This past week I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference. It was incredible! This morning I woke up thinking of a verse from the song If I Were a Rich Man from The Fiddler on the Roof (one of my all time favorite musicals).
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd discuss the holy books
with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.
By these standards, I've been one of the richest people on the planet this past week. During the rest of the year, I often feel like I'm running to keep up and there is never enough time to just stop and be still in God's presence. At conference, I spent every waking moment of the past seven glorious days there through interactive bible study, hearing about what God is doing all over the world during mission hour and at table during meals talking with brothers and sisters in the faith from all over the world and then joining hundreds of believers (from young children to the young-at-heart who are in their 90s) in the worship of our God. And that was just the mornings! I had an opportunity to deepen friendships started last year and make new friends I already miss dearly. I spoke with people from California, Florida, Ohio, Malawi, China, and Iraq learning about the places they call home as they shared about the miracles God is doing there every day. I can tell you from what I heard—Our God's not dead, he's surely alive!!!!! The echo of the praise music calling out to us all over the campus as we walked to the outdoor pavilion near the lake where we worshiped twice a day is still calling in my heart. Never has the song "Surely the Presence" been so tangible for surely the presence of the Lord was in that place and I hope to carry that reality in my heart every day.
I remember in the beginning of the week confiding in a good friend that I wondered if indeed I really
God has an amazing sense of timing because I confided my feelings of unworthiness to be there to my friend just before the morning worship and less than 30 minutes later, the speaker was expounding on the scripture of the Samaritan woman at the well being the first missionary as she ran home to tell everyone she knew what Jesus had just said and done. The speaker went on to apply that to us saying that we are all missionaries right where God has placed us. When we help our elderly neighbor out with her trash, when we share with a coworker what God is doing in our lives, when we live a life of grace in our communities, we are missionaries and our mission field is right in our hometowns, our schools, our places of work, and our city streets. Where ever we are—we are God's ambassadors to the world. I keep forgetting that!
Learn more about the conference at their website: http://www.nwmcmission.org