The team from St Stephen has arrived in Columbus. In a little while we will head over to Upper Arlington Lutheran Church to check-in for the 2012 NALC Congregational Renewal Conference.
I am very excited for the rest of the team to meet and hear from NALC Bishop John Bradosky. His energy, his authenticity, and his zeal for spreading the Gospel are absolutely infectious.
I am also looking forward to meeting the four-member evangelism team visiting North America from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The conference will have a strong Ethiopian flavor.
Last week during the Saturday night service, I preached on Elijah and the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17) which happens to be our Sunday morning text from the Old Testament this coming week. I mentioned that it would have been a surprise for Elijah to be provided and cared for by a widow. Without a social 'safety-net,' widows were at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in the ancient world. I drew a connection to the surprise we may feel when we 'rich' North Americans are being taught by 'poor' Ethiopians. It is surprising when God upsets our view of who is the 'gifted' and who is the 'needy.' Of course, it is true that in the end all of us need each other. We all have gifts which we may share and we all are in need of what God has given to others.
The top number that could be accommodated at the conference is 175. I don't know whether they've hit that number, but I do know that one of the hotels that was recommended had no room as of yesterday.
Please pray for us, that this might be a time of renewal in faith, hope, and love.