Our young movement of churches has enjoyed a number of years of peace. We have had opportunities to train up and send out church planters to establish outposts for the Gospel. We have had space for strategy and strengthening. However in early 2020, we heard the sound of the first shells landing, and they kept landing!
In 2020, many partner churches lost members, family and friends to Covid. Many nations have experienced increased political, social and economic turmoil. Conventional discipleship and church community schedules have been scuppered, and individuals and churches have faced greater isolation than we have known before. Yet, these challenges have highlighted the reality that Christ really is building his Church. Our Great Shepherd really is faithfully pastoring and protecting us – hallelujah!
These challenges have also generated opportunities to which our partner churches have responded with sacrifice and innovation. My mind goes to Gateway Church in the UK setting up a roster to triage calls on behalf of their city council, and to Hope Church arranging grocery deliveries in the Rhondda valleys of Wales. In Southern Africa, our churches have done sterling work to feed and clothe thousands of families hit hard by the economic fallout of national lockdowns. Our churches in Asia continue to embolden us with their faithfulness in planting churches, having already endured many years of opposition from national leadership. In North America, pastors have paid a price in standing up for godliness, grace and unity in harrowing social circumstances.
2020 has brought many advances and victories. But many are weary. Many are wounded. What are we to say? Last weekend I hosted a preacher training camp. One of the exercises involved ten people each preaching a 1 minute sermonette on Hebrews 12:2. Back-to-back they thundered out “fix your eyes on Jesus!” That is what we are to say in response to 2020. And that is what we shall say each year, whether the barns are empty or full.
Our hope remains unshaken. Our peace remains intact. Our purpose remains unaffected: we shall plant and strengthen churches. Despite everything, 2020 saw new churches planted in every region we are active. Many individuals have come to faith and many more have been reminded of our Saviour’s love for them as congregations have served their neighbours around the world.
This review is rich in stories of endurance, innovation and faithfulness to Jesus.
Well done and much love to our Advance Family!
PJ and the Global team