By Dick Barrett
As a conference of Anabaptist Mennonite churches across Ohio and the surrounding states we find ourselves at the beginning of our second year of discerning together God’s vision for us as we look to the future. Over the past year our process consultant, Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi, met with our credentialed leaders and congregational delegates to find out what they appreciate most about Ohio Conference and what they believe to be God’s future vision for the conference.
All that information has been collated, and it is now the task of the Leadership Team, once again with the assistance of the Ministry Development Team, our credentialed leaders and congregational delegates, to distill all that information and discern God’s vision.
What is God’s future vision for us as Ohio Conference? Well, first and foremost, it is a vision which is beyond ourselves. It is a vision that can never be fully realized during our time here on earth. It is a vision which cannot be achieved without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is a vision that needs to be lived into. Here are some of the themes that have emerged in the first year of our discernment process regarding God’s vision for Ohio Conference:
A place of shalom where love, restoration, healing and wholeness reigns.
A peaceable kingdom where all come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.
A place where the love of God and love of others is manifest in the world.
A place where there is unity in Christ amidst the diversity of the people.
A place where God’s grace and mercy are experienced and extended to all.
This year I am once again reading through Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Interestingly, today I find myself being confronted with the devotion titled “The Patience to Wait for the Vision.”
Chambers writes, “Patience is not the same as indifference; patience conveys the idea of someone who is tremendously strong and able to withstand all assaults. Having the vision of God is the source of patience because it gives us true and proper inspiration. Moses endured, not because of his devotion to his principles of what was right, nor because he had a vision of God. He endured seeing Him who is invisible (Hebrews 11:27). A person who has the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue, he or she is devoted to God Himself. You always know when the vision is of God because of the inspiration that comes with it. … The proof that we have the vision is that we are reaching out for more than we have already grasped.”
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”— Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)
My prayer is that we will be patient as we continue on together to ask, to seek, and to knock for God to reveal his future vision for us. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”