Throughout the Bible and the history of the Church, the call to be strong and have courage in our gracious Lord is one of God’s great and timeless messages. This message is what gives strength to those toiling in urban jungles, those translating the Bible in living jungles and everyone in between.
On the last day of Cape Town 2010 the message of God’s strength and our dependence on Him and each other came out loud and clear. I love how Allen Mathis describes this feeling of hope among the delegates he met, “Their hope is in hearing God’s melody of the future. Their faith is shown in the way they are dancing in that hope in the present.”
The challenge this morning came from Ephesians 6 and the lips of Ramez and Rebecca Atallah, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt. Krish Kandiah provides a live blog of their talk and I share a few points from it below.
The Atallahs challenged us from chapter 6 to hold onto the essential values – truth, righteousness, and integrity. They defined the essential beliefs – the shield of faith. Then they outlined the essential resources - the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
This time of study was followed by the “together” part of the equation. Ryan Hannah gives us some insight. Patrick Feng of Singapore shared about how partnership is key to the task. Here are some of Ryan’s notes: "He began by saying that partnership is not about us but God’s mission. Partnering is not about balancing power but working together by the Spirit of God on God’s mission. He spoke of partnerships sharing God’s resources both ways. We need to bring what we have to the table and not be bitter about what we don’t have. Financial resources are not the only resources – years of experience are a type of resource that can be contributed to a partnership."
Patrick’s thoughts help us to reframe partnership in the context of our Savior’s mission. But where do we get the strength to do this. We have seen from Ephesians that God provides it as we trust in him. This is a powerful quote about the source of strength in partnership shared by a delegate, Don Sweeting, president of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, “Finally, remember that behind any partnership we may forge, we have a place to go to for strength. Because we are not in this alone. We may gratefully look to the partnership that Christ has with his church. We may gaze at the glorious partnership of the holy Trinity to get a vision of what can be. With this kind of strength behind us, who knows what “the partnership century” will bring about.”
One of the other tools that the Attallahs spoke of was the common text that defines our faith and binds us together – the Bible. The issue of Bible Poverty is enormous. Watch these two congress videos to get a sense for what God is doing and al that still needs to be done:
Who will benefit most from this focus on Scripture translation, distribution and engagement? The next generation! That was another topic of the day. Read these tweets to get an idea of what was discussed in the session on reaching children:
It is amazing that there were new issues being brought for discussion and interaction up to the last afternoon. But just hours after the discussion on reaching children, the closing ceremonies began. We follow Chris Kidd’s live blogging again today for a recap. See his full report here and below are some highlights and quotes.
Lindsay Brown, International Director for the Lausanne Movement, brought the message. He shared from 2 Corinthians 4: 1-7. He addressed the dynamic tension between declaration and demonstration with these two ideas, “We can’t engage in mission unless we’re clear in what we believe. Without a foundation of truth we have little or maybe nothing to offer.” He went on to say, “To wash your hands of society is not love but worldliness, to engage in society is not worldliness but love.”
Then he set the stage for the expectations coming out of this event, “How can we rest when millions of people haven’t heard the gospel. After 1974 (there was a) huge approach to the translation of scripture. Who knows from this congress – maybe oral learners, young people, mega cities, the media. Who knows? What new initiatives will you take?”
From the 2 Corinthians 4:1-7 passage, Lindsay brought these key points:
Finally the culmination of the congress was sharing communion together (Photo via @digitaldion). There were 25 Communion stations to give everyone a chance to participate. The room recited the Nicene Creed and prayed for the Church. They sang Sing Behold the Lamb, The Power of the Cross and In Christ Alone as communion was taken. After communion, there was a prayer based on the Cape Town Commitment, a benediction and a final singing of Crown Him with Many Crowns. This is what happened, but to experience this key moment in the history of the Global Church, you need to hear from people who were present. Listen to these twitter posts and it will come to life:
Let us recap our week very quickly. We began the week reaffirming the Truth of the Gospel and then moved on to see that truth incarnated in each of us as “living stones” building God’s temple on earth. Then our eyes were lifted to see God’s cosmic plan for the universe, which was followed by a day of rest, ministry and processing. That time allowed us to formulate our responses to the first few days. We then came back together to focus on celebrating and reinforcing unity in the Church. Yesterday we applied that unity to our responsibility to walk in obedience to Christ through humility and today we put that unity to the test as we spoke of the partnerships within the Body of Christ.
All of these lessons are critical to the next decades of the Global Church, but without God’s strength it is without focus and without power. Today’s message of strength in Christ Jesus as we partner in ministry is the glue that ties the entire message of this week together.
So as you come away from this week of discussions, new ideas, innovations and challenges, will you move forward in God’s strength?
Will you depend on Him and then humbly join with the believers around you?
Will your response be to harmonize the proclamation of His Word with a loving response towards a world full of suffering?
Let us pray together as we answer these questions and move forward into a lost world!