The confinement in our homes is forcing millions to stop abruptly, cancel all our plans, and take time to look in the mirror.
A line borrowed from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your Kingdom Come”, served as main theme of the summit, uniting 92 national alliances. The General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance closed on 13 November with a final pledge.
Every four to six years, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) celebrates its unity and plans its next season at a General Assembly (GA), gathering some 800 leaders from all over the globe. It takes care of administrative procedures and serves to formulate a fresh vision for the 600 million Evangelical community. The last General Assembly was to be held in 2014 in Seoul, South Korea, but was postponed until 2019.
For seven days, November 7-13, Indonesia’s capital Jakarta hosted the WEA’s 13th General Assembly since the 1950s. A line borrowed from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your Kingdom Come”, served as main theme of the summit, uniting 92 national alliances leaders to refresh their passion and commitment to further Christ’s reign on the earth.
The organizers have aimed to invite three groups of people: endorsers or ‘decision makers’, who are the approving authority and direction-setters, normally composed of elder leaders; influencers or ‘mobilizers’, who have the passion, social skill and ability to mobilize people and resources; and implementers, or ‘doers’, who will get the job done, and make the plans happen at all levels, especially on the ground.
FINAL EVENING: LOVE, HUMILITY, HOPE, URGENCY
At the World Evangelical Alliance General Assembly closing evening, in a surprising visit, the conference welcomed Indonesia’s Minister of Internal Affairs. A moderate Muslim, he delivered an improvised talk with words about bridges between religious communities and common work towards public peace.
He had prepared a special gift: a beautiful texture map of Indonesia to WEA. In return, Secretary General of the WEA Efraim Tendero gave him a medallion of peace as a recognition for his efforts to promote security and peaceful atmosphere in Indonesia.
The final plenary session was led by George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization. Dressed in a long-sleeve shirt portraying a map of the world, he spoke about being thankful for what God has already given. In his typical radical voice, the 81-year-old veteran ignited the audience with a calling to serve the Lord with love, humility, hope, urgency. He accented on radical grace leading to radical discipleship. “Praise the Lord! If He can use a struggling, 81-year-old man like me, He can use anyone else!”, ended George Verwer under standing ovations from the assembly.
In a final prayer, two young people prayed a commissioning prayer over the WEA national alliance leaders.
WEA PLEDGE: 4 COMMITMENTS
The WEA General Assembly closed with a pledge of four commitments:
(1) Articulating Evangelical essentials in the 21st Century
“Evangelical essentials are timeless, but how they are presented to others in society requires careful consideration. Sensitivity, intentionality and boldness are needed to transmit these essentials effectively”.
(2) Being authentic followers of Jesus
“An authentic follower of Jesus follows Him personally and in community. Every Christ-follower should be engaging with others and inviting them into a journey of Christ-likeness in every area of their lives. Authentic followers reflect the image of God in who they are and all they do, as the fruit of sanctification, for God’s glory”.
(3) Intergenerational leadership
“As different parts of the Body of Christ, each generation offers unique gifts to advance the disciple-making effort. Congregations (and other communities and formations of Christ-followers) that incorporate the principle of intergenerational differences and capitalize collaboratively on the wisdom of members from each generation”.
(4) Global focus, national impact
“Following Jesus takes place within the context of His body of believers – the Church – locally, nationally and globally. Unity matters to the WEA. This unity will be demonstrated in a shared focus on holistic disciple-making during the next decade. The WEA is committed to maximizing its effectiveness by establishing and building up national alliances, strengthening its commissions, task forces and initiatives, while simultaneously nurturing new and creative networks and movements to accelerate spiritual formation”.
MAPPING THE GA WEEK
The conference had opened on November 7 with a spectacular ceremony and then proceeded with plenary sessions, workshops, networks and business sessions. Every day of the GA weighed upon a general theme: Kingdom, Generations, Renewal, Unity, Leadership.
Twelve main sessions captured the hearts and imagination of the attendants: Your Kingdom Come; State of the WEA; The Kingdom in 21st Century Cities; Urgency of Disciple Making; Generational Discipleship; New Breeds of Leaders; Disruptive Innovations; Concert of Prayers; Reinforcements or Replacements; Mindset Shifts; Recalibrate, Realign and Resurgence; Commissioning.
Halfway through the assembly, the participants had an opportunity to make a pause for recalibration, realignment, and renewal as they joined 6:00 AM worship services with local believers. After this early start, the day proceeded with more downtime, local excursions and regional meetings for reflection and fellowship.
