The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to look back in reflection and to look ahead in anticipation, and, in both of these directions, to evaluate how the day-to-day details of our life and work match our stated “big picture.”
At the Board of World Mission (BWM) our big picture is described by our purpose statement: “The BWM builds relationships through Mission Outreach and Mission Engagement to be faithful to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.”
That can seem like corporate jargon when it is just words on a page, but when lived out it tells the what, why and how of the BWM:
What do we do at the BWM? We build relationships, such as the new work being explored in Brazil and Bolivia this year – areas that could become partners in the years ahead.
Why do we do this work? The Great Commandment and the Great Commission are Christ’s call and direction for how we are to actively live our faith in the world. Each and everything we do stems from reminders to love God and our neighbors and to share Christ’s message the world over. Based on this call, we have placed an emphasis on supporting theological education to equip folks to share the gospel message, and then to engage in mission and outreach from their context – reaching indigenous people groups like the Sukuma and Maasai people in Tanzania or the Garifuna people in Honduras.
How do we do our work at the BWM? Each of the Board of World Mission’s projects can be categorized as Mission Outreach or Mission Engagement. The former refers to our work with longstanding global partners and newer mission areas as we seek to assist in growing churches and strengthening communities, as well as developing leadership to help these areas begin their own mission outreach efforts. The latter refers to the ways in which the BWM engages folks in the mission work of the Moravian church through offering service and volunteer opportunities, educating congregations and individuals about our ongoing projects, and sharing opportunities for financial and prayerful support. Even as mission outreach and mission engagement efforts are distinct, they are also intertwined, each guiding and taking direction from the other… and we have been busy in both!
We cannot include all of our work in one update, but as we look back over the past year, I give thanks for the many ways in which the work of the Board of World Mission reflected hope, joy, peace and love.
We shared HOPE through our work in the Moravian Disaster Response (MDR) program. Natural disasters take no breaks, and areas in the La Mosquitia region of Honduras and Nicaragua that were impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020 were once again hit by a hurricane and tropical storm. The BWM has responded to severe flooding of agricultural fields, which destroyed crops that were needed to feed many communities. We have partnered with Feed the Hungry to distribute emergency food packs in the region, and a project to clean out flooded wells and restore safe drinking water is soon to begin. Additionally, as these storms become ever more frequent, the BWM is in the early stages of helping to provide an agronomist to adapt planting and harvest patterns to reflect new floodplains, as well as constructing storage facilities for the safeguarding of food staples like rice and beans to prepare for times when crops are impacted by these types of disasters.
We witnessed JOY at the Moravian Resource Conference we held in Panama for all of our Spanish-speaking partners. This inaugural conference brought together Moravians who had never met before, but were deeply connected by the end of the week together. The group discussed history, theology, financial management and mission planning… all in Spanish. The joy present in the worship services, side conversations and lasting relationships built will help to strengthen our worldwide Unity!
The BWM worked to offer PEACE as we responded to the war in Ukraine. Unprecedented donations were received to support refugee families fleeing this conflict. The BWM was able to support renovations on a hotel owned by Moravians in the Czech Republic, which became housing for refugee families. We provided a full year of salary and benefits for five teachers at a school that was forced to relocate from Kyiv, Ukraine, to Nová Paka, Czech Republic, due to the violence. Now, support continues for families that are resettling here in North America as well as for Moravian congregations in Europe who are providing shelter to the families arriving in their communities. The welcoming presence of Moravians around the world offers a safe haven, even as the conflict continues.
Finally, we experienced the LOVE of God in so many settings. In this space I want to highlight the work of the BWM staff. Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler, Rev. Angelica Regalado Cieza, Brother Rex Knowlton, Sister Sue Adams, and Sister Sylvie Hauser from our current staff, with thanks to Brother Rick Nelson, Sister Jill Kolodziej, and Sister Elizabeth Thiele who were also part of our team this year. I can’t say enough about the tremendous contributions of these individuals who care deeply about our work and will always find a way to ensure we are not sidetracked by details or challenges – these folks are “on a mission”!
There is much more to share – I encourage you to visit our website and follow us on social media so you can continue to get updates on this work in real time. Thank you for your support and care for the work of the Board of World Mission in years past and years to come! n
Justin Rabbach is executive director of the Moravian Board of World Mission in North America. More information on the Board’s work will also be shared in their annual report in an upcoming issue.