And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25 NIV)
God is doing new things! Assumptions and traditions that we took for granted in our faith lives — maybe considered essential and even sacred — don’t work anymore. New ways of thinking about and being Jesus followers are taking their place. It isn’t always comfortable or easy to embrace these unexpected changes, but when we see things clearly we discover the seed of opportunity … and a surprise or two.
One of those traditions that took on new life is the World Mission Conference sponsored every July by International Ministries. We attended our first WMC in 1986 with 2-year old baby Elena. To our surprise were back the following year to be commissioned as IM global servants. This year we were scheduled to be back in the US to participate in the WMC again as speakers and workshop leaders. When it became clear to IM that an in-person conference could not happen in July, the seed of opportunity was planted: why not a virtual WMC?
We were invited to speak at the last of five live-streamed 30-minute sessions in July that together became the WMC for 2020. Over 1,100 people from 32 countries joined the sessions! Each session had a different mission-related theme, and the presentations by global servants around the world were inspiring and informative. A highlight for many was the live chat that participants used to greet each other, encourage the speakers and ask questions. Hosted by IM Executive Director Sharon Koh, the presentations we and colleague Madeline Flores-López gave focused on “Economic Development, Mission from Everywhere to Everyone and Short Term Mission Engagement.” Recordings of each of the sessions are now available on the IM website.
Speaking of changes, we are learning that the heart of our ministries hasn’t changed. What’s changing is the way we go about them. Ann continues to serve as Interim Pastor for Wellington Central Baptist Church (our home church) while they search for a new lead pastor. She is living first-hand the changes that are happening to church routines and traditions, just as you are. She is also busy finalizing a new Short-Term Mission guide for ABCUSA churches and providing leadership to the New Zealand organization that promotes Theological Education by Extension for church leaders and members. Bruce is putting the final touches on an article for an academic journal about faith-based social enterprises. He is also beginning to contact Baptist partners who are exploring how to use principles of social entrepreneurship to help meet the needs of those suffering from the impact of the global pandemic.
We praise God for you and your faithful companionship on the journey with us.
Ann and Bruce
Praises and prayers:
Please pray for Ann as she continues to serve as Interim Pastor at our local church during these unusual times. Pray also that the church will be able to find a new lead pastor.
Pray for us as we discern the new thing God wants to do in and through us to support Baptist partners around the world.