Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bravery and other rarities.

Early last month I had the privilege of attending Fuller Seminary's Preaching and Justice Conference called Mighty Waters. 

I heard about it through Tina, who heard about it through Una, who posted about it on Facebook. 

Tina's reaction to the two day line up was something like, "It's like they took all of my heroes and put them in one conference!" 

Gary Haugen and Bethany Hoang (International Justice Mission) 
Eugene Cho (One Days Wages)
Brenda Salter McNeil (President of Salter McNeil & Associates, Former IV staff)
Eric Metaxas (Wrote the William Wilberforce biography that inspired Amazing Grace, the movie)
Mark Labberton (Fuller's Director of the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching)
and Sara Groves (leading worship).

Um, yes, please! 

I attended with 4 of my friends and fellow IV staffers. It was AMAZING, to say the least. There are few things that continue to stay with me since the three day affair.

Reframing the way I understand "justice"
What comes to mind when you think of justice? 
Hell-fire and brimstone? A tween girls clothing shop? Helping the poor? 

Well, Mark Labberton defined it as "the right ordering of power. When ordered correctly, it gives life. When unjust, it corrupts. God longs for human flourishing. God sees the marginalized, lost, enslaved, and says 'this is not right'." This helps me remember justice isn't an add-on to faith. It is to permeate all that I do, think, and am. Seeking justice is about living a life that seeks to help others flourish and break the barriers that keep human flourishing from happening. 

Am I choosing bravery or safety?
Friday night of the conference was opened up to the public where Gary Haugen spoke and Sara Groves performed. Gary Haugen began by asking, "When do you think the disciples realized following Jesus would be dangerous? When did you?" That question alone still haunts me. He continued... 
"The greatest hindrance to truly following Jesus is fear. Jesus is in the business of making people braver, not making their situations safer."
After his inspiring and challenging exhortation, he began a customary Q & A round. A gentleman asked the last question of the evening. He asked if IJM has offices in the Middle East. Through his thick accent, we came to find out that his own sister was trafficked in his home country of Iran and is said to be somewhere in Saudi Arabia. 'Please, is there anything you can do?', he pleaded, 'I have much bravery to give'Those words stay with me. I hope I do to. 

About Women... 
Looking at the line up at this preaching conference, I was already blessed to see gifted women given space to lead and influence (considering there are many male pastors out there who wouldn't dare share the pulpit with them). I found myself thankful for Fuller's intentionality in this, however, the most affirming moment for me was when Eugene Cho opened his preaching with a word of affirmation and advocacy for these women. 
"How important it is that we have the voices of women in the church and to think we are still struggling with this issue in the church is just tragic...that there is a portion of the church that is missing out of the gifts of women."  
These words were SO affirming to hear. As a woman in leadership. As a woman in a room full of men. As a leader in the church and witness on campus. 
Thank you, Eugene Cho.

InterVarsity staff at Mighty Waters, posing with Eugene Cho.
In a day and age when just about anyone can grab their five minutes of fame, we need to choose our heroes wisely. 

This photo represents just that. 
In fact, this conference represented just that.

Conferences come and go. 
Author and professor, Bobby Clinton, once said that if you even apply one thing within a month of a conference you attend, you are ahead of the pack. 

Taking some time today to reflect and write is one way I'm trying to continue digesting what I learned and aiming to live it out with bravery.


Teri said...

Would SO love to have a face to face conversation about much of what you mention. Like, over coffee... or on a run... or a road trip...

Blah Blah Blayla said...

What about drinking coffee during a run on the road?
...or maybe just coffee next time I'm in town. =)

Anonymous said...

What a life changing conference. I am so glad you had the chance to go and be encouraged.

Una said...

Great post, Layla. I'm so happy (and just a wee bit jealous) that you were able to attend this conference. Things like this nurture my nostalgia for the west coast. ;-)

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