January 22 Lectionary Reflection - OGHS 2017

January 22 Lectionary Reflection - OGHS 2017

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January 22, 2017

Text: Matthew 4: 12-23

Informing Stories:

Jesus chose leaders living in the midst of difficulty to proclaim the kingdom of heaven in their midst. He called regular people to do amazing things for the wholeness of their communities. These leaders followed Jesus as he made the good news of the kingdom real in people’s hearts and lives and healed every disease and sickness among the people.

The United Church of Christ supports and celebrates these leaders through the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering. John and Karen Campbell-Nelson are among those leaders who have said “yes” to following Jesus into areas where people live in the midst of difficulty, serving as Global Ministries missionaries in West Timor, Indonesia. Karen’s appointment is supported by OGHS. She embraces a ministry of identifying and nurturing local leaders who heal every disease and sickness and who make the good news of the kingdom real in people’s hearts and lives. Karen tells the story of one such leader – Imelda.

 

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Written by Karen Campbell-Nelson, Evangelical Christian Church of West Timor, Indonesia (See also the 2015 OGHS Annual Report)

Field Education is an important part of the curriculum, and is one of my favorite aspects of teaching trauma counseling at the Theological Faculty of Artha Wacana University, where my husband, John, and I work. Students learn to handle challenges impacting local congregations. Dealing with armed soldiers near the school, the impact of migrant labor, and local politics that exacerbate religious tensions in the predominantly Catholic region of West Timor, are a few of the local issues.Imelda had always been quiet in class. She never stood out academically. But this once shy student has been transformed into a young woman able to assert herself, ask pertinent questions, and share thoughtful reflections.  Imelda’s field education mentor, a young female pastor, has helped water Imelda’s seeds of leadership potential.

One student spoke of a rift in a congregation and how he successfully managed to resolve the conflict. And Imelda? She spoke of Mama Jermi, an older woman with whom she lives and whose prayer discipline inspires her.

When I have opportunity to experience the energy of students learning valuable lessons of faith and practical ministry from humble pastors, wise congregants, and from each other…well, my faith is lifted is lifted up and my hear filled. The transformations I have observed in students may be small, but they are seeds bearing fruit. Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.” (Gen 1.29)