It’s hard to believe that it has been a month since our conference with the leaders of the churches that we are involved with. Our little church belongs to a community of several churches both in England and in Canada. What does this say to me? It says that i am not alone.
We had three great men from England join us as leaders to talk to us. When Mike crossed the border, he was strongly encouraged not to preach to us. While to me that is shocking - we DO live in Canada and we experience freedom of speech and freedom of religion - he stood by that restriction for the duration of the time that us as leaders got together. He did this out of integrity and I appreciate that. But even in that restriction, God had other plans. We prayed. We prayed for the community. WE prayed for those with hurting hearts and broken lives. We prayed for those who don’t know Jesus. We prayed for those who do know Jesus and need a closer walk with him. We prayed for his grace and his love to be revealed to our friends and to us.
We did a lot of praying that weekend. It was a beautiful time. And what came from that is a rich, deep founding of friendships - a knowing that each of us live so many miles from each other but that we are not alone. We carry the same burdens, we are all on similar journeys.
Pastoring and shepherding can be a lonely road, but as we spent the weekend together, as we prayed for each other's and looked each other in the eye and said, I am praying for you, suddenly we knew that we were in this journey together. And if our eyes had been solely focused on our own lives and our own Church, we suddenly focused on a wider path - a path where churches stood on either side of us - each of us with the same vision, with the same heart, with the same passion for the people around us. It is our bond. And it makes us a tribe. We found our tribe in each other. And when we went back to our churches to work and to dig and to plant, we knew that there were others doing the same things, praying the same things and feeling the same things in nearby towns or provinces. None of us are alone.
Our churches matter. Each of our churches matter and we are going to pursue everything that God has for us and we are going to encourage and pray for each other to do the same.
For me personally, I was challenged to pick up a dream that I had put on the shelf many many years ago. I was born and raised in Japan. Japan is one of my passions. I have always wanted to go back there and to see fruit from what my Mom and Dad planted so many years ago. God so profoundly spoke to my spirit that the passion I have for Japan is intentional. He isn’t done with me or with us in the nation of Japan and that excites me.
Around the table of Tim Hortons, between meetings, we as team leaders shared our hearts. Mike Betts asked a question that stuck with me. He asked each of us what we love, what refreshes us and makes us come alive. We shared what we saw in each other. From that, we talked about how working and journeying together will work; what it will look like. We talked about each persons strengths and what they could offer RM Canada to make it run smoothly. The truth is, we always need to look at running anything we do better. That's when we know that we are a healthy, living, vibrant entity or group of churches. We weren't looking at who would be the leader or who would be better than who. We were looking at strengths and how we could capitalize on those in order to keep what we are doing alive and working beautifully. This is how true team works. It's not about who is better or who is higher or more talented. It's a matter of tapping into our strengths and putting what we have to offer onto the table.
I am so excited to see where this journey of joining Churches will take us. It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time. Technology allows us to do so much that we could not have done years ago. We skype, we text, we email and we facebook each other. This is so vital in building team and in underlining the fact that we are not alone. We are in this thing we call “life” together. We are building churches together. We are praying for our communities together. When one is hurting, we are all hurting. When one is rejoicing, we are all rejoicing. Because it is so much better to do life together.
Together, shoulder to shoulder we will see the world, or at least our corner of the world set free.