Today was the opening ceremony of the Conference/Music Festival.
Mom talked Sunday about Abraham’s faith. He was told that he would inherit the whole land and he didn’t have enough space for one foot to call his own. He was named by God ‘father of nations’ when he had not one child.
He believed the promises.
We are Abraham’s children. I gaze up at the high vaulted ceiling of the cathedral that will house our conference. There’s an almost solemn hush over the rows of empty pews. These pews so unlike most Congolese church seating arrangements, yet such a blessing to us people looking to seat a thousand this week.
The seats are almost all empty. Only in the front row are a few scattered people sitting. Behind them the still void is like mocking laughter.
Where are the people?
While the opening ceremony was only for the important state and church leaders, it was still a chilling shock to realize how many of them were missing.
So many empty plastic seats in that cold, large cathedral. So many yawning pews stretching far to the back.
Although Abraham only saw Isaac, the promised multitudes of Israel were eventually born. And one day a man piled twelve large stones together. The representation of the fulfillment of the promise – the twelve tribes of Israel – he arranged into an altar on top of a mountain.
He dared the followers of Baal to prove the supremacy of their gods. They were many, and Elijah was one.
Out of all the chosen race, only one stood by the promises.
In that echoing church, the music begins to swell and I feel like Elijah. I feel like my family and Uncle Rich and these few Congolese pastors, we’ve all banded together and laid our dreams and hopes for these people on the altar. It looks pitiful. It looks foolish.
There are so many empty chairs. So much wickedness in this town. So many unrepentant hearts.
And we are not Elijah. I am not Elijah. I stand there knowing that I am asking for a miracle but I do not have Elijah’s faith nor his powerful prayer nor his righteous testimony.
I am not Elijah but God is still God.
When we go through with the program and the chairs are still mostly empty, I can feel the cold water being sloshed all over our slaughtered dreams and waiting hopes. So much water.
And it seems foolish, but I believe that God will come down. I believe that tomorrow the benches will be full, that the thousand will be there. I believe that hearts will be transformed. I believe that this conference will be used mightily by the Holy Spirit.
Because God is still God and His promises hold.
This is His promise; I will heal your faithlessness. (Jeremiah 3:22)
The faithlessness of my own cold heart, the faithlessness that has resulted in bitter marriages, splintered families, passive men and rebellious children.
God will come down and His Spirit will work and He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers that this land may be healed.
Uncle Rich speaks and I know that this is the message Isiro has been waiting for. That somehow God’s plan is always right, and this is His plan.
For years different people have been praying for something like this, for years God has been preparing individual hearts…..
And now I wait to see the glory of God descend among His people.
When we came to Congo and I started speaking Jesus to Congo-girls, I painted out God’s promise to hang on my wall as a reminder:
I will be their God and they will be My people.
God always fulfills His promises. Even if it is only the generations after that in looking back see the transformation that came from this week, I know that there will be transformation.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Photo credits to Mr. Desmond who came with Uncle Rich.