CHIANG MAI, Thailand, OCT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Participants in the first Asian Mission Congress have been sent, like the first apostles, to share the story of their experience of Christ.
“Telling the Story of Jesus in Asia … a Celebration of Faith and Life” was the theme of the first ever missionary conference in Asia, held in Chang Mai, Thailand, from Oct. 19-22.
Organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, participants in the congress “gathered to share our experience, to tell our stories, to meet other disciples from across the vast Asian continent, from Lebanon to Japan, from Kazakhstan and Mongolia to Indonesia,” where Christians comprise about 2% of the population.
In a message that summarized the conclusions of the meeting, the over 1,000 participants said that the event allowed them to share experiences “of life, faith, heroism, prayer and dialogue,” and to meet “other contemporary disciples of Jesus” from Asia.
The message explained that the “pastoral-catechetical congress explored a unique methodology of evangelizing: story-telling or faith sharing.”
The statement said the congress was based on the 1999 apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia” which recommends “an evocative pedagogy, using stories, parables and symbols so characteristic of Asian methodology” in evangelization.
The noted added: “The local Churches in Asia can be faithful to Christ’s mission mandate by telling and retelling the Jesus story both in words and effective deeds of service.”
Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, attended the congress on behalf of Benedict XVI.
In his homily at the closing Mass, the cardinal said: “We are sent by Christ to narrate his story to all the nook and corners of Asia and the world at large.”
Recalling the many Asian martyrs, the cardinal added: “To be missionaries means to love God with one’s whole self and to give, if necessary, one’s own life for him, as well.”
Cardinal Ivan Dias, current prefect of the mission dicastery, also attended the congress.