From Everywhere to Everywhere
Cross-cultural missionaries fellowship at General Conference session
ou immediately knew that this was no run-of-the-mill community meeting. For one thing, there was not a single yellow voting card in sight. The room vibrated with energy as more than 400 interdivision employees (IDEs) happily crowded into the room until even standing room was in very short supply. Personal space was not an issue with people as willing to share their chairs (four people to three seats) as they were to share the details of their lives.
This was truly a meeting of family. No matter whether a missionary to Dublin, Ireland, or to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in Africa, missionaries have much in common. This is surprising as they come from everywhere and are serving everywhere. The traditional stereotype of a Western missionary going to a developing country is no longer valid. The North American Division sends out “only” one third of IDEs—and it also receives numerous missionaries from all over the world.
MISSIONARY REUNION: About 400 interdivision employees (IDEs) meet together to put faces to names that most IDEs usually know only via e-mail or snail mail communications. [Photo: Martin Klingbeil]
This was a meeting to put faces to names that most IDEs usually know only via e-mail or snail mail communications. Organized by the Secretariat of the General Conference, in conjunction with the Institute of World Mission, the outgoing secretary, Matthew Bediako, warmly welcomed the IDEs, and introduced the Secretariat team and the newly elected secretary of the General Conference, G. T. Ng.
Currently, there are about 900 IDEs serving the world. This number excludes, of course, Adventist short-term volunteer and all the other missionaries whom divisions (such as the Pioneer Mission Movement in the Northern Asia-Pacific Division) sponsor, as well as the numerous missionaries under the auspices of supportive ministries such as Adventist Frontier Missions.
As longtime missionaries, we felt—yes, you guessed it—at home. The room was way too small (and we are promised bigger facilities for the next session), but there was a fragrance of heaven floating around. No, this was not because of the food—but rather the commitment and the energy of people who, often under difficult circumstances, are eager and excited to push the boundaries of the kingdom of God.
Here is an insightful line from G. T. Ng: “The Lord is in the business of springing surprises on us.” And it certainly does come as a surprise how so many people discover that you only really find your life when you give it to mission service.
Chantal J. Klingbeil is a mother, author, editor, and home-school teacher; her husband, Gerald A. Klingbeil, is an associate editor of the
Adventist Review and
Adventist World magazines and is passionate about missions.