Right here, right now
There is no other place I’d rather be
Right here right now
Watching the world wake up from history
—Jesus Jones, Right Here, Right Now, 1991
I’ve Seen a Lot of Stuff.
The song lyrics above date me considerably. The late eighties and early nineties were an exciting time. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening up of Iron Curtain countries was an unexpected yet promising thing I watched on the nightly news. It was through Tenth, though, that I discovered the important role Reformed churches played in that long hoped-for development. They “watched and prayed” for such a thing to come, and they watched as the revitalization of faith in Romania—and the persecution that followed in its wake—upended a dictatorial regime.
I’m now coming to the end of my five-year term on the Global Outreach Commission. I’ve witnessed my fellow sisters and brothers working hard to help all of us at Tenth hear better what God is doing in the world. (By the way, we have openings available, and we can use the help!) Our partners have shared the things they’ve witnessed around the world: from revolutions in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to coups in Burundi and Asia Minor; from refugees risking their lives to flee war to the impact of deprivation in Glasgow. Sometimes the people of Christ continue serving God undisturbed by these historic events, and sometimes there is cause for great suffering. I wonder what God’s plan is in such trials and difficulties. What would God have me do about what I am witnessing? Is there more going on than simply being a witness to history-changing events? Our partners, and all of us, are witnesses to the impact of the world-changing event, the death and resurrection of King Jesus.
Witnesses and Martyrs
Jesus calls for his followers to be witnesses to his saving purposes in his kingdom. A “witness” is a legal term: in a courtroom, people testify of what they have seen because judgment has to be made about the truth of a matter. Witnesses in court have a challenging task when one side or another casts doubt on their veracity or their understanding. In some cases, witnesses are endangered for exposing injustice. In the Gospel of John, Jesus testifies to what he knows and has seen (John 3:11). Though they put him on trial and execute him, John knows that in Jesus, it is the world that has been on trial under the oversight of God.
The word in Greek for a witness is martyr. We have all the associations of death and lament (and often fear) with that word because of the experience of the first Christian witnesses to Jesus: they told of his just judgments and his free salvation to a hostile world, and the world let them have it.
Can We Get a Witness?
Tenth’s Global Outreach Conference on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, GO Witness, is maximizing your opportunities to meet and hear from our partners in a wide variety of settings. We can have fun and fellowship together with our Friday bowling night; discover and learn from our partners with our Saturday afternoon small groups; celebrate together at our Saturday night banquet; and join in Sunday worship with John, our partner from Asia Minor, and John, our partner from East Africa, as they preach God’s Word to us.
Will attending this year’s conference “change the world”? Only God knows. We hope that you will be better aware of a world that King Jesus is governing constantly, into which he has called men and women to declare his glory and call upon him for all their needs. We hope you will be equipped to partner with our partners in prayer and support, and find encouragement to declare your own testimony to the righteousness and love of “another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:7)
© 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Paul Duggan. © 2021 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org