During the last week of June, the Church of God came together for a “Global Gathering” in which delegates from 63 countries came to Anderson, Indiana, for a week of worship, celebration, prayer, fellowship, and encouragement. I was blessed to attend the majority of this gathering, and I’d like to share with you some highlights from the week.
- The major theme of the Global Gathering was “Standing Together” – a testament to our convictions about Christian unity. Regardless of our nationalities, ethnicities, and languages, we practiced loving, accepting, and encouraging each other because of our common faith in Jesus Christ. This too was an important theme through the week: that Jesus Christ is at the center of who we are as the people of God. Perhaps the most moving experience of this truth was at the opening worship service, in which all the delegates from around the world entered the convention hall behind their respective nations’ flags, accompanied by a sustained standing ovation by everyone else.
- Each day, we all came together for three worship services – morning, afternoon, and evening – and each service had a preacher from a different part of the world. We heard the Word of God preached by individuals from Russia, Zambia, Brazil, Jamaica, Australia, Ghana, India, Paraguay, and the United States. The diversity of life experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives on life was amazing! And there are some fantastic preachers in our movement around the world! (Remember, you can watch the services online at www.chog.org/gg-media.)
- All week long, we gave offerings out of love and thankfulness to our Lord. Now, in the past, the offerings for the North American Convention have gone to cover the costs of the convention itself, or to support other components of the Church of God structure. Not so this year. All of the offerings – every dollar and penny – were given directly to an organization called Water4 (www.water4.org).
- This not-for-profit has the goal of eliminating the current world water crisis. (There are millions of people on the planet who cannot just turn the faucet and get clean drinking water; instead, many must drink from unsanitary, infested pools located sometimes miles from home.) Water4 exists to train, equip, and support local individuals as they learn to dig freshwater pressure wells in their own communities using simple, cost-effective materials. From beginning to end, one well costs just $1,000 through this organization.
- The goal at the Global Gathering was for us to raise $100,000 for Water4. An anonymous donor made a challenge: up to this amount, he or she would donate $4 for every $1 that we gave. This encouraged us to give even more, and by the end of the week, we had given over $106,000 – meaning that the total donation to Water4 from our group was over half a million dollars. This will sponsor 500 new freshwater wells throughout the world. Thanks be to God!
This Global Gathering was a tremendous experience. I am already looking forward to next year, even though it will be back to our regular North American Convention!
You know, you can come along too, even for just a weekend or for part of the week. This is our convention!