Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Great Reversal

By David Horn, ThD
Director, The Ockenga Institute

What a strange, perplexing moment it was. It was that moment a few years ago, before both my parents passed away, when I realized that my brothers and I were taking on a parental role for our mom and dad. Wordsworth and Coleridge called the phenomenon “return to childhood.” Caught by the inevitable vulnerabilities of their own mortality, my parents needed the almost identical care and control that they gave us in the first years of our lives, all the way down to those uncomfortable moments when we had to take away their keys from driving, and help them with their basic bodily care and functions, and when we took over the management of the basic decisions in their living.
It doesn’t take much to find these dramatic changes everywhere we look. We find it in the natural world every day at dusk and dawn, when the moon takes over the mastery of the sky from the sun, and visa versa. Or, how about on a socio-political level: Parse what must have been some uncomfortable moments in the 18th and early 19th centuries when we, as Americans, and our native motherland, England, had to gradually adjust our thinking about our mutual roles in the world. Who is the world power now? The great reversals in life!
Several of us, I think, saw the beginnings of yet another “great reversal” a couple of weeks ago at Cape Town. I had the privilege, along with several others from Gordon-Conwell, to participate at the Lausanne Congress: About 5,000 individuals coming from 198 nations from the world, all in one great room; what an amazing experience! One of the conversations on the second day involved a panel of African Anglican bishops and the newly created Anglican archbishop of the United States. In great humility, Archbishop Duncan, from Pittsburgh, thanked the African Anglican bishops for taking the lead in formulating the new Anglican structures for the West. What an amazing thing to behold these past years, as Christians from the West have come under the authority and direction of the Majority World church.
My sense is that what has been happening in the Anglican church in the past ten or so years is at the forefront of what we will see throughout the global missions movement in the future. Unreached people group?: We are used to talking about nations and indigenous tribes in Africa and parts of Asia in these terms. But, what about Denmark and Germany and France and parts of the United States even as being identified as unreached peoples groups? Already we see the equilibrium of the global missions movement shifting as we find missionaries from the Church in China and Korea and parts of Africa at our very doorsteps, spreading the Gospel to us Westerners. Thanks be to God; the Great Reversal has begun!

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