James O' Hearn details the exciting first session of Missions Conference.
North and South Korea enter holding hands during the Parade of Nations at Echo 2014. | Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES
In a crowded gymnasium, a voice raw with emotion shouts the names of countries over and over again. Behind it, a heavy drum and single guitar pulse and strum as accompaniment.
Albania. Algeria. Armenia. Australia. Brazil.
Applause follows each triumphant shout, all the way down to Zimbabwe.
This is how Missions Conference 2014 began, high with expectation and excitement.
As the speakers reminded us, the audacity to believe we can change the world is a powerful thing.
It was at roughly this point that President Barry Corey Instagrammed the audience, balancing the mood of the spiritually awakened with the other half of students who weren’t entirely awake yet.
After a brief reminder to not try to create moments with God, but to be open to moments with God, the session’s speaker was called up, and things were underway in full.
The speaker of the first session of Missions Conference 2014 was Roderick Gilbert. Gilbert leads a discipleship movement in New Delhi, India, with his wife Neetu and their children. From the efforts of this one man, over 340,000 people have become baptized followers of Jesus.
Interwoven through his speech were scenes from India itself, undercutting his main point: What is the mission? Perhaps more importantly: Are we fulfilling that mission to the best of our ability?
Gilbert proceeded to give a more in-depth description of what missions requires of us, his strong accent not managing to disguise his obvious passion for his chosen subject.
First, he said, we are not to be mere disciples, but disciple makers. In much the same way that the old aphorism about teaching a man to fish for a day operates, it is far more helpful to make saints of men than it is to simply be a saint to all men.
As we send out our brothers and sisters into the world, Gilbert continued, we have two focuses: to begin with, the nations. This focus is ethnic, in converting every country from Peru to France.
The second focus is geographic, as we are meant to convert the world as a whole. A metaphor for this approach could be that of a puzzle, since we need to focus on the individual sections while remembering what the puzzle as a whole is supposed to look like.
Evangelicalism is the fastest growing religion on the planet, staying twice as far ahead as the next contender (Mormonism) according to Gilbert’s slides. He reminded us, however, that when all the other religions are added up, they double Evangelicalism in size. What should we be proud of, he asked rhetorically? Have we reached every tribe and every nation yet?
Gilbert concluded his message by telling us how sometimes our lives can be too busy and too full of noise to enter the valley of silence, where we can hear the still, small voice of the Lord.
In the end, the outcome of our obedience is something we should all seek as Christians — God will be exalted.