This week, I’m puzzled by another mystery page in our ACW National Archives. It concerns the 4th Assembly of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC), which was held at Sukabumi, Indonesia, in 1970. The content of this page is not a mystery, but its context is because the original source is not noted. It is a page of thank yous written for the conclusion of this assembly, and they, in turn, provide an interesting summary of the gathering. A summary that also presents us with further insight into what took place there, including some of the problems encountered in preparing for this assembly.
I’m calling it a mystery page because it's causing me to ask the following questions:
Was it a stand-alone page or was it included in one of the assembly booklets?
Was it prepared for the final day of proceedings or shortly thereafter?
Or was it issued much later with the minutes or in another document such as a newsletter or assembly report?
You may be wondering why I want to solve this puzzle when it might seem insignificant. It’s not that I think this page alters the fact that this assembly took place, but it might tell us more about what occurred and who recorded this event if it turns out that this page has been cobbled together from various sources. If various sources were used, then it could point us to more records and possibly even photographs which, unfortunately, the ACWC office does not possess.
So, to satisfy my ‘nerdy’ quest to always uncover more information, I have made a transcript of the page in question – now we have a searchable text document to aid the search for a little more knowledge of this assembly. Here is the transcript of this intriguing page:
SHANTI SOLOMON – we are so, SO happy to know that you have been appointed Executive Secretary. Our thoughts will go with you and our prayers will be for you. May God grant you the strength and wisdom, love and courage.
NOW IS THE HOUR – when we must say goodbye….and in the midst of the farewells, let us listen to the voice of Margareth Dharma [Rev.], Chairman, Local Arrangements..
'The first question asked me by participants was: "Margareth, how do you survive…what's the secret?" I promised I would tell before the Conference closed, so let me tell you – it is prayer! Every time I had to solve a problem – and there were many serious ones – I took the difficulty to God in prayer. I asked Him to show us the way. There were troubles with visas and exit permits…I really prayed that immigration officials would be helpful. God answered my prayers..The opening presentation was another obstacle. I thought there were no worries about it because everything seemed to be going well when, on September 2, the protestant man who had accepted our request to produce the 'Good Samaritan' told me he could not do it. There was nothing to say. I had to pray. And then I thought of my friend, the Roman Catholic priest who is the director of the N.C. Television center, 'Banggar Prathivi'. He promised to do it in five days – I believe God opened the way for us to cooperate with our Roman Catholic neighbors.
Now as I come to the closing of this conference – I remember the closing worship of the W.C.C. Assembly in Uppsala. The Youth Delegation marched into the Cathedral while we, the choir, sang 'When I was hungry….Were you there'. They carried big posters which read:
CAN WE OVERCOME WORDS?'
Can we? … We, too, have passed resolutions….we have listened to millions of words….now each woman who has attended this Fourth Assembly at Sukabumi must go back to her country, to her church, to her community …. and commit herself to expending herself, to using herself to the utmost, to share the blessings of knowledge and insight … and LOVE, as we have shared it here.'
THE ELECTIONS ARE O'ER – and we all ask blessings on:
Mrs. Esther Bautista … Chairman [Philippines]
Mrs. Ang Kim Kiat … … Vice-Chairman [Singapore]
Mrs. Kathleen Davies … Secretary [New Zealand]
Miss Rosalind Gurubatham … Treasurer [Malaysia]
AND A LAST WORD – and certainly not a final one from Rathie Selvaratnam:
'It is with a sense of thanksgiving and great joy that it has been possible for church women from the 14 Asian countries to come together and, as sisters in Jesus Christ, make real our oneness in Him, experiencing something of 'The Kingdom of God on earth'.
It has not been an easy task bringing together women from all over the world. There have been difficulties with visas, Government regulations, transportation ……but the Lord has been merciful. He has worked in wonderful ways to open doors for us. We prayed, we were sustained by prayers prayed by many, many frieds [sic] around the world. He gave us strenth [sic] abundantly and daily.
May we, now, as women who have discussed all aspects of true neighborliness, go forth to serve Him with deep humility of spirit, bringing His love, His joy, His peace, into every neighborhood we know. May the Lord be YOUR strength. May He keep YOU in the hollow of His hand.'
RATHIE - Blessings. May He keep YOU in the hollow of His hand!
WHEN ALL THE THANKS ARE BEING SAID – let us think of all the 'backroom boys' (and girls) who have worked so hard to make life 'move' around the Conference. This includes all those who typed and duplicated; who cooked and cleaned and washed; and it especially includes Rev. John … without whose invaluable help 'Sukabumi – Day by Day' would have been a much less interesting production. His art designs, so fetching, so attractive…are also so Indonesian. Lovely symbols of a way of life….and to Rev. John, we are deeply grateful.
SAYONARA…AUF WIEDERSEHEN…GOODBYE…SELAMAT DJALAH…AU REVOIR….
FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS….LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER