I am pleased to say this was a very difficult letter to write! While that statement may seem like an oxymoron, the truth is the difficulty came from what to include in this letter. My first instinct was to reach out to other members of the Board of World Mission staff and ask for some bullet points to help refresh my memory of the things from 2018 worth highlighting. In no time at all, my inbox was flooded with over 30 bullet points representing the “highlights” of the ongoing work of the Board of World Mission. Any of those thirty could have been the singular focus of this letter, and still not have done it justice.
Not mentioned in the emails from the BWM staff was recognition of their tremendous efforts throughout the year. So, let me mention here, on their behalf, the exceptional work of this committed group of folks who have helped carry on and expand the long standing mission work of the Moravian Church. As I feel just about ready to stop and take a deep breath following a whirlwind of a first year in my new role as Executive Director of the Board of World Mission, I cannot fully express my thanks for the innumerable ways in which they have gone above and beyond to make sure we had a smooth transition in leadership. A final transition on staff has been the addition of Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler in the role of Director of Mission Engagement. He has hit the ground running at a dead sprint, coordinating disaster response efforts in the wake of hurricanes from his first day on staff.
The work of the Board of World Mission can be described as Mission Outreach and Mission Engagement. The former refers to our work with our traditional global partners and newer mission areas as we seek to assist in area development, growing churches and strengthening communities, as well as developing leadership to help support these areas as they, in turn, begin their own mission outreach efforts. The latter refers to the ways in which the BWM helps to engage folks in the mission work of the Moravian church through service and volunteer efforts, education about the ongoing projects we are undertaking, and offering opportunities for financial and prayerful support. Each helps guide and in turn takes direction from the other… and we have been busy in both!
There is not enough space in a letter I am hoping to keep to one piece of paper (even if I use both sides!) to highlight all of the work of 2018, but some efforts stand out as we reflect in this Advent season. Just as we light the Advent candles of Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love, I give thanks for the many ways in which those things were reflected this year in the work of the Board of World Mission.
We shared HOPE through our work in Moravian Disaster Response (MDR), as volunteers gave of their time not only to work on job sites cleaning and repairing homes in Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and North Carolina, but also to help us position tool trailers and an RV to act as a base of operations for this work. Generous donations from folks looking to aid in these long recovery processes continue to offer hope to many who experience difficulties as a result of these storms, and we hope you will join us in continuing to pray and to serve on job sites to assist in this work.
We witnessed JOY at mission programs facilitated and supported by the BWM. Our staff was busy leading workshops and worship services across the North America, as well as joining in on other mission themed programming. A non-exhaustive list includes a “Mission Singstunde” in North Carolina, a full day of mission and service in Ohio, presence at Moravian Summer Camps, updates on the BWM and ways to be involved at events in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, and finally a week of revival services in Barbados with the reminder in order to “bring them in” to our churches, we have to ask God to “send us out!”
The BWM worked to be ambassadors for PEACE, as we witnessed the way violence, disagreement, and mis-understanding can stand in the way of God’s witness. The most tangible effort in this area was adding our Moravian voice and presence to discussions with ecumenical partners calling for the end of political violence in Nicaragua. In Cuba, even as long standing differences remain with the United States, the work of the Moravian Church continues to transcend these divides, with government representatives present in full support of the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Armando Rusindo, the first Moravian Bishop in Cuban history!
Finally, we experienced the LOVE of God in so many settings. In a memorial service remembering the life and work of Brother Mohamed Braima in the ministry in Sierra Leone. In the newly constructed church built in Bajo Canampa, Peru, built through a donation of two boards by each adult member and completed in time to host a church leadership conference, the first step on the formation of a new district welcoming 20+ congregations to the Moravian Church in Peru.
There is so much more to share… so look ahead to our 2018 Annual Report in the Moravian Magazine this coming Spring. In the meantime, thank you for your support of the BWM, and we pray you will continue to hold our areas in prayer and to offer gifts of time, talent and treasure.
Justin Rabbach Executive Director Board of World Mission