What a wonderful and exhausting weekend! Our church hosted a missions conference and flew in 11 of our indigenous church planters from northern Mexico, and it was thrilling to hear of the great work God is doing in that war-torn region of the world. Did you know that an estimated 35,000 people have died in the war against the drug cartels in northern Mexico? That's quite a lot more than in the various wars simmering in the world right now, but it's not a number you'll see mentioned anywhere in the legacy media today.
I also had the opportunity to play a show on Saturday night at our local coffee house, Off The Leaf. Two straight hours of playing and singing my own material, and I still didn't run out of songs! Fifteen years of songwriting has developed into quite a catalog. I was pleased to have my "posse" in attendance. The wonderful young people of my church are such a great fan club. I don't perform very often, and self-critically I feel like I'm capable of performing so much better than I did, but I got some very positive feedback anyway. I need to find a way to perform more often.
On Sunday morning the word of God was brought to us by Jorge Alamand, from Philippians 1. He did a wonderful job preaching in a tongue not native to him! "We are not alone," was the theme. I had expected, given the title, that he would focus on our church's partnership with the church in Mexico and the mutually beneficial blessings we bring to each other. In other words, a focus on the horizontal aspect of not "being alone": we have partners in the gospel. But, as a gifted, Christ-centered preacher, his focus was the other direction: the vertical aspect. We are not alone primarily, first and foremost, because God is with us! As God exists in eternal fellowship and love, so we are made in his image and likeness for fellowship and love. And, ultimately, the message of "we are not alone" finds its rationale in the cross of Jesus Christ. "Christ was abandoned by his Father so that we may never feel abandoned." What a beautiful summation of the message of the gospel!
"We are not alone" was not primarily a statement giving thanks for our partners in the gospel, but a thanks for the gospel itself. Jorge brought it home with that extraordinary promise: "Lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age."
An edifying message and an edifying capstone to a great missions conference!