As part of the inauguration of the new President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an afternoon symposium was held called “Windows on the Church in the World.: A U.S. and Global Panel.” There were many things for us in the West to hear from the church around the world, but the following were my take-aways:
1. David Zac Niringiye, a bishop and teacher from Northern Uganda, spoke about the church, power, and the cross. He talked about standing up against corruption in Uganda, his arrest by the government, and the silence of the church. He shared about how many churches in Africa support corrupt dictators like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe in exchange for access to power and perks like free land. He challenged us, “You want to talk about our dictators in Africa. We want to ask you, ‘What about your President Bush who went to war in Iraq on false pretenses and you didn’t say a word?’” He challenged us that Christianity has always been the way of suffering and the cross.
2. Anne Zaki, an articulate Egyptian teacher from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo talked about the 15 million Arab Christians spread out in 22 countries in North Africa and the Middle East. She talked about how 65 churches were recently burned to the ground in 24 hours, along with Christian businesses, hospitals, and orphanages, and how the church has not seen this level of persecution since the Roman Empire. She shared about how the church nonetheless, is flourishing. She noted three amazing moves of the invisible hand of God: a revival in prayer, a unity among Roman Catholics, Orthodox churches, and evangelicals that has been a dream for centuries, and Muslims disillusioned by Islam who are asking, “What is real?”
I leave you with the two questions I am asking myself:
- What does it look like for me to choose the way of the cross and not that of an American, insulated, and comfortable Christianity?
- Am I really seeing the invisible hand of God as He works out a good plan in the midst of suffering on both a local and global scale, or am I simply judging things based on CNN?