Reflections on a gathering of a small number of church planting teams serving cross culturally in the Middle East.
Back in the autumn, a small number of local believers, cross-cultural workers and church leaders from across the globe came together into one of the most surreal locations in the Middle East. After a very enriching and impactful morning session and a range of delicacies for lunchtime bliss, all one needed was a wind down at the beach on a relaxing sunbed coupled with umbrellas.
We were greeted each morning by the gentle sounds of the tidal wave and the ever-so-awesome cats that roam around the resort. On countless occasions, early birdies who joined the morning prayer meetings were greeted by heaven with the most breath-taking sunrise overlooking the Bay.
Attendees with kids found it a relief and pleasure to have their kids registered for kids’ church. A big kudos to the kids’ workers who did a stellar job keeping the kids busy with various activities, including crafts, games, music and dancing, and fun at the beach. Even the older kids, our young adults, couldn’t help but admit that their sessions were fantastic as they also enjoyed some beach time.
Well, I did say it was a conference, right? So there was bound to be some teaching and lots of teaching. Surprisingly this conference was a bit different from your usual one because the schedule was well spaced out, so people had a lot of time to reflect on what had been shared during the meetings.
The conference commenced on a Friday evening with a real sense of God’s presence and prophetic words encouraging all to partake of the heavenly banquet. Some of the prophetic words released set an expectation for the rest of the week. God had gathered His children together to bring healing and restoration.
Our worship time immersed us fully in God’s glory as we sang songs from various nationalities. It was an absolute joy to see people having a go at Greek and Arabic songs, plus a bonus Greek dance which made it all the merrier. The various songs sung at the meeting were soul-quenching and stayed with us outside the sessions. One of my favourites was ‘Shukran! Shukran Isa…’ which is .’Thank you Jesus!’ in Arabic.
Some people shared their experiences in their different ministry settings, which was very enriching to hear and know that God is working to bring all nations together. The main speaker for the first night took us on the journey of the climb. It was explained that the race of ministry is like a marathon; it’s not easy and requires perseverance and determination if we want to stay the cause for which Christ sent us. It is not about how fast you are going but how you persevere. God wants His children to stand firm till the end because we are in a marathon.
Day two delved into things God taught His children over the past few years. Below are some of the helpful lessons drawn from the session.
- Follow God everywhere He sends you, and learn to be ready for anything. Taking things in a humorous way thus helps take away unnecessary stress. Remember to laugh at challenges!
- We make our plans, but God directs our steps. We will see God’s faithfulness in diverse ways when we trust His ways.
- When our foundations have been shaken, we must remember that it’s darkest just before dawn. The vital lesson is to thank God in all circumstances. As long as there’s breath in us, we need to be thankful.
- One thing needed is learning to be at Jesus’ feet. Jesus is more interested in our relationship with Him than in the things we do.
- Don’t be a slave to success. Fear of failure drives us to work harder, but God has given us freedom in Him.
- God will reward you 100-fold for everything lost.
The evening session ended with a prophetic reflection, sitting in silence and listening to God. It was such a beautiful atmosphere to enter the Lord’s presence.
Time to Listen
Day three set the pace to listen to what God has to say to us. The day was marked with an impactful prophetic activation. The activation involved a walk with Jesus at the beach as He tenderly unwrapped our burdens and gave us His gift. Personal words of knowledge were shared with some of the attendees. Everyone was encouraged to be open to what God was saying. It was an incredible experience where we encountered God on a more profound and personal level.
The evening session centred on a teaching about the belt of truth from Ephesians 6. The belt gives us the flexibility of movement, secures the breastplate and helps the weapon to stay in place. The church needs to understand that missionaries are not superhumans; they are ordinary people walking in obedience. To wear the belt of truth is to acknowledge that we are weak and vulnerable. In our weakness, God is made strong. By embracing our humanity, our belt of truth gets stronger. God knows all about us: weaknesses and strengths, and there’s nothing to hide, so let it all out so you can receive all of Him.
Fun and Laugher
A Fifa tournament on Playstation was organised for those into gaming. It was one thrilling tournament that brought about a lot of competitiveness among the competitors. In the end, it was unanimous that the best man won the day, fair and square, to the disappointment of some. Better luck next time, guys.
By day four, people were beginning to feel the week’s impact, so God refuelled and refreshed us when we gathered. The teaching was from Ephesians 4: speaking the truth in love. The main takeaway from that session was the following:
- Body – You are not alone, connect with other people and don’t do life alone.
- Differences – We are not the same. The church must be different to represent the body of Christ.
- Gifts – What gifts do you need in your church in the next season? Make use of the various gifts in the body of Christ.
- Maturity – We have not arrived. If we want growth and maturity, we need tension like a string on a guitar. Create a loving environment, so different people can freely express the truth to one another.
The final night of the conference was a Karaoke night, and people moved to the beat from all nations. The kids had an excuse to stay past their bedtime whilst delegates managed to engage with their newfound friendships amidst saying goodbyes.
Friday morning came with several people packing away and heading back home! What can we say? This Gathering was one great week away with amazing people of God and making life-long friendships and connections! Indeed God is our heavenly Father and is good at connecting His children at the opportune time!