Shalom (the peace of God) - In Indonesian you would be greeted with Salam Datang which also comes from the word Shalom.
As I am writing this, Anabaptist/Mennonites are gathered from around the world in Indonesia for the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly.For 10 years I worked as a staff person for MWC and I was even able to travel to Indonesia on a few occasions to work on planning for the assembly.It has been difficult watching the events there from a distance and not being together with so many sisters and brothers whom I have come to know over the years.However, an event like the global assembly is a wonderful opportunity to see God at work in the church in so many places and in so many different ways.
The theme for this assembly is “Following Jesus together across barriers,” and there have been a few barriers to cross in order for this assembly to even happen.It was originally planned for July 2021 but then COVID came along and it was postponed until this summer.In addition, even though the assembly is now happening, it is much different from the plan that we had before COVID.We had anticipated having more than 6,000 participants (all in Indonesia), but that number has been drastically reduced and the assembly relocated to a smaller venue.
Through all the various challenges, the assembly is now happening both in-person and online.I am thankful for the technology that has allowed me to participate even with a 13-hour time difference.I have heard stories of how God is working in Indonesia, the country with the largest population of Muslims in the world,and also in the Philippines, Ukraine, Portugal, and Colombia.
It has also been encouraging to hear greetings from others, including the Indonesian Minister of Religion, Baptist World Alliance, Global Christian Forum, Lutheran World Federation, World Evangelical Alliance, and Salvation Army International.There is a unity around the world of sisters and brothers in faith.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. [Acts 2:1-4]
As I have attended MWC meetings over the years, I have often thought of this passage from the book of Acts. In it we read a description of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples and the early church. People had gathered from many places around the world and heard the message of God in their own language.In our meetings we used interpreters, but the important thing was that God opened the place of communication and communion between us.
The church truly is the body of Christ and it is at times like this that we can see that in a new way.My prayer is that this gathering in Indonesia can help spread the message of peace and hope that we have in God to the world around us.