Back in Berlin after putting on our 2nd 3W Seminar in London. What a great experience that was! You know it's gone well when people are quoting the speakers verbatim! Amy and Darren Adwalpalker (from L.A.) did a fantastic job of speaking about multi-cultural ministry. This was their final part of their Three Worlds Experience as "3W Emerging Leaders." They spoke in a traditional church in Northern Germany, they taught at the Bible School, they met with the post-Christendom world XZ Berlin/3W Team, and they spoke to the Afr0-Carribean church in London which has elements of the non-Western. All in all, it was quite a whirlwind for them for these past two weeks.
The Adwalpalkers have been straddling all Three Worlds in their church in L.A. But even for them, I think they were amazed at the diversity of contexts that we have to deal with here in Europe. It's a complicated mission-field, but very exciting.
I took Darren, Amy and their two children Hannah and Josiah to London on Thursday night. We arrived just in time to get their kids to bed. The next day was a free day (we always do that so that we don't pull it too close with the Saturday morning conference in case of flight delays or cancellations), and the Adwalpalkers took a bus tour of London. They absolutely LOVED London. It's not like they had a choice. London's my favorite place on Earth and I will kill anyone who says they don't like it. So, all's well that ends well as Shakespeare would have said.
I spent Friday trolling around the West End bookstores looking for hard to find books and cheap used books. I'm never happier than when I am in the West End. That evening I went to the church to watch the youth prepare for an upcoming festival that the church is putting on. Some kids were dancing, some were practicing drama, some were reading poetry. One of the poems by a girl who was only about 10 was super deep. Lovely kids.
Saturday we kicked off at 10:30AM with the Adwalpalkers talking about the unique setting that they work in and how they have had to learn to navigate cross-cultural ministry. One of the most important things they taught all of us is the importance of a "bridge person". Someone who can win the trust of the nearby ethnic group and can connect them to the church's dominant ethnic group. "A bridge is someone who gets walked on" they said. Any missionary would be able to relate to that. Trying to connect two worlds (much less Three) means putting yourselves at the mercy of both cultural groups in many ways.
We both did the second session which broke down "Three Worlds" and what it means for the church. Everyone found that quite fascinating and it became obvious how London is very much emblematic of the Three Worlds. "I feel like I live in all 3 worlds" said one attendee.
In the third session I sang a medley of Frank Sinatra songs for 90 minutes. meh.
Saturday night, I got to spend time with Zach and Audrey from Liverpool who were down with Pastor John to be a part of the 3W Seminar. I took them to my favorite area--Covent Garden--and we had a great time of talking and sharing. It's been four months since I was in Liverpool eating fish and chips with them. Wow! Time flies when you are a Regional Coordinator. It was great to have this chance to re-connect with them again.
On Sunday, it was Mother's Day in Britain, so Amy Adwalpalker took the sermon and did a great job talking to the women in the church about valuing the contributions they make as mothers and grandmothers. I was sitting around a lot of women and I was hearing a lot of "amens."
It turns out that Darren, whose father is originally from India, has family in London. So that Sunday afternoon, the Adwalpalkers connected with some long, lost family in London. Meanwhile, I headed down to Speaker's Corner where people get on their soapboxes (or ladders) and yell at each other (debate, and yell). It was great.
The next day we flew back to Berlin and just yesterday we put the Adwalpalkers on the plane back to the U.S.A.
I think this was a big win all around. It was encouraging for us, the 3W Seminar went very well, the church in Germany got a lot out of it, and I know the Adwalpalkers feel that this has been the experience of a lifetime for them. I will be sharing some of their reflections here in a little bit.
Special thanks goes out to all the people who helped out: Tottenham Church of God, Braunschweig CHOG, Fritzlar, and a very special thank you to Aaron and Nicole Varner who helped us in our hosting and traveling. With two small children visiting as well, there was a lot to think about and Aaron and Nicole were fantastic in helping them travel as a family.
Next up for 3W Seminar: the 3W Seminar in Bulgaria in conjunction with County Line Church in Auburn, Indiana. Not only will County Line be joining us, but we will be bringing in Pastor Peter and another visitor from our church in Budapest, Hungary. You'll be hearing a lot more about that.
Tomorrow we are off to Fritzlar to speak to the Central German churches this weekend and five days later, a big trip to Italy.