WATER THAT HEALS THE LAND
The new week began with Rev. C. B. Samuel, advisor of Micah Global, returning on Ezekiel 47:1,8-12. He said that every teaching about the Holy Spirit which does not have a foundation in both the Old and the New Testament, cannot be Biblical. Rather than the transforming missional engagement of the Holy Spirit, today His presence is only sought after as entertaining and experiential. The imagery of Ezekiel is one of “water” flowing out from a “temple”. In the NT, these metaphors would refer to the Spirit and the Church.
In v.9, the water flows towards the Dead Sea, and “the sea waters were healed, because wherever the river goes, everything will live”. The problem with mission today is that our talking about the Holy Spirit has been confined between four walls, Samuel said. The church is church only when it is missional. “In His Kingdom the lion and the lamb will be together. The Jew and the Gentile will be together. This is the character of the Kingdom.”
CONCERT OF PRAYERS FOR EVERY NATION
A challenging message by Dick Eastman, International President of Every Home for Christ, engaged the audience in a message, entitled “Concert of Prayers”. He followed up on a song preceding his talk that said, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise.”
He opened by quoting Dr. A.T. Pierson, “Wherever the church is aroused and the world’s wickedness arrested, someone somewhere has been praying.” Christians should engage effectively praying for every country round the world. To lay a foundation for prayers, Dick Eastman outlined five main areas to focus: Open hands (in Mt. 9:37-38 God gives us the Great Condition: prayer); Open doors (Col. 4:2-3); Open minds (Acts 26:17-18); Open hearts (2 Cor. 4:3-4); Open heavens (Isaiah 45:8).
With the help of maps containing the name of every country, the audience spent focused minutes in prayer. To make sure every single nation is prayed for, the map lists country names grouped within the days of a month. Every delegate at the GA interceded for the nations listed on the date of his birthday.
RICH HISTORY OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLIES
The World Evangelical Alliance is a network of Evangelical communities in 130 nations, and 100 organizations, representing some 600 million Evangelical Christians. According to its webpage, the “WEA seeks to strengthen local churches through national alliances, supporting and coordinating grassroots leadership and seeking practical ways of showing the unity of the body of Christ.”
The organization was founded in London back in 1846. Today, it embraces member-bodies whose identity is rooted in historic Biblical Christianity. The WEA affirms the Biblical unity of the Church celebrating diversity of practices and theological emphases consistent with its Statement of Faith, while at the same time recognizing the dynamic tension between unity and diversity.
Every four to six years, the WEA holds a summit for vision renewal, connecting networks, and financial reporting, as well as holding an election of new International Council. The event is called General Assembly, and during the past three decades was held in Manila, Philipines (June 1992), Abbotsford, Canada (May 1997), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (May 2001), Pattaya, Thailand (October 2008). During this time it was consecutively led by Agustin Vencer (1992-2001), Gary Edmonds (2002-2004), Geoff Tunnicliffe (2005-2014), and presently by Bp. Efraim Tendero.
The mandate of Bp. Tendero was coming to an end in February 2019. However, the International Council had decided to extend his term by another year, so that there would be adequate focus on the Jakarta General Assembly. To facilitate the recruitment and on-boarding of an incoming WEA Secretary General, the council has established a human resource group tasked with setting up a Search Committee.
During the past couple of years, the organization accepted 16 new members from various places round the world. Since April 2019, whenever a new national alliance is accepted as a member of one of its eight Regional Alliances (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, North America, Middle East & North Africa, South Pacific), it automatically also becomes a member of WEA.
BUSINESS PROCEEDINGS AND ELECTIONS
At a Monday morning business session, the General Assembly proceeded to grant mandate to its International Council. Eight of its members had already been nominated by the Regional Alliances and voted in a few days earlier. The session needed to accept the reports of the WEA IC Chairman Shana and Secretary General Tendero, to take care of electing the rest of the council, as well as to discuss some amendments in its by-laws.
The voting affirmed that the new WEA International Council would consist of fifteen members, including: 8 regional directors (Goodwill Shana, Noel Pantoja, Desmond Austin, Frank Hinkelmann, Marta Gaspari, David Guretzki, Bassem Fekry and Brian Winslade); 5 members at large (Mario Li Hing, Palmira dos Santos, Yamini Ravendran, Snehal Pinto, Kenneth Artz); one emeritus member (John Langlois) and the Secretary General Efraim Tendero. The mandate of the new council commences in November 2019, and will continue until the next WEA General Assembly. It is intended to “represent the cultural mosaic that is the fabric of today’s global Church.”
