Author’s note: this is the last in a series of reflections written as letters to my mom (but you can insert your name here, too), highlighting some of the events and insights I have had since moving to Germany in 2014.
“Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.” —Psalm 82:8
I had a unique pastoral situation that I’ve never experienced before: I was so overcome with emotion I couldn’t speak to give the benediction, blessing my new friends from around the world. My friend Jan Henry had to step in and say the words, wrapping his arm around my shoulder so that the blessing could come from both of us. He spoke the words, I blessed with tears.
You see, we had just had an amazing few days with young adult leaders of the church from around the world! Young adults from Cuba, Indonesia, Ghana, Guatemala, Taiwan, Canada and dozens of other countries gathered in Leipzig, Germany, in the days leading up to the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
We worshipped, learned, created movement and words, shared stories, played football, ate, and laughed a lot. I had conversations with leaders who lead Bible studies and youth groups and university groups back in their home countries. We talked into the night about what they were struggling with and the call of God on their lives as they discerned the direction for their path.
In the span of a few short days I grew to love these amazing young leaders from around the world! With the image of them holding hands around communion, when it came time to send them off with their final blessing, I was so overcome with the power and joy and deep love of the Holy Spirit for them I couldn’t contain my emotion.
But this shouldn’t surprise me anymore. We have been given such an immense gift of a glimpse into the global church and the blessing they are in each location around the world. We have savored the stories such as the church in Guyana that is partnering with the government to protect the mangrove forest that provides a greater natural protection of the waterways. Or the church in Ukraine that acts as the local bakery—not only selling baked goods but also giving it away. The church also established and sustains a village fire department—all of these things in the effort to reach out to the poor and vulnerable in their community. Or the church in Greece that was so moved by the refugee crisis at the border that they first brought food to the thousands stranded but then expanded their efforts and now have over 140 dwellings where they house refugees.
Do you remember my life verse that I received when I was in high school? From Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Little did I know when I received these verses from God in the mountains of Colorado that it wouldn’t just be a single nation that I would work with, but multiple ones. Little did I know that not only would I work to make disciples of nations, but they would make me a stronger, deeper, more enriched disciple myself.
We hear only bad news about the decline of the mainline church. We argue among ourselves in our local denominations attempting to grasp power and control. Yet here, as I tried to choke back the tears of blessing, I saw the beautiful family of God from around the world. Truly the nations are a beautiful inheritance of God, and I’m grateful for this opportunity to live among them.
I love you Mom! Thank you for supporting us in all that we do here in Hannover. We are ever grateful for your continued prayers and confirmation of our work here.