‘What we set our eyes on determines our vigor, direction, and steadiness’. These were Pastor Rene Breuel’s opening words that helped set our eyes on the eschaton as the Younger Leaders Gathering for 2016 came to a close and words cannot capture how grateful I am for being able to be part of this gathering (but I’ll try).
For one, it was incredible to be able to worship in song with brothers and sisters from all over the world. To be sure, if musical worship were categorized into sections in the new creation then you’ll probably still find me in the hymns department (preferably accompanied by an orchestra) but I just loved singing different types of songs in different languages and raising our voices in unity to praise our God who is worthy of all.
Secondly, I really enjoyed meeting men and women who are engaged in different types of ministry in different contexts. Living in one part of the world can easily give you tunnel vision and lead you to believe that ministry has to be done in a very specific way. Now of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to serve God – I’m not denying that for a second. But their creativity, contexts, and circumstances are so incredible that I just think ‘wow, we back home need new paradigms for ministry’. To begin with, most of the delegates are not what we’d consider as ‘full time ministers’. Far from it! Many of them are engaged in the business world, in medicine, or in teaching, and using these as platforms for ministry or as a way to support the ministry they do at church. As one who believes that Christ affects every façade of our lives and therefore our whole lives is ministry, I thought ‘duh!’ But to see it lived out was eye-opening, and I hope and pray that I will be faithful in expounding the Scriptures in a way that shows my church and Christians back home that ministry is not just what we do on Sunday. It will be costly and it will entail sacrifice, but I look at these brothers and sisters who literally live day to day dependent on God’s provision and I think ‘we back home have so much to learn and we can do so much better’.
Thirdly, I’m so grateful for the faithful men and women of different ethnicities and cultures who’ve faithful preached God’s Word and shared their testimonies. That’s what I thought was particularly unique about the YLG. I know the organizers have been very intentional about whom they invited to speak and I’d just like to applaud them for their fine selection. I’m particularly grateful for the expositors who have done such a great job in our mornings sessions, in particular Sydney’s very own Richard Chin, the wonderful Anne Zaki, and the warm yet powerful Rene Breuel. It is so important to be grounded in God’s Word and the Gospel for events such as these, so I’m thankful that the days were started with exactly that, and this format really helped set us up for a day full of discussion and interaction. The evening speakers were of course world class with leaders such as David Platt, Ravi Zacharias, Os Guiness (to name a few), and they were accompanied by leaders of the persecuted church (that I cannot name) who shared their testimony and story to encourage and spur us on in our service to God. The leadership panels were just superb and I’m particularly grateful for Vaughan Roberts who not only spoke about humility but also modeled it throughout the week. Far from speaking and leaving straight away, delegates could see Vaughan wandering around throughout the gathering smiling, cheering (as much as an Englishmen could I suppose), and speaking to people. I had a brief opportunity to chat with him and he was just so warm, friendly, and genuine.
Fourthly, I’m in awe of the leaders and mentors who’ve participated in this gathering as well. If you somehow think that the caliber of delegates were superb then you need to meet the mentors who led our group, among whom included (and these were only the ones I met with) leaders like the Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies, the former Dean of Singapore Bible College Calvin Chong, the director of GraceWorks Tan Soo-Inn, a wonderful tentmaker Berit from Norway, and countless others who have generously given their time to mentor younger leaders. I asked Glenn Davies ‘how do you have time for this’ to which he responded ‘I don’t. But there’s nothing like the Lausanne Movement that is able to bring together future leaders of the church from all over the world and I just love to be part of it’. And they really mean it too. Far from a ‘hit and run’ approach towards mentorship, I’ve had more than one mentor who’ve said ‘let’s keep connecting. You have my number and email, so let’s keep in close contact. Ask me anything you need at any hour of the day and you know I’ll be available’.
There’s so much more to say but I want to close with the fifth reason I’m grateful, and that’s expressed to leaders like Michael Oh (who will be in Sydney for ReachOut Conference), Sarah Breuel, and countless others who have worked behind the scenes and labored to make this happen. I’ve organized conferences before (though nothing of this magnitude) and I appreciate how much work goes into it. So much of what they do is not public and will remain silent. But I know and trust that all will be revealed when Christ returns and we will have eternity to thank them for all that they do.
Now I know this is not the end because this gathering will cause ripple effects that will flow into eternity. Partnerships and relationships will be formed which will multiply the effectiveness of our work, and I know people have made life changing decisions as a result of this gathering already. I hope and pray that God will multiply the fruits of this conference and I can’t wait to see this good work continued through YLGen (a project that aims to connect younger leaders to mentors over the next 10 years). The end of YLG2016 is really only just the beginning.