“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”— Romans 12:2
My sister in law asked if she could read more about this conference we went to. Based on our conversation afterward, it sounded very intriguing to her. But there are no brochures. It has always been difficult to define, because it’s not a rigid idea. It’s alive with the spirit.
People who joined this conference were nominally invited from all walks of life, and came in faith. Others probably declined the invitation, because it wasn’t clear enough (or it wasn’t their time). But those who came, came decisively, inexplicably drawn, albeit very puzzled about what it all is like or about.
The ROM director, whom we honored and celebrated this summer, as he stepped down from the role and passed on the baton to a well mentored new young leader, had, on the last day, an inspiring talk and a reminder of the four pillars that this community was built on.
- Building of deliberate friendship as a pillar of change (according to the model of Jesus, in the spirit of Jesus, on the platform of Jesus)
- Reconciliation and forgiveness as a tool for building peace
- Dedicated life and leadership through service and sacrifice (dirty hands, clean hearts)
- Following Jesus without apology (the right course even if nobody understands)
There is more than meets the eye when you look at Jesus.
This community’s daring idea came about 20 years ago, in the aftermath of the Balkan war, with the purpose of building bridges and not walls.
The people who contributed every year with vision and inspiration, with their faith and eloquence, were people who love Jesus, from all over the world. From teachers, to business owners, inspiring politicians, college professors, pastors, missionaries, journalists, non profit organization leaders, NGO workers, social justice advocates…
God works in all areas of life, through people who are willing to carry the torch and the responsibility to be a light.
There are no separations of religion, sect or of cultural differences. On the contrary. We are brought and drawn together as a community through diversity and the unifying love of Jesus. But often we’ve had attendees who were searching, not (yet) Christians, not (yet) believers. There was room to just be. Loved and accepted. We don’t have conversion kits. We just love people and serve God.
One of my favorite speeches this past week was related to learning to disagree well, in politics and any other social contexts. We often don’t know how to have a different opinion and express it in a constructive way (especially in the context of social media), while hearing and genuinely taking into consideration another’s different perspective.
Every time I spend with people of integrity and of burning love for Jesus, I come home inspired, with renewed hope and faith. We need to surround ourselves with friends who walk in faith. Who address injustice and who love lavishly through God’s power.
My favorite thing about this community of friends, is that we are not boasting about exclusivity. It’s the opposite of it. The vision is always focused on what we can bring home, to our own communities. To spread the table for a feast of inclusion. And how can we be effective ambassadors for a better world. What resources we need, where do we start… and how can we help each other to not lose steam on the way. Because disillusionment, discouragement, hopelessness are real and often impending, but there is life (and renewed strength) beyond these.
Much has happened in two years. But the truth stands. Here are my conclusions from last ROM (the Renewing Our Minds gathering) we attended in 2017