Leslie/Todd: We had been preparing for years, literally, for Reciprocity 2011. We only have these global microfinance conferences every 3-4 years, and this was the first we held in North America. We wanted our guests to experience "heavenly hospitality" while being encouraged spiritually and learning a lot about how they could empower the materially poor more effectively. With such extremely high expectations, it would have been easy to come away from the event slightly disappointed.
Such was not the case with Reciprocity 2011! As high as our expectations were, they were exceeded with the event! What made it so special?
- Great preaching. While all speakers were excellent, Reverend Oscar Muriu from Nairobi Chapel in Kenya was exceptional. He spoke on unity, the body, mustard seed faith, sin (when's the last time you heard a message on sin?!), partnership, simply following Jesus, and coming off of the mountaintop into the valley. All were powerful and provided what conference attendees needed most -- being refreshed in their commitment to follow Jesus and encourage others doing the same.
- Great teaching. The highlight here were the intensive seminars at the end of the conference, led by Professor Ron Chua from the Asian Institute of Management. All of our microfinance partners identified steps they can take to better achieve their vision/mission of empowering the materially poor.
- Fantastic fellowship. Imagine gathering with 140 brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world 15+ countries) with a conference theme from Romans 1:12 that is focused on encouraging one another. We had a preview of heaven just in being together and remaining focused on Jesus.
- Wonderful worship. Our conference band was excellent - well-prepared, extremely gifted, and very sensitive to God's Spirit, but what made Reciprocity 2011 worship that much more special was how well the band integrated worship leaders from around the world. We were thus also led by Africans, Asians, Latins, etc. singing their own music, not just singing ours, and gained new experiences in worshiping God.
- Sufficient free and fun time. Reciprocity 2011 was not a conference where we ran from one session to the next. We intentionally created plenty of free and fun time for folks to interact with each other. One of the highlights was a phenomenal Kopano World Cup of Soccer (which we hold at every global microfinance conference) in which Team Eurasia finally edged out Team Africa after three overtime penalty kick sessions! And who kicked the winning goal for Team Eurasia? Duza Baba, a Nigerian! Now THAT's reciprocity!
The next time we'll do this, Lord willing, will be 2015 in the Philippines with the central theme being "celebration". This will be a celebration of Old Testament proportions as we rejoice in how God has moved in our midst to transform the materially poor and non-poor! Stay tuned for more details as the year approaches - we'd love for you to join us in the celebration as well!