3 ways the Global Gathering changed our lives
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
I’ll be honest—sometimes getting together with people takes every ounce of willpower that I have. Being an introverted extrovert means I like spending time with people, to an extent. Sure there are times when getting together with people brings me joy and energy. But other times all I want to do is snuggle up with a good book, cup of tea, and a comfy blanket.
But then I run across this verse from Hebrews 10:24-25. And I think, Ok God, good one. You spoke exactly what I needed to hear. And here’s the thing, God’s not commanding us to spend endless amounts of time with people as punishment. Instead this is an invitation to spend time with people, to develop deep and meaningful connections with others so that we can be a true support system to one another. Because humans were meant to live in community.
That was one of the reasons why we selected this passage as the guiding verses for our Global Gathering this past June. When we gather together it’s an opportunity for all of us to grow deeper in our faith, and to develop stronger connections with one another—all for God’s glory.
And after the past few years, coming together was not only a nice thing to do, it was vital to strengthen the organization as a whole.
Our Global Gathering not only brought together staff, volunteers, and donors from around the world, but it also enriched our lives so that as we left we felt energized and excited to do our work.
The decision to do the Global Gathering was made easier due to specific funding we received that was restricted to staff retention. Putting together the Global Gathering took months of planning. We had to figure out where to host an event that would bring together people from 9 different countries. In the end we settled on Quito, Ecuador for our 4-day event.
During our time together we worshiped, listened to presentations, worked collaboratively, and made connections with individuals across all our program areas. I remember being initially intimidated by the idea of meeting so many new people in person, but it was actually neat to put faces to names and hear people’s stories.
Thanks to surveys and questionnaires, we were able to measure how much of an impact the event had on the lives of all attendees. This also helped us see how well the event achieved a set of goals. In today’s blog I’ll be looking at three of those goals to explore the impact of our very first Global Gathering.
On the left, our Japanese team discussing plans to improve volunteer retention in their program work. On the right, Kingsley Matope, Malawi Field Lead, talks about the Disability Care and Clean Water programming in Malawi.
Goal 1: Grow and be uplifted in our faith
2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled with God.”
I’ve been to a number of different conferences. It’s always the same thing—people sitting in rows listening to someone speak, or people walking around trying to find the most interesting booth to visit.
The Global Gathering was different. Sure we still had presentations, but we also had worship.
Each morning and evening we spent an hour singing songs, listening to devotions, and praying. Worship is something that connects people. It reminds us that we all have one Creator and that no matter who we are, we are loved by God.
Hearing the message of Jesus proclaimed in nine different languages was like listening to a little bit of what Heaven might be like. It was encouraging to see so many Christians from all around the world.
When we compiled our survey data together we found that 95% of respondents agreed their faith was strengthened by being at the Global Gathering.
Our South Sudanese team led worship of a familiar song sung in their native language.
The joy that we all felt being together wasn’t something that stayed inside us. Instead it was something that we’ve all been able to live out in our lives. Before the Global Gathering only 26% of respondents strongly agreed that they felt prepared to share the gospel. Now? 95% agreed that they felt prepared to share the gospel.
By including worship as the centerpiece of our Global Gathering we were able to inspire each other to share the love and good news of Jesus with others once we returned home. We all felt inspired to be Christ’s ambassadors here on earth.
Goal 2: Renewed zest for our daily work
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
We live in a sinful world which means that even working at a Christian organization sometimes comes with moments of struggle or difficulty. But because we work at a Christian organization, we’re able to recenter and refocus our efforts on what truly matters—God.
Our organization now stretches across multiple continents and flows into several countries. In my personal line of work I get to connect with people from all of these different areas of the world. But that isn’t always the case for other employees.
The Global Gathering created a space where we could all learn about someone else’s work and life while sharing our own experiences. Through these conversations we were able to see the vast number of ways that God is working to change lives through our program work.
It wasn’t just inspiring, it was motivating. 95% of respondents agreed that they were inspired by something they learned at the Global Gathering.
Things like hearing about the work happening in Nigeria. Our Health and Sanitation work there relies on the efforts and hours of volunteer women, many of whom are subsistence farmers who take time to go share the gospel and provide medical care to those living in rural communities.
Because we were all working together in the same space, conversations were able to happen in a way that was never possible before. Coworkers from our disability ministry in Malawi were able to share their tips with disability ministry staff from Grenada and Japan.
Field Managers and Leads from around the world were able to discuss how they worked in their community and what works best for motivating and encouraging volunteers.
71% of people surveyed said they would approach their work differently now because they have a stronger connection to those they work with.
And our excitement for our work went from 57% before the Global Gathering to 96%.
The joy of the Lord is an incredible thing, and it has been wonderful to see how the excitement we all felt while together has continued even months after we all have returned home.
On the left, our US team members discuss how to better use data to inform their work. On the right, our South Sudanese team talks with one another about how to improve their work in the field.
Goal 3: Grow in our connections
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” Romans 1:11-12
As a communication major I know that friendships and relationships can be formed through online conversations. But those relationships often take a long time to develop. Being together in person helps people form connections in a much faster and deeper way.
Paul understood the value of being together in person. He knew that seeing other people, hearing about their faith, was deeply encouraging. And that’s exactly what we all experienced while at the Global Gathering.
I remember sitting down for lunch one day and striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. I got to know Hamilton Kambalame, our Physiotherapist in Malawi, and I was able to learn more about his work. When I needed to do a story about our work with the disability ministry in Malawi I was able to reach out to Hamilton, knowing we already had established a connection. It made my article so much better.
Before we all got together, employees knew about 11 other coworkers at Kingdom Workers. After the event that number jumped to 19. And most of us were connected to nearly every program area by the time we said our goodbyes.
These are just three of the reasons why our Global Gathering this past June was so valuable. Every time that I look back on the event I am flooded with memories of hugs, laughs, long conversations, and excitement about what I get to do.
I say this a lot, but I mean it—I truly have one of the coolest jobs. I get to spend my days listening to people’s stories, talking about what God is doing at Kingdom Workers, and sharing that in blog posts, social media, newsletters, and now podcasts.
Being together with Christians from nine different countries, speaking multiple languages, was something I’ll always treasure. And knowing that my fellow staff, and volunteers all felt the same way just goes to show that we’ve got something really special happening at Kingdom Workers.