Transform conference

Recently some our students and 20s attended the Regions Beyond Transform conference.

Here's Mel Webb's take on things...

Though we left at the absurd hour of four o’clock in the morning, our day began as all excellent days should begin: with a journey.

Sleepy eyed but expectant, we arrived at the mythical station of King’s Cross, passed by platform 9 ¾ to be comforted by mediocre coffee, which was, apparently, rescued by its great milk temperature. What was perhaps important about the coffee was not the beverage itself, but the coffee beans, which had travelled much farther than we had that morning. However we choose to look at it, or in some cases deny it, our world is inextricably and internationally linked; our coffee beans cross oceans before it reaches our cups, our clothes are stitched by the hands of unknown workers and our food flown over from far away lands.

Such facts challenge the Church in an important manner; we are called to spread the word of the Gospel, and we are called to love our neighbours (who have been made more accessible by globalisation) like ourselves. In fact, Christians were named Christians first by non-Christians who recognised them doing this and it’s a challenge to ask ourselves whether people would recognise us in the same way today. It is only fitting, therefore, that we consider how we can reach out and how important the role of the global Church is in this. The Church is Christ’s body, each part functioning differently but together, so those Christians that live thousands of miles away, although you may not know their names or what they’re stories are, they’re relevant.

Over the day we gained an insight into the ways in which other cultures worship and respond to God’s world, and were amazed by the beautiful diversity that He created and challenged to keep open minds and hearts. We cannot fit our God into a ready-moulded, church-service box, He is so much greater, what also confirmed this was an eye-opening exchange of life stories on the journey home and the inspiring evidence of God’s work in each of our lives, He is indeed alive!

The Church is also the Bride. We began the conference looking at Isaiah 62 and the Lord’s promise and vision for the future;

“You will be called by a new name, a name given by the Lord himself; you will be like a beautiful crown for the Lord. No longer will you be called “Forsaken”, or your land be called “the Deserted Wife”. Your new name will be “Happily Married”, because the Lord is pleased with you and will be like a husband to your land. Like a young man taking up his bride, He who formed you will marry you, as a groom is delighted with his bride, so your God will delight in you.”

Isn’t it reassuring and more than that amazing, that it’s not just us delighting in the Lord? He delights also in us! Steve Oliver claims and I’m sure we would agree, that this should be the song of the Church. So let’s not equip ourselves for this world, but equip ourselves to be “Happily Married”, equipping ourselves for heaven. We also received some “equipping” teaching about travelling overseas, an open account that perhaps travelling and living abroad isn’t as glamourous as it is laid out to be, (though our first-class return was a pretty glamourous blessing), but with God it can be fulfilling, and extraordinary.

Some of us felt called to far away places, others simply rested assured that God wanted to keep them where they were. Though Transform was about overseas mission, it’s essential that the Church is local and international. So whether you are called to work in overseas mission, or in fact called closer to home, let’s prepare together to receive Jesus upon his return.