Friday, January 28, 2011

Conference goes international

Flag raising ceremony
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

After months of intense praying, planning, and laboring…it is hard to believe that our annual conference has come and gone, but not without leaving a powerful impression on many lives! Starting on Monday, December 27, groups of excited conference attendees gathered at the Bible Way Mission School in Monrovia (this year’s conference site) from locations across Liberia, the bordering nations of Sierre Leone and Guinea, and even as far as Austria, Belarus, the USA, and representation from India; it truly was an international conference! 

Conference cow -- good eating!
As guests registered and found their lodging places (ranging from dorm facilities to floor space on classroom floors), brothers and sisters were eager to meet and fellowship with one another, this big family of God from across the country and even the globe! The big cow that was purchased from Guinea for delicious conference food had been butchered and the cassava leaf with beef soup and rice were cooking. 

The Christian flag was proudly lifted in front and above, and the nations’ flags fell in line behind. Prayers of thanksgiving and commitment were offered, hearts prepared, and anticipation overflowing. 

Building the thatch awning
The growing group settled into benches set up under a thatch awning, with God’s own canopy of stars not seemingly far above that, as they were drawn into the theme for the conference. Pastor Rob Prokop, the senior pastor of C.I.G. (church) in Vienna, Austria and our conference keynote speaker gave a beautiful opening message on the theme “It Shall Be Well”, taken from Scripture text in Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:7:18.

The daily activities were back to back, to be sure, so as not to miss out on a moment of our precious time together! 

Rika Grier leading worship
Mornings were devoted to worshipping this amazing God who loves us with such unquenchable love and who has filled us with hope beyond explanation. Our sister and new friend, Rika Grier, a worship leader at her home church in California, joined us, and led us to praise our Jesus with joy! Singers and dancers from different Liberian tribal dialects led us according to their own styles and traditions, as well as some beautiful harmonic contributions from our friends from Guinea & Sierre Leone, and even a surprise song in Russian from our new Belarusian friends! 

Austrian Pastor Rob Prokop
Pastor Rob taught us of the love and example of the perfect “big brother” Jesus, who even met his own death in His willingness to search out and see his younger brothers and sisters come back to the Father. Small groups met discussing each lesson in various dialects allowing each person to understand and process deeply, fully open to the movement and changing power of the Holy Spirit. The children also had their small groups; playing games, doing projects, singing songs, and learning about Our Hero Jesus and His Eternal Kingdom.

Cara Schukoske leads teachers session
Each afternoon, a dozen “special interest sessions” met in different locations for special training. Sister Cara Schukoske led a much anticipated session for our CRCA school teachers on curriculum development and being a role model for students. 

Our partners and siblings in Christ from Sierre Leone, Pastor Alphonso & Nana Barry, captured the attention of those interested in evangelism as they shared Jesus’ heart for the lost and their own personal dramatic conversions from Islam. 

Small group discussion
Our partners in the Gospel, Don & Lois Sobkoviak, with S.A.N.D. International shared on Physical and Spiritual fruitfulness while their daughter Rudina joined our own CRCA speakers to teach our young adults and youth about true love God’s way. 

Other groups converged on themes like “Leading in Love”, “Shepherding the Hearts of Children”, “The Heart of Worship”, “A Servant Heart” (for Deacons), and “Powerful Prayer.”

After some intense discussion, personal application questions, and prayer for growth, minds rested and the playing fields and courts heated up with some competitive matches of kickball, volleyball, basketball, and soccer.

Topping the highlights for evening festivities was the CRCA Vision Casting Campfire. CRCA Mission Director Dennis Aggrey shared the heart of CRCA and the vision for the future, re-kindling the fire for knowing Christ and making Him known across the world. 

We were challenged with the effectiveness of spiritual multiplication over spiritual addition…sharing Jesus should be a way of life for every Christian, and at that, our joy to do so! 

Baptism in Atlantic Ocean
Cheers of rejoicing were heard across the camp as we celebrated our Christ inspired vision for the pre-reached (by God’s grace, for many salvation is impending!) and the fruit that God has been bringing in difficult frontiers (like Guinea and the Buluyema Forest).

The grand finale of this surreal conference was the Baptism of 21 believers (20 Liberian and 1 American)  in the Atlantic Ocean on the final day of 2010; we can think of no better way to thank God for the hope that we have then to witness such a resurrection-picture! Jesus is alive and so are we! 

The battle is won, the victory is sure; we are FREE…free to give, free to forgive, free to serve, free to live basking in God’s rich love for us and loving others with a supernatural love…free to believe that no present suffering is worthy of comparison to all that God has freely given us in Christ Jesus and all that awaits us for all of eternity…such freedom!
CRCA Prayer Requests

Kpelle Worship
1)     Praise God for the fruit of the conference and ask that its impact would be further reaching than we can imagine! Ask that the word of God would continue to encourage us, dwelling richly and deeply in us. Ask that our love for Jesus and others would grow.

2)      Our Regional Coordinator in the Yangayah Region died just before the conference. Please pray for his family; the church family; the strengthening and encouragement of the church in that region; the leadership, direction, and growth of the ministry in Yangayah.

3)      Pray with us in the vision that God has given CRCA to continue into 2011…to strengthen our existing ministry and to continue to expand the ministry by the power and work of the Holy Spirit. Continue to lift up our new frontiers: Guinea, the Buluyema Forest, and Cape Mount. Also pray for the strengthening and stability of our current churches. Ask God for the salvation of many, for discipleship and growth, and for leaders to be raised up. Pray for our pastors and evangelists. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Please ask for more laborers! Also pray for more new frontiers!

4)      Pray for our partners and the mission teams that will be coming to Liberia in 2011; specifically 3 teams coming in February: a team from CIG Vienna, Austria to work on agricultural projects in Kpondeh Town; a team coming from SP UK to work with the Operation Christmas Child project; and our new partners, Nurses for the Nations coming to do medical mission and to discuss how God might use our ministries as a team in the future for His purposes. 

Yay for Jesus!
5)      Pray for our sister Audrey who has come from Virginia to work with us for the next four months; she requests prayer for God’s will and guidance for her time in Liberia; wisdom in decision making while in this different culture; and her work with CRCA (specifically website design). 

6)      Pray for Dennis and a team that left for Lofa County yesterday. They will be working on the foundational construction for the additional classrooms and auditorium space being added to Konia Christian Revival School and doing support ministry with our churches.

7)      Pray for funding needed for a shipment of some useful materials being sent to CRCA Liberia through Service to Servants.

2 comments: said...

Ciao from Italy

Hayley Nicole said...

How great is our God! Very overwhelming when I saw your blog, I'm inspired!