Bridge Builders International’s first ever International Family Gathering
By Helen T. Goody and Natalie Meeks
“…once again I saw that incredulous question, that dawning hope: We are not alone, then? We have brothers in other places? We have friends we never knew?”
CORVALLIS, Oregon – On Thursday January 12, a company of Latvian staff, overseas missionaries, American staff and board members converged upon Corvallis, Oregon for the first ever BBI International Family Gathering.
True to its original calling outlined more than 20 years ago, Bridge Builders International exists to transform the nation of Latvia by the love and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. With a multiplicity of people, serving in distant locations around the world and in various facets, coming together for a time of encouragement, clarity and synergy is a critical need. Yet never before had we done so. Until now.
For the first time in its history, [thanks to generous support from a long-time friend of the ministry] the Bridge Builders family gathered together under one roof. Thusly assembled, we greeted old friends and made new ones. We gathered to dream and to plan, to walk together, to share a meal, to laugh and to cry, to teach and to learn, and to worship.
Conference sessions, four of which were made open to the public, took place at Calvin Presbyterian Church and focused on teamwork, personal growth, leadership, relationships, goals, identifying God’s gifts in the past and seeking His will for the future; both personally and as a whole.
BBI President and founder Chuck Kelley shared with the group the poignant testimony of the birth of the mission, its stages of ministry in Latvia, and the exciting plans that lie ahead. We caught the vision together.
Glen Volkhardt, board member and former missionary to Ecuador, drew from his experiences to share the importance of community within ministry. Plurality, Glen explained, is critical for the soul of the mission and the souls of the individuals. As we learned, we practiced community together.
Bill Zipp, former board member and executive coach, explained, as he taught from the text of Nehemiah: “The first missionary journey did not come out of a strategy session… it came out of a prayer meeting.” And so, we prayed together.
We rejoiced hearing the updates and goals from each missionary and Latvian staff member. We encouraged one another.
It ended as it began. With transformative worship – celebrating our risen Lord by coming to His table in the Lord’s Supper. With celebration, and most of all, with thanks to God through whom all is made possible, we communed together.