In addition, the congregation discussed several amendments in the organization’s by-laws: (a) that Regional Alliances would be formed on geographical (and not linguistic or cultural) basis; and every national alliance would only able to participate in one Regional Alliance; (b) that if a new organization from a country that already has a national alliance member of WEA applies for membership in a Regional Alliance or WEA, its application will need to be supported by the existing WEA member from that country; (c) that acceptance of a new member is based on their consent to abide by the WEA by-laws; (d) that in the case of membership termination of a national alliance, WEA would need to have the agreement of the corresponding Regional Alliance; (e) that in case of postal or electronic voting, a lack of reply on behalf of the International Committee members would be counted for “abstention” instead of “affirmative” (as it was so far).
After heated debates, the counting of ballots first showed 76% in favor for the changes suggested by the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. According to the organization’s by-laws, any amendment in the document can only come in effect with a majority of 75% affirmative vote of the present voting members. Later in the evening at the plenary session, however, the International Committee chair Dr. Goodwill Shana announced that there had been a miscalculation of the ballots’ percentage. With a 37:13 vote (not counting abstentions), the math showed that only 69% of the delegates were in favor of the amendments. This was insufficient for a valid decision, and thus the by-laws remained unchanged.
For the first time in decades, the WEA announced a budget without financial deficit or debt. The issue had hung as a heavy burden for the past few administrations, and thus the Secretary General expressed his gratitude to the Lord for this achievement.
The WEA is a family of a number of structures and networks that work together constantly. Since 1974, it has maintained six commissions: Theological, Missional, Religious, Women’s, Youth, Information Technology. At Jakarta, some of these commissions received new directors.
LAST REFLECTIONS AND PLENARIES
As a last morning reflection, Rev. C.B. Samuel spoke about what kind of leaders are able to bring hope to the world. In Ezekiel 34, God expresses His frustration with leaders who do not take care of the flock. They build empires, they are “brutal, and have ruled harshly.”
“I am concerned with Christian leaders who come from corporate culture and bring in a type of thinking that cares about achievements, but does not care about people”, Pastor Samuel admonished the audience. In that same chapter, God commits to send a shepherd to take care of his people. “It is easier to develop leadership in a servant, than to develop servanthood in a leader. God needs shepherds after his own heart,” concluded C.B. Samuel.
“Youth are leaders today; not just tomorrow”, insisted Pastor Tan Seow How, of Heart of God Church, Singapore. “Do not entertain youth; empower them. Youth need to be invited, involved, included before they can be influenced and impacted. Instead, we wrongly attempt impressing them.”
In two consecutive plenary sessions entitled “Reinforcements or Replacements”, and “Mind Shifts to Raise and Release the Next Generation of Leaders”, pastor How inspired the conference to create space to empower youth. In traditional Protestant culture, How said, the tendency is: “believe-become-behave-belong”. However, the mindset of youth culture is radically different: “belong-believe-become-behave”. Three young people from Heart of God Church stepped on stage sharing how their life was changed as they joined the family of the youth focused ministry.
WEA ON THE WEB
In a designated app, the organizers packed information on GA program, speakers, resources, stories, partners and sponsors. It also provided translation help, a prayer wall, and options for connecting.
On its YouTube channel, the WEA has set up a video playlist, regularly uploading recordings from the GA. Synopses of stage talks can also be found on the event blog. The organization’s Twitter account @WEAGA2019 kept feeding relevant information, interviews and snapshots of the event, while a hashtag #jakarta2019 was promoted to mark social media interactions and references.
A new app that had been launched only months earlier, was presented at the assembly. It is developed by Linking Global Voices, a ministry aiming to “serve the global missions community by focusing on the unique role of networks.” The app is called GENMobile, and is designed to be a place to discover and serve alongside with other networks, collaborating as followers of Christ. Every national alliance or network can have its own profile (for invitation, contact here), presenting its own contact info and ministries, as well as receiving an opportunity to search for and connect with Christian networks across the globe. The application was presented by Eldon Porter, Consultant for Global Engagement on behalf of Linking Global Voices. In a day and age of networking and crisscrossed peer-to-peer communications, of personal linking and flat interconnectedness, GENMobile arrives as a timely and incredibly useful gizmo. The app is intended specifically to serve as a network of Christian networks.
