Tuesday, February 24, 2009

International companions

For the first three days of the week, I’m among international companions. When I first began my doctoral studies, I became fascinated by the influence of world missionaries who teach on Christian college campuses. Since our denomination’s program hadn’t had a review in its thirty-year history, I wrote up my examination on how schools and individuals had worked together.

“That’s not what we want to do with the Missionary in Residence program,” said the director when he read the paper. “We are now looking for the best and brightest, not just anyone who needs a reason to be off the field for a year.” The culmination of our conversations and his department’s desire to revise their documents is this three-day conference, hosted by our university. “Go for it,” said my boss when I asked if we wanted to have the international educators come our way. “But you have to be the point person for it.” The head of the MIR program set the agenda and schedule but I had to pull event details together.

I had the flu all last week, but somehow things seem to work out. My exceptional student assistant and Indonesian daughter Kristi worked hard to bring details together. After the first long day of meetings, thirty-some came to our house for dinner. I scooted home two hours early to prepare the meal with the help of another lovely young woman, my daughter-in-law Melissa. We served three courses: an initial seating of salad and bread; then a move to sit with a new group for the main course of lasagna and two vegetable dishes; and a final seat scramble to enjoy cheesecake with peach slices and a maraschino cherry. (I ate vegan soup before they came since I couldn't eat much of what we served.)

Nearly everyone talked to everyone else. For fun, we sang a few rousing missionary recruitment hymns (oh oh, we’ve forgotten most of the words), and then each person prayed a short request or thanksgiving. They gathered around to lay hands on Paul, who asked to be a stand-in on behalf of our daughter. Passionate requests, fervent prayer… how we thank God for his grace and good friends.

Today, various classrooms benefited from guest lectures. University students had the chance to visit with the international professionals at dinner in the cafeteria. Tomorrow, we begin with a two-hour review, then take the missionaries to Seattle for lunch and a tour. It’s been valuable, both for the participants and the future of the program.

I’m so lucky to be part of it. To hear the stories. To broaden my network of global contacts to benefit the young generation. To watch history in the making. And I’ll probably be glad when another event is over.

Read more:
*Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalm 115:3 NIV

*Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. if you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. Proverbs 9:11–12 NKJV

*Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV

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