My church is a member of a family of churches called the Christian & Missionary Alliance, or the Alliance for short. Every other year, the Alliance gathers for a big rally called the General Council. Worship, planning meetings, exhibits, networking, community, prayer, and PREACHING… which is where I come in, no doubt due to some horrendous miscalculation on the part of our leaders! I was [accidentally?] invited to preach at one of the general sessions, which happened last night.
The first night was a riot… a huge parade of missionaries and flags started us off. Had to be over 100 missionaries, dressed in the attire of their nations, with flags and banners, marching up the aisles as the rest of us worshiped and sang. What really got to me was seeing some of the retired missionaries: front line troops, proceeding slowly… one was even in a wheel chair. These men and women are my heroes, and — even though I’m a manly Italian guy — I couldn’t hold back the tears. I confess.
Todd Adams, missionary to Mali and now Papua New Guinea, gave an AMAZING message about how lost people matter to God. He offered the most riveting illustration of God’s heart for lost people that I have ever heard. He told of the day, on the mission field, when kidnappers carjacked his jeep… WITH HIS BABY AND HIS 6-YEAR OLD SON IN THE BACK SEAT.
Todd shared how the carjackers put a gun to his head, ripped him out of his seat, and drove off with his kids. As the bad guys made a u-turn on the dirt road, Todd knew he had only one chance: he ran with all his might, and jumped onto the rear mounted spare tire, holding on for dear life.
Inside he could see his little boy, weeping and crying out frantically for his dad.
Then Todd paused and described, as a dad, the anguish he felt at that moment… wanting his children back so desperately he would do ANYTHING to get them. He said that if you don’t understand the profound depths of love and desire the father has for his lost children, you don’t understand your Father at all.
Powerful stuff. I sat riveted to my seat.
Uh-oh. It’s 6:43, and I’m going to a breakfast for Simpson University. Gotta run…
To be continued…