Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

A Few Concluding Thoughts from Beirut

About eight years ago, three of us sat in a small guest house just outside of Damascus and dreamed—an Australian OM Director, a London businessman, and a NW pastor. Seeing both the strategic location of Lebanon and a church weakened by disunity and independence, we began to put together a deliberate plan for bringing ministries together—and called it the Near East Initiative.  It is pretty amazing what has happened.  Each year since, more and more people have been coming from all over the world to think together and pray together and act together.

This weekend, nearly 150 gathered together in North Beirut, coming from the States, Europe, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, the Gulf, Australia, Canada, South America, and Africa.  We met to create initiatives that will more effectively reach the next generation, plant churches, build leaders, do relief work, and pray. It’s too early to talk about one of the initiatives, but it could radically change the landscape.  Exciting stuff!   

My conversations were wide ranging.  I had lunch today with a very smart former executive of Frito-Lay, listening to his story of how God has brought him from success into significance; Wednesday night I sat across from a former Army Ops officer who trains people how to be alert to terrorism.  He travels all over the world into some of the most dangerous places.  I was on the edge of my seat. Thursday night I had dinner with an American who travels all over the place, determining recommendations for grants. He loves to see money go to great kingdom projects. I listened to a nuclear scientist on Friday morning give some of the most amazing predictions for where the world is going.  I prayed with a young man from the Midwest who has been serving God in Yemen; visited with a man who has begun an international school for kids in Amman, that is attracting Muslim parents from the highest offices in Jordan; hung out with an oil man from London who is focusing on business start ups; listened to a man from Hong Kong tell us the amazing work God is doing in China; visited with a pastor from Aleppo, Syria, a church I have preached in, tell me how the besieged government is trying to reach out to Christians; preached today in a church strategically placed along the green line near South Beirut, where believers from Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, etc congregate and worship and are doing great things.  And it all started with teaching 17 students at a seminary in East Beirut, who are from all over the Middle East, and who are training to be tomorrow’s leaders

Wow! It beats driving to Gresham. I’m sure I have missed a lot.  There’s something so energizing about being with the global body of Christ.  Tonight at 1:00am I will travel to Ethiopia to see missionaries.  It gets pretty lonely on this side of the world, and I am sure it gets especially tough in Ethiopia.  I am looking at it as an extended visitation.  If you think of me, pray it is safe and fruitful. I am so grateful for a church that is global, that is serious about engaging in ministry around the world.  I am also anxious to return back to family later this week—and the body of Christ at Village.  

  • online writer jobs
    5:18 AM, 8 November 2011

    having privilege to be attached in this kind of blog will give me understanding to some issues and concern in my community.

  • Deborah Hays
    8:42 AM, 8 November 2011

    Still praying and watching to see how God will continue to use the giftings He has given you to enlarge His kingdom. I pray for your safe return.

  • Elizabeth Mains
    10:52 AM, 8 November 2011

    Hi Uncle John, mom gave me the link to your blog. Thanks for sharing your travels, it’s so inspiring for the kids and I to look far beyond our horizon, and grasp our “world” is such a small part of the bigger picture.

  • Lee
    8:05 PM, 19 June 2012

    Diane – thanks for wtiirng such a sick article! SNAP! that’s why I love working with young adults they keep me current.the latest word I’ve learned is chuuuch .as in AMEN! it’s CHURCH! (a good thing) My students crack up when I use it appropriately.

  • Richard
    11:08 PM, 21 June 2012

    David, I’ve been pondering and there is celniatry a point to being pointless in contrast to the organizationally-driven agenda of most churches. At the same time, I think that being family is not really pointless. Families run like an organization are rarely healthy as are families that are really pointless. Families, in addition to being a place to receive and give love, support (emotional and financial), encouragement, and share wisdom, serve the function of providing front-line relationship-coaching a place of grace to offset the disgrace we all experience in just living life. Some do all of that well and many poorly but that seems to be the point of being in a family in contemporary society. And, maybe that is the point of being part of spiritual community. [I’ve liked Larry Crabb’s book title “Safest Place on Earth”] One point of the church communities in the cultures of the NT seems to have been to provide an alternate family as becoming a Christ-follower often meant loss of biological family and loss of membership in work-guilds. Their culture would not understand our individualism at all. The other point I’m seeing is to read Paul’s behavior admonitions as serving his pastoral relationship-coaching role. In fact, it’s community-based relationship-coaching. His people were likely low on social graces and may have been from recently captured areas. Reading them as moral commandments that affect our relationship to God does violence to Paul’s main point about the universality of the Atonement.These days I’m seeing the point of church to be as much about providing community-based relationship-coaching as about anything else. Just some thoughts.PaulLove your work and appreciate your journey.

  • Julie
    7:44 AM, 6 September 2012

    Dear Solomon,I am sorry to take so long to answer your qustoien on our website. I lost my password and was unable to open the comments. I would be happy to answer any qustoiens you may have concerning faith, love, and trials. You may contact me easier on my email address, and I will respond immediately.Tom Dotson

  • Deena
    1:04 AM, 27 February 2013

    Dude, right on there brteohr.

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