(PNS) During Presbyterian World Mission’s recent global partner consultation for Asia and the Pacific in Thailand, more than 50 representatives came together for two days to discuss the effectiveness of current partner relationships, what it means to be partners in God’s mission today, where God is calling us to put our energy and what resources are needed to move forward.
The meeting in Chiang Mai was the third of four international global partner consultations, followed in the spring and summer with three domestic meetings with U.S. partners. The information gathering process is in preparation for World Mission’s strategic planning process.
After opening prayer and a Matthew 25 Bible study by Dr. Havilah Dharamraj, academic dean of the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, the group heard two very different presentations about reading the signs of the times in Asia and the Pacific. Both presentations addressed the impact of empires on the church and on God’s creation, whether focusing on humanity or the physical earth.
The Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said the Pacific region prefers to look at itself as the oceanic continent. “The ocean does not separate us, but brings us together,” he said. “We work together to discern the common issues. We are stronger when we speak together with one voice.” Those ongoing issues include nuclear testing, modern-day slavery, economic globalization, trade, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health. The organization has the added challenge of communication. More than 2,000 languages are spoken in the Pacific.