This month, MBs from across Canada are meeting together in Toronto for what I like to think of as our biennial mission conference. We will hear reports, process recommendations, assess budgets, worship and be inspired by God’s Word – all activities that reflect the life Jesus has called us to and the mission he gave us.
It seems appropriate, “prophetic” even, that we are meeting in one of the most multicultural cities in the world this year.
Global missionaries at home
We have heard repeatedly that the world is a “global village,” that mission is no longer from the “west to the rest,” rather “from everywhere to everywhere.” People are moving around the world as never before, either by choice or (in the case of refugees) by force. We can now be “global missionaries” minutes from our home.
Regardless of the place of the call, one thing has not changed: we need to answer the call. Our hearts still need to be sensitive to the mission Jesus has called us to, to the promptings of the Spirit to engage with the people he leads us to. The opportunities for global mission have never been greater, the proximity of people in need never closer.
Preaching the good news
The theme of Gathering 2016 is “Compelled,” based on 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NLT):
“Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!”
God called Paul to preach, so Paul had to fulfill that obligation or fall under divine judgment. In other words, it would have been sin for Paul not to preach. Not because of a legalistic rule he needed to follow, but because of the clarity and passion of the Spirit’s leading.
Accepting the role of executive director of CCMBC was a time of being compelled for Gwen and me. We acted in obedience to the leading of the Spirit. We knew it would have been sin to refuse God’s leading.
“My greatest desire for Gathering 2016 is that the Holy Spirit would fall on us in such a way that we are truly driven to our knees.”
The compulsion of the Spirit is not something one conjures up or responds to out of obligation, need or circumstance. It is not a response to emotional experiences, although it may feel emotional.
The compulsion of God is rooted in our experience of the grace of God, fed by ongoing relationship with God through daily time in his Word, prayer and community, instigated by the leading of the Spirit of God.
On Thursday July 7, 2016, Gathering delegates will hit the road for a first-hand experience of the sights, sounds and smells of urban Toronto ministry. My prayer is that the Spirit will deposit his perspective on our own backyards into our minds and hearts as we experience Toronto.
Moved by the Spirit
I’m praying that God will not only inform us, but will call people from among us to step out in faith and mission in new ways wherever we live. I’m praying that God will call some people to renew their missionary commitment to follow Jesus wherever he leads them to minster in his name.
I’m praying that we will hear new stories like that of Kristen and Garry Corrigan, who were prompted by the Spirit at Gathering 2008 – and within six months had moved from Vancouver to Montreal. They continue to serve there today, where Kristen is president of ETEQ.
We have to do business, but my heart for this summer is so much bigger than that. I keep praying that we would be overwhelmed by the presence of God and the mission he’s given us.
My greatest desire for Gathering 2016 is that the Holy Spirit would fall on us in such a way that we are truly driven to our knees. Not out of some sense of corporate vision, but because we are so overwhelmed by the reality of God, the truth of the gospel and the power of the cross. I pray that – corporately – we will respond to God, saying, “Whatever you want, however you are calling us, wherever you are leading us, we will obey, we will follow.”
I pray that we would be compelled by the Spirit working inside of us. Leaving Toronto, may we have a sense of what the Spirit is calling us to personally, as local congregations and as a national body of churches together.
For his glory, for the benefit of those who do not know Jesus and for the ongoing transformation of the bride.
—Willy Reimer is executive director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. He lives in Calgary.