In a similar endeavor to meet contemporary tendencies of interpersonal communication and peer-to-peer encouragement, the Global Institute of Leadership (GIL) was founded to bring together national alliances leaders from around the world via a platform for mutual support and training. GIL is an initiative of WEA administering both online and on-site peer learning communities. The grid sign up walks the participant through a questionnaire of their strong skills and ministry needs. Based on this information, the institute later facilitates for personal connections, as well as more specialized training as needed.
PARTNER MISSION IN FOCUS
A number of networks passionate about reaching and awakening a generation partner under WEA: Converge (aimed at youth); GCF (reaching children); 1for50 (training children); Sports Movement (children & youth); 414 movement (children & youth).
The ministry and vision of several world missions was featured during the WEA GA.
The 4/14 Movement involves passionate focus to reach, rescue, root, and release this emerging generation into the dream of God for their lives. The organization is explicitly intentional about partnering with leaders of the world on various levels for the sake of acquainting children and teenagers with God. The organizers announced relaunching their 4/14 Training Academy intended to equip Christians. A 4/14 global leader summit was announced for May 2020.
Global Institute of Leadership (GIL) is a division of the WEA. Interim chairperson of GIL Dr. Brad Smith said, “The GIL is set up to facilitate regional face-to-face and virtual peer learning to strengthen relationships between alliances. It is a long-term, decentralized initiative”.
#Gospel is an organization created to bring the gospel to the current generation in ways that sync their culture and uniqueness. The group provides discipleship tools to engage the next generation with the gospel, utilizing social media, video content, and the book #Gospel: Life, Hope, and Truth for Generation Now. It is a book/media project that breaks down Paul’s explanation of the gospel in Romans in a way that is accessible and engaging for culture today. This project is designed to use current cultural references and stories to draw us into a thoughtful conversation about what the Gospel really is, and how it radically alters our everyday lives.
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization. Founded back in 1952, it partners with more than 7500 local churches to release children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty in Jesus’ name. Currently, the organization serves over two million babies, children and young adults in 25 countries. The ministry is Christ-focused, Child-focused and Church-based.
Tearfund is a Christian charity called to follow Jesus wherever the need is greatest. To overcome the worst effects of poverty and disasters, Tearfund works alongside local churches and other locally-based organizations in over 50 countries to help people realize their plans for a better future.
World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow the Lord in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Other partners of the WEA GA were: The Global Leadership Summit Youth (leading the worship sessions); Youth Force (setting up the video and tech support); and the Sentul International Convention Center (providing premises for the conference).
CLOSING RECOGNITION OF WEA SERVICE
In a session of appreciation and gratitude, the organizers gave plaques of recognitions to previous WEA leaders like Augustin Vencer and Geoff Tunnicliffe, as well as to current figures like John Langlois and Brian Stiller.
John Langlois’s plaque of recognition was handed “for his fifty years of faithful and tireless service in providing leadership to WEA in many areas, including theology, religious liberty, governance and accountability.” Since the previous 2008 General Assembly, Langlois has been elected emeritus member for life in the WEA International Council.
“We have this incredible infrastructure; we have those beautiful ministries of WEA; we see such tremendous needs in the world! And what God has created among us is astounding!”, emotionally exclaimed Brian Stiller, Global Ambassador of WEA, after he was handed plaque of recognition for his timely interventions over several decades, helping to firm up WEA sustainability. “All that He’s been about in our lives together… there is something going on in the Heavenlies we know nothing about. But by His Spirit we can link hands together and accomplish His will. As we go from here, I pray that we will leave in hope, and in risking faith!”
With a Scriptural blessing from Joshua 1:17, the General Assembly prayed for the newly elected International Council: “Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you; only may the Lord your God be with you as He was with Moses.” Medallions of recognition were given to every member of the governing body of the WEA.
A SENSE OF NEW MOMENTUM
Thus, after an exuberant week with a beautiful texture of plenary messages; a spicy bounty of Indonesian cuisine, a plentitude of topical workshops and networks, a delightful profusion of worship experience, and deep sense of Christ’s inspiration and guidance, the Jakarta General Assembly 2019 officially closed.
The delegates left Indonesia with a sense of destiny and a new momentum, looking forward to a decade of the Spirit’s moving in unique ways, awaking and raising a new generation, and furthering God’s Kingdom on this earth.