Catching the Vision!
Thomas Wang recently visited South Africa. He spent two weeks in late June and early July visiting churches in Johannesburg, Capetown, Wellington and Durban. Notice the emphasis on the year 2000--lacing in the Asia Declaration in the previous article.,--EditorGod has opened my eyes to see the coming of a new era in this great nation of South Africa. I observed a powerful move of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by:
1. A groundswell of renewed vision for local evangelism and overseas mission.
2. An ever-increasing burden for worldwide mission and the fulfillment of Christ's Great Commission.
3. The involvement of pastors, lay-persons, missionaries and 1,000 young people from different nationalities in the various meetings such as the "Bless the Nations" conference held in Wellington.
4. A strong desire for spritual renewal both personally and corporately within the churches of South Africa.
The news media has been reporting the many changes taking place in South Africa with little comment concerning the changes in the spiritual lives of the people of this country. But I firmly believe that God is leading the South African churches into a time of spiritual awakening to their position and obligation in the Kingdom and to the world. The great potentials of all the resources of the church here are about to be released for the spiritual benefit of the peoples of the world. God is doing a new thing in South Africa. Things are happening!
This movement of God in South Africa is crossing many boundaries of race in and between the churches of South Africa. I attended meetings where various nationalities participated. Many evangelicals in South Africa are ashamed of the Apartheid history of their country and have repented of their prior prejudices. This can be seen in the declarations made at regional meetings as listed below.
In the city of Durban, which has the largest Indian population outside of India, the Indian churches have committed themselves to mobilizing the churches of South Africa to send new missionaries. In the declaration of Durban the churches of that city repented of their hurt and bitterness toward other races and committed themselves to working toward world evangelization. They are also seeking God's guidance in how they can help reach the unreached people groups of the world.
The great potential of all the resources of the church here are about to be released for the spiritual benefit of the peoples of the world.
This movement of God is also affecting the young people of South Africa. A group of 1000 young people attended the "Bless the Nations" conference in Wellington, which was sponsored by the Andrew Murray Centre and held in the mother church of Dr. Murray. The parade of the 1000 conferees marching down the main street of Wellington caught the townspeople by pleasant surprise. The young people's route followed in the footsteps of the early missionaries who proceeded by wagons to the heartland of Africa. This involvement of young people is a very hopeful sign for the continued vitality and growth of a movement of mission vision in South Africa. These young people could be the start of a new South African mission force on the field.
As a result of these meetings, four regional followup committees were formed in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Wellington and Durban to keep the momentum going and develop new, more aggressive plans for the future.
Some of these plans include the formation of a National Committee to represent South Africa at international conferences and to promote national and international ministries. They are making plans to be actively involved in the international efforts to complete world evangelization by AD 2000.
Below are just two of the declarations made during my trip.
THE DURBAN DECLARATION
We the participants of Bless the Nations '90 in Durban are challenged by the fact that today for every one person who has accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, there are two persons yet to be reached by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that God is saying to the Church in Durban and worldwide that we need to get back to the task of missions and evangelism. In times past, God spoke through the prophets but in these last days, He speaks through His Son (Heb: l:2). In total obedience to the Great Commission of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we therefore declare that, "This is the most winnable decade in this century and we are committed to this task."
l.,We declare with great joy our thankfulness to God for permitting us to be co-workers with Him in this end time harvest.
2.,We declare that the Bible is the Word of God and the only rule of Faith and Practice.
3.,We declare that we will make a conscious effort to cross the frontiers and barriers between fellow Christians of different groups and persuasions in a spirit of co-operation to proclaim the gospel in our land and in overseas areas.
4.,We declare that we need the guidance and the empowering of the Holy Spiriand earnestly pray that God 's Spirit would show us our priorities individually and as Churches to the world's unreached people groups.
5.,We declare that our deep-rooted bitterness, hurts and attitudes towards other races and language groups and persuasions has hindered Christ from functioning through His body. We therefore repent and call on God to use us in the healing of the afflicted here in this land and other nations.
