This week I am in Roi Et, Thailand with a delegation of nine pastors and lay people, representing the Japan Covenant Church at the Asia Covenant Consultation, VII. It was under the urging of former ECC Dept. of World Mission leader Jim Gustafson that these regular gatherings of Covenant church leaders and representatives started, and this year’s consultation coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Thai Covenant Church so they are hosting it here in Roi Et.
Yesterday was a travel day. Our group from Japan met at Narita Airport at ten in the morning and flew to Bangkok where we rushed through immigration and customs, and then barely caught our connecting flight to Khon Kaen. Once we got on that plane we saw many familiar faces from Taiwan, India, U.S. and more. We finally got our act together and took a group photo like we should have before leaving Japan.
Then it was a long two hour bus ride to Roi Et, where we finally arrived some time around 10PM and got checked in.
This morning our opening session was a panel discussion about church planting, with panelists representing six different countries and seven groups. They talked about how we define churches, what we seek to accomplish in church planting and how we go about doing it. The variety of perspectives, methods and contexts made for a rich discussion.
These gatherings are always a great opportunity for strengthening our international networks and friendships. Much of that happens at the informal level, often times during the coffee breaks or meal times.
After supper we had an international worship service and celebrated our unity in Christ with a traditional Thai style communion service, using rice balls and Rosella juice for the elements followed by a string tying ceremony; another traditional Thai custom.
This group is so diverse that one can’t help but wonder how we can even think about working and serving together. And yet over and over again we are being reminded in very tangible ways that our unity in Christ is greater than any of our other differences.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for day two!