International Ministries

JOY RISING

January 6, 2010 Journal
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Oprah Winfrey got the surprise of her life on September 8, 2009 when her staff choreographed a street dance with 20,000 people on the streets of Chicago to the song “I’ve Got a Feeling” performed live by The Black Eyed Peas.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aSbKvm_mKA) The surprise kicked off her 24th season and her response was, “It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received because it not only gave me joy but also there was so much joy in the hearts of the people as they gave to me.”  And one of the participants that day said, “It changed my life.  To dance and sing with that many people, to feel the camaraderie, it was joy rising!  To this day I can play that song in my cubicle at work and it fills me with joy all over again.  I haven’t forgotten any of the moves!”

JOY RISING!

The week between Christmas and New Years, the four American Baptist Missionary Families that serve on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico gathered for their annual retreat.  This year we were hosted by ABCNJ.  Our accommodations were spacious rooms at the empty parsonage of Hightstown Baptist Church.  Camp Lebanon graciously lent us beds, sheets, pillows, and towels.  It was such an adventure to live together in one house for a week, share 1.5 bathrooms, and to reconnect at a heart level.  We caught up on our ministries, strategized for the future, prayed for our denomination, and just had fun together!

JOY RISING!

One of the highlights of that week was watching our kids reconnect.  The 8 kids at the retreat ranged from age 10 to age 21:  Daniel Long, Aida, Richie & Joshua Barnes, Michelle & Melissa Schellinger-Gutierrez, and Ian & Aaron Reed.  Our kids have grown up together.  Every time they see each other, it is an instant bonding.  We got about 5 inches of snow the night before New Year’s Eve.  So the next morning they engaged in a snowball fight that then segued into the building of a serious snowman.  Living in Baja, these kids rarely play in snow, so the novelty of building a snowman together caused much laughter and spontaneous snow battles!

JOY RISING!

Another highlight of our week was a trip into New York City.  All that glitz and glamour!  We were treated to the Broadway Musical “Ragtime,” ate dinner at the famous Carnegie Deli, walked one side of Central Park, sauntered down to Rockefeller Plaza and saw the huge Christmas Tree, and then made our way to Times Square which some people claim is the center of the universe.  (Although we all beg to differ!)  We were guided by ABCNJ Executive Director Lee Spitzer who –having grown up in New York City--knows it like the back of his hand.  He made our outing an unforgettable experience and we are overwhelmed by the hospitality he showered upon us that day.

JOY RISING!

Okay, we did sit through numerous meetings too!  And one of the memorable moments was hearing about the creative, energetic efforts that American Baptists in New Jersey are doing on behalf of missions.  In response to the economic reality that missionaries must now raise 80% of their support each year (the remaining 20% is raised through the World Mission Offering), this region decided to adopt 5 missionary units that had connections with NJ.  Through a campaign called the “Go Global 30 Club,” this region raised over $10,000 of NEW money for these 5 units.  We were inspired by their commitment to missions.  You also might be interested to know that none of the Baja Missionaries were adopted by this region.  Did this make us jealous or envious of our other colleagues?  NOT AT ALL!  We rejoice that when one part of our family receives support, we all receive support.  We are committed to growing God’s Kingdom around the world!  The Missionary Community strongly believes that there are win/win solutions to reach everyone’s targeted goal.  ABCNJ gave us hope that regions will continue to be strong partners in the future work of international mission efforts.

JOY RISING!

We believe that each missionary, each region, each local church, the staff at International Ministries, and our global partners are all involved in a choreographed dance.  Why?  Because at the heart of our ministries is the foundation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are bound together through the love and grace of God’s Holy Spirit.  God created us to dance in unity and harmony!  This is not a time for us to squabble and to be territorial, especially about money.  No, this is the time to build bridges, to be creative problem-solvers, to open doors of communication even when we’d prefer to slam them shut.  God calls us to join together, to hold hands when the world would advocate separation and divorce.  The world needs more people dancing united in the streets of her cities.  Remember the joy of Jesus filling your heart?  Remember the joy of your baptism?  Remember the joy of creative ingenuity?  Remember the joy of accomplishment after weeks of hard, back-breaking work?  Remember the joy of being brothers & sisters in Christ?  We are a family . . . and families stick together.  So put on the music and remember the dance moves! 

JOY RISING!

Serving joyfully in La Paz, Mexico,
David, Joyce, Ian & Aaron Reed