The North American Division’s convention for pastors and their families normally occur every five years. The last one, scheduled for 2020, was postponed like other events due to the world-wide pandemic. Finally taking place on June 19th to 22nd in Lexington, Kentucky, the 2022 CALLED Convention was worth the wait! Being so far removed from Division and separated from our other island churches geographically, this was a meaningful occasion to connect with other pastors in-person. Unfortunately, due to certain restraints, including limited border reentry to many of our islands, only about half of our pastors were able to travel. Eight of our eighteen pastors, our chief financial officer, education director, and seminary student made up the delegation representing GMM at the Central Bank Center in Lexington. Thankfully, these ministerial leaders and their families journeyed the more than 24-hour trip from our region in the Pacific to mainland United States for a memorable event. The theme song touched me then and continues to every time I find myself humming the tune.
Attending the CALLED Convention began with a long yet exciting travel. My wife Evelyn and I left from our island of Saipan, CNMI, and had a 21-hour layover in Seoul, Korea. It was an opportunity to learn about Korean culture. Attendants courteously taught us how to write our names using the Korean alphabet. We had the privilege of wearing Sung Do – dress that made us feel like a king and queen. We enjoyed Korean games and breakfast before boarding our plane bound for San Francisco, California. Reaching the mainland, we unloaded our baggage for TSA security check before continuing our flight for Denver, Colorado en route to Cincinnati, Ohio – our final airport. In Denver, we met Pastor and Mrs. Mesikt Idechong with their kids who were on their way to CALLED from Guam.
Upon our arrival in Cincinnati, we were met at the airport by Elder Matthew Kirk, our mission president, and Pastor Daniel Velez, coordinating pastor of Palau. We praised the Lord for allowing us to travel safely to the convention.
The convention was well-organized. More than five thousand delegates came from all over the NAD. Hundreds of seminars addressed pastoral development, resources in bible study and preaching, ministry and evangelism. Awards were even granted to those with creative evangelistic strategies and plans. There were programs offered to enrich pastors' spouses and also well-attended programs for children and youth. My wife and our daughter Jan Irene joined the many classes offered for women in their ministries.
Of the many daily seminars to choose from, the highlights included classes designed for pastors of local churches and strategies for evangelism. In light of the last two years, an appreciated addition was the Lab Tech booth where a professional walked me through the use of the necessary equipment for live streaming. The knowledge gained in the lab will give our churches’ online presence an upgrade.
Each day began and ended with spiritually-uplifting morning and evening worship services. Various speakers demonstrated the styles of preaching that are shorter yet full of encouraging lessons. After each main session, complementary books were distributed to the attendees, providing us with tangible support to bring back to our mission fields. Pastor Mar Laurin lauded the convention planners for the materials and resources distributed during the convention which are valuable for all pastors. These materials are now ordered by the mission to be distributed to all pastors who were not able to attend the convention.
However, the greatest resource the convention provided was the joy of fellowship with other pastors. We were inspired and eager to reconnect with all co-laborers back home. Attendees returned to each of their territories with a revived spirit.
The last worship service was particularly meaningful as it highlighted those who served the church for 30 or more years. Two of us from the Guam-Micronesia Mission had the special honor of walking down to the front with our wives to receive medallions and frames in recognition. GMM Executive Secretary Remenster Jano and Mrs. Leah Jano have served for 49 years. I am humbled by God’s grace for allowing me and my wife to serve Him for the last 40 years. Yet there is still a big work to be done to cover our mission territory with meager resources. Let us continue to pray for the outworking of the Holy Spirit among us.
Many times, I wondered, “How many more CALLED conventions will it be before Christ will come in the clouds of glory?” But one thing I am sure of: God’s plan of salvation for humanity is an endless theme to learn under our Savior Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, when He comes.
We are doing the Lord’s work, and we should keep going because we are called. As the theme song goes: Althoughw e are “unworthy and broken, imperfect but chosen. . . That’s why I keep going, and all that I know is, I’m only here because I’m CALLED.”