World Wide Gathering 2022 | Chiang Mai, Thailand
During the first couple of days of December 2022, there were 67 Friends who showed up in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for the second EFM Worldwide Missionary Gathering. The first one was held nine years ago. Thirty-three of the 67 who came were missionaries (11 households). The rest were some of EFM’s staff and board members along with those that came to support the event (child care, worship, etc.). Members of the Evangelical Friends Church International Council were also there. They participated in the main program and had their own meetings in the afternoons. The gathering ended on December 6.
The following three points describe the purpose of the Worldwide Missionary Gathering:
- Missionary Care – every Christian worker needs to step away from their intense ministry context and set apart time and place for refreshment, rest, and spiritual reflection.
- Missionary Community – the EFM missionary team is spread over the globe. During the retreat, they find opportunities to meet, encourage, counsel, and pray for one another. They also have the opportunity to do the same with the EFM staff and board members who support them.
- Missionary Equipping – we consider how each missionary can become an equipper of equippers, helping them to focus not only on the next wave of leaders but upon the third wave of leaders. When the third wave of leaders become equippers of equippers, then we know we are fueling a movement.
These purposes were carried out through a program that featured the following:
- Worship in the morning through singing and then Bible teaching from Alan Amavisca of Friends Southwest.
- Presentations by and interaction with the EFM directors about the Luke 10 Initiative, EFM’s philosophy of missions,
deputation and communication with supporters, and missionary care and coaching.
- Missionaries meeting together after lunch in small groups in order to get to know one another better and also to pray for one another.
- Rest and time to play.
- Evening worship and talks by Stan Leach about what it means to become equippers of equippers.
One highlight of each of these gatherings has been the street market on Sunday night in downtown Chiang Mai. We join the mass of humanity moving up and down narrow streets, sampling all kinds of Thai cuisine and also considering what gifts to purchase from the multitude of stalls. It is a lot of fun!
After the gathering, Alan Amavisca wrote a reflection based on a promise found in a very painful sermon the prophet Isaiah preached in Isaiah 24:14-16. He titled it, “The Song of the Righteous One.” He wrote: “Missionaries gathered from the east and west, the south and north. And they sang. I love participating in missionary conferences precisely because missionaries sing unabashedly—and joyfully (i.e., LOUDLY). They know the father and they love to worship him. In addition, the image of God-worshippers from all peoples, tongues, tribes, and nations is not just a future hope for cross-cultural ministers—they live it. Every time missionaries gather; they bring elements of their ministry contexts with them, and it flavors their praise. I love it! We had a time of worship before my last message and ended it by singing ‘How Great Thou Art.’ I noticed an extra level of volume in their singing for that song. When I went up to speak, I asked how many of them had a translation of How Great Thou Art in their own languages. All of them. I suggested we sing the chorus in each of our own languages. They shook the rafters in Hindi and Maithalee and Khmer and Hungarian, in Aymara, Spanish and Kinyarwanda. Stunning!”
Thank you for upholding this event in your prayers. We definitely felt the Lord’s presence among us as well as the support of God’s people around the world. Now we are back in our various places of ministry, eager to see how “The Song of the Righteous One” plays out in 2023!
Happy New Year to you and yours!
EFM Field Director