Rev. Michael Gibson, PhD, and four members of his congregation recently returned to Costa Mesa, California, after serving with CWEF in China. However, this wasn’t Rev. Gibson’s first time in China, nor was it his congregation’s first experience with CWEF.
CWEF has enjoyed working with Rev. Gibson and the people of Christ Lutheran Church and School since 2003, when the reverend took his initial trip to China and met our first Executive Director, Michelle (Hoeppner) Cagnin.
“CWEF has become very much a part of who I am and the congregation that I serve,” Rev. Gibson said.
In addition to his work with CWEF, Rev. Gibson instructed leadership training with missionaries in Hong Kong, people he became close to. He credits his relationship with these students, pastors, and villagers as the reason he has returned to Greater China six times since his initial visit in 2003.
“I keep going to China over and over and over again primarily because of the relationships I make there and villagers that become very important friends to me,” Rev. Gibson said.
We highly appreciate the commitment that Rev. Gibson and his teams have shown to CWEF over the 13 years we have known them. Their work in China demonstrates their understanding of and passion for development work, and their greater love for Christ.
When Rev. Gibson and members of his congregation make plans to serve in China, they are conscientious to plan alongside CWEF, ensuring that their work is beneficial to our organization and, thereby, the people we serve.
“We have a philosophy about international mission at our church where we ask the field what they need to advance what their current missions are,” Rev. Gibson said.
Rev. Gibson explained that he and his teams view their work in terms of the parable of the soil: when they complete a HEAL project or a water project, they begin to build relationships with local people, as if they are tilling the soil, and open up the door for deeper connection, and greater fruits, later on.
Because Rev. Gibson has been a part of CWEF’s work for such an extended period of time, he has been able to see the large changes that have taken place within our organization over time.
“I think one of the real positives that I have seen is how the work in both southern china, in Guangdong, as well as in Yunnan, is making much greater use of local Chinese to help run the program,” Rev. Gibson said. “It was primarily a CWEF, US-based kind of engagement, but I’ve watched a much greater engagement very specifically to find the right Chinese people to serve in those areas, which I think helps to build a lot of bridges into the community, and certainly improves the working relationships between CWEF and the government organizations.”
We thank God to have people such as Rev. Gibson and his congregation supporting our organization. Their blessings, from their work in the field, to their financial gifts, to their many prayers, have been integral to the success of our organization. We are so grateful for them!