By Tom Hocking
During my childhood, traveling in Africa almost always meant clinging to a precarious perch in the bed of truck filled with people, animals, and smelly food. Seatbelts? Hah! We didn’t need no stinkin’ seatbelts! But, beyond the safety issues and the inescapable smells, the thing I remember most about those truck trips was the DUST. Vast, billowing, relentless clouds of fine red dust; dust that changed the color of our hair and eyebrows; dust that sifted through our clothes and stuck to our skin; dust the caked our lips, clogged our nostrils, and choked our throats. . . .
Anybody up for a tall glass of ice water about now?
You see, there is nothing like desert heat and stifling dust storms to make you appreciate the amazing gift of crystal clear, thirst-quenching water. Perhaps that is why there is such a resurgent interest in “spirituality” in our culture today. People are choking in the dust of their own disillusionment. Have you seen signs of spiritual dehydration in your community? What an opportunity we have to offer the “water of life” (Rev. 22:17) contained in the gospel!
But there’s this one small problem. As a group, Christians and the church have little credibility in our culture. People may be dying of thirst but they do not see organized religion as a refreshing solution.
This is why I am delighted to introduce “Springs of Life”-a cooperative effort of the eight national ministries of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches to make the water of the gospel more accessible. This simple idea is designed to assist believers in establishing life-giving relationships in the “non-religious” spaces of their lives. What would happen if each of us connected with another believer at our place of work or in our neighborhood so that our relationship could be part of our witness? If Paul and his team shared both the gospel and their very lives (1 Thess. 2:8), maybe we should try the same strategy!
In 2008 the global community of Grace Brethren church planters and developers invited churches around the world to unite in a “Commitment to Common Ministry.” The essence of that commitment is a call to make disciples by multiplying leaders, churches, and holistic ministries. Across the world, the other National Fellowships of Grace Brethren Churches have adopted this commitment. Even here in America, where we tend to be fiercely autonomous, ALL of our national ministries and leadership organizations have adopted that commitment.
So, what is God is up to among us? Could it be that He is breaking down the dams of our pride and independence in order to unleash a river of transformation in our churches and culture? There can be no doubt that our world today is desperate for a river of true refreshment. I believe that God has prepared our national fellowship for just “such a time as this, so that we might become-in this decade-a powerful life-giving river of grace and truth.
Editor’s Note: The 2009-2011 moderator of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, Tom Hocking is challenging Grace Brethren churches in the U.S. to unite in a commitment to make disciples through planting churches, training leaders, and adopting holistic ministries. He is the pastor of the Bellflower Brethren Church in Bellflower, Calif.