The Future of Global Mission – A Few Highlights from Norway LINK and YLG
1. Encounter on the bus from the airport to the city centre. Standing in the queue to buy my ticket I shot a quick prayer up to God telling him that if he would open up an opportunity, I was available to be His witness. I was the second-last passenger allowed to board the bus, as all the other seats were full, and managed to sit down just as the bus started moving. Next to me a man was tapping away at his laptop, his attention fully occupied with some business deal. There seemed to be no natural way to strike up a conversation — until he made a phone call, and I realized he was speaking in Hindi. Here was my chance! So I asked ‘To aap Bharat se hai, na?’ (/’So you’re from India, are you?’) And that led to a conversation about his work, about my work, about the refugee/migrant crisis, about whether one’s beliefs were important so long as one was serving humanity, about his own conflicting thoughts on the subject of migration, about how he had immigrated from Delhi to London because the European culture of integrity and fairness made business so much easier, about how such a European culture is perhaps the fruit of a biblical worldview. Finally as we drew into Oslo bus station, I was able to give him a gospel bracelet, and explain to him what we as Christians believe about the meaning of life, the love of God, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the assurance of eternal life that simple faith can give you.
2. Worship led by Jamie from Israel (I had a great conversation with him afterward: ‘-You’re from England? Why are you here? I guess I don’t really know why they invited me here from Israel either!’). Singing lines from the Song of Songs about our beloved Bridegroom King, in the original Hebrew in which the Scriptures were written.
3. First evening on ‘Loving our Enemies’: panel discussions including Jamie who grew up in Israel in the midst of the reality of deadly terrorism (“to have real reconciliation we have to address the real issues”; “not Judaism, not Islam – only the gospel gives us a real framework for reconciliation”); Ermal from Albania (“the gospel can change the heart of people”); and a former Norwegian PM (“we must be involved with evangelism – sharing the gospel; with debate – persuading each other of our convictions; but also with dialogue – simply listening to each other”, “there are values that Christians share with Islam – the value of human life, justice, the respect for the holy. There are also lots of point of disagreement, but the challenge is to live peacefully together”).
4. Shared a room with Simon Kruger, who is involved with the Danish Israel Mission, and having just finished four years of theological education is thinking of doing a DTS some time this year! It was a real joy to connect with him. And the place where we were staying has the most phenomenal rooftop view over the whole of Oslo, which is an impressive spectacle after dark, with the shimmering city lights twinkling in the night sky.
5. Wednesday began with a panel of representatives from Norwegian mission agencies working with young people – including a YWAMer.
6. This was followed by reflections from a few other Norwegian mission agencies on ‘The Future of Global Mission in Norway’. Reminiscent of some of OMF’s reflections from the ‘Slow Boat in the Fast Lane’ event in Cambridge last January. My main thought was to thank God for the privilege of being involved in a mission (YWAM) that is actually already positioned to join is with the ‘everyone to everywhere’ nature of what God’s apparently chaotic missionary plan seems to be.
7. Lindsay Brown – who had stepped in at the last minute for Michael Oh, who’d been forced to pull out because of family health issues – then shared his first presentation on The Future of Global Mission.
8. For his presentation on ‘The Future of Global Mission in Scandinavia’, Stefan Gustavson gave a sobering statistical demonstration of the disappearance of gospel passion (as evidenced by decreased numbers of missionaries, decreased evangelistic focus of missionaries, and decreased voluntary giving to mission) in the Swedish church.
9. Lindsay Brown gave his second presentation on The Future of Global Mission. I was particularly impacted by his story of Adoniram Judson, who died in an ignominous death in Burma after serving as a missionary for thirty-eight years, suffering the loss of a wife and seven children, translating the Scriptures, but only seeing twelve converts. But now there are six hundred thousand Burmese Christians who all trace their spiritual heritage to this man’s faithfulness.
10. One event concluded, the YLG mini-gathering continued. First, introductions. Humility or insignificance?
11. Lindsay then shared a number of leadership dangers to avoid: -Perfectionism, -Lack of Focus, -Pride, -Trying to be ‘Superman’, -Dryness; -Jealousy and a Critical Spirit; -Trusting Human Leaders too much; -Short-termism; -Individualism; -Underestimating the Cost; -Giving Up.
12. Thursday morning started with Justin Schell leading us through a brief look at 2 Corinthians 4. Struck by Paul’s repeated declaration that ‘we do not lose heart’.
13. Reflections on how Lausanne has worked at better preparing itself for the release of young leadership and new vision, tips on how to prepare to make the most of the event, and a look at the YLG draft schedule.
14. Praying in triplets at the end with Simon and Sanjay.
15. Back at Ole’s house. Blessed by his hospitality. Stirred to hope again for such a house for my own family, that we might invite the nations to come and rest under our roof.
16. Provoked by one of Lindsay’s comments to meditate on the sovereignty of God. Among the evangelical church, there are some who use the word to imply (although rarely explicitly say) total determinism, with the implicit suggestion that to deny total determinism is a grave form of heresy. And there are others who feel that total determinism makes God the author of sin in a way clearly contrary to James 1:13. Could I be a bridge of unity and ambassador of reconciliation in this area? Helping to bring understanding to the warring tribes of the evangelical church?