It was great to join together with other Christians last weekend at the OMF Scottish conference through in Arbroath. We (Myself and Jennifer) had an early rise to make it through in time for the day, but it was well worth the quick breakfast. A brief word for those who don’t know of OMF. They are an international missions organisation which sends out overseas workers to various nations in East Asia. From its inception 150 years ago they have been seeking to bring the good news of Jesus to the various people groups of that region.
The main theme of the conference was straight forward urging us to “Declare his glory”. Lindsay Brown who works with IFES and the Lausanne movement spoke from 2 Timothy 2:1-6 on “the type of people God uses”. He reflected on the fact that this world looks for experience, stature and strength to determine the people who are ‘real leaders’. But God chose Timothy the young, frequently ill and timid man to be the instigator of church planting and revitalisation.
Not the ideal candidate for mission or church leadership we would say. Yet God delights to use the weak! Lindsay helped to point out that we so often have a pitifully weak concept of God’s grace and as such we have a pitifully weak concept of what God can do with us. Gospel ministry in our own country or overseas comes from a heart which is “strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 2:1). This is a heart which has experienced the joy of justification before God returning daily to draw on that great well of hope; knowing that God has shown forgiveness, that he seeks to restore and that he is growing his kingdom in all the earth.
The afternoon sessions helped draw this into practical focus. David Ferguson helped us to think through the challenges of gospel work in Japan and the entangling web of culture which proves to be impenetrable at times. His desire was to see a strong Japanese church which could effectively engage with the culture to show others the good news of Jesus. This I’m sure is something which we can all pray for and you can find more details here http://omf.org/asia/japan/. Following this there was time to hear from five retired missionaries each of which could say with confidence and assurance that God had been faithful to them and to his promise in revealing his glory to all the nations.
I always find it encouraging and incredibly humbling to hear what is happening with the church in other parts of the world. It reminds me that God is relentlessly building his kingdom and that he uses normal people who believe in him to do this. The challenge I suppose for many of us comes from three different angles. How often do we pray for this work of missions? Do we support missionaries practically? Are we drowning out the call to go with the washed out music of safety and security?