- 94% of this year’s conference registrants indicated that their online experience (YouTube and/or Zoom) was either “positive” or “very positive.”
- 94% of the registrants felt that this year’s conference was either “very well organized” or “extremely well organized.”
- 97% of the registrants reported that the value of their experience relative to the cost ($20 per person) was either “very valuable” or “extremely valuable.”
EFC-MAYM conducted its FIRST ever completely online Ministry Conference. Approximately 120 different people and/or sites registered for the event. Thanks to the hard work of Casey Roberts and Parker Titus, the event came off with very few technical difficulties. In addition, we give a huge “shout out” to Manny Garcia and the folks of Northridge Friends Church for hosting the event!
GENERAL SESSIONS: Dan Kimball, author, and founding pastor of Vintage Faith Church, Santa Cruz, CA was our guest speaker for the three General Sessions. Our focus was on “Entertaining Angels…the way of Hospitality”, concluding the three year focus on prayer, worship and hospitality, initiated by David Williams in 2018. Dan was extremely well received. Attendees made comments such as:
I appreciated the practicality of the theme. It was applicable to all believers and it invited each person to look at where hospitality is happening or could be happening in their life. I look forward to sharing the sessions with others from our church family.
Dan Kimball’s personal mission emphasis was so refreshing as we took our eyes off of the “things below” that have been so weighty recently.
It was great to have a practical nuts and bolts speaker. He was able to speak to each church context. Good stuff.
WELCOME LIVING FRIENDS CHURCH: Living Friends Church, Ft. Worth, TX has become the newest church to reach “full church status” within EFC-MAYM. We are blessed to have them as the first Nepali church in Mid-America. Watch their reception into EFC-MAYM here.
EFM SETS 5 YEAR GOAL: Dan Cammack, Executive Director of Evangelical Friends Mission, gave a brief presentation and shared a vision for the future, including a goal for the next 5 years. Watch his 8 minute video here.
RUN FOR MISSIONS TAKES ON A NEW FOCUS: Mission Mobilizers are resurrecting the “Run For Missions” with a new twist. Rather than one person running the full 100 miles, different churches will be taking segments of the event. In addition, since our “Missionary Blessing Fund” is well funded, the new focus will be on “what’s needed most” at the time, from EFM. This year’s event will help to fully fund the ministries of D.K. and Choity Sarkar, and Samson and Priscilla Retnaraj. Contact Mike Neifert (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
FRIENDS WOMEN LUNCHEON: The FWF Prayer Gathering included all three of these—fellowship, prayer and gathering—via our online ZOOM venue. What a blessing to have women join from locations all across MAYM and as far away as Sibiu, Romania. Some gathered in small groups in local churches, enjoying lunch on china or paper plates, while others feasted on Ramen noodles at home. Wherever and however they participated, the women gathered in the fellowship of the Spirit to see, hear and pray for EFM workers around the world who shared by pre-recorded video their response to the question, “Who is knocking on your door?” Each video was followed with a prayer by one of the FWF Executive Board members. The experience was proof that God’s Spirit transcends buildings and walls, encompassing the entire world!
SUNDAY MORNING HIGHLIGHTS: This year, during our Sunday Morning Worship Service, Shawn Penrose and Josiah Williams were recorded in front of the participants at Northridge Friends Church, and those watching online. In addition, Brad and Chelsea Carpenter shared briefly about their trip back to the United States earlier this summer and brought a brief update on their ministry in Central Africa. David Williams concluded the service with some timely words and final wrap-up to the 2020 Ministry Conference. You can watch the concluding Worship Service online.
PERSONAL REFLECTIONS: As I look back on Ministry Conference 2020, I am extremely grateful for how God has led over the past year. It was by His grace that we concluded our final Area Leadership Retreat (“Fueling Freedom”) one week before the country began to shut down due to the pandemic. It was by His grace that our churches were able to transition to an online format, as needed, during this pandemic. It was by His grace, we were able to conduct our first ever online Ministry Conference, with very few technical challenges. And, it was by God’s grace Dan Kimball challenged our hearts and minds regarding “hospitality”.
In a day and age of social distancing and racial unrest, with political parties becoming increasingly polarized, and the world becoming full of fear and uncertainty, what better way to refocus on what’s most important than to become more hospitable than ever, in the name of Jesus. During the final General Session, Dan interviewed a non-believing friend of his named Evan. Evan shared a little of his spiritual journey and gave opportunities for us to ask him questions about his life and journey towards faith. Dan concluded his talk with a single challenge, “Who’s your Evan?”
This reminds me of the question Jesus was asked one day while interacting with an expert in the Jewish law regarding what it means to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). The man asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29). To which Jesus replied with the well-known Parable of the Good Samaritan. If the entire law can be summed up in two commands…to love God and love others, then should not hospitality be at the forefront of what we do every day? Should we not, like Dan, have people in our lives that we can name for whom we are praying, as well as demonstrating hospitality.
It happened to me again, upon arriving home from Ministry Conference on Saturday evening. After just hearing Dan’s final message I pulled into my driveway after dark, only to be approached by Jimmie and Ashley, a young couple preparing to move into our neighborhood. I walked over, we introduced ourselves, and a discussion ensued. For the next 10 minutes or so I had the blessing of beginning a friendship with a young couple preparing to move their family from North Carolina to Wichita. To date, I can name a dozen families or so we have met, and put names with, in our new neighborhood. We are making connections. Now we want to begin to establish community with them. I have joined the board of our HOA and will be getting out our food trailer for a block party this fall. From there we will look for ways to get connected at a deeper level in community. We are hoping to cross the first bridge Dan referred to (the Christian subculture bridge) by demonstrating hospitality and fostering community so perhaps one day we will be able to help many of these new friends cross the second bridge over the chasm of sin, and into a relationship with Jesus. Jimmie and Ashley are two of our “neighbors”. Who’s Your Neighbor?
*What if our neighbors were our friends and not our projects? What if the Word became flesh where we live, and also in the places where our unbelieving neighbors hang out? Where if our co-workers and class-mates knew that we loved them as they are rather than as they ‘should be’ but what if they also joined us side by side in this dream and pursuit of Heaven? (cf. Lk 7:34)
That is my dream for Jimmie and Ashley, Frank and Karen, Mo and Stacy, and a growing number of others who live near me. What if every one of our churches got serious about this dream, and began sending one another out as missionaries to our local communities? What if we were pleading with God for the lives of those around us, and actively taking steps to love them unconditionally? What if we were regularly sharing with one another about how God is working through us to disciple others who are far from Him.
*We have a dream that every local church was actively participating with God in the process of making disciples. What if church culture changed from maintenance or preservation to multiplication? What if we knew exactly who God was sending us to, and we knew them by name? What if every church made at least one disciple in the next year, starting with non-disciples? (cf. Mt 29:19)
Who’s Your Neighbor?
*excerpts taken from July 27, 2014 “We Have a Dream” document