Well, the conference has concluded! Whew…it has been awesome with so many blessings but I am now able to breathe and just rest and have a peaceful heart knowing that the Lord sure knew what HE was doing when HE opened this door.
“OUR EVANGELISM IS CRIPPLED”
I hear many in America say that evangelicals have lost their commitment to proclamation of the Gospel. Such people are frustrated that much of the church’s teachings have slowly transitioned away from proclamational evangelism and toward a lot of relational evangelism and even pre-evangelism. My ministry would certainly be in this category in the eyes of many. In fact, one of the most godly of men that I know – Dr. Ajith Fernando, National Director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka and author of many books including The Surpemacy of Christ, has written about this Western problem quite powerfully. I find his writings on this topic to be full of truth – very convicting.
In light of this, I always worry how my ministry will translate from West to East! (smile) To my surprise, over a dozen of the pastors that attended my conference over the last two days have come up to me to express how the LTH vision has challenged them to think way outside the box of how they traditionally view evangelism.
One pastor captured the thoughts of many by saying, “Our evangelism is crippled.” He and others explained that in Kenay there is little room for the ‘prodigal’ to be out on journey. The evangelism always demands a response – right now! – and there is little space for the allowance of planting seeds that take time to grow and need to be watered. I guess you can say that these local pastors commitment to urgency may be actually pushing many people away from the church and away from Christ.
Thus, I am intrigued by this idea that every segment of the global Body of Christ has certain blind spots. If our blind spot is that we have lost a sense of proclamation, others may be blinded by a proclamation that is possibly over-charged. In other words, the real issue may not be that the American church no longer has nothing to teach the global church or that the global church has nothing to teach the American church. Possibly the real issue is that we have ‘something’ to learn from each other. Possibly those in the East can identify (help us with) our blind spots and possible those of us in the West can identify (help those in the East) with their blind spots.
I hesitate to use the word ‘help’ because it implies intention. I never came to Kenya intending to ‘help’ them see their blind spots from an evangelistic perspective: I intentionally came only to help share a vision for ministry in a very sensitive area – a vision that GOD gave! And by the way, I only intentionally came because GOD opened the door to this invitation and for the funding to support this trip. No, I did not come to help. BUT…God opened up a doorway through which pastors here in Kenya became tremendously Biblically convicted and excited by an expanded view of caring for and reaching out to those who feel condemned by the church.
Language is power! One pastor near the end of the conference made a comment to me personally that provided the missing link for how pastors were so transformed by the LTH vision. He said to me, “Bill, this teaching is more Biblical than anything we have ever had access to. You see, in our local dialect, there is NO word distinction between ‘discernment’ and ‘judgment.’ We almost exclusively lean toward judgment in all of our evangelism.” What he meant was that if someone is not responsive to the Gospel ‘right now’, then they can easily be written off.
I often refer to the LTH vision as Jesus Doctrine. Jesus Doctrine does not negate Biblical or Moral Doctrine: it simply measures the temperature of our born again hearts to make sure that every action we take and every word we speak is done so under the power of the Fruits of the Spirit. This is what it means to abide in Christ.
Here in Kenya, pastors are very excited about this expansive view of evangelism that actually demands that we love much more, serve much more, care much more and invest much more into the lives of those who are outside the church – and particularly those who particularly have been judged as the prostitutes and tax collectors of our day.
Once again, to my great surprise and joy, the feedback to LTH is that it is NOT just about homosexuality. It is about our entire outreach as an entire church to an entire world that is outside of Christ: it is about all kinds of prodigals wandering on their own journey in search of the satisfaction that can only come through Christ.
Should I have ever doubted? If God truly gave the LTH vision, then I suppose not. But the blessing of being persecuted by self-doubt is that God continually surprises me with great joy as HE continues to open doors for the vision HE gave to be shared throughout the church: west, and now, east.
The cyber cafe is closing shop! Thanks for all of your prayers and support!