It was an early start. Many people from around Australia and New Zealand headed to their local airports for the earliest flights to Melbourne.
Why would you do it? Simple, really. We all wanted to be a part of the LCA’s first Cross-Cultural Ministry Conference held in Melbourne in March this year.
I went not really knowing anyone, and not knowing about other churches’ ministries. It was lovely to be warmly welcomed and to feel that the gathering was a place of caring and sharing.
Representatives of congregations from around the country shared with each other about their ministries and how they are working together with other Christian congregations of other cultures or reaching out into their local communities.
Under the theme of ‘Many cultures, one faith’, we spent times of learning, by both studying the Bible and listening to speakers, all of whom shared with love and passion about their ministries.
Ultimately, the conference was two days of learning and sharing, learning and praying, learning and caring, and finished up with worship together.
What did I take away? I am always amazed that God puts people and stories in front of us to share and hear. From Chinese to Indonesian churches, from refugees to our Nuer communities and our Korean families. From international students in our schools to people in our congregations drawn from so many different cultures, our church community is changing! Thank you, God, for our community!
Mike Wilson, the author of the book Changing Lanes, Crossing Cultures, was allocated to my group table at the conference, as well as being the guest speaker at the conference dinner. Thank you, God – his book was one I had read and found so inspiring and challenging. Thank you that I could hear him speak.
Thank you also for the many caring and open people I met. Our cross-cultural communities are all quite different from each other, but I know we all left with hearts full of affirmation. We all left knowing the stories of others so that we can pray for each other. Thank you, God, for showing us each other.
As we shared during the conference, cross-cultural ministry is exciting. It’s challenging, it’s stressful, it’s scary, it’s loving – it’s God! It’s God’s hospitality!
It says to each person you meet: ‘You matter to God and to me!’
Thank you, God, for the conference. The cross-cultural ministry of our LCA is constantly growing, changing and challenging us. And, with opportunities such as this conference, we can learn, encourage and pray for our ministries, acknowledging that each church and community is unique and different and special. Thank you, God!
Barbara Mattiske is Cross Cultural Coordinator for Glynde Lutheran Church in suburban Adelaide.
The conference was run by the LCA’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Department of Local Mission, and it also featured presentations from LCA International Mission, New and Renewing Churches Department and Reconciliation Ministry.