The foci of the day were the love of Christ and other religions. In the first part of the day, John Piper spent time expositing Ephesians 3. He concluded by attempting to address two tensions that he felt existed in the room and the church as a whole. The first, he described as the belief that when the power of the gospel takes root in our souls, it causes us to work to resolve every injustice. The second, he described as the belief that when the power of the gospel takes root in our souls, it awakens in us the need to proclaim Christ to others. He feels that we can hold them together, they don’t need to compete. His suggestion for holding the two together is to say, “We Christians care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering.” He said that if we overemphasize either side “we either have a defective view of hell, or a defective heart.”
Security has been quite high around the conference. Numerous guards are at every door and we cannot move around the building without our conference badges. Some of the speakers are not listed in the program and we are asked to not take photos of some of them so as to not potentially jeopardize their ministries.
One speaker, whose husband was one of the ten killed in Afghanistan just a few months ago, gave a very sobering testimony. They were on their way back from a three week medical trip to a rural village. She spoke of his weeks in the village and their communication during that time. They had worked in Afghanistan for 30 years. The room was very quiet when she finished as we all prayed in our groups for the people of Afghanistan.
Benjamin Kwasi of Nigeria, an Anglican minster, spoke of the religious violence that has plagued Nigeria in recent years. His policy has been of no retaliation. He told stories of how the violence has affected his own life and how God has miraculously saved him a couple of times when the violence came into his house. One year ago, a group came to his house to kill him. They took him out of his room. He asked if he could pray first. He knelt on the ground and began to pray. When he opened his eyes, they were all gone, they had fled for unknown reasons. He ended by saying, “I will die one day, before that time, I have a gospel to proclaim and I will keep preaching.”
Michael Ramsden of the UK spoke about the high cost of the gospel. He asked, “Do we have a gospel of comfort?” Do we preach the same gospel that Paul was preaching when he knew that he would have to suffer for Christ? Do we love the gospel more than life? Do we believe we have been crucified with Christ? These were some of his other questions. He made the statement, “There are no truly closed countries, only places we are not willing to go.”