Shalom ‘alechem m yirushalayim
This has been an extraordinary 48 hours at the 2018 Global Anglican Future Conference.
Arriving in Israel yesterday was deeply moving. Driving along the motorway in the coach, I had the strange experience of being in a country that was at once strange and very familiar, as I was able to spot the biblical place names on road signs- Modin, Kiriath Jearim and so on.
After arriving at my hotel, I left my things there and walked straight in to the old city. I had to pinch myself as I walked through the Jaffa Gate, down the narrow streets that are almost like tunnelsz and then to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The queue was too long to get into the tomb- another visit there tomorrow- so on to the Western Wall, to pray for the Jewish people.
That was yesterday. But the real business began today at the conference. 2000 brothers and sisters from 50 countries. The worship was lead by the church of Kenya, with an excellent preaching from bishop Alfred Olwa from Uganda, and a fantastic African choir. The first hymn we sang came from Dusseldorf:”Praise to the Lord the almighty the king of creation” by Neander. I will never forget how at the end people spontaneously started singing the theme song of the East African Revival:
Yesu orimwara gwandiga
Omusaayi gwo ogunaziza
Nebaza Yesu omulokozi
We heard the chairman of Gafcon, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria give the keynote address from Romans 1:1 on the Gospel of God, and I went to a fascinating seminar on “Engaging with Islam”, again led by a Nigerian bishop who is himself a convert from Islam. And most of all we met each other: strangers from many different countries united by Gospel of God.
Many people think that Gafcon is a one-issue movement: that it is only concerned to oppose liberal teachings on sexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth. We didn’t eat from those faithful brothers in North America who were thrown out of their churches and homes because they stood up for biblical teaching on sexuality. We also heard from Nigerian brothers who face persecution and death from Islam. But above all Gafcon is about the Gospel. The Gafcon battle cry, which have repeated is:
We will proclaim Christ faithfully- to the nations!
To which only the “Amens” of our African brothers and sisters can do justice.