Mission 2020, a “festival to the goodness of God,” according to RCA Global Mission director JP Sundararajan, drew 225 people to Orlando, Florida, January 16–18. From Yakima, Washington, to Flushing, New York, from Calgary, Alberta, to Suwanee, Georgia, participants came from 14 states, provinces, and territories, and 17 countries to celebrate God’s goodness through RCA mission efforts.
Attendees were invited into the stories of RCA Global Mission’s rich heritage and were encouraged to pray, give, and go in response to God’s work around the world today. Over three days, dozens of stories were shared from mission areas around the world, most of them recent but some rooted in the RCA’s 377 years of mission.
They heard the stories of people like Michelle, a victim of human trafficking in the greater Toronto area, and Jeff Neevel, whose church on the island of St. Thomas has helped with disaster response following two massive hurricanes. Adding to the narrative were people like Nicole Opgenorth, a young woman who served this past year as a Cultivate volunteer with RCA mission partners in Nicaragua; Keabetsoe “Kaybe” Sekoboto, an RCA partner who works with orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa; and seven church planters from around the world.
As RCA Global Mission director JP Sundararajan shared in a keynote address, every great RCA Global Mission story from the very beginning has involved tragedy, pain, and great suffering. But through the dust that the world has and continues to spew at us—the obstacles trying to thwart the gospel—God has been and is still at work.
“Stand with us, squint into the puff of dust, and from it watch our God breathe new life into this valley of dry bones—377 years and counting,” said Sundararajan.
Woven into the storytelling was the creativity of Joel Schoon-Tanis, an artist from Holland, Michigan, whose own family history includes service with RCA Global Mission. Through a collaborative art experience, Schoon-Tanis helped Mission 2020 attendees visually represent what makes mission possible and why we do it. The two collaborative pieces were revealed at the end of Mission 2020, depicting sowing seeds and reaping a harvest, with empty fields still to be planted.
Mission 2020 was billed as a time of “celebrating our past and imagining God’s future together.” During the event, participants attended one of several workshops and took part in discussions particular to that topic; their feedback will influence how RCA Global Mission engages around the world. Mission staff will release a report in coming months sharing what they heard at Mission 2020 and how it will shape mission work moving into the future.
In a post-event survey, many participants said they experienced hope at the event. “God is doing amazing things in this world!” one wrote. “The RCA cares deeply about missions, and I’m so excited to be a part of it,” said another. “I love that the RCA mission reach is expansive, not just focused on one people group in one country, but there are many different missions to be involved in.”