I work for an organisation called Wycliffe Bible Translators and while my current role is mostly UK focused (I’m due to join the Wycliffe Global Alliance, our international partners, later this year) the truth is everything we do has a global impact. Whether that’s because we are praying for or providing financial support for particular projects, or we are training and sending personnel to support work in particular locations, what we do from our office in the UK can have ripples of impact in the lives and work of people in many different locations.
It’s not so much about getting things wrong and the ripples causing problems for others (though that does happen occasionally) or success that brings its own pressures, instead it’s about sharing in something and recognising the value of each individual, culture and organisation.
Last month I was able to spend a week with a group of leaders from around the world. We were a properly global group with representatives from Brazil, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Germany, Norway, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Benin the United States… you get the picture. Plus we were a real mix of ages and genders at different stages of this leadership journey.
The most wonderful thing about this group was our openness with each other. We had all been nominated and invited to be there so we didn’t need to justify our reason for being part of the group. Maybe that simple fact removed the usual burden that comes with conferences – the need to impress – though that seems to be an ever decreasing part of our culture. Instead, there was an openness and honesty within the group that I’ve not experienced in events of this type before.
Over the five days we worked together, ate together, played together, prayed together (specifically for each participant) and celebrated who we are as people and as participants in global mission. It was fun, emotional and affirming – and quite challenging.
All of this has made summing it up and sharing it with others really difficult. I know that this is one of the most important events of my career.
- It challenged me that it is OK to be called to leadership and that I should move beyond my current stance of being willing to serve others to equipping myself to lead well.
- I’m excited by the current generation and the next generation of mission leaders within Wycliffe that have vision, enthusiasm and a desire to serve. I’m also excited by the kindness, generosity and love of this group.
- I saw, probably for the first time, a group that worked really well together. Even when we disagreed, offended each other or simply got it wrong, we took action to repair the damage and showed understanding and love in listening and giving others the chance to make amends. We even showed understanding to the stage of realising that we just don’t see things in the same way – sometimes it’s OK to be different.
- It reminded me of the importance of informed, directed prayer. This was the first event that I attended that asked delegates to form a specific prayer support team that would journey with them through the week. I did that, updating them through a Facebook group. I’m sure that, above all else, made the real difference.
Explaining all that to others that weren’t there is really difficult. The reason this gathering worked was because we were gathered together. Trying to give a report just doesn’t work, you needed to be there, but by having you there it would have been a different environment and that would change things.
I hope in this rambling blog post you sense my joy in being part of this group and some of the excitement of what God was doing through that week. Of course, while I’ve already mentioned the centrality of prayer to this event, I recognise that it was God’s gracious answers to those prayers that made the difference.