During 2013 we were involved in two important gatherings.
The first one was the bi-annual meeting of Operation Mobilization Field Leaders. The meeting was in Bangkok in Thailand, and it was our first exposure to an eastern country and culture. It was a weeklong gathering organized to allow maximum time for connection and discussion between the leaders of different fields all over the world. It was our first exposure to such a gathering within OM and it was a bit over-whelming. We were still new in the organization, and we were seeking answers to the many challenges we were facing.
One of the highlights was an unexpected meeting with an old friend. One morning I attended the main session and when I walked into the packed auditorium, I saw a familiar face approaching me. It was the Zambian missionary I accompanied in 2005 to Chad to help them settle into their new environment. It was the first time after 2006 that I saw him face to face. It was a happy reunion, and he told me that I was the last person that visited him in Chad. He had no other visitors in Chad since 2006! This saddened me and I was more than ever impressed by his character and perseverance in a very difficult country.
The other gathering was the retreat for Azeri Pastors and their families at a ski resort hotel in the Republic of Georgia. We invited 50 pastors and they al attended. We organized activities for the children and teenagers, to allow the parents to attend the sessions we planned for them without interference. We had an international keynote speaker and break out discussions during the weekend. We started with a story wall that I facilitated. It gave them the opportunity to see how the events of the last ten years on a political, ministry and personal level has influenced them individually but also as a group. For the first time many of them did not feel alone in the struggles they faced but realized that there are others struggling too.
They keynote speaker delivered a strong message on forgiveness and reconciliation over the weekend. During the last session he invited all the participants to wash one another’s’ feet. He invited the leaders to go and wash the feet of their subordinates first. After that he challenged them to wash the feet of someone they did not know well and lastly, he sent them to someone they had conflict with or just did not like that much.
That evening there was a lot of tears and hugs all round as these Pastors and leaders found one another in the symbolic gesture of washing one another’s feet!