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Message from the General Secretary

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

During the past week, I enjoyed the privilege of participating in the Asia Mission Conference organized by the Christian Conference of Asia. Between 400 and 600 people attended the five-day conference which included a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Christian Conference of Asia.

The logistics of the Conference were extraordinary! Feeding this many people in limited time, providing transport to and from numerous hotels presented challenges. People from the Myanmar Council of Churches and the Baptist Church of Myanmar were gracious and generous hosts.

Under the main theme of Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light in Asia, presentations and discussions on each day of the Conference focused on one of the sub-themes:

  • Journeying together: Mission as prophetic accompanying
  • Journeying together: Mission as affirming Servanthood
  • Journeying together: Mission as participating in the reign of God
  • Journeying together: Mission as embodying the spirituality of the cross

Papers on these themes will be available on the Christian Conference of Asia website. If anyone wishes to read them, but is unable to access them, please contact the NCCA and we will provide scanned copies.

A five day conference will always have highlights. For me, highlights centred on people and their stories.

Sister Sudha Varghese, a Catholic religious sister, sat beside me in our Bible Study and discussion group. During the first such group, I noted her obvious concern for justice. On the second day she addressed the whole assembly, telling the story of her work with the Rat-eaters of India. Her story is quite extraordinary. She has lived her commitment to justice for over twenty years.

Rev Dr Naoya Kawakami spoke of his work in Fukashima with the Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network, Touhoku HELP in Japan. He spoke of his helplessness in the presence of so many people who had suffered so much.

Vivi, another young woman in my bible study/discussion group, spoke of her work in rescuing women from trafficking in Indonesia. Jane, from the Church of Christ in Thailand, spoke of her work with NVADER, a Christian New Zealand-based anti-trafficking movement. During 2017, she was pleased to be able to tell me that they had been effective in rescuing 52 victims of trafficking and had been generally successful in 30-35 prosecutions. The response of these, and other women, to trafficked women in desperate situations is inspiring.

On Sunday each conference participant was welcomed to a local church. I was listed among a group attending the Sion Hill Kayan Baptist Church. Rather a small church building, it was completely full with extra chairs being placed on both sides of the centre aisle and some people sitting outside close to the door. About ten young violinists accompanied the singing. This was just one of five services held in the church on each Sunday. What a beautiful community! 

The Conference produced a mission statement. While a lengthy statement worthy of study, I note that the key commitments are:

  • Stewardship and kinship with all creation
  • Embracing the stranger, those on the move, facing discrimination, exclusion and rejection
  • Accompanying and journeying with all who are exclude
  • Prophetic witnessing against injustice, inequality, striving for a just and sustainable society
  • Nurturing interfaith harmony through witnessing to the truth in love and forgiveness
  • Building peace in the midst of geo-political turmoil.

May our member churches consider these five areas as we plan our part in God’s mission.

With thanks and blessings

Sr Elizabeth Delaney sgs

General Secretary