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The world is definitely getting smaller. The telephone, email, the Internet, and social media (e.g., Facebook) play an important role in communicating throughout organizations, across continents, and often almost instantaneously to all corners of the world. Not to mention that from just about any major airport in the world, one can travel to almost anywhere else in the world with no more than one stop. I often wonder how the Apostle Paul and others would have put these capabilities to use.
In my secular life I have been blessed in often being able to visit brothers and sisters both near and far. What has always struck me was that the Truth we share makes us more than a set of individuals or ecclesias, but a family where one can count on always being there. This is true no matter whether we find ourselves in Seoul, South Korea; Los Angeles, California; Johannesburg, South Africa; Boston, Massachusetts; Coventry, England; Bangalore, India; Stuttgart, Germany; or even some of the largest cities in the Orient. When one has the opportunity to travel and visit with brothers and sisters of different cultures, one has a much better appreciation of what the Truth is versus what are the traditions of a specific area or region of the world. In my travels I have exhorted in ecclesias where the exhortational readings where read by brothers and sisters in the audience; where, when it was time for the collection, members would come up to the front and place their offering in the bag; where only brothers are allowed to set the memorial table, but sisters clean it; and where the best translator was a sister, who was responsible to translate my exhortation to the local language as I presented it.
Having attended ecclesias on four continents has made me greatly appreciate what God has given us. God has given us much more than the Scriptures and the instruction for salvation it provides. God has also given us a family with whom we can connect almost instantaneously. On one trip to Taiwan, Taipei, which at the time the ALS Dairy didn’t list any ecclesia, I had to only send an email to the Recording Brother, and two days later I was giving a Bible Class on “The End Times.” Or the time when I was in Bangalore, India for a week and I had the opportunity to attend midweek Bible class and exhort on the Sunday for a baptism. It was if I had known the brothers and sisters my whole life. What a wonderful feeling knowing that we aren’t alone even though we might be on the other side of the world.
Another thing that has struck me in my travels is that we are all connected at a much deeper level than just the Truth we share or even the interconnections we may share because of marriage. There is a level beyond the individual, a level that resides in the body — at the community level — that involves all of its parts. This community level is also alive — it changes and transforms in a similar manner as individuals and families do. As individuals in an ecclesia we might forget about the community of believers that exists around the world. We might only think of the community as our ecclesia, or a small set ecclesias (i.e., the ecclesias we associate with), but the body, our community, is much more than that. This means that what we do at a local level, perhaps in our ecclesia or in the region in which a number of ecclesias reside, can often impact the rest of the community around the world. As the Scriptures tell us, Christ walks among the ecclesias and the ecclesias represent the Body of Christ. Doesn’t another part suffer when one of its members suffer? This reality came to life to me during a recent trip I had to the Orient.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to exhort in a relatively new and small ecclesia in a major Asian city (due to potential persecution it is best not to name the city), which had a significant amount of energy and Scriptural strength. I had a wonderful time with my new found extended family, and I look forward to visiting again, Lord willing. After memorial service the small group began to talk and I was introduced to some ex-patriots and locally converted members. Like many of the discussions I have had with brethren overseas, the topic migrated to the fellowship situation in North America; usually the fact that after 100 years of separation, the Amended and Unamended communities still exist and have not been able to structure a continental reunion. But this time, the discussion didn’t stop there; it also went on to discuss why there hasn’t been unity with the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (CGAF). To my surprise, this situation was also known by a few members in this small ecclesia on the other side of the world. As it turns out, a brother and sister in the ecclesia had the opportunity to be in the U.S. for a period of time and found a local CGAF church. This was one of the churches the Amended Midwest Unity Committee extended an offer of fellowship two years ago. They found this to be an excellent place to visit with fellow believers. Unfortunately, I had to explain that the offer still hadn’t been executed and that fellowship with the CGAF community had still not been put into to place.
I provide this example of how things we do, or neglect to do in one area of the body impacts other areas, whether we know it or not. This is not a comment on the unity efforts in the Midwest, I leave that to others, but rather to illustrate that we cannot work in a vacuum. We cannot pretend that things will go away if we ignore them, or that our decisions will only have impact on one or two people, or a handful of ecclesias. The actions we take within an ecclesia, or a small set of ecclesias, usually not only impacts the members of those specific ecclesias but the entire body of Christ. If we are part of the body of Christ, then it should go without saying that if part of one the body is affected so are others. In this day of rapid and easy travel, and instantaneous communication, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that others aren’t or will not be impacted by our actions or inactions. We are blessed with a strong global body of Christ, a body that we are responsible to care and feed. God has blessed us with tools we can use to make the Truth shine brightly. Let us not waste the opportunity we have been given and let us act as members of one body as we as individuals work out our salvation.
Peter A. Bilello (Ann Arbor , MI)

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