God is doing a new thing

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Video text:
> 541 persons gathered at Lake Junaluska for NOAC 2023. This included attendees of the 1958 National Youth Conference that was also held at Lake Junaluska, and 4 participants over 90 years of age. Additional participants attended online.
> 1,375 hygiene kits were assembled for Church World Service. 84 walkers raised more than $4,500 for the new NOAC scholarship fund. Worship service offerings exceeded $26,000.
> Special thanks to the NOAC 2023 coordinator Christy Waltersdorff; planning team members Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Jim Martinez, Leonard Matheny, Don Mitchell, Bonnie Kline Smeltzer, and Karlene Tyler; and the NOAC news team members David Sollenberger, Larry Glick, and Chris Stover-Brown.
> See you for NOAC 2025, September 1-5.

God is doing a new thing:
National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) 2023

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” –Isaiah 43:19

Reflection by Traci Rabenstein, executive director of Mission Advancement

When the email arrived with the announcement that it was time to register for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), I couldn’t click on the link fast enough! After attending three other NOACs, I knew it was going to be in an opportunity to be with people who renew my spirit and recharge my batteries. It would be a week to have good fellowship, more activities to choose from than hours in the day, speakers that would challenge the lens I use to view the world around me, and sermons that would nourish my soul.

While my plans shifted and I couldn’t attend as many activities as originally thought, the fellowship with others attending the conference and the speakers with powerful sermons didn’t disappoint. Our office, Mission Advancement, hosted a table at the welcome center at the gymnasium behind the building where registration occurred. We spent the afternoon talking, laughing, sharing snacks and other goodies, and I was able to “do a new thing” right away. Well, an almost new thing.

For the past few in-person NOACs, Frances Townsend has brought an entire workshop of materials, dye, and other items needed for tie-dyeing. After seeing her decorate t-shirts and other items years ago during a previous NOAC, I finally had the chance to do tie-dying for myself with the help of her technique and expertise. I picked out a piece of material from the many items she had, and then she helped me fold and tie it for dyeing.

Frances showed me all the colored dye powders and an example of a completed piece, and I was inspired to use similar colors. Then we went to the lawn space where she had an activity station, strategically placed the powders on the material, and then used hot water to soak the color into the fabric. During that time, I thought about the week ahead and began to ponder the conference theme, “God Is Doing a New Thing.”

As I watched the color change from powder and seep deep into the fabric, I considered whether the work Frances and I put into each fold and turn, each string tightened and tied, would produce a beautiful thing. Would this piece of plain material be turned into something new and beautiful?

Isn’t this just like life? With twists and turns, situations that make us feel tightened and tied down, feeling the heat of whatever is weighing upon us, and not knowing exactly how we would come through to the other side. Just when we think we can’t bear one more thing, God’s peace and love spring forth and we find ourselves on the other side of the trial or tribulation forever changed… just like a dyed piece of fabric. It had been twisted and tied up tightly then exposed to hot and cold elements and emerged forever changed.

By the end of the week at NOAC, I found myself answering the question from the theme text found in Isaiah: “Yes, God! I do perceive it; you are doing a new thing.” And I offered praises of thanksgiving. What Christ did for me and for all, and what Christ has brought us through, makes us forever changed!

Learn more about National Older Adult Conference at www.brethren.org/NOAC or support its work today at www.brethren.org/giveNOAC.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Ask the Lord of the harvest

Photos by Grace Elliott, Penny Gay, Jeff Boshart, and Dennis Thompson


By Jeff Boshart, manager of the Global Food Initiative

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” ~ Matthew 9:38, NIV

Greetings in the name of Jesus. My time as the manager of the Global Food Initiative Fund is nearing its end. The GFI has undergone various changes over the past 12 years, none of it possible without your generous and sacrificial giving to neighbors near and far. Recently I sat down and calculated the amounts sent to various partners around the world to support their work in agricultural development ministries. The total amount shared with churches and Christian non-profit organizations in 25 countries was nearly $2 million. 

Internationally, the largest amounts were shared with the following countries: Haiti ($279,300), Honduras ($173,800), and Nigeria ($165,200). In the United States, through contributions to church-based community gardening efforts and support to Puerto Rican farmers after Hurricane Maria, the total allocated was $345,700. These dollars represent animals, fruit trees, seeds, tools, fertilizers, trainings, conferences, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, several Brethren Volunteer Service placements, and organizations working with immigrants to the US as well as organizations advocating for governmental policies leading to greater food security.

Volunteers who have traveled on behalf of the GFI have given their time and talents to enhance and add value to this ministry in areas such as farming, veterinary medicine, forage production and animal nutrition, appropriate technology, plant breeding, aquaculture, solar energy, clean water systems, grant writing, and program evaluation. Finally, I have had the privilege to meet some special servants of the Lord who are ministering and sharing Christ’s love in some of the most difficult places on earth. I believe these are the workers that Jesus called for when he told his disciples, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38), and I am blessed beyond words to call them friends.

Although I am moving on, the work continues, and I am excited to see who God will call to walk with our sisters and brothers around the world. I pray that you will continue walking that journey with them.

Learn more about the Global Food Initiative at www.brethren.org/gfi or support its ministry today at www.brethren.org/giveGFI.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)