Posted by: ritagone | August 22, 2018

#Thankyou!

 

 

 

Our Communitas 50th anniversary gathering at High Leigh Conference Centre (notice my very British spelling of the last word, please!) in Hoddeston, England, about 45 minutes by train north of London, was a smashing success by any definition.  Great workshops (I’m going to learn more about the Enneagram and where I fit in, for one thing), training sessions, lots of free time, a TedTalk format for the speakers, which allowed about 10 of our people, varied in nationality and age and topic, to share their stories and their hearts with us in a manner that was both captivating and challenging.  But best of all, of course, was being with the people of this particular community, people I have come to know and love over the last 20 years of my life.

About 20 years ago, when I was a mere child (!), Linus Morris, founder of Christian Associates International, asked me to come onto the board of the organization.  I was a housewife with very little experience in this arena.  I was reluctant to serve in this capacity, but Linus persuaded me that it would be a good thing to do.  At the first board meeting I attended, I met about 10 men — pastors, businessmen — all godly, all high-powered dudes, all friends’ of Linus, who were there to serve and to give of their time and energy and money for this organization that they believed in, which planted churches in Western Europe where Christianity was failing to attract people to the beautiful but empty churches there.  Immediately one of the board members — ultra-conservative and believing that women had no place on boards — threatened to resign if I joined this board.  (You can imagine how that made me feel, as insecure as I already was!)  Amazingly, all the other board members let him resign, insisting that I should indeed become the first woman board member of CA.

  At the first board meeting I attended, I met about 10 men – pastors, businessmen – all godly, all high-powered dudes, all friends of Linus’, who were there to serve and to give of their time and energy and money for this organization that they believed in, planting churches in Western Europe where Christianity was failing in attracting people to the empty churches there.  Immediately one of the board members – ultra-conservative and believing that women had no place on boards – threatened to resign if I joined this board.  (You can imagine how that made me feel, as insecure as I already was!)  Amazingly, all the other board members let him go, insisting that I should indeed become the first woman board member.

So because of Linus’ belief in me, because a handful of gentlemen I didn’t know at all at the time rallied around me, my life was changed forever.  Twenty years later, now Chairman of the Board of what is now known as Communitas International, we are still going strong.  I have travelled to places I would never have seen otherwise, I have met so many people from everywhere in the world, I have experienced things that I never would have experienced had not Linus encouraged me to step into a role I felt I was not capable of carrying out.

So at the 50th anniversary conference, it was my distinct and overwhelming pleasure to stand on the platform and introduce Linus, who was there as our special guest, to an audience of people, many of whom didn’t know our founder, many of whom did and loved him dearly.  It was an honor I will not soon forget nor ever take for granted.

Earlier that morning, in one of the TedTalk formats, one of our staff had done an amazing talk on the fact that she had been sexually abused by her college youth pastor, and the repercussions of that in her life, which were many and often severe, understandably. It was a talk done so well, with such skill and vulnerability, you could truly hear a pin drop, and you could sense that everyone listening was carrying her burden with her.  In the era of #MeToo, this is a subject that needs to be discussed and shared, and those who have experienced such abuse are brave to make themselves so vulnerable and transparent.  But the irony was not lost on me that that same day, later in the evening, I had the privilege of standing up there and talking about a man whose integrity has never wavered, to this day, whose honor and righteousness are uncontested.  He may sneak the occasional fish head into your purse when you’re not looking, but he is as upright and sold out to Jesus now as he was 50 years ago when he felt God calling him and his family to ministry.  His godliness and strength of character only shine brighter and brighter through the years.

Find people you know who, over the years and decades, have maintained their righteous stance before the Lord and before people, and thank them.  Honor them.  We have an obligation to call out and deal with those who have violated God’s laws and peoples’ personal space, but on the other hand, we should also recognize those who protect and uphold the value and integrity of the people around them.

Linus Morris is such a man, and I’m so glad he has been in my life for the past quarter of a century.  And I’m so glad he was able to be with the staff of Communitas for our celebration.  It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

There are people in our lives who have had profound influence on us.  How often do we get to say “Thank you” to them?  If you have any kind of opportunity to do so, take advantage of it.  Let them know what their influence has meant to you, how deeply changed you have been by their attention and positive movement around you, and then…

Go be a great influence in someone else’s life.  Pay it forward!!!

 

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Responses

  1. Love this! What an amazing experience in your life…. and those you have touched through the organization. My mom and dad told me that there would be a handful of people in my life who would make a huge mark on it for the better and be a guiding light and example- looks like you’ve met one of your handful.

  2. Very nice, Rita. Well said.

    Makes me glad that I couldn’t attend Connect as it seems certain that Linus wouldn’t be there if I was, and as a result that moment wouldn’t have come to pass.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Dudley

    Dudley Callison

  3. Rita, It sounds like you had a wonderful trip and all that went with it.
    You always preach the word of God in a way that makes me feel like you’re talking to me. You are one of the people that I need to say “Thank you” to.

  4. Great post, Rita, honoring Linus. Glad he made it. I did not! But instead had a shoulder replacement surgery:)


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