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.