INcontext Ministries, a ministry focusing on global trends and events from a mission perspective, is bringing a challenging one-day missions conference geared towards youth and young adults to Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg in July.
The 23:59 Conference will focus on the call to discipleship and missions for a new generation in a changing world, and will include a rare opportunity to hear a talk by a young Christian Arab missions leader serving in a closed country.
Calling this event the “23:59 Conference” may lead to some criticism, as much has been said against those who have attempted to predict the times of the world’s end. This is by no means the aim of the conference. Yet we, as Christians, need to realise that we are living in critical times. If the current world events are viewed from a Biblical perspective, it is quite clear that within a spiritual timeframe, we are seconds before midnight. Mike Burnard, who founded INcontext Ministries and who has served in international missions for over 30 years, says that we are living in times of unprecedented change – never before have there been such rapid political and social shifts on a global scale. God is opening doors in the Arab world and in the East for the Gospel, but if these opportunities are not seized by the Western church, the worldwide Body of Christ could look very different in 50 years time.
Burnard established INcontext in 2010 after realising the need for churches and mission groups to be informed about current global trends in order to adapt their mission approaches accordingly. One of the primary activities of INcontext is the running of information seminars, and it was at these seminars run throughout South Africa that Mike noticed a disturbing trend. Without exception, most of the delegates were from the “Baby Boomer” generation – with only a handful under the age of 40. Mike started to ask why this was the case, and what it meant for the future of global missions.
It soon became clear that there was an urgent need to encourage a greater awareness of global missions among young people – from high school students to young adults just starting out in their careers and still making critical decisions about what they wanted to achieve in their lifetimes. Young people are bombarded with all kinds of messages about the supposed ‘essentials’ in life, all of which boil down to a core attitude of pursuing their own comfort and happiness at all costs. From a Biblical perspective, this attitude goes directly against Jesus’ call to His disciples, which involved self-denial and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.
Is the concept of missions still relevant in the world today? Yes, unquestionably so. Is it realistic to think that the youth of today would seriously consider going into fulltime mission instead of pursuing a ‘career’? That is far more difficult to answer. Young people of today, including young people in church, are exposed far less to the whole idea of world missions and are therefore less likely to even wrestle with the idea of it being something they might be called to. And even though we would all agree that the “Great Commission” was given to all of His disciples, both then and now, how many Christian parents, pastors and youth leaders encourage their sons or daughters or those in their churches or youth groups to take up the mandate of carrying the Gospel to the ends of the earth, regardless of the cost?
Biblical view of global events, trends
“The single biggest challenge in missions today is securing the next generation of missionaries who are willing to sacrifice ambitions, success, money and life for the sake of the Gospel of Christ,” says Mike Burnard. “The whole point of this conference is to explore a contemporary Biblical worldview of global events and global trends, to equip young, committed believers who want to make radical life choices for Jesus, and to gain an understanding of the global Kingdom battlefield and what it means to be a modern-day missionary, both locally and globally. For young people who are serious about living their lives for something of greatest significance – the glory of God and the Kingdom of heaven – this is a conference not to be missed.”
The conference will be held in Kimberley on Monday, July 9, at the Bikers’ Church; in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday, July 11, at St John’s Anglican Church, and in Johannesburg at Rosebank Union Church on Saturday, July 14.
More information is available on the INcontext Ministries website, or by contacting the following people: Mike Burnard – firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 865 7380; Gustav Krös (Kimberley) – email@example.com or 082 299 6502; and Sakkie Fourie (Johannesburg) – firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 878 6566.