by Jeff Ritchie
When my family and I returned from our first term of missionary service in 1984, the extended Ritchie family had a wonderful reunion at a Presbyterian conference center in North Carolina. Not only would we have a reunion, but there would also be a wedding! My youngest brother was getting married, and the reunion thus took on a new dimension. Great joy abounded as the Ritchie family reunited, and as our family was joined by marriage to a new family.
The feeling of joy in getting together again and the happiness at meeting new family members is my experience in another form of “family reunion.” This reunion takes place whenever I meet a brother or sister in Christ from another part of his body, the Church. I’d like to introduce you to some of the “family members” who have become dear to me over the past 30 years of mission service. Providentially, I met each of these brothers in Christ ten years apart.
The Rev. Dr. Young Ro Ahn and I met in 1982, when I had just moved to Kwangju, South Korea to begin rural evangelistic work under the Presbyterian Church of Korea. Pastor Ahn headed the Evangelism Committee of the local presbytery. He was my mentor in how to go about the missionary work to which I had been called. Thirty-four years later we are still “family.” I call him my “older brother."
The Rev. Dr. Solomon Sule-Saa and I met when he was a short-term missionary to the U.S.A. in 1992. Later on, Solomon and his wife Beatrice hosted me in their home in Ghana on three separate occasions. Solomon’s gentle spirit and prayerful approach to life have touched my heart for twenty-five years.
Tharwat Wahba was a graduate student at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt when we first met in 2002. By the time this photograph was taken (2013), he had a PhD in missiology and was head of the Mission Department at the Cairo Seminary as well as Chair of the Pastoral and Outreach Ministries Council of the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt. Tharwat has cast a vision to the church in Egypt that is mobilizing it for mission and evangelism in Egypt and beyond. It has been a blessing to walk with this “younger brother” for fourteen years.
These are just some of my “family.” They are also part of your family, for we are all adopted sons and daughters in the family of God. Like my family of origin, the family of God is having a grand reunion some day. This will be a family reunion that tops them all. Check it out in Revelation 7:10 (Spoiler alert: this reunion involves a wedding also – see Revelation 21). In the meantime, begin getting to know your “family” from every tribe, tongue and nation by connecting with the Church around the world. God bless you.
Associate Director for Mission