GAFCON - Day four - Thursday

Singing words like "The whole earth hear his praise" has a clear application when you're in a room with 1,300 others from all corners of the globe.  Each day starts with morning worship and the music is very African in nature - it is full of joy, energy and enthusiasm.  This expression of praise powerfully reflects the message we hear from the talks on Ephesisans.  

Yesterday (it was yesterday as the internet was done in the hotel last night, so I'm posting this before heading off to the conference on Friday) we looked at Ephesians 4, the unity we have is a gift from God - we don't produce it but we need to maintain it.  The bond of peace that unites us is through the cross of Christ, our unity is a reflection of God to the world.  Therefore our unity MUST begin with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the fact we're only united through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Therefore if anyone moves away from the gospel we aren't, by definition, united with them.  As the speaker, John Yates III (yes he is American!) said "To seek unity apart from the gospel is dangerous as its seeking to do the work of Christ - that is idolatry'"

The rest of the day at the conference was given over to the mini-conferences which began with a direct challenge to us in the West that we have a lack of confidence in our faith which automatically leads to unwillingness to suffer for the gospel.  The very clear and bright Bishop from Tanzania said "The greatest enemy to the gospel in the West is the people in the church not the people outside!"  

This led onto Mark Thomson talking about the role of the Church in re-evangelising the West.  The church must be a gathering in which God's word is central and its mission is to equip God's people to do the work of evangelism.  At its best the church should be a gathering of people becoming more and more like Christ.  Jesus' main concern was to seek and save the lost, so if we're to become more like our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we too should have the priority.  We become a gathering of mission minded people.  If all we become is pale reflection of the culture around us then we will have no impact with the gospel.  Instead we need to display God's love to the world by the clear and unambigous declarion of the glorious gospel message of Jesus.  The church is the place we go outwards from not the place we sit and wait for people to come to us.  This is only possible by all we do being constantly underpinned by humble dependence on God expressed through prayer.  The day finished with the challenge that we don't pray enough in the West.  And if we don't pray why should we suprised if the gospel isn't making inroads into our society.

The formal conference finished at 3 yesterday so we could go on a safari and then have a cultural evening with lots of meat to eat!  The most exciting aspect was the fact the Kenyan police closed all the roads in central Nairobi so our convoy, of 50+ buses, could race through the city centre with no traffic.  They closed the roads for us!!  It struck me how significant a conference this is - it has a global impact!  Not sure when I'll next get traffic stopped with police outriders, but I think I could get used to it!