In one of the most dramatic illustrations of partnership at work during Tuesday's track meetings at Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church, the Distinguished Leaders Track listened to representatives from the Cities Track as they appealed for help in organizing their ministries.
Jackie Pullinger-To, Director of Hong Kong's Society of St. Stephen, said: "We have a need, and we think that we may be an answer to your needs. We would love to cooperate with you." She and other Cities Track leaders suggested that the Distinguished Leaders Track might find ways to impart their skills to the urban poor. The leaders were warmly sympathetic to this overture and asked how they might develop contact.
Partnerships are being developed as a tool to advance the Gospel throughout the world. Some partnerships link denominations, others bring together rich and poor, and still others join people separated by oceans. No matter what form partnerships take, they serve to transform our world by changing people's lives and offering them hope.
Dr. Mengi Kilandamoko of Zaire was visibly excited as he shared his story of partnerships at work. Kilandamoko heads a coalition of many denominations through the Evangelical Church of Zaire. Pastors from Kinshasa's many Christian churches have formed a pastoral council, which meets monthly for fellowship, planning and prayer. They lead their congregations in outreach efforts which are more effective because everyone participates.
"Our goal is to mobilize. We need to have a team that works together to see God's plans accomplished. It wasn't the Mennonite who died on the cross. It wasn't the Baptist, or the Methodist. It was Jesus, and we work for Him." As they pray for their city, they ask for God's leading in setting goals, in devising action steps, a budget, and a timetable for completion.
Sam Kamaleson, an Indian delegate and chairman of the Cities Track, was equally convinced of the effectiveness of partnerships. He recounted how in one Mexican city the Southern Baptists recently provided an evangelist to a local Roman Catholic parish at the priest's request. This unlikely pairing has drawn the positive attention of the secular press.
"A Southern Baptist in a Roman Catholic parish. This is very unusual," he said to the group, who met his comments with knowing nods and laughs. More important than the positive press coverage was the chance to clearly present the Gospel.
He cited another partnership example: a Pennsylvania Church from the United States is linked with a Southern Baptist congregation in Bucharest, Romania. The two churches jointly sponsor a coffee house ministry to youth that has sparked conversions and new churches. The Romanians run the ministry; the Americans provide support and prayers.
Samuel Barnett Rajshekhar of Bangalador, India, struck a chord with the audience as he shared his concern for his city's poor and his desire to win them to the Lord. One day his prayers were answered when his wife was approached by one of the city's poorest young people: a rag picker, who gained his livelihood by collecting refuse.
"Can you help me pick a papaya from that high tree?" she asked.
"l'll do it if you allow me to have one to eat."
The next day he brought another friend. Within a short period five rag pickers began coming to the Rajshekhars' home. Today those youth and countless others like them are making crafts to support themselves. Even more important, many have found Christ.
As Rajshekhar's congregation prayed about the needs of 50,000 rag pickers in their city, and some 25 million uneducated urban youth in their country, new ministries were born. The church now collaborates with Prison Fellowship in offering housing to newly released convicts. The congregation also provides medical services to poor children. And people with material wealth and expertise are giving their time, money and talents.
These are just a few of the stories of partnerships at work in the world today. As we tackle the huge task of reaching the unreached peoples with the Gospel, it behooves us to partner: sharing resources, expertise and knowledge, inspiring one another, and thereby multiplying our efforts.
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Monday's edition of GCOWE Today reported on some of the tracks. Today, we publish highlights of the remaining track meetings:
God's Word and Literature: Prayer is foundational to literature distribution campaigns. In one urban area of Canada, a group participated in home visits with literature but did not attend the scheduled prayer seminars. At the homes they visited, they had a 48 percent rejection rate. The other group which had participated in the prayer seminars saw only a two percent rejection rate.
Women's Mobilization Track: In testimony after testimony, women learned how God is breaking through barriers in our times. North Asia Representative, Cheung Kai Zam's remarkable story exemplified this powerfully. Born in China, she wandered the world in search of peace. Her path led her deep into Hinduism and New Age philosophy. Then God saved her and today she heads an organization that trains young people in Hong Kong to reach China's still unreached.
Saturation Evangelism: Thomas Abraham of Campus Crusade for Christ in Central Asia and the Pacific, explained the importance of developing partnerships in working toward world evangelization. He defined partnerships as intentional association of two or more ministries focused on a target area.
Pastors Mobilization Track: This track featured reports from the church in difficult areas of the world including: Kazakhstan, Georgia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Iraq. Delegates prayed that God would lift economic sanctions against Iraq, since sanctions are most hurtful to the common people, including Christians. It was exciting to hear, though, that even in the face of suffering, the National Evangelical Church of Iraq has mushroomed.
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