The Bless the Nations Conference that was held recently has awakened something in me regarding the importance of missions. I have attended many conferences but I am ashamed to admit that this was my first time to attend a conference whose whole focus is on how the church could be a blessing to those who have not heard the Gospel of our Jesus Christ. This was the 27th conference held by Bless the Nations (BTN), a Christian movement based in Port Elizabeth.
The conference was held on July 27 to 29 2014 at Hoogland Dutch Reformed Church in Charlo, Port Elizabeth. In line with the aim of BTN which is promoting the ideals of prayer, revival, and missions, this year’s conference was aimed at addressing a ‘general paralysis’ that has settled upon the Church. This paralysis has seen the Church embracing syncretistic practices, materialism, and general doctrinal off-centeredness.
The main speakers at this conference were Tobie de Wet who has been a missionary to Japan on and off since 1974. De Wet was one of the founding fathers of the Bless the Nations Conference in PE and he opened the conference by talking about ‘His heroes of faith’. In his address he profiled missionaries from BTN who have gone out to bring the light of Christ into different nations.
Keith Lategan, who is a youth pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in PE Central was the speaker at the ‘Youth Fest’ and his focus was on helping the youth understand the Great Commission and their role in it. Alec Zacaroli, a writer and attorney from the United States of America addressed the difficult subject of poverty. He dealt with the ‘Role of Poverty Alleviation in Discipleship’ by helping delegates answer the following questions: why care for the poor, who are the poor, what is poverty, what are we called to do for the poor, and how do we do it?
Zacaroli is a founder of 25:40, a ministry dedicated to serving poor, vulnerable children in rural Southern Africa.
The ministry is based on Matthew 25:40 where Jesus commands us to show our love for Him by serving and loving others. The last speaker was Errol Mulder who spoke on the subject “The state of the Church” which was not only an analysis of where the church is but also where it should be.
In between these main sessions there were workshops, panel discussions, and an outreach to Walmer Township. The conference and my interaction with some of the 15 exhibitors has left me with this nagging feeling that the Great Commission has become the Great Omission. A former Muslim who is now a committed Christian missionary showed me the apathy that now defines some sections of the Church. May God awaken us from our great slumber.