In February Mohan Bhagwandas from Melbourne was in Colombia for a meeting of IofC’s International Council. Before and after their ‘board’ meeting, the 11 Council members were joined for the 'Encuentro of the Americas' (Meeting of the Americas) by 65 people from South and North America; and they travelled in twos and threes connecting with IofC teams in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Mexico. Mohan found himself impressed by 'the boundless energy' of the Brazilians, 'even when the thermometer gets to 48'. One quiet morning overlooking Rio de Janeiro, he connected with a different energy:
I spent 20 minutes alone at the feet of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, as he looks out at 14 million people of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
I had tried to go up the mountain the previous day but the crowds were huge, so I came back the next morning at 7.30 am and was the first to go up the mountain, with my taxi driver.
Standing there feeling small like an ant, next to this giant concrete and stone statue, it actually felt very alive, very human. Then these words came to my mind: 'Come unto Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'
These were very powerful words for me, as I looked down at the multi-million dollar houses of the rich and the 'favelas' (urban slums) of the poor, from where I was standing. As I thought of my own life, I was reminded of the temptation of Christ – and of my own temptation to retreat from the true purpose of my life. There I stood so humbled, almost nothing.
I had waited a life-time for this day, 6 February 2014. Never thought that this dream can come true and that I could arrive at the top of the mountain and be alone with Christ the Redeemer.
A cool breeze wafted on my face; the most spectacular view before me. It was magic, it was emotional, it was transformational.
I recalled that we are all called to rise above our life as it is and to heed the call to do extraordinary things. I don’t think I would be here working for healing and transformation in the world without that call.
This call gets dulled by our very own jargon and desire to find a rationale for what we do. In reality, I was reminded by this imposing figure that there is only one rationale – it is our inner calling.
Thank you Christ the Redeemer!
About the International Council:
Initiatives of Change Australia is one of 44 national autonomous bodies that together form Initiatives of Change (IofC) International, an UN-recognised non-governmental organization registered in Switzerland. It is led by the 11 member International Council, elected by a Global Assembly of IofC representatives on a four-year rotational basis.
Their meeting in Colombia reviewed initiatives and programmes around the world, reflected on the results of a “Network Assessment” involving 350 respondents from 102 different teams, and defined three current priorities for their leadership of the international network:
- Nurture the spiritual well-being of the movement;
- Facilitate networking and capacity-building;
- Provide strategic direction and focus.