GAFCON 2018 - where members of global Anglican family seek and find each other
A reflection by delegate Anne Ni of the Diocese of Cascadia on the Gafcon Jerusalem conference.
It was like finding a needle in a hay stack. How could I locate a bishop from across the globe whom I have never met from among the 1,950 GAFCON 2018 attendees? I empathized with how Abraham’s servant must have felt when he was tasked by his master Abraham to find a bride for Isaac in Genesis 24. Only through divine appointment will we be able to find someone among a sea of people to fulfil the purpose of God’s Kingdom. Like the servant of Abraham sent to find the bride for Isaac so that God’s purpose of building His chosen nation could be fulfilled, I was tasked to find the bishop from Diocese of Nyahururu, Kenya, who I do not know or have never met in my life to connect him with the bishop from my home diocese of Cascadia at GAFCON 2018 so that they could discuss in person about the new Kenyan church plant in our diocese for the Kingdom of God.
I am a fourth generation Anglican originally from Myanmar, formerly knowns as Burma and have been living in the United States for over twenty five years. I grew up going to Sunday school and got confirmed the same time with current Primate of Myanmar Province, His Grace Stephen Than Myint Oo and Secretary of Yangon Diocese Mother’s Union, Rachel Htwe. It was a great joy to see both of them among the Myanmar delegation at GAFCON 2018. Rachel has lost her husband Rev. Philip Aung Thwin Oo a few days before leaving for GAFCON, and I was so looking forward to console her in person.
A few weeks before I left for GAFCON, Fr. Elias Mburu who is originally from Kenya planted a new Kenyan congregation in our diocese of Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest. Being on the Church Plant team of the Diocese, I have the privilege of working with Fr. Elias to help establish his new plant. His Kenyan congregation of All Saints Anglican Church in Federal Way, WA, will be officially received into the Diocese of Cascadia at our Diocesan Synod in October. When he found out I was going to GAFCON, he asked me to find Bishop Stephen Kabora from his home diocese of Nyahururu, Kenya who is his spiritual father, and to connect him with Bishop Kevin Allen from our diocese. Fr. Elias didn’t give me any information about this bishop except the name and the diocese. How do I find the bishop from Kenya who I don’t know or have never met in my life among this crowd with no contact information? Should I go to GAFCON communication and ask to make the announcement?
First day at GAFCON was a bit challenging to find seat in the huge auditorium. Everyone had a divinely assigned seat and had to sit among those from other provinces. A couple dozen or so attendees from my home diocese were all seated at different places. I found my seat at the back of the auditorium among those from UK, Nigeria, Uganda and Australia with no one from my diocese. My roommate Amy Rowe from Diocese of Mid Atlantic was seated next to me, so I was not the only one from ACNA in that seating neighborhood. Little did I know that God’s hand was upon those who assigned these seats? The whole auditorium was filled with a mixture of black, white, yellow and brown faces who worship the same True Living God – The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was a glimpse of Revelation 7:9.
After the first break between sessions on day one, I started looking for this bishop from Kenya. Even though it was a blessing meeting those from Nigeria, Uganda, South Sudan and many other African nations, I felt unsuccessful as I couldn’t find anyone from Kenya. On day two, I located my childhood friend Rachel from Myanmar near the front rows, so I went over to her before sessions began. When I shared with her about my frustration of not being able to find the bishop from Kenya, she told me to check with the bishop sitting next to her who is also from Kenya. Did I not say these seats were divinely assigned? Bishop Stephen Kabora from Diocese of Nyahururu, Kenya was seated right next to my childhood friend Rachel from Diocese of Yangon, Myanmar. I praise the Lord for these seating assignments as the task assigned to me was accomplished through that. Bishop Stephen Kabora from Kenya was finally able to meet Bishop Kevin Allen from ACNA Diocese of Cascadia.
God has used a transplant from Myanmar Anglican Church representing ACNA to connect the two bishops from across the globe to advance His Kingdom through church planting. Seek and you will find. GAFCON 2018 was a place where members of global Anglian family seek and find each other to fulfil the purpose for His Kingdom.