Friday, 19 June 2009

Encouragement from a General Assembly

I am currently in Boston on my way home from Orlando where I attended the PCA General Assembly. This is the third ecclesiastical gathering I have attended this year (the others were a meeting in South Korea and the General Assembly of the Free Church in Edinburgh). The PCA Assembly was the biggest by a long way.

Although each of these gatherings is connected to the government of Christ's church, there is not an obvious link between the decisions of each denomination. Yet behind the activities and decisions of each is the Head of the church, Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that he always approves of the decisions of church courts, merely that he guides his church as it makes progress in different parts of the world.
Leaving aside the official tasks I performed at the PCA Assembly, what events made an impression on me? Three different experiences have done so.

First, one of the striking messages from the PCA Assembly came from the report of Brazilian delegates from a Presbyterian denomination there. The growth of the church there is evidence of the activities of King Jesus enlarging his kingdom. If you want to know more about this growth, I'm sure a search of the internet will give plenty information. I later met both men on several occasions and they always had big smiles on their faces (the joy of the Lord).

The second was connected to the part of the Assembly where I spent most of my time -- the Exhibition Hall. There were many booths represented, and each of them was connected to the development of Christ's kingdom in one way or another. Among them were Bible seminaries and colleges looking for theological students (or as I prefer to call them, future servants of Christ), missionary agencies looking for workers, representatives of groups concerned for the persecuted church, and Christian publishers offering their titles. Each of them is being used by Jesus to build his church. Perhaps Exhibition Hall is the wrong title for what was going on. Rather it was an expression of the many ways Jesus is served in today's world. (Why was I in the exhibition hall? Presenting our Sing Psalms material, and explaining to many visitors to the booth how they could use the psalms as a (the best) means of expressing praise to God.)

The third was meeting American friends and acquaintances who continue to assure me that they are praying for my ministry regularly, for the Free Church in its work for Christ, and for Scotland that it would soon experience great spiritual blessings. Working together for Christ is taking place, and being reminded of it again was a great encouragement to me.

Going to General Assemblies can be good for the soul.