The World Council of Churches (WCC) held its Conference on World Mission and Evangelism from 8 to 13 March. Simon Peters, Project Manager for Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today, the United Reformed Church’s focus on lifelong Christian discipleship, represented the denomination and shares his experience.
There are few words to describe how emotional it is to stand in a room surrounded by fellow followers of Jesus from around the globe singing praises to God, especially when you know that this is the closest you are likely to get to a representative group of the whole Christian Church.
The World Council of Churches’ Conference on World Mission and Evangelism has always been a place to encourage Christians, build relationships, strengthen ties and push boundaries since it began in Edinburgh in 1910.
Held roughly every decade, the conference this year was themed ‘Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship’ and hosted in Arusha, Tanzania. The theme captured the mood and priorities of Christians worldwide in the crucial fields of mission and evangelism. It closely reflected the URC’s focus on missional discipleship through Walking the Way, and I was pleasantly surprised, given the tremendous diversity of traditions and denominations represented, to find that the need for missional discipleship is a priority throughout the Church.
Emotional accounts from Christians facing persecution and violence as they walk with Jesus in Egypt, Nigeria and Syria, for example, brought us to the shocking realisation of what being a disciple really involves.
When followers from such troubled regions speak of being a counter-cultural presence of compassion in the face of oppression and violence, they know exactly what that means. They know that everything they do, big and small, brings hope to others.
It is this courage and commitment held by ordinary people, who share the love of Jesus in the most difficult of circumstances, that reminds us that everyone has their part to play as a disciple, wherever they are.