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April 9, 2014

Stepping Back To Gain A Broader View


Wading through the details

Do any of you (besides me) ever get lost in the weeds of this denomination building business? I serve on the Ministry and Assimilation Team (M.A.T.) in the East Central Presbytery, and there are so many pieces to put into place. Some days, it can be very wearisome.

Abdelmassih Tadros and Fakhri Yacoub

This week it was a special blessing to have my vision lifted at a luncheon of ECO leaders at Third Church honoring Abdelmassih Tadros, the Moderator of the Presbytery of Cairo, Egypt. He was here in Richmond visiting the Christian Arabic Fellowship, which is currently in process of entering ECO. Their Pastor, Fakhri Yacoub, has already begun to bring his gifts to ECO by translating our Essential Tenets into Arabic.

Here is some of what we learned from Abdelmassih:

  • It’s the best of times and worst of times in Egypt. Many have come to know Christ through a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Egyptian political changes have unexpectedly brought greater freedoms for the church to build than they have had in decades—the Lord has His ways—but there have also been many church burnings, anti-Christian demonstrations, and kidnappings.
  • They’re struggling with the portions of the witness coming to them from some American Presbyterian quarters, undermining both their commitment to evangelism and a biblical sexual morality.
  • They are very grateful for the faithfulness and clarity of ECO’s witness in those regards, and find our voice to be a breath of fresh air in the Presbyterian part of God’s Church.

Really? Our little efforts at faithfulness actually matter to some dear brothers and sisters in Egypt? That’s encouraging! And maybe it’s not just Egypt. Maybe the Lord will privilege us to hearten many others, and in places far more challenging than our own.

Speaking of their challenges, they lend perspective to our own. Many of us came into ECO still limping from the departure process. But we’ve not exactly had our children kidnapped and buildings burned. Faced with such huge challenges, their faithfulness brings both perspective and encouragement as we face our own.

The detail work of denomination building is important, but not just for the sake of getting the details right. We’re building something that the Lord is already using in ways far beyond what we can design. So let’s stick with the detail work, but look broadly as well to our global friends, who bring us some much-needed perspective.

And may God continue to bless our sisters and brothers in Egypt.

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