by Amber Marten Bergeson, M.Div. '10
The most common question we get: "So, what was the favorite place you visited?" Our answer: "All of them!" My husband, Kevin Bergeson, and I—like all the other brave souls who intentionally spent a year outside the United States on the Graduate Preaching Fellowship—may have a hard time naming one place. Hong Kong, Istanbul, Israel-Palestine, England, Scotland, Sweden and Norway—all in 11 months? As we crash back into the States with broken suitcases and messy passports, we have spent a year, with Bible and camera in tow, studying how the global church sees the gospel in everyday life.
We have seen the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong and prayed for the church in Burma. We have prayed at the Western Wall and the Kalandia Checkpoint in Jerusalem. We have seen historic Anglican churches in England reaching out as missionaries to a culture who views them with indifference. We have witnessed Scandinavian churches embracing new forms of discipleship ministries.
Most powerfully, we have seen hospitality. Much to our surprise, the welcome mat was rolled out for us every time the plane landed, the boat docked or the train stopped. Strangers were eager to pick up our travel-weary bodies and share stories, life, worship and full-on communion around their dinner tables. We were welcomed into many homes and sensed the peace of Jesus resting there. We were invited to preach and teach with images of local contexts shaped by the picture of Christ. We never imagined how much God would change our hearts when Jesus said, "Come and see."
Amber Marten Bergeson is the recipient of the 2010-2011 Graduate Preaching Fellowship, a post-graduation capstone travel award focusing on preaching. Read more about the Bergesons' travels at visualpreacher.wordpress.com/