“I would have laughed and called them crazy, if you’d told me I’d be preaching here today,” college student Hakeem Jerome Jefferson, preacher at Thursday’s worship service of the 219th General Assembly, confided to the congregation.

“We come very tired … Perhaps you’ve had your fair share of ‘Why me? Why now?’ moments … Perhaps your smile on the outside conceals pain on inside,” Jefferson told the gathering at the beginning of a long day of plenary sessions.

“But there is good news for God’s people – for those who know what it’s like to have their backs against the wall: Hope is on the horizon.”

This hope is real, even in a world where millions cry out for privileges many of us take for granted. “The key word is yet – even in your troubles – yet you are rich. God stands with outstretched arms, inviting us to drink living water.”

Jefferson urged worshipers not to give up on God, even when tough hot button issues threaten to divide us. “Imagine how many souls could be won if we praised God both in season and out ... imagine if our demeanor matched our doctrine. Imagine bringing the whole world to the living water poured out for them.”

The congregation responded with enthusiastic applause when invited to honor the 16 mission personnel celebrating 20 or more years of mission service in 2009-2011, as well as representatives of the 55 mission coworkers and the 122 young adult volunteers beginning service in 2009 or 2010.

General Assembly Mission Council’s Executive Director Linda Valentine announced two major gifts to support global mission: $400,000 from an anonymous donor, and $250,000 from Mary Lee Dayton of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis.