Transform: On Renewing One’s Mind21 Sep 2017
By Gezile Sakala
“In a world full of false saviours offering false answers, our generation is enticed to look beyond what God says for truth and advice. We are seduced to follow the crowd, or Google the solution, and miss out on what God has for us. At Transform, we are praying to see a whole new generation of men and women engage with their family, their church, their neighbours, and the nations, in a way that changes the world and ultimately glorifies God.”
An extract from the description of Transform India 2017 – they honestly had me at “India”, but as soon as the mission and purpose of the conference became clear, I became even more certain that it was something I had to be a part of. I just knew that I wanted to be a part of this experience, and see what God was doing in His church in another country. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Transform India 2017 is geared towards mobilising and equipping young people in their 20s and 30s to reach out and spread the gospel in their communities. While most attendees were from churches within Regions Beyond based in India, Transform hosted people from all over the world. The team from Gateway Church and City Hill in Dubai represented people from many different cultural and social contexts: husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, singles, some in university, some working, and some still waiting on God to provide jobs. We were different in a lot of ways, but we were united by our common love for Jesus and our passion to see His good news reach the nations.
The young people at the conference greeted us with great warmth and love, and they were so open while sharing their lives and struggles with us. We heard story after story about people who had come to faith and been persecuted by their families and communities for their belief. We also heard testimonies of spiritual freedom from bondage after the gospel brought light into lives that had previously been filled with only pain and darkness.
Over the course of Transform, we were spiritually fed, strengthened and encouraged to live radically for the gospel. During the games and down time, we enjoyed the fellowship that can only be found amongst God’s people.
The highlight for me was the last session, when Franco Lonappan from One Nation Church Mumbai, spoke about John and Peter’s recommissioning. To set the scene; Peter has just denied Jesus three times as Jesus told him he would. Feeling like a complete failure and not knowing what to do next, he returns to what he knows – fishing, which inevitably does not go well. But Jesus meets him where he is. After reaffirming Peter’s love for Him, Jesus repositions him, speaking love and kindness as He commands Peter to “feed his lambs”. Isn’t that just like us? I know this is very much like me; when I fail or when things go wrong, I return to what I know, which usually does not go well, but Jesus meets me where I am. He speaks lovingly to me and reaffirms my purpose and identity in Him, and sends me out once more. Franco’s preach reminded me that living a life of faith requires you to step out of your comfort zone. Not only that, by God’s grace, fallen vessels like Peter and I can still be useful to God as He brings about His purposes, and brings glory to Himself “so that His power might be made perfect in our weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I went to India with the intention of serving, but found that the opposite happened. I was ministered to in many different ways. I realised what a privilege it was to be allowed to partner with God in His work to expand His Kingdom. I realised that Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20, while it might seem onerous at first, is yet another example of his fathomless love for us and for the lost. He knows what experiences like these can do for our faith and so He allows us to be included in the work of the harvest. He knows that we need to be equipped for this work and does not neglect or fail to leave us instructions in His word. Scriptures like Romans 12:1-2 show us how we can keep from being ineffective in our work to spread the Gospel.
One of the lessons that was driven home to us during the conference was that you cannot pour into another person’s life if you are empty. You cannot begin to speak to someone else about transformation if you remain unchanged; with a calling must come the shaping of character. We are called to be to be set apart, different from rest of the world. As believers, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through God’s word. This is just as true for young people today, living in a world that rejects everything to do with God, as it was for the Apostles.
You might be wondering what is the point of trips like this one. You might be thinking that mission is for those who are less busy, more financially capable, or even for younger Christians with a very specific calling. Alternatively, you might feel that sin, or the trials and hardships of life, have disqualified you from taking the gospel to the nations. I would like to say that mission, the call to make disciples of all nations, is for all of us. Not all of us will go, but you might be able to give to enable others to go to live out their calling. And if you can’t give, you can pray. The Great Commission is for all Christians, regardless of your story or circumstances. I would like to encourage everyone to take ownership of it and to live it out in faith through grace.