I tried Kimchi today. Not some watered-down Americanized version you’d find at a chain food joint, but real, honest-to-goodness Kimchi made by our Korean hosts.
The verdict: spicy but goooood! It’s the kind of spice that spreads itself around in your mouth to liven up any other flavors around it, which was excellent because here on Day 1 of the 4/14 Window Global Summit in New York City, they fed us well! We had started the morning with breakfast at the hotel (the DoubleTree Hotel in Fort Lee, New Jersey to be exact), after which we hopped aboard the spacious and comfortable busses provided for the conference attendees.
As we wound our way through the surprisingly open streets of first New Jersey, then New York, the bus was filled with the joyful chatter of a hundred new friendships forming on the foundation of Christ, punctuated with an occasional round of singing as we praised the Lord together on the way to Promise Church.
Promise Church is housed in a tall, multi-purpose building in the Flushing area of New York, right on the edge of Manhattan. Driving up the building is quite striking, more akin to an office building than a traditional house of worship. The inside though, is lovely and inviting. I’ll try to put up some photos in a later post, but suffice it the say that that the facility of the church was as warm and friendly as its people.
We arrived and milled around a bit before making our way into the Worship Center for a marvelous two-hour service featuring a mixture of contemporary and traditional instrumentation for the music, Korean and English and Spanish languages for the words, and a full dose of corporate prayer time as more than once, we joined together as the Body of Christ to pray to the Lord in our own heart languages. The band played, the people prayed, and God lifted our Spirits as one.
We heard from a dear African brother named Shifferaw Michael, who shared with us how the Lord is raising up children to play a major role in transforming the world for Christ. It was a blessing indeed.
Lunch followed the service, and as mentioned, they fed us well indeed. All sorts of dishes from around the world were provided, from sub sandwiches to fresh pastas to sushi and rice, and other delights as well, but it was the kimchi that stood out most to me. It wasn’t even on the serving table. Rather, a gracious Korean woman came around with a tray to see if anyone was interested, and served us if so.
After lunch we had General Session 1, where we heard from brother Bambang Budijanto about how though we now see children as a mission field, God is raising them up to be a mission force in the years to come. We heard from another brother about how 98% of the world’s illiteracy is in developing nations, how a vast percentage of them are children, and how by using an “educational experience” to help children have a better life, we are able to have an open door to share the Gospel with them and their families.
Dr. Joseph D’Sousa from India challenged us further with this vision to spread the Gospel through providing a quality education, and gave the specific examples of how the caste system in India can be broken if we focus our efforts not just on freeing adults from the slavery of caste in their experiences, but on freeing children from the slavery of caste in their mind. Brother Udit Raj, also from India, further illustrated how the plight of the Dalit “untouchables” in India is so systemic, and can only be dealt with through comprehensive efforts, and that those efforts are best focused on children.
We took a break after Session 1 and were treated to tea, coffee, cream puffs and some other snacks, as we took time to stretch our legs and share fellowship with new friends, after which we returned to the Worship Center for Session 2.
Wes Stafford from Compassion International challenged us with the reminder that we are on the verge of a complete paradigm shift in the methods and focus of international ministry, and how in God’s economy, “the little are big”.
Today’s focus was “why are we here, what’s our purpose in this initiative?”, and there are so many more things I could write, more speakers I could recap, and more stories to tell. However, tomorrow starts at 4:00am and wisdom says even the most motivated need to sleep at some point.
Let me wrap up by saying this. We are here with brothers and sisters from all across the globe. God has brought over 400 people from 70 nations together for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to raise up children from 4/14 window to transform the world. He’s bringing together diverse ministries. He’s bringing together diverse approaches. He’s bringing together diverse people. For me, the bottom-line of my first day experience is this: if variety is the spice of life, God is cooking up some good, strong kimchi.
– Phillip Gonzales
– photos by Melissa Fornof: age 10