October 17, 2006
The following is a personal story from M.W., coordinator of the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach at Oklahoma Baptist University, on his recent experience in Malaysia.
I have never felt so close to heaven as I did last month.
A congregation of 550 Christians from 110 countries met in Malaysia on Sept. 24-30 to connect and contribute to the growth of the global church. The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization sponsored this second-ever conference known as the Younger Leaders Gathering.
In 1974, Billy Graham convened 2,500 leaders for the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Switzerland. The Lausanne Committee’s purpose rests on this premise: “World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.”
These younger leaders are a part of fulfilling that purpose, though each of them are younger than 35. The leaders varied in occupation, both in ministry and marketplace positions. However, they were united by a mission heart.
I had the privilege of attending the conference, representing Oklahoma Baptist University as the coordinator of its Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach.
The conference consisted of sessions conducted by authors such as Phill Butler, Ajith Fernando, Peter Kuzmic, and mission leaders such as Paul Eshelman, Mutua Mahiaini, and Heather Mercer. Participants also experienced workshops on leadership development, small group fellowship, and collective prayer and worship.
The worship times were unbelievable. They were a foretaste of heaven, like the apostle John foresaw in Revelation 7:9-10 when believers “from every nation, tribe, people, and language” will worship God for eternity before His throne.
We sang worship songs in English, but also in Hindi, Portuguese, Chinese, SiSwati, and others. Bibles were opened by my neighbors in Arabic, German, Spanish, Polish, and more.
I was humbled by the Non-American believers I met: a pastor of an underground church in China, a college student in Sudan, a missionary from Thailand to border countries, a counselor in Germany, a church planter among Muslims in Nigeria, and a children’s minister in Pakistan. I heard from Brazilians ministering to transvestites, Malaysians running schools for refugees, Egyptians creatively selling Bibles, and Iraqis ministering to Kurds.
I was particularly curious to meet people from India because OBU is working for the next 20 years to engage an unreached people group in South Asia known as the Kai people, as part of a movement called Finishing the Task. To my surprise, I met some people that I had already worked with by e-mail regarding the Kai people.
The room was so diverse - collectively growing up within every religion and philosophy and government in the world - yet each proclaiming Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. Jesus is indeed “supracultural.”
This gathering was a rare opportunity that few people experience on earth. Praise God that every believer will worship in Heaven in a manner far surpassing what I experienced - with people “from every nation, tribe, people, and language.”