Conference Conclusions by Mandee Campos

Today is a bittersweet day. It is the last day of the 2016 Lahash East Africa Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Whole in Christ. After about a week of sharing meals and stories, learning together, and worshiping together, I cannot think of a more appropriate title. As I sat in the sessions, I quickly realized that this was different than any of the other conferences that I have been to. It was different because I could not distinguish the roles of teacher and student. Everyone was a teacher, everyone was a student. Some of my favorite sessions were those led by our intelligent and experienced partners. I have learned concepts related to organizational development, resource mobilization, conflict resolution and peacemaking, and organizational sustainability in my own studies, but hearing from those who are doing these very things now at the grassroots level is something no classroom back home could possibly offer.

My role in coming to this conference was to establish a foundation for future working relationships with our East African partners on behalf of Lahash’s Servant Teams program. I have experienced so much more than that. Fellowship has been one of the most amazing things because it reminds us that no single person can ever reflect the image of a Triune God. We need each other to do that. We needed to learn from one another. We needed the morning devotions and evening prayers. We needed the conversations about our families and exchanging of photos. We needed everyone to carry the adorable baby that is Braden. We needed all the food and tea breaks, even if we were not hungry, to share a space together at a table. I cannot express enough how welcoming this group of people has been, each so unique in their story, and yet we are bonded by the love of our Savior and by the unified mission and heart to serve the vulnerable.

I feel more “Whole in Christ” after this conference. When you travel to a new place for the first time or meet another believer who lives down your street back home, you become more aware of what it means to be “whole.” As the body of Christ, we are unified in the global church. We realize this more in our journey through life with every new brother and sister in Christ that we encounter. I am thankful for having such an opportunity at this conference.