A Journey of Love
I recently returned from a trip to Southern Asia. It included Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India.
The United Church of Christ maintains close ties with allies and mission partners around the world, currently in over 80 countries. We work closely with those partners to ease the collective burden experienced by the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the homeless, the under-educated: communities living in the margins and struggling to find a decent life for themselves.
In Sri Lanka we met with leaders of the Churches there who have been devastated by three decades of war.
In Bangladesh we met with community organizers and church leaders who are building grassroots connections in small villages devastated by the brutal and indiscriminate effects of climate disaster.
In India, we met with directors of Childrens’ Homes and Schools where poor and neglected children were being tutored after school to ensure that human traffickers could not steal them away while their parents were still at work.
I have made several trips to visit with mission partners on every continent (well, not Antarctica). I continue to be deeply moved by the hospitality received from some of the most humble and poor communities I have ever experienced. They are a constant source of hope and a living testament to the indominable spirit and undaunting will of the human soul. It simply will not let fate, circumstance, or worldly power deprive them of their hope.
I consistently hear from leaders of these communities and advocacy partners around the world how meaningful and valuable our partnership with them is and remains. They all repeat over and over again that it isn’t just the money we provide (for which, of course, they are grateful) – it is our ongoing presence and relationship that means so much to them.
Knowing that we show up matters to them.
Knowing that when we show up we are not trying to solve their problems with our solutions matters to them.
Knowing that when we return to our homes we tell their story matters to them. They do not want to feel alone and forgotten.
If you are reading this, you are most likely a member of and/or connected to and therefore interested and invested in the United Church of Christ and our shared mission. You should be so proud. YOU are part of a team of leaders and disciples that takes the call to love your neighbor seriously. In ways you don’t even know, you contribute to a way of being together that insists on building and maintaining relationships with partners around the world who are saving lives and transforming their cultures for the common good of all.
I want to thank you; and your church. You are part of a global movement to feed, clothe, educate, shelter, and advocate for justice. It touches lives in small villages half a world away. And it is a beautiful thing to behold.
I want to thank you. You have entrusted to me for a season of leadership of this church we love. In so doing you enable me to travel the world not only telling the good news of God’s redeeming and transformative love, but also bearing witness to what your collective commitments to and articulations of love do to change lives all over the world.