoring, urban focus, wholistic discipleship, public health practices and a host of other exciting areas. I think it is worthwhile for every missionary on HMA to attend. Continuing education is a requirement in many professions. I think this conference would fulfill that requirement for any missionary. Mary Hermiz (Mary is a retired missinary from PNG and Kenya)
I went thru the immigration track and what I came away with is how difficult it is to help immigrants with their legal status. But we as individuals can make a difference if we truly understand what our biblical response should be to immigrants and refugees in our country. We need to understand that our response to how we relate to immigrants should be different than how our culture responds. One of the ways we can help is just the way we talk about the issue with the people we talk to. We need to be better informed than just what we hear on the media. Terry Hawk (Terry and his wife are the Regional Directors for Central and North America) Look for more information on this topic in a follow-up blog post.