When I wrote this, I had just returned from Inspire 2022 at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Ill. What a blessing it was to be together with more than 420 Christian Reformed brothers and sisters from all across North America! We sang together, prayed together, learned from one another, laughed together, and were challenged to return to our local communities with a renewed sense of passion and commitment for ministry.
If you were there, I hope you were as blessed by the experience as I was. If you weren’t there, I encourage you to check out the stories, photos, and audio recordings at crcna.org/Inspire and consider joining us the next time an Inspire event takes place.
One of Inspire 2022’s plenary speakers was Zac Niringiye, a retired bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda. His words have really stuck with me. My wife and I spent 18 years in Central America as missionaries with Resonate Global Mission. Yet Niringiye challenged us to rethink our approach to mission.
All too often, he said, witness to the gospel has been mixed with patterns of economic and cultural domination. When Jeannie and I first went to Nicaragua we worked with a small Christian Reformed denomination that had been negatively affected by this reality. We were never able to get past the patterns of dependence that had been ingrained in that denomination’s leadership. The result was that this denomination never flourished.
Niringiye encouraged us to think of ourselves as being united in common witness—not just the witness of North Americans to the world, but the witness of all of God’s children about the work that the Holy Spirit is up to among and through us. Foundational to that witness are intercultural relationships that embody the equality and mutual respect shown in the gospel.
As a denomination, the CRCNA is not exempt from the paternalism of mission in the past. We have made mistakes, and for this we lament. Yet we are also striving to be better witnesses. In this section there are a few stories from CRCNA organizations, such as Resonate Global Mission and World Renew, that show how we are walking alongside Christians in other countries, learning with and from them for God’s glory.
Niringiye concluded his talk by walking us through the Lord’s Prayer. He pointed out that this is not an individual prayer, but a corporate one, with phrases such as “Our Father, “give us this day our daily bread,” and “deliver us from evil.” What’s more, it is a prayer that focuses on submitting to the will of the Father and joining the Holy Spirit who is already at work in the world.
Whether you were at Inspire or not, I pray that you will join me in that prayer. Together with our brothers and sisters around the world, may we be one in common witness. May we seek together to do God’s will and work for his kingdom.