The Third Congress on International Evangelism began tonight with an opening greeting and Scriptural word from the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, The Rt. Rev. Henry Luke Orombi:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5.20), which is a uniting theme for us all here. From there we were shown one of the most moving films about Christian history that I have ever seen. Written by Jerry Newcomb (of Coral Ridge Ministries and an assistant pastor at New Presbyterian Church in South Florida) and narrated by an African pastor, the film was a sweeping overview (really quite epic in tone as it was shown with rich orchestration and dramatic imagery) of major turning points (the title of the film) in Christian history from Pentecost to Cape Town 2010. I believe every heart was moved as the turning points touched their country, their nation, their people group. I know that when it was announced that “America was founded by Calvinists” and a well-known painting of Jonathan Edwards was shown, I was as excited in my heart and had a lump in my throat and began to thank God for bringing Christ to my continent; as when the Indians were reminded of the Gospel coming through St. Thomas; or the interior African nations were told about the turning point of David Livingston’s sacrifices to reach them with the Gospel. During each turning point we were reminded that there was a heresy, a persecution, a trial, something that caused all to think, “Surely this is the end. Now Christ will come.” Following through successive waves of diabolical attacks on the Church through powers of this world, and each ultimately failing so that we arrived where we are today with the Church of Jesus Christ growing faster than any other faith on earth, transforming nations, and the global south now estimating that within only a few decades three billion Christians could live in that part of the world, the film reminded us again: “Each generation thought their time would surely be the end and Jesus would return. One generation, though, will not be wrong.” It was powerful.
The whole of the night, with African music and thoughtful, theological messages, and faith inspiring re enactments of those turning points in this continent’s history of Christianity, as well as Latin America and India, led us all to see what my Sudanese Anglican friend, at my table, told me. I asked him, “Sunday (his father was a pastor and prayed for a son, and after six daughters, the seventh child was born on a Sunday, the day his father preached each week, so he was called “Sunday”), how are the Presbyterians doing in the Sudan?” He answered, “They are growing. They preach Jesus boldly. We have great unity.” “How about the Lutherans?” Again, he told me, “The Lutherans are a very strong group. We love the Lutherans.” I asked a third time, “Are there Pentecostalists there?” “Yes,” he said. Then he told me, “You see, we are one. When you have a common enemy seeking to destroy you, Islamic fundamentalists, they do not ask if you are Anglican or Baptist before they kill you and your family. All they know is that you name Jesus as Lord. When you have one enemy, you come to see that they believe we are all of one faith. So we are. They do not discriminate in killing us. They hate us all. So we love all who love Jesus.”
One faith, one Lord, one baptism. I needed to learn that all over again. The devil doesn’t discriminate between those who truly love Jesus and His Word, the Bible, and His People, the Church. He cares not a whit, though, about the secularized church, the doctrinally watered-down groups who call themselves Christians or the groups who don’t believe in the authority of the Bible or in reality of a living and returning Savior. But the enemy of the saints seeks to destroy the true people of God. Thus we are one in our love of Jesus and His Word and in our love for Him, and at every turning point in history, we are one as Satan attacks, but as Jesus wins. That is the truth, that is the lesson I needed to hear all over again. I heard it tonight from the Anglican Archbishop, from Jerry Newcomb and his film, and from “Sunday.”