We are a part of a global church. This is the biggest realization that I sense from my first day here. The opening ceremony was a beautiful presentation of African music blended with other songs. This gathering is the most diverse gathering of Christians in all of history. They have intentionally chosen to bring people from every nation with a credible Christian presence. I have already met so many people, from prominent leaders in America (I met Ron Sider, author of Rich Christians in a World of Hunger, saw Robert Coleman, author of The Masterplan of Evangelism, and waited for the airplane bathroom with the head of Intervarsity in Canada), to local church pastors in Sri Lanka and Malawi, to seminary professors in South Korea, to the head of the evangelical alliance in New Zealand, to church leaders from Croatia and Bosnia. Some of these places I did not even know existed before this conference (e.g., anyone know where Malawi is?).
But we are a part of a global church. What a beautiful sight this is! Delegates from almost two hundred nations are gathered, and this is probably the most representative and diverse gathering of Christians in history. Worshipping with all of these people literally brought me to tears. However, the prayer is simple: as Jesus prayed to the Father, ‘that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17).
Doug Birdsall (chair of this congress) helpfully reminded us that authentic community is a necessary precondition for bold witness. Jesus prayed for this authentic community to empower such bold witness. Our prayer is that this would not only be the most diverse gathering in Christian history but the most unified gathering, so that bold witness might spread from this gathering to every nation, tribe and tongue until Jesus returns. Would you join me in praying to that end?