The United Church of Christ serves in almost 90 countries as an act of love and faith
By the time you hear this, I will be in Venezuela.
One of the most rewarding things I do on behalf of our denomination is travel to different countries and meet with our mission partners.
We actively support and work alongside over 400 organizations in almost 90 countries. These organizations educate children, provide goods and services to refugee families, fund small businesses run by women in third world countries, advocate for the human rights of oppressed peoples, give vocational training to young adults living in dire poverty, employ the disabled, run seminaries for emerging faith leaders, negotiate peace agreements between rebel factions and state governments, and countless other activities that extend the missional outreach of our local churches and covenant partners.
The work of our Global Ministries, an organization we operate in full partnership with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is an extension of the love we practice as a matter of faith. On every trip I take, I am deeply moved by how our love extends to villages and farms and towns and cities in far away and sometimes very remote places.
I have sat in the living room of a woman who lost her son to gunshots in Ramala, Palestine. I took a jeep ride through slippery terrain to Granada deep in the Andes Mountains in Colombia. I have traveled to a remote refugee camp one kilometer from the Syrian border in the deserts of Jordan. I arrived at the southern shores of Sicily where refugees from Northern Africa seek solace and comfort after traveling angry seas crowded onto a rickety raft.
I witness the same thing over and over again: the power of our capacity to change lives by putting love into action.
Whether Muslim, Jew, Christian, Buddhist or something else, people of faith the world over discover our capacity to bridge the divides of language, culture, faith and belief in order to remedy the pain and oppression we live through. The suffering we all endure, and the joy we discover in the midst of it, are universal. The indomitable spirit of the human creature when moved by the sacred presence of the Creator can overcome almost anything.
Being present to suffering matters. It heals not just those who suffer, but those asked to be a witness to that suffering. Over and over again, the thing I hear most often from the midst of the suffering is simply to be a witness. Pain and suffering endures longest when it suffers in the silence of unknowing. The call to bear witness to that pain, to leave and tell the story comes as a relief and a gift to those with whom you connect in the places where they bear their pain.
Every day around the globe, we are partnering with those who witness suffering, stare it in the face, and do what they can to relieve it. That I have the honor of also traveling on your behalf to bear witness to that is one of my greatest joys.
I invite you to lift up in prayer the suffering masses and those whose lot in life it is to bear witness to that suffering so that it does not go unnoticed or unchallenged. And may we all find pathways to healing, wholeness, joy and relief in the midst of our suffering on this, our journey Into the Mystic.