6.,We declare the need for liaison and commit ourselves to cooperate with all other regional and national AD 2000 movements in this country and worldwide.
7.,We declare the urgent need to mobilise the Churches in our cities in order to make practical plans for the sending of South African missionaries worldwide.
8.,We declare that the youth of our Church are a great potential in world evangelisation and therefore offer our fullest prayer and support to encourage them.
9.,We commit ourselves to follow and carry out our Lord 's command in Acts l:8-- "But we shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
THE WELLINGTON CALL
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex. 3:15) has spoken to us as He has done formerly in Covenant with our fathers, to the prophets, disciples and saints of all ages down to the present. Now, through His Word, by prayer and proclamation, God has said we 're to act with urgency and sacrifice to bless the nations to the glory of God with the good news of salvation.
Accepting our covenant blessings and responsibilities, we now issue to brothers and sisters in Christian love everywhere, this CALL which we have accepted at the "Bless The Nations" World Missions Conference, held in Wellington, Cape Province, South Africa, from 30 June through 4 July, l990.
- We thank God for accepting us as co-workers for Jesus, the risen Christ, and call on the Lord of the Harvest at the outset of this mission decade, to use us for the continuation, and if by His grace, even the completion of world evangelisation by the year 2000.
- We acknowledge our need for the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit, and earnestly pray that God 's spirit would show us our priorities and obligations, individually and as churches, to the world 's unreached peoples.
- We confess our own dead works and our part in unfruitful church life which has hindered Christ from functioning through His Body in the manner that He would have done, had we been careful to obey His command to love one another.
- We soberly ask forgiveness, in deep repentance, for our attitudes towards other race and language groups which we fully understand that God does not allow in the lives of His covenant-keeping children (Gen. l2:1-3). We acknowledge that these sins have seriously hindered and limited prayer and missionary service both locally and beyond our borders.
- We call on God to use us, once forgiven and cleansed, in the healing of hurts inflicted on one another here in our land, to the glory of God in all the earth.
- We accept that the Body of Christ in South Africa, as elsewhere, is made up by all those called out and redeemed, made new and born again through faith in Jesus Christ, from all races, tribes, tongues and nations. We resolve to do nothing which harms this God-given unity, and to take steps to ACT upon this unity, especially in missionary service to the unreached peoples in the years leading up to 2000 AD.
- We call on God to bring us personally, and the congregations of which we 're a part, together with our ministers and leaders, into spiritual awakening and revival, to the worldwide glory of God (Isaiah 62:7).
- We call on God our Father to use OUR resources, both spiritual and material, for His Great Commission, and then to permit us to urge other believers and local congregations by our example to establish God-honouring missionary support giving patterns in church life.
- We promise to study and pray for unreached countries and peoples, that Satan might not use our ignorance to keep people in Christ-less spiritual existence.
- We ask God 's Holy Spirit to form us into regional and international intercessory concerts of prayer, that God 's covenant pattern of blessings and responsibilities might become the life-long pattern of our prayers.
- We are willing to accept special responsibility, here in southern Africa, for certain unreached people groups, some of whom are our close neighbors, that we might send them missionaries in faith as a permanent obligation until they have their own Christ-centered churches and leadership.
- We accept and recognise the crucial role of "tentmaking" and the key position congregations can play in mobilising and equipping the laity for world evangelisation. Hence, those of us in our careers, as well as those of us in career preparation as students, realise the obligation to prepare ourselves as self-supporting (tentmaker) missionaries, should God so indicate.
- We wish to enter fruitful and mutually encouraging relations with all other regional and national A.D. 2000 movements in this country and elsewhere.
- Should God wish to raise up a "Student Volunteer Movement for World Evangelisation" in our land, we wish to offer it our fullest prayer and support.
Now, according to the command of Christ in Acts l:8, which we take as a reflection of His entire revelation to mankind, we are ready to obey the Lord and let ourselves be guided by Him at whatever cost, to fulfill the Great Commission.