Disciples leaders from more than a dozen countries were warmly received at the 2009 General Assembly by staff members from the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries during a daylong workshop and dinner Pre-Assembly Event on Tuesday, July 28 in Indianapolis.
“This is a family gathering with many of our global partners in ministry,” David Vargas, president of the Division of Overseas Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, said in opening remarks during the gathering at the Westin Hotel. “This gives us an opportunity to discuss ways in which to address the needs of our brothers and sisters worldwide and minister into those needs.”
Vargas also introduced area ministers and staff from Global Ministries, along with current and past Disciples missionaries.
Leaders of DOM/Global Ministries welcomed their partners from the countries of China, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Fiji Islands. Also present were leaders from India, Indonesia, Jerusalem, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe. Each of the partners shared stories about their experiences in their countries.
“We have so few churches but we stand with the Disciples in spirit and in solidarity with the body of Jesus Christ,” said Semko Koroza, pastor of the Lódz congregation in Poland who is leading a group of teens on a tour of congregations and church camps in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.
Eliki Bonanga, general secretary and legal representative of the Community of Disciples of Christ of the Congo, said “it is a challenge to all of us as children of God in this world.” Richard Daulay, a pastor from Indonesia, said his country, one of southern Asia’s most populous, has 88 Disciples churches that he hopes will one day be unified.
Pastor Alfredo Perez of Mexico said, “We are very happy with the work that is being done in Mexico, where there are 31 Disciples churches. We very much want to continue to build our relationship with Global Ministries.”
The dinner speaker, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins, spoke of God’s high hopes for humanity before man’s fall in the garden. Those hopes were derailed as humans sought after a truth that they could not handle, said Watkins. “But here’s the amazing thing, God never gives up on humanity,” she said.
Watkins told the international gathering that God’s great hope for humanity is found one last time in the book of Revelation. “In this temple of God grows the tree of life whose leaves are for the ‘healing of the nations’ ” (Rev. 22:2), she said, referring to the General Assembly theme.
“It creates a good story but it’s also a strong calling on us,” Watkins urged. “God’s desire is the nations should be healed.” The world has become a smaller place but somehow our ability to communicate has not gotten better, she said. “The church has a better vision. We can see a better way. God has not given up on us; we cannot give up on ourselves.”
By: James Patterson