Conclusion: Forging Unity through the Power of Diversity

Shining Your Light for Him was a perfect theme for this year’s retreat.  You can be a Baptist, a Catholic, an Episcopalian or Charismatic and if you let it, Christ’s light will shine through you.  There is no partiality with the Lord.  I saw Seventh-Day Adventists Spirit-filled worshiping God, Baptists praying next to Lutherans, a Methodist singing while next to them a Charismatic worshiped God with hands raised…and this was in the local church on Kwajalein, not just the missions group!  This was the unity of the Body of Christ like I had never experienced before in my life – it was beautiful, humbling, anointed and I was awestruck at the beauty of Jesus.

There will be a Church, too large to contain in structural buildings, that is comprised of people in unity, reaching beyond denominational lines and it will be spread throughout all cultures, crossing over oceans with no more fear of each other or of not being accepted by one another. If we are in Christ, we are all accepted. His Church is comprised of His servants not mine. Some may say, ‘Ashley, this really is not practical, not possible, not rational’.  That’s good.  I like to hear that.  Because God never does what is possible.  Only what is impossible.

Some may also say, ‘but we already are the Church, there’s nothing else to attain to.’ But I’ve seen (and myself partaken in) too many disputes, too many derogatory remarks concerning different denominations’ beliefs, from all sides, to believe that we have attained to unity the way the Holy Spirit originally intended.  Or do we think when Paul urges unity and peace between the brethren that it was intended only for the members within one church building?  They didn’t even have church ‘buildings’ before ~ 230 A.D.

In Romans chapter 14, Paul tells us, and I paraphrase, let not the one who eats [moves freely in all the gifts of the Spirit] despise the one who abstains [is unable to accept everything God has for them at this time.]  And let not the one who cannot accept pass judgment on the one who moves freely.

We have yet to attain to this.

But I have resolved to change my perspective and my confession on this matter.  I will welcome those who are weak in faith and those who are strong in faith without passing judgment.

As for the one weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions…be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Romans14, 2Corth1

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Missions Retreat 2010: Forging Unity through the Power of Diversity (Part Three)

It’s profound.  Who could take millions of individual humans, with their individual tastes for worship, their own desires, their complex personalities and preferences, perspectives and pursuits and forge them into one body, one working organism, with one heart and one mind?  Taking on the very appearance of God Himself as He willed in His word would happen; who but the living God could do this?  And the question remains, has it yet been done?

There is freedom here somewhere, between the lines our denominations draw in the sand, which send a perpetual message of, don’t cross if you don’t intend to believe like we do.

But there is no question, it will happen, it is only a matter of time.  This fragmented Church will reconnect and function as one unit.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free [Catholic or Methodist, Presbyterian or Charismatic, etc. are implied because ‘Jews, Greeks, slaves and free’ all encompass the latter] and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”  1 Corth 12:12  (words in brackets are my own.)

A few of us convening during breakfast. Clockwise from noon: Lenka, Nyasha, Trecie, me, Justine, Malte.

Day 2: After a light breakfast Sunday morning, we headed off to the Micronesian and Marshallese Cultural Shop – wow, we were there for nearly an hour in these tiny stores simply because it had been so long since we’d had the privilege to ‘shop’.  And since it was my birthday, I got a little present from my missionary friends :) A silver fish ring.  Thanks Gem Ministry Team! You are such a blessing.

We headed back for church and I snapped a pic of this beautiful stained glass window at the back of the chapel.

Here’s an excerpt from the brochure about the chapel:

“This Island Memorial Chapel is one of four American buildings that have survived since WWII.  This chapel was built in late 1944.  It was built by volunteers from the garrison with surplus materials.  Although the chapel’s sanctuary retains its original profile, (it is completely open-air) the building has been enlarged and renovated several times since 1944.  The memorial stained glass window was installed as part of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Kwajalein.”

The church has a long, sloping roof.  Other than that, it is open which is good because it really gets hot down here when there is no wind.

From left: Helga from Germany, Lenka and me.

After service, the ladies spread out a huge buffet for us.  It was soooo delicious!  I also got a surprise Happy Birthday song from everyone…God is good.  We then headed out to tour the sharks, sea turtles and eventually, Subway!

Sharkfest Viewers. From left, Lily, Love and Michael, Trecie, Pauley and Peter.

The Kwajalein lagoon is infested with these things because the Marshallese do not fish them.  I think I’m going to start praying about that…I’ve heard more shark stories in two days on Kwaj than I’ve heard all 8 months on Ebeye.  I think Americans are obsessed with Jaws!

Sea Turtles :)

A pic on the bridge over the turtle pond. From left; Lenka, Jonas, Love, Michael, Lily and James.

What a blessing this retreat has been for all of us.  It was refreshing and God opened my eyes to a lot a beautiful things.  My next post will be the ‘part 4’ conclusion to this series.  I hope I will have gotten at least some of what was on my heart across to you.  I’m excited for the church in the coming decade!