Greetings in Christ!
“An Evening of Global Learning” was one of the most memorable events of my life. Thankfully, it was even more meaningful to me that I was able to participate in the process of preparing the event. With the encouragement of Professor John Park, I gladly started the preparation for the event. In addition, it was blessing that I was able to work with good friends (Tisha Brown, Jinseo Kim), and we made good memories together for preparing the event from start to finish.
True to its name, we gathered together that evening from all over the world. I believe that it was far more than just a simple fellowship. In this world where individualism is naturally acknowledged, our coming together as community is even more valuable. In addition, as the Bible says, we know how important it is to be in unity. In reality, however, we are more accustomed to separation than unity. Especially in North America, where the lives of immigrants are more diversified than anywhere else, the meaning of unity becomes more and more important. No matter how long we have lived in the United States, it may still be our natural tendency to rely more on communicating only with our own ethnic group. But official statistical data shows that the growing church in the U.S. is a church of diverse ethnicity. Therefore, for those of us who study theology and work toward the ministry of this era, learning how to come together as one is essential. Some might say that only the immigrant church (the church that is organized by one ethnic group) is the only mission given to them. Of course, ministry for immigrants is essential as well, but over time, the lack of multi-ethnic ministry has shown many cases of weakening the church. In this respect, “an evening of global learning” was an influential time for each of us.
The day started with an afternoon chapel. After a morning of studying in different languages in different classrooms, we gathered together in one place and worshiped in one voice. Prayer, sermon, and music were led by students from all different places. I was responsible for the music, and it was very impressive when all the congregation sang “Here I Am to Worship” in one voice. The song was a confession that we were gathered here to worship the Lord beyond each person’s culture. After the singing, scripture was read by a Myanmar student, Naw Azalea. The reading (Galatians 3:23-29) was verses that reaffirm unity in Jesus, regardless of race, gender, and each one’s background. The following prayer was offered by a Korean student, Kiseok Hwang. The prayer was a heartfelt confession, and it helped the spiritual flow of the worship. The sermon was given by a Myanmar student, Thazin Aye, with a very impressive title, “Our Difference is Our Strength.” The sermon helped us recognize that we can learn from one another’s differences and reminded us of the biblical lesson of unity as an important element of our lives of faith. Closing prayer was given by the U.S. student, Tisha Brown, and her prayer reinforced the teachings provided to us through the worship.
After worship, we went back to our respective classes. When afternoon classes were finished, the event officially started with dinner provided by our seminary. During the dinner time, sharing simple questions such as each one’s names and background acted as an icebreaker. Afterwards we gathered in the chapel and sang praises together and listened to an address by Dr. Leonard Sweet. Dr. Sweet’s sermon was a blessing of fresh insights from the Bible.
Following Sweet’s address, we enjoyed a game time which elicited endless laughter. It was truly a blast and filled us with the same kind of joy we experience from God. With joy-filled hearts we divided into small groups and began a much deeper conversation as we shared the challenges of each of our ministries and prayer requests for each as well. The evening ended with the whole group singing “How Great Thou Art,” each in his or her own language but with one voice.
What we have learned about the importance of unity will stay with us for many years, but what about the limitations we experience when we actually try to apply what we’ve learned in our ministry settings? Thinking about this question, I hope that the events of this day will help us think about the practical implications. We may not remember all the details about this event in the future, but just recalling the day, no matter where each one of us may be, may be enough to impact our future ministry.
We are different, but as one in Christ, we are strong. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave not free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) I pray and support my friends who are continuing to build God’s kingdom in their respective locations.