The last few participants left two nights ago. Sigh. Not a sigh of relief, but one you let out because the adrenalin rush is gone. Because you’re sad that it’s all done and dusted. Especially because it was such a special time.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1 ESV)
Oh, we beheld, and it was good. The MAI-Asia Train the Trainer Workshop saw a small group of people coming together, united by a common desire to want to help others reach their own peoples with the Good News in their own heart languages. In a world that is so divided by political, denominational, language and tribal lines, it was a balm to the soul.
It was as if 1947 had never happened on the Indian sub-continent…India, Pakistan and Bangladesh sat down together at the same table to work on a small-group project. We had people who spoke Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, Hindi, Khmer, Lao, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese. Oops, and English/American, of course.
If this wasn’t a foretaste of the new heaven and new earth, I don’t know what is. And so, in the closing devotional segment, my beloved shared from Revelation 7:9,
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands… (ESV)
Each time the MAI family meets, we have a glimpse of this glorious certainty, of a world where the divisions don’t matter. In fact, because we would be made perfect in the hereafter, the differences would not matter and would shine like the facets of a diamond, all contributing to the common brilliance. Which gives me real hope for a world that is torn by strife and dissension. It is possible to live in unity. When we are held together by His love and a common call. From within our MAI family, we have seen that the Official Church and the House Church can work together. We have seen Charismatics and non-Charismatics pulling on the same side. Because His love constrains us to love one another.
The Christian vision of a community in which all are “friends of God,” a community in which the neighbor’s good determines one’s conscience, a community free from social hierarchy and partiality, can never be a community in which “love of enemy” or respect for social order is adopted as the strategy of weakness, as a “slave morality.” Christians do not act out of a feeling of powerlessness but out of a conviction that love represents the presence and power of the Spirit. (Pheme Perkins, Love Commands in the New Testament [Ramsey, NJ: Paulist Press, 1982], pp. 124–25.)
There were also small serendipities along the way. A friend provided free transportation from the airport to the retreat centre. Someone else whom we barely knew came and blessed the workshop participants in very tangible ways. Knowing that many of them came from economically challenged nations, he brought gifts of secondhand smartphones and even a branded DSLR camera that would help them in their publishing work. Grace.
I’m glad I had this timely reminder not to sweat the small stuff. So often we’re stopped in our tracks by huge boulders of dissension. Soo Inn’s and my heart broke when we heard that our friend’s church had had their physical building confiscated from them, because the mother church did not agree with the direction his church was moving. Another church we know is going through huge upheavals because of the Bible versions that the leaders and laity do or do not want to use. Are these really big boulders? Or just irritating grit that should be shaken out so that we can continue with our journeys?
There is a world out there that knows hunger, homelessness, sickness from lack of hygiene and medicines, and eternal separation from a loving Father. What are we doing to help them taste and see His love?