Last October, we experienced another unexpected blessing. We were asked if our Nazarenes in Timor-Leste would host an Asia Pacific Region meeting of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries leaders. The Super 8, as it is called, is a week-long event for field NCM leaders across the Region. During these meetings, the NCM leaders give reports, receive vital training, and participate in service projects in the host country.
Our leadership was excited to host this event for several reasons. First, as a developing country, Timor-Leste has many needs. Not many people are aware of those needs, and we were glad to expose our greater Nazarene family to challenges and needs that the Timorese face.
Second, the NCM as an organization sees its mission as equipping the local church for compassion rather than just respond to the immediate needs that fall under the category of “compassionate ministry.” Our pastors were excited about the possibility of our local churches and leaders being trained, developed, and equipped to respond in compassion in their local context.
I am excited to report that both our hopes were realized during this NCM event. First, different than usual, our pastors and key lay leaders were invited to be a part of the some of the meetings and training. The focus of the training was Child Holistic Development, specifically understanding the challenges and vulnerabilities that children face in the 21st century. Our leaders were challenged to think about the challenges and vulnerabilities that children in Timor-Leste face, and how they can respond to help shape families and communities that are healthy for children, environments that reduce these risks.
This was an emotional and eye-opening time for our Timorese Nazarenes as they shared tragic stories about how children are at risk in Timor, but also their hopes and dreams of how that reality can change.
Later in the week, we took the NCM team to the remote district of Atabae, where we have a church plant and the beginnings of a child holistic development ministry. Pastor Merlando and the church leaders were excited to receive the team, and it was a blessing to see the team interact with and minister to the children. The day was a blessing for all, I believe, and even a flat tire did not dampen our spirits. The NCM team worked together to change the tire, and were headed back to Dili soon after
We closed the week with a special time of communion and farewells, as our Timorese Nazarenes showered the NCM team with special “tais”, with patterns and colors picked out special for each person.
Thank you Super 8 for blessings us, and for (hopefully) allowing us the opportunity to bless you. Our hearts are full, and our understanding has been expanded. May God equip us to be compassionate Nazarenes in Timor-Leste, and show us practical ways to help the people, families, communities, and the country of Timor-Leste become healthy, holistically.