This was my final word…a blessing on the class and the churches they serve. A prayer that God would “bless and keep them” and “make His face to shine upon them.” He did for me…through them.
My life is always significantly altered by these trips. I’ll remember the food, the questions, the challenges, the fun, the sights, the prayers. Mostly, I’ll remember God’s people are everywhere and they face the same challenges we face here.
But I’m back…really back. The challenges of the week are no different here. Worship God…study…pray…anticipate…try to follow. I’m in my office and the desire to serve God in meaningful ways is no different than it was a few days ago. I long to make a difference for the kingdom. I want the church in Quincy, Illinois to be strong and powerful and effective…as a testimony to the power of God to work in any situation.
One of the things that struck me is that no matter how different things can be (e.g., macaroni and cheese for breakfast) some things are always the same. The challenge to be a Christ-following, Christ-honoring, Christ-proclaiming church is difficult in every culture. The external forces change according to the culture. They face hostility, we face apathy; they face enculturated atheism, we face overwhelming cultural seduction; they face lives turned off to God, so do we.
The internal forces seem to never change. The problems I’ve found appear to be universal. The need to change accompanied by the fear of change; the desire to grow challenged by the changes growth brings; the need for leaders balanced against the desire to not be led. I know it’s an over-simplification, but the conflict often revolves around the tension between past and future. What do we keep, what do we discard? How do we honor our heritage and yet create a legacy? How do the younger exhibit patience with the older, while the older make way for the younger?
I back…really back. With every intention of trying to be a part of the solution, not an addition to the problem. God is at work among us. Of that I’m positive. How we make sure we are not a hindrance to what He’s doing…that’s the challenge. I’m up for it. I believe you are too.