Together for the Gospel

Published 8:54 pm Friday, April 25, 2014

By Chris Surber

Thursday evening, Christina and I joined a group of Suffolk area friends in a barn on Cypress Chapel Road. The word “barn” does no justice to this fine meeting house. The word “meeting” does even less justice to what was a sacred gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ.

We enjoyed fellowship and worship and heard updates from the folks who founded 1040 Visions, a nonprofit organization that is breaking ground on projects aimed at human need and the delivery of the Gospel to Burkina Faso, Africa.

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This is what true ecumenism looks like. We didn’t sacrifice the Gospel for the sake of fellowship; we fellowshipped around core Gospel essentials. We set aside non-essentials to lift up the worth of God in Christ to partner together in spreading the eternal redemption found in Jesus.

Our guest speaker was an African pastor named Joseph Dayamba. He’s a delightful man, the kind of man whose countenance shines with the very light of Christ. His love for people is palpable. His passion for Christ is infectious.

He spoke of Muslim imams who once sought his death being converted to Christ. He spoke of children’s lives being transformed by education and the love of Jesus.

God is doing amazing things in Africa. Bu I was struck by the immediate power in that barn. It was the power of the Gospel to bring together people representing various churches across a variety of denominations.

The very Gospel that brings reconciliation had brought us together with no false pretense. We united for the Gospel alone, as it alone has the power to unite.

The Gospel alone has the power to weave together strands of such diverse variety into one tapestry. The Gospel alone is the power to set men free from division and unite them in Christ.

We were gathered to talk about doing that for another part of the world, and it was happening in our midst. We were the present living expression of our hope for Burkina Faso in the future.

We had brought one of our sons. Six-year-old “Pastor Ephram” is already a fine preacher, because he understands the core matters of the Gospel. I watched him listen to Pastor Joseph and nod approvingly at Joseph’s desire to spread the Gospel among children.

Ephram is already a missionary to Haiti and is excited about our family moving to Haiti early next year for the sake of the Gospel. Ephram is my pastor. His theology is simple. We need Jesus.

That night, we were living the faith of a child. We were together for the Gospel for the nations, united in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.

That’s what true ecumenism looks like. It can’t be manufactured. It can’t come at the expense of the Gospel. It happens naturally when brothers and sisters in Christ set aside secondary traditions and say, “How do we live out the Great Commission in our generation?”

To learn more about the work of 1040 Visions in Burkina Faso, Africa visit www.1040visions.org or contact my dear friend, their missions mobilizer, Red Barnes at red@1040visions.org.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.