Reflections On the Global Mission Conference London 2016
GMC 2016 was a refreshing mission conference in the British Isles held at St James Muswell Hill from 12-15 October 2016. The event was put together by Dr Samuel Cueva, one of the CMMW directors, with the support of the leadership and members of St James. Samuel is the Pastor of the Spanish-speaking congregation that meets at St James in north London.
Gathered under the theme of One God, One People, One Message, it was remarkable to see how many church, mission and Bible College leaders were brought together for this event. Over 60 participants gathered together from various nations to explore and think through trends and key mission topics affecting our current global scene. The conference was held in English and Spanish.
In addition to addressing key theological issues related to mission which included the message, the priorities and role of the local church in mission, the conference also explored numerous topics impacting Christian mission today such as leadership, unity, music and arts, multicultural church, reciprocal collaboration, and the challenges and healthy practice of mission.
The message was clear. We need to preach Christ. The gospel is a transforming gospel and therefore even as we proclaim Christ, the church must be prepared to respond to the numerous needs around it which include caring for the poor, reaching migrant communities, and listening to one another. Mission is God’s mission and it is a privilege to be invited by the Creator God to involve us in His mission as restores fallen humanity back into a relationship with Himself.
A number of people were interviewed during the plenary sessions throughout the conference including a couple from Latin America who are exploring where God may be calling them for cross-cultural mission work. They had just returned from a vision trip during which they visited a couple of Muslim countries. They are sensing a call to reach Muslim people. It was powerful to see how God is moving the hearts of men, women and families to leave the comforts of their homeland in obedience to His leading. A sobering reality is that this not only calls for sacrifice but also suffering, something that the church in the West must sooner or later come to terms with too. Already during their vision trip, this couple had an opportunity to encourage followers of Jesus facing persecution and had extraordinary ministry among some of the believers there. Another wonderful story of praise was to hear about a church in Scandinavia that has seen over 500 people from other nations and faith turn to Christ in the last five years. God is definitely at work.
Despite the conference having been held in the UK and within reach of so many of us, the low number of British Christians present does speak volumes. It does appear that those from the global South have a higher appetite for mission involvement. Many participants from far places made huge financial and time sacrifices to attend this event. For those who are praying and seeking God earnestly about local and global involvement in cross-cultural mission, there will be few conferences like this in the UK that provide the content, exposure and opportunities to meet such an ethnically diverse group of evangelical mission practitioners who have a passion to see the gospel of Jesus Christ reach every person and nation in the world.
The main takeaway for me was that God continues to be actively at work across the whole world. In Europe we have unique opportunities to prayerfully share the gospel of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit to people the Lord has set before us. The local church however needs a fresh vision for reaching the unreached – both within our neighbourhoods but also in distant places.
By Peter Oyugi
AIM Diaspora Coordinator for UK, and a director of CMMW