By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director
When the events of September 11th took place 20 years ago and we were in the midst of preparing for our first Mission ConneXion Northwest (MCNW) event, I thought it must be about the worst possible time to try to help mobilize the Church to fulfill its role to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Now we were even more distracted, even in somewhat of a national funk, and there just seemed to be many more things we should be doing than acting on Jesus great commission command to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” But we were committed to the vision the Lord had given.
When the pandemic struck seventeen months ago our lives were not simply distracted; life worldwide was disrupted. When we decided to provide a completely virtual MCNW event this last January, the verdict was made for us by the spread of the virus; lockdowns being enforced regionally, and a desire that we not cancel the event altogether. The result was a sprit of camaraderie and cooperation that extended worldwide as presenters and participants tuned in to the Global Virtual weekend!
In some ways our current challenges reminded me of all we had faced 20 years ago. Back in 2001, a group of us and our churches were convinced the Lord was moving us to launch this conference even if the culture and what was happening around us said otherwise. At that time the Lord was continuing to direct us forward, baby step by baby step, and we kept receiving indications that we were right on track, on target, and on time.
As a vaccine was developed, and dispensed; things began to open up in our country. As people felt more comfortable gathering, churches began to move back into a more normal weekly routine in person and online. Indeed, in Arizona, the pandemic has helped us work with a dedicated volunteer team to develop our first Mission ConneXion Southwest scheduled for this November 5-6. The feedback from our mission agency exhibitors was pretty consistent – they were all more than ready to meet people in person and return to a live, in-person event. Afterall, it is difficult to have a ConneXion, without connection.
So, we pushed ahead with anticipation to return to hosting a live, in person, Northwest event in January. However, because churches were not quick to return to full in person services, and due to the uncertainty in how to plan accordingly, I waited to ask them about their holding our event. During the summer months we began to approach our friends who have hosted us in the past and while each expressed desire and support, all had to decline.
Before we knew it, we had to acknowledge that we had been declined by more than 30 potential churches and venues. As a team and to a person, we continued to call out to the Lord and examine our hearts. Was the Lord closing a door for us this year? We had a great line up of plenary speakers, a theme, enthusiasm – but it was the end of August, and we had nothing. We had never gone so late without a location, and with every day that passed, and the preparation of workshops and agency exhibitors all put on hold, a time would come soon when we would be beyond the point of no return from an organizational standpoint. Many reached out asking but would then assure us they were praying.
Then things began to change. A conversation with a friend, and member of our board, led to a reasonable accounting of what we might be able to do in light of the circumstances. I had our good friend Joe Dennis from International Special Events, who has handled logistics for us for over a decade, begin to measure. Then, after Labor Day, associate lead pastor John Jordan let us know that Village Church in Beaverton, Oregon would be happy to host Mission ConneXion Northwest on January 21-22, 2022! What a huge relief and tremendous answer to prayer that was! We will be able to return to a Live and In Person Event! We are in process of lining up Workshops and Exhibitors. We are very excited for this opportunity, and this obvious demonstration of faith on the part of John and Village Church to host us. We will be sharing more very soon!