When the movement led by Jesus’ first followers met with headwinds, some of its mobile teams were unable to journey across borders, so the pioneering leaders adapted quickly.1
Leaders met in faraway locations to draft letters addressing theological inquires from developing communities of faith.2
At least one letter was addressed to more than one community probably to save on cost and take advantage of proximity and common concerns.3
They resorted to smaller nimble units mostly of younger people or at times individuals, who carried verbal instructions, letters, and personal notes.
The couriers took advantage of the road network that the Roman Empire had built across Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, and the Middle East.
In this phase of the growth of Christianity, the second generation of leaders begun to take on the responsibility of overseeing and propagating the movement. Protégés of the initial leaders became the new teachers, delivering letters and explaining their contents as needs arose.4
The adaption to limited international travel by the pioneers made the written word now in print a linchpin of the movement, and it gave the second generation of leaders a chance to take responsibility for the future of the movement.5
Furthermore, some of the Christian gatherings became less dependent on Jerusalem the first headquarters of Christianity and grew their local leadership, becoming more self-sustaining.
That was 2000 years ago.
Like many other international service agencies, we too have adapted to the times. Video conferencing has kept our teams teaching in Asia, with the spinoff that lectures are available to more healthcare learners than if we had traveled and at infinitely lower costs.
The same technology has kept our teams working across the globe, connecting partners in rural Zimbabwe to contacts in South Africa and Canada.
It has been remarkable to see the enthusiasm with which Zimbabwean building experts have taken up the challenge of working with EMAS Canada to improve maternity services in their homeland.
We are seeing new initiatives in teaching especially of nursing students in Cambodia as volunteers that would have normally traveled with surgical teams are becoming online mentors to students abroad. Some of these lectures are saved for use in other countries.
Similarly, using online tools, we provided English lessons from Ontario for the children of a refugee family at our partners’ base in Myanmar.
Our experience with virtual training programs is giving us new opportunities with learners, particularly in Asia, to whom we would not normally have access.
Now that our staff work virtually, teams and the board meet via video call, there is better management of time and meetings are more efficient, albeit with the loss of in person encounters. There are savings in administrative costs.
We are evolving, the pandemic is ongoing, so there are more lessons to be learned.
This fall, the leaders of EMAS Canada will begin a process of discernment and discovery that will end up in defining a new strategic framework for our work at our annual April retreat in 2022.
Would you pray for our leaders and volunteers that during this fall their study of God’s word, their interactions over it, and their prayers would give them insight about the future God has for us in this new normal?
A more detailed prayer list for the strategic planning process, will be available on September 07, 2021.
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1. 1 Thess. 2:17-3:1-3
2. Acts 15 & 2 Thess.1:1
3. Col. 4:15-17
4. 1 Cor. 4:16-17, Phil. 2:19-29, & 2 Cor.12:17-18
5. 2 Tim. 1:3-13, 4:1-6, & 2 Cor. 8:16-24 & Titus 1:4-16, 3:15
All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV)
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash