This past October, CAMA helped host a historic event in Bali, Indonesia, for relief and development practitioners associated with Alliance churches of the Asia-Pacific region. At this conference, which was the first of its kind for the region, believers had the opportunity to come together to share expertise, experiences, ideas, and to grow in their ability to uplift those in need through Kingdom-focused relief and community development.
Helping Meet One Another’s Needs
Around the world, the Lord has placed people in communities to act as agents of hope in times of crisis. Whether it be through the local expression of the Alliance church, Christian leaders in marginalized communities, Christian groups, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) already serving on the ground, the Lord is already at work among the hard-to-reach.
By working with key partners such as these, CAMA staff members throughout the Asia-Pacific witnessed how believers from different areas were implementing creative, effective ways to come alongside the lost and the broken in both word and deed. CAMA staff members saw how the innovations happening in one country could provide answers to questions others in different countries were asking—and vice versa. With the help of The Alliance Word Fellowship, Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia (The Alliance of Indonesia), and The Alliance Canada, CAMA brought Kingdom workers affiliated with Asia-Pacific Alliance churches (APAC) together—believers of different ethnicities, specializations, and backgrounds—for a conference so that they could learn from one another about the Kingdom work being accomplished through one another’s ministries.
The APAC Relief and Development Conference
For four days, over 100 Kingdom workers from 17 different countries—including six national church presidents—gathered. Attendees were challenged to recognize the inherent dignity found in all and to meet both physical and spiritual needs, echoing God’s concern for both the spiritual and physical wellbeing of communities. Through a variety of workshops, presentations, discussion groups, and a field trip to a sustainable development ministry, these Kingdom workers got to fellowship with one another while finding new ways to blend faith and practice to open doors and hearts with Christ’s transformational love.
Yakub Christian—a participant who does relief work in the region—said, “These are new practical ways to share the gospel . . . others used different techniques to do ministry through business,” he said. “We can offer small business options [to those who] are poor in our community so that they know God’s love.”
“Some other workers in the region asked me for some information on child protection in their work,” said Teresa Coman, a CAMA global partner serving in the Philippines. “It is an encouragement for me to know that many workers see the importance of this in their work and want to do something about it.”
Buzz Maxey—a CAMA staff member serving in Indonesia who has come alongside The Alliance of Indonesia—said, “I think it inspired our people to think beyond the walls of the church and to be creative in meeting the needs around them.”
Jason—a CAMA staff member who helped organize the event—had these words to share about the gathering:
You could easily have mistaken it for another church conference: nice venue, a full lineup of speakers and breakout sessions, cool banners—you get the picture. However, intermingling throughout space were people who made this event different—an incredibly diverse group of field-level workers. Our kind of people. People who work day after day with the poor and marginalized. People incarnating Christ to those who frequently remain on the outside of prayers, thoughts, and plans.
As I looked out over the nearly full conference room, I tried to hold myself together. A decade ago, an event like this—a gathering of relief and development practitioners from across the Asia-Pacific Alliance—had been the stuff of “wouldn’t-it-be-great” and “if-only-someday” conversations. Now, here we all were, and we got to hear how God was building the Kingdom in unexpected and extraordinary ways: a widow shared how a church of people living with disabilities was starting a church-planting movement, a frontline worker challenged us with methods for combatting online child sexual exploitation, and a national president and social foundation leader shared practical insights on mobilizing the church for disaster relief. We got to learn about everything from breeding stingless bees to creating electricity-free water pumps; from hearing about God’s heart for careful stewardship of His creation to utilizing voucher systems to give volunteers more time with the survivors of natural disasters, and so much more.
I wish you could have pulled up a chair and been there with us. But even though you weren’t, here’s something I don’t want you to miss—you helped make it happen. You got the right people in the room. Your giving purchased airplane tickets from places like India, Mongolia, Nepal, and Cambodia. You made scholarships accessible to those in need. Your prayers helped provide a safe, inviting place for God’s servants across the Asia-Pacific to network with one another, encourage one another, and grow in their understanding of restorative relief and transformational community development. Most of all, you helped create a space for our Asian Alliance brothers and sisters to gather within their own region and experience the Kingdom together. That’s an all too rare gift and something I’m banga about (that’s Indonesian for a good—maybe even sacred—kind of proud). You should be banga too. Thank you.
To learn more about the APAC Relief and Development Conference, click here to read The Alliance World Fellowship’s report on the event.