I was asked to comment on looking forward–in light of the next ten days, but also in light of the next ten years Senator Salonga helped us to put the seriousness of talking about world evangelization into perspective.
We have ten days together-ten very important days. We’ve all come with expectations. We bring our weaknesses, our disappointments, our personal histories, and we even carry some failures with us. We also come as leaders. God has used us in spite of our weaknesses; he has called us and he has blessed us.
Some of us also come from suffering situations. Last night I sat in the balcony, behind me were brothers from Mozambique and in front of me were brothers from Laos. I was deeply moved by realizing they come from intense situations where suffering is all too real.
Some of us come to this conference with certain misgivings about other people who are here. We carry with us our disagreements, our tensions, our questions. Part of the challenge before us is to receive what God has for us personally. And to be able to receive from the Lord what he has for us in the conference, we must have humility in our hearts and we must have faith. We must be willing to lay aside our fears of one another. We must be willing to lay aside our own weaknesses. And, indeed, we must look to the Lord. We can go through these ten days and approach it from a human perspective: evaluate it with human standards and judge it from what we think about it. And we can miss what God has for us.
I would like to challenge you to ask God to speak to you in these days. I would like to ask you to open your heart to the Lord and receive what he has for you personally. If this Congress is going to make a difference in your life, and in my life, then we must hear from God. We can listen to men and women all week long and miss hearing God unless our hearts are open.
Let’s open our hearts in a spirit of humility and teachableness. We need to come as receivers. Perhaps one of the greatest criticisms of Christians in our world is that we often carry with us the sense of triumphalism—a kind of cultural imperialism. It is insensitive to impose the gospel upon people. Perhaps as we look forward, one of the things the Lord wants us to do is to humble ourselves and to adopt a spirit of servanthood toward one another.
If we’re going to look forward in the proper spirit, then there must also be a spirit of faith and expectation. I talked to a brother from Africa last night and asked him, “What are you expecting in this conference?”
He said, “l have come with a sense of destiny. I am looking to God to give me direction for my life.” What a wonderful attitude to have!
If we’re going to look forward, we must look forward together. I was thrilled to hear about missionaries going from a non-Western nation to a Western nation. God wants to do something new for us, a paradigm shift in attitude and in constituency. It is a new world in which we’re serving. We’re to look at the needs of our world, and the vast numbers of people who have not been reached, with a new attitude and a new kind of partnership to work together in missions.
As we consider the challenge that is before us, three brothers who have looked at the challenge and have accepted and have accepted it are going to share what God is saying to them. First, we’re going to hear from Edison Queiroz. Edison is from Brazil and he is the South American Director for COMIBAM.