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Watering Dry Ground in Asia

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

SP Strategic Coordinator Daniel Groot reflects on the Asia Regional Gathering

The gathering ended with a Thai string tying ceremony (พิธีผูกแขน) as a community blessing

When Servant Partners first began sending staff internationally, it was to countries in Asia. Now 25 years later, SP staff and local partners continue to work alongside Asia’s most marginalized populations.

The group worships together

Within Asia, most of our staff currently work alone or on small teams. They work in local churches or community-based organizations as trainers, teachers, pastors, and community organizers. Often, they are the only ones in their context doing holistic work–both preaching the good news of Jesus and also addressing issues of poverty and injustice. So for the first time, Servant Partners held an Asia Regional Gathering in Chiang Mai, Thailand this October to open a space for mutual connection, encouragement, and to encounter God together.

Daniel shares about SP's values

At first glance, there is little in common between our Asia sites. Within the group, staff served in predominantly Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Catholic contexts. Some staff serve with one church while others preside over hundreds of house churches. Not only that, but within the group there were four heart languages present: Hindi, Thai, English, and Tagalog.

Despite our different contexts, God gave us a word: that He would use this time to water and restore dry ground. Over the five days of our gathering, we focused on Servant Partners’ six values: Joy in God, Servanthood, Incarnation, Discipleship, Justice, and Transformation. We used oral storying, visual art, drama, and inductive Bible study to engage our commitment to these values. We shared stories from our sites. We talked about suffering and perseverance. We played and laughed with one another. And we prayed for and blessed one another.

Reflection exercises

One SP staff said, “[It was an] encouragement and joy to be able to meet in person with brothers and sisters in the same region.” Another staff appreciated the opportunity to connect over TCK (Third Culture Kid—children raised cross-culturally) experiences and to reflect on Servant Partners’ six values.

Our time together ended with a Thai string tying ceremony (พิธีผูกแขน). While originally a culturally Thai practice, the Thai church has found creative ways to redeem this practice to remind us that we are bound together with love as the family of God. Our Thai staff P’ Kaew led us as we prayed blessings, offered encouragement, and prayed for each other.

While coming from vastly different cultures, speaking different languages, and tackling different problems, we all shared our desire to follow Jesus and our belief that He has redeemed for us and the communities we live in. And for one week, that was enough to taste a little bit of the Kingdom to come.

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