At Christar, we appreciate the diverse ethnic backgrounds within the body of Christ and the contributions that result from ministering together. Recently, we were blessed to be part of the National African American Missions Conference (NAAMC) in Washington, DC. Katheryne, who serves in the New Personnel Department in the Christar Mobilization Center U.S. and represented Christar at the NAAMC, shares some of her reflections on the conference.
The 4th annual National African American Missions Conference was an inspiring and affirming experience. The NAAMC team has long been passionate about their desire to see churches and people raised up from across the country as co-workers at home and overseas. Though small, the conference is growing and its message and heart for missions are mighty. In the drive to see more workers on the field, their goal is to do more than simply recruit men and women of faith to join teams abroad. What they really want to see—and hope to initiate—is a cultural shift that produces not only workers, but a long-term mindset among churches and believers young and old to raise up, educate, send and support diverse and unified teams that illustrate the beauty of the gospel as they plant churches among the nations.
With the theme “Missions Is Our DNA,” speakers and sessions focused on the essentials of building missions as an outpouring of like-minded believers in community. They highlighted the imperative of unity, the need for vision and the beauty of diversity among the body of believers. A poignant illustration was provided by a speaker who recalled a moment on the field:
It was on a short-term trip to a closed area. A long-term worker in the area had coordinated an opportunity for this speaker’s team to do very brief outreach. Limited in communication and under very watchful eyes, her team’s goal was to explain why Christmas is celebrated in America. Unable to say the name of Jesus, they simply referred to Him as their “best friend.” This concept seemed to confuse the small group of listening locals. Finally, one of them asked if the speaker’s best friend was also best friend to her teammates. “Yes!” she declared. “But that’s not possible,” the local replied. “They are your oppressors. You cannot have the same best friend.”
The beauty of diversity and unity among the body of believers was a totally new, as-yet-unfathomable concept to this observer. His perception of race in America had obstructed His view of the kingdom!
As I reflect on the state of the “Union” these last few weeks, I wonder about the state of our unity as believers and disciple-makers, both at home and abroad. While this worker’s experience highlighted how far we have to go, it also illuminated just how crucial and beautiful unity and diversity are on the field. In the book of John, Jesus gives his disciples the command to love one another for a very tangible reason: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).
Yes, the Word of God is distinctive and true, but it is in the day to day, in relationships where trust is built and character is known—it is a specific display of sacrificial love that sets us apart as His disciples. When unbelievers see that our message is different, that we are different, they are better able to see the face of God and His love for them. They are able to see that only He can bring peace that passes understanding in a world known for its great divides.
So I am grateful for the winds of change represented by the NAAMC and other like-minded organizations. As they become a voice growing louder and stronger proclaiming the beauty of the unity to which Christ calls us, I pray that each of us will answer by becoming peacemakers and bridge-builders in our own communities. May our love be so active and effective that it becomes known and celebrated both here and abroad.