Reflections from a Christian Conference

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  Matthew 7:24

This week I have been attending a church leadership conference on discipleship in Atlanta with several others from Bridgewood. As always with conferences, the content is what motivates you to attend but invariably it is the personal connections that you make with people that most indelibly impact your life. At least that has been true for me this time around.

It always encourages me to meet the young leaders, both men and women, whom God is raising up. It seems to me this generation of leadership possesses a level of focus and passion that is disarming in their pursuit of bringing the gospel to the places that God is sending them. I’ve met several young couples who have moved into inner city neighborhoods with the express purpose of identifying wholeheartedly with them in order to befriend them and reach them for Christ.

We did some discipleship role playing in small groups yesterday and I was with two of these young men. It was a great learning experience and I am convinced that I took much more away from their wisdom and ways in the discipling process than they did from me. The most impacting thing for me however was their confession that their generation of leaders is crying for “gray hairs” to walk along side them and be mentors. One of the guys told me that in his city he knows of numerous young pastors looking men just like me to relate to. I looked in the mirror last night before I went to bed thinking they must have mistaken my sun bleached blond hair for gray but I was encouraged by their comment none the less.

The other thing about connecting with people at conferences is the opportunity to hear stories of God’s amazing intervention in people’s lives. Last night there was a reception at the host pastor’s home which provided another more intimate setting to visit with people. I met a pastor from Haiti, Jean Claude, who also has sun bleached blonde hair like myself. He told his incredible story of survival from the horrendous January 2010, Haitian earthquake. He had just pulled up in his car between a large hotel and its parking ramp in downtown Port au Prince when the earthquake hit. The floors of those buildings along with nearly every other building collapsed like stacks of pancakes but he was mercifully spared.

His concern turned to church where his wife and nearly one hundred children were located. Again, God spared them all. When that multistory building was shaken miraculously the bottom two floors only collapsed half way leaving space for everyone to escape unharmed.

I asked him about his home. Again he had an intriguing story to tell. When he began building his home in the early 1980s he first consulted a geologist. The geologist advised him not build where he originally was considering because it was on the earthquake fault line that runs through Port au Prince. Unfortunately all the major government buildings in town were constructed on that fault line and perished in the quake. He also advised Jean to lay his foundation on bed rock. Jean did just as he advised. He found a safer location, dug down ten feet to bedrock and constructed a foundation wall that was over three feet thick. When the earthquake hit, his house was the only one standing in his entire neighborhood.

As we pastors say: “That will preach!” And so will the things I am learning from the people I meet at this conference. Thank you Lord for your amazing family!

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