Years ago, when I first became a pastor at Spring Garden, the congregation had undergone a time of considerable conflict over the worship wars - remember them? Wounds were deep. It felt like the energy in the congregation went sideways instead of forward. The conflict had turned the congregation in on itself - many congregations have been in this place.
But something remarkable happened when the bishop challenged us to recommit to a global partnership in Tanzania. His challenge turned our vision outward, beyond ourselves. Over time, our divisions healed because we grew away from ourselves and toward the church beyond us.
Since then, because of some deep family connections and through international adoptions, we felt called to connect to the Health Promoter's Ministry with ILAG. This partnership with ILAG continues to animate our church life. As people hear the stories of our visits, the interest helps us raise the funds needed to work together with ILAG, and this outward vision connects additional members of the congregation to ILAG's ministry.
When a congregation connects with a global partner, it's good for us to enter that relationship out of a good old-fashioned desire to give, to learn, and to follow Jesus' command to love one another.
But every person who connects with the partner church - whether in Guatemala, or Tanzania, or some other part of the world - will tell you that no matter how much you intended to give, you end up receiving much more. So while we don't go into global relationships with the idea that we will "get something in return," inevitably, we are blessed in the relationship.
We continue to look for ways to accompany our brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala. We have discovered that being a part of what God is doing in Guatemala has been life giving for Spring Garden. Accompanying God's people in Guatemala, Tanzania or anywhere else can be life giving for your congregation, too!
Pastor Nick Fisher-Broin