The keynote speaker Sabbath morning was Tom Doyle, who spoke about what God is doing in the Middle East. "Don't take your world view from the news," he cautioned. Although many Americans have the impression that the Middle East is filled with Islamic extremists, that is a small fraction of a larger society. "The news is keeping Christians away from Muslims," Doyle said. But God is not staying away. The fastest growing church in the world today is in Iran. A video from Refugee Care Collective after his talk really moved me: "Make a stand together. We are not going to be led by fear, but by love." [Update:the timing of this conference was amazing. Just a week before the order to prohibit refugees, here was a group of Christians preparing themselves to embrace them.]
Sabbath afternoon a keynote by Michael Oh brought new light on the Lord's Prayer. He showed us how the prayer can be seen as two parts: God's purpose and His provision for fulfilling that purpose. Too many Christians, he said, make the prayer for provision the purpose of their lives, always asking, "What is best for me?" By holding onto those provisions that have been given to us, we delay Jesus' kingdom.
We had decided to make Mission Connexion part of our Sus Manos retreat weekend each year, as it gives our students a much bigger view of God's mission and inspires them to take an active role in that mission, beyond our spring break trip. As we debriefed the conference, one student mentioned that his church doesn't talk a lot about missions. Mike explained the different way that missions are funded--although missionaries from many denominations raise their support through local churches and maintain contact with them, Seventh-day Adventists have an efficient system that provides support through a central fund that all churches contribute to. The downside of that efficiency was evident this weekend: missionaries are anonymous and giving to the mission fund may seem impersonal and not inspiring. We want to help our students to continue to embrace their role in supporting and being missionaries in our church.
Besides the inspiration from Mission Connexion, our retreat weekend was a time to bond--many of the students (who are sophomores, juniors and seniors) did not regularly "hang out" together at school. Our retreat is an important time for bringing us together as a team. We camped out at Tualatin Valley Academy, as it was closer to the Mission Connexion venue than PAA, ate meals together and began journaling things we are learning. Their journals will be used as witnessing tools in Cuba, so we did some things in Spanish. We spent a little time working on VBS plans, encouraging daily quiet time (with God through Bible reading and prayer), and reading Steps to Christ.
Sus Manos mission statement: "We seek to be the hands of Jesus in the Spanish-speaking community at home and abroad."
Scriptural foundation for short-term missions (Romans 1:11-12)
Our effectiveness depends on our connection with Jesus (John 15:4-5)
We are not done until we have passed on what we have learned (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
The Navigator Wheel illustration
The Navigator Word Hand illustration of 5 ways we interact with the Bible