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Final Gifts Received (Pilgrimage Reflections #9)

Posted on August 9th, 2013

It is always a rich privilege to step outside one’s context and world. This trip was no exception.  The following are a few additional learnings I noted on the way home yesterday: 1. God is moving all over the world. God reminded me of this text often during this trip – “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you” (Colossians 1:6). 2. The impact of China. With 1.3 billion people and a church about 100 million strong, the economic, spiritual, cultural, and political influence of China is staggering. Few of us in the USA or the West, I think, appreciate this reality. 3. South Africa. One church we visited had about 400 white South Africans. Perth, Australia has over 100,000 more. Why? Violence and racial tensions. Having spent a most of my adult life wrestling with racial tensions here in the USA, it was a new experience to listen to this reality from an African context. 4. Pentecostals and the Holy Spirit. Asia, Australia and New Zealand has Pentecostal Anglicans, Pentecostal Methodists, and lots of Pentecostal Baptists! The openness to the Holy Spirit, across denominations, was very refreshing. Denominational barriers and distinctions, so important to many here, are much less important in that part of the world. 5. Women. We met women pastors and elders in each city where we spoke. It all was quite natural and accepted. It highlighted, for me, the narrowness of the way this issue is debated and handled in the USA and the UK. 6. Marketplace Ministry. 22 different countries were represented in the Singapore conference. I was challenged again by the number of marketplace and political leaders with a deep sense of mission and calling – from a CEO overseeing ten hospitals in Thailand to a member of Parliament in Singapore.  Their commitment to expand God’s kingdom through their sphere of influence is a great model for us.

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