Do you have a couple minutes? I want to tell you how this global community of Friends has changed my life.
When I was a little girl, my father took my sister and me to meet a long-term Quaker missionary from East Africa. He told wonderful stories of what it was like to live there. His house was filled with drums, animal skins, spears, carefully crafted bowls and baskets. His home was full of tables made of beautiful African wood. I could have sat there for hours imagining what it might have been like to live in East Africa with his family.
From that point on, I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to experience all those wonderful things, see a world I knew existed only in story books and taste the foods of far off places.
I grew up and went to a college that actively promoted its students to become missionaries. I took the right classes. I met, dated and married the right person. Together, we applied to several sending organizations. We wanted to go, to serve, to do the things I’d dreamed about when I was young. We were denied. Sad. Broken. Resigned.
Years later, God provided a way for me to still do those things, but in a way that fit my personality much better. God put me in the position of being able to care for and support the people on the field. I’ve been so blessed to be able to work alongside some incredibly brave and beautifully strong people over the last dozen years.
But that’s not all! I’ve built relationships across cultural boundaries. I remember the first time I met John Moru and spent time getting to know him. I asked him question after question about what it was like to live and work in Turkana. He told me many stories. I wanted to go there.
My first international experience was a trip to Cuba. I didn’t speak Spanish, but the Cuban Friends loved me, welcomed me and made me part of their community. That experience made me want to go back.
The first time I went to a yearly meeting other than my own, I was terrified. Yet, I built relationships with people as I got to know them. I built relationships across many other yearly meeting boundaries and those experiences have made me feel that I am part of a broader community. Yearly meeting boundaries no longer feel like boundaries. Those connections have been a critical part of my growth. I have a deeper sense of Spirit because of my trips out east and a greater appreciation for scripture because of my experiences in the mid-west. All of these people are part of my global community of Friends. I wouldn’t be who I am today without these relationships.
My global community of Friends is gifted in so many ways. Together my community teaches children of all ages and abilities. We train pastors and teachers, build churches, dig wells and boreholes, teach peace building skills, support women’s groups, treat the sick and hurting, and feed the hungry. And, we do so much more. This is an incredible community of Friends!
I have to say I count you in my community of Friends. Many of you I have met, emailed, talked to on the phone or visited. If you are one of those, you have had an impact on me and are part of my global community. If you are not one of those, I want to meet you, to hear from you, to learn how you are making an impact on the world around you. I have plenty of room to expand my community and I want to be connected with you also.
I’m excited about this global community of Friends. I want you to be too. Together we can do so much. Together we can send more people, build more relationships and reach more people for Christ. Together we can grow in community. Together we are Friends United Meeting!
I hope you read the quotes and learn how others feel connected to this global community of Friends. I hope you add your own quote as well. I want you to feel just as connected to this community as I do.
This is the time to get connected. This is the time to grow and be a part of something big. This is the time to support and encourage your global community. This is the time to give and give generously. There won’t be another time quite like this one. Will you take this opportunity?
Friends are good at breaking down the walls that normally separate people and cultures. Our shared awareness and values create an opportunity for all of us to speak a common language in a safe environment that is based on our testimonies. The awkwardness that normally generates from engaging individuals of distant cultures quickly dissipates in a global gathering of Friends.
— Joyce (Palestine)
FUM gathers people through its commitment to faith, through sharing and mutual relationships, by seeking God’s guidance and listening to his voice, organizing prayer meetings and bible studies, evangelism and helping the poor and the needy.
— Zadock (Kenya)
The most important way FUM has impacted my life is by providing a place where Friends from different social, theological and national backgrounds can come together to work and worship in an open, caring and Christ-like atmosphere.
— Bill (United States)
I am gathered in Christ through the connections I have with Friends, not only in my region, but also internationally with our global partners. It is always fascinating to me that though we might speak different languages and though we might have different worship styles, there is always a common bond that comes together, especially when we focus beyond ourselves and our preferences to appreciate who we are as a global community.
— Kelly (United States)
When Friends gather as a global community it gives a sense of togetherness as God’s creation. It gives a sense of appreciating one another irrespective of our differences. It feels that despite the diversity, we care about each other.
— Churchill (Kenya)
A gathered global community would look like an instrument that is efficient in the labor of the Lord, in his vineyard, and recognizes that of God in each person. The differences do not matter if all obey the Head, that is Christ, and if we realize our function as part of the body of the Lord. We have to be ONE in order for the world to believe. We have to be a prism through which the Light of Jesus Christ passes in different colors, each belonging to Him, and shining His light in the lives of the people where we live, where God has called us to serve.
— Ramon (Cuba)
By attending different Friends churches and participating in Quaker activities outside of my comfort zone in Africa and in the States, I have learned we have nothing to fear from one another when we are gathered in Christ’s love.
— Lisa (United States)
FUM’s 40 Days of Prayer was a way for us to truly be gathered in Christ, to be on the same page, to reflect on the same scriptures . . . and devotionals each day. I was struck by the fact that people wrote on scripture passages I have known my whole life and yet . . . bring out a unique cultural perspective. This caused me to think about these passages in a brand new way. I gained new appreciation for scripture passages through this program.
— Kelly (United States)