From December 28-31, I was fortunate enough to attend, on scholarship, The World Missions Summit 3 (TMWS3) in Fort Worth, Texas. TWMS3 was put on by Chi Alpha, a campus ministry associated with the Assemblies of God (AG), a Pentecostal denomination, and the theme was “Because We Care.” I heard that around 4,500 people attended the Summit (mostly students and older adults from their universities), including hundreds of AG missionaries. I’m going to recap the event here on Powerfully Quiet, but because so much went on during each day of TWMS3, I’m going to break it up into three parts. (I apologize in advance that I only took one picture the whole time!) Here’s Part One:
TWMS3 began on a Friday night with the first Gathering, basically a service of singing and preaching with everyone in the arena inside the Conference Center. I had just flown into Fort Worth about two hours before the Gathering started and was exhausted from flying, waiting in the cold for a shuttle, throwing my stuff down in my hotel room, and hurrying to dinner with friends. So with all of that in mind (even apart from my tendencies toward cynicism), I was jolted by what officially started the Gathering: sudden, yelling prayer by 50-100 people on stage. First of all, let’s be clear – when I pray, I do not yell. In any circumstance, I can be loud if I choose to be, but I’m typically a quiet person. I like my church services to be the same. So when they get to the point of yelling prayer, I get skeptical very quickly. I know that some people at TWMS3 were inspired by this opening, while others (like me) questioned it. (Okay, stick with me here, because I’m not going to be all-judgment as I recap. I promise.) I waited in my seat for the full ten minutes that the crowd on stage yelled the names “Jesus” and “Holy Spirit,” and then the worship team (a small number of the people on stage) began to sing, I’m assuming as they had practiced. Finally, the start of a service that I was more familiar with. Some of the lyrics struck a chord (ha) with me, such as the idea that God is the light/sun awakening me. Light can be beautiful in a myriad of ways: dusk, splintered light, shadows, full-on heat, reflections . . . I like thinking about God in terms of that kind of beauty.
As for the opening of the service, I managed not to dismiss it entirely with a wave of skepticism. I definitely felt the tension of my typically unconventional thinking versus my bent toward “faith-full-ness.” I don’t think that those two need to be at odds, but when that tension inside me is at odds with the “faith-full-ness” inside another (in this case, 50-100 others who are leading me), whatever is going on needs to be considered. I didn’t come to any earth-shattering, peace-filled resolutions that night, and I think that’s okay: thoughts need to be wrestled with sometimes, and sometimes for a long time. But I did come to this: If I believe my faith-full-ness must not be judged by outsiders on the basis of my hand-clapping, swaying, foot stomping, and/or strength of voice, then perhaps I shouldn’t judge others/make assumptions about them on that basis either. Sounds like truth to me.
The speaker that night was Dick Brogden, a missionary to Africa who is commonly known as the person connected with the Live Dead Journal. Brogden was a chapel speaker at my school last year and a powerful, controversial one at that, so I remembered him well and looked forward to what he had to say this time around. He is known as a speaker who tells things as they are: bluntly, boldly, and without apology. Oftentimes, this means stepping on some people’s – if not everyone’s – toes in order to get the truth across. And his message is always urgent, always imperative. Unfortunately, I didn’t start taking notes until Saturday, but from what I can remember, his message was a conglomeration of several important points: people will be reached through preaching (as in, please do good deeds, but preach too); preaching must not be confined to the “safe” areas of the world; and preaching must go beyond select areas of the world. Brogden also consistently emphasized the ideas of surrender and abiding in Jesus as absolutely vital to living out Christianity.
With these thoughts rolling around in my mind plus heavy eyelids from exhaustion, I made my way over to a reception of food and drinks that TWMS3 had provided for us. I spent about an hour at a table with friends from school and ran into some missionaries I had worked with in Thailand too! Believe me when I say that I was sooo ready to sleep when I got back to my hotel afterwards. (Though I’m pretty sure I read a little bit more of Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood first. I seriously couldn’t help myself – it’s that good!)
Check back tomorrow for Part Two!
January 8 Joy Dare: Dusky Light, Surprising Reflection, Lovely Shadow
Dusky Light: I missed dusk tonight, folks. My apologies. In place of “dusky light,” I’ll say that I’m definitely thankful for the big mug of rooibos tea I drank this morning while reading an awesome She Reads Truth devotional.
Surprising Reflection: Myself in my laptop background! I was attempting to take a picture of the giant sticky of errands when I realized that my face was in the picture too. My desktop background (apart from that dreadful sticky and a folder of school documents) is currently a Chinese lantern, pictured below.
Isn’t that the coolest?! I love that that is an actual thing that grows in the wilderness. It’s pretty hopeful too, if you ask me, for, as you can see in the picture, the outer part gradually becomes more sheer to expose the beautiful middle. I like that I found the “surprising reflection” of myself in-between a Chinese lantern and a to-do list. Hope!
Lovely Shadow: As I walked to a friend’s house for dinner, I passed a tree so full of wintered, dead limbs that they hung low to the ground and looked like clumps of tresses. Oddly beautiful. (I’m counting this as a shadow because night had fallen by this time. Work with me.)