A Global Network of Friends
By Ryan Maike
I felt honored and out of place, and at the same time I felt like I was meant to be there.
We were gathering united in Jerusalem for one reason: proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Almost 2,000 delegates from 50 different nations gathered to affirm God’s call on the Church to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations at the Global Anglican Future Conference in June 2018. Into this Justin Clifton and I stepped unsure of what exactly to expect. What we found were friends.
Some were old friends. You should have heard the excited chatter that surrounded us as a group of Brazilians spotted Justin and they rushed over to exchange hugs. Some were connections. A bishop from Rwanda scolded me for not stopping in his town as we discovered I drove through it on my way to visiting a mutual friend five years prior. “We would have welcomed you right! Next time do not hesitate. You will stop at my house.” Some were brand new. I remember a Mama Bishop from Nigeria holding my hand and weeping with me over the young lost Americans I see everyday: “We must pray for each other. The tactics are different but the mission is the same.”
Two weeks after arriving home I saw my friend Jonas at church and it seemed he had changed. Instead of an anomaly—a devoted Christian Nigerian man who sometimes wears traditional Nigerian garb to church and who prays so powerfully—now I saw a man with an incredibly rich heritage. In his eyes and in his words I could hear the echoes of the Nigerian brothers and sisters being formed by generations of devotion to God and His Word.
As I meet and talk with Christians in the U.S., I often sense hesitancy about trying to have deep friendships with people from other cultures. “I’m not sure how to relate.” “What if they can’t understand me?” “Nobody likes Americans.” Yes, cross-cultural friendships are hard work. However, we in the Body of Christ have the relating point that can overcome every barrier—we have been accepted by the Creator of the universe into His family. As soon as that connection is established, even through a language barrier the rejoicing begins.
As UA, we strive to always follow God wherever He leads us. Everywhere we have gone in North America, Africa, and South America, we find that He’s gone before us, preparing worshipers and transforming lives from hopelessness to joy. Friendships quickly spring up as we write songs and connect over our shared love for the Lord. Through our roots in the Anglican reformation we have had the blessing and opportunity to receive from the brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world as they pray for us, send missionaries to our neighborhoods, and train us in Biblical devotion and how to stand firm for the faith.
Our global connections at UA songwriting retreats give our worship and the creative process a depth and richness that we couldn’t achieve on our own. As Justin and I worshiped in Jerusalem, voices around us were lifted up in worship with many accents and often in other languages. A richly woven tapestry of praise washed all around us, and ever since that day we talk excitedly about singing the eternal song of heaven. Rhythms, harmonies, and passion combined into one voice of worship: a mini picture of Revelation 7, where all the nations raise their voices in praise of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Here on earth we have the opportunity to practice for that eternal joy. I hope you’ll experience this by coming to our Global Retreat in September! With people from all over the world, we’ll be practicing for Eternity!
Did this blog stir your heart to engage with the worldwide movement of United Adoration? Send us an email at [email protected]! If the Lord is encouraging you to immediate action, come to our Global Community Songwriting Retreat on September 27-29, 2018 in Fort Wayne, IN!
Ryan serves as the Great Lakes Regional Director for United Adoration. He is also on staff at His Church Anglican in Livonia, Michigan.