We’re in this Together!

On the wall of my office is a large “clock of clocks” – with nine different clocks within it, you know the type – with different time zones from around the world.  My sister gave it for me for my birthday (thanks Ruth!).The clock and other resources help me know what time it is when I want to connect with friends in other countries.  Unfortunately neither of these helped me earlier this week.

I was getting ready to call Robyn Claydon (Lausanne’s vice-chair) in Australia when I realized I had made a mistake in calculating the time zone differences.  Instead of calling her on time, I was an hour early. Whoops!

When you’re early for a face to face appointment, what do you do?  Stand around, make a few phone calls, ask for a glass of water, and drum your fingers on the table.  When you’re early for a virtual meeting, well your options are much wider.  Maybe you do the same thing I did, surf the Internet, read email and yes, update my Facebook page, wait for the hour to pass and vow not to do that again!

(By the way, Robyn will host April’s Cape Town 2010 blog.  I hope you’ll come back next month to read her posts!)

Even though the clock didn’t help me plan right for my meeting this time, it still serves another purpose.  Seeing the locations and times reminds me of the differences that separate us – time zones, language, culture, world perspectives, political views, food preferences, work styles.  Differences that could keep us apart – differences that can seem insurmountable at times.

In fact, because Lausanne works internationally, bringing together people at one point in time for one single telephone call can be a daunting task.  Trying to cover all the factors of time zones, travel schedules and languages can be quite a challenge.  But you know, the challenge is worth it.

How much richer our lives are made by the connections we make with people.  How much more meaningful our lives become when we investment in the lives of people through our business, our church and our family.  How much more we fulfill God’s plan for our lives when through those connections with other people we share Him and live out His presence in our lives.  How much more effective we become in work and ministry when we partner together.

God made us to be in community and fellowship with Him and with other people.

How many times did the Apostle Paul name specific people in his letters and thank them for their ministry and partnership in the gospel?  People who locked arms with Paul, praying for him, working with him and supporting him in what God called him to do.

How many men and women can you name who are your friends and partners in the work of the Lord?  For me, through Lausanne, that list continues to grow with the names of brothers and sisters in Christ in South Africa, Nigeria, The Philippines, Bolivia, Denmark, the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Argentina and many other places.  Men and women I call friends.  Men and women who challenge me to share my faith and to live a fuller life in Christ.  Men and women I want to pray with, cry with, laugh with and rejoice with.

And instead of seeing the things that divide us, I’m seeing the things that unite us – our faith in Jesus Christ and our passionate commitment to share Him until everyone has heard.

That’s what Cape Town 2010 is all about.  Coming together as the body of Christ (in person and virtually), praying together, worshipping God together, learning from Scripture, learning from one another, renewing our passion, engaging new ideas, strategies and resources to share Christ.  Understanding things can keep us apart, but renewing our commitment to work together in unity, just as our Lord prayed, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me . . .” (John 17:23).

Cape Town 2010 will bring together 4000 leaders in South Africa, but for the thousands who won’t be onsite, we’re creating unique ways for you to be involved in the Congress virtually through the Lausanne Global Conversation and the Cape Town GlobaLink.  I’m excited about these efforts and you’ll hear more about them in the coming weeks.  So, as they say, stay tuned!

In the meantime, think about this . . .

By the grace of God, we’re in this life together.

Who has God put you in connection with that you need to send a word of encouragement today?

Who can you pray with today?  Whose burden can you help carry today?  Who can you laugh with today?  And, who needs to have you cry with them today?

Naomi Frizzell is the Lausanne Movement's Chief Communications Officer.