The Mozambique Consultation is a gathering of Methodists from all over the world that takes place every 3 years to discuss the state of the work being done in Mozambique. I had the privilege of attending this meeting in Tampa, Florida earlier this week. As I sat and glanced around the conference table during these meetings, I was struck by the value of variety. Germany, Brazil, Mozambique, and then a number of States including Missouri, Virginia, New York, and Texas, all had people sitting at the table and contributing. The Bishop of Mozambique, cloaked in beautiful, traditional African garb, was the focal point of the consultation. She was flanked by a spunky little Brazilian Bishop who wore Elvis Costello glasses and bright red flats. One of our friends from Germany was quite "to the point" (in a stereotypical, make-you-giggle sort of way) and kept us all on task, but his seeming rigidity was flavored by wit, intellect, and an endearing smile.
Not only did we all come from very different locations, but we each had very different skills, talents, and training. Of course there were clergy and missionaries represented among us, but also nurses and public health professionals and treasurers and architects and teachers and professional translators. Each individual had their own, unique understanding of the issues at hand and their own, unique suggestions as to how to go about addressing each of these issues. There were many points on which we didn't agree and there were times when I thought I might go batty from that special kind of exhaustion that kicks in near the end of a 14 hour meeting.
But one of my colleagues exclaimed as we walked into the room that this was our own small, little glimpse of the Kingdom of God, and truly, this was the case. We were all together, listening to each other share about how to care for orphans, facilitate malaria prevention in local villages, and provide access to safe water. We worked under a common vision, while bathed in divine grace. And just for these two days, no oceans separated us and no borders divided us. Our diversity better equipped us for addressing the tasks at hand and our differences helped us to generate creative strategies.