"For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles" Gal 2:8
When Steve Turner wrote: "History repeats itself, has to, no-one listens"... his prophetic poetic heart was calling for moments of deep honest review of all that has gone before. We should benefit from the lessons learnt of days gone by. They are our greatest tutorial.
It is therefore really good to reflect and debrief our story with honesty and biblical transparency. In the heat of the engine room spiking, we were so busy with global evangelization that we did not sit back and consider our ways, reflect on our processes. Why are several decades was what we were doing still so South African? Was that what the Lord required or was it our lack of consideration?
The last few years have been a gift of divine generosity to sit with friends and review a rather remarkable 3 decades of ministry. There have been some amazing moments of God interruptions and Macedonian calls. There have been some painful moments, where the hurt en route, was deeper than ever imagined. But in all of this, God is still great, His Mission is still global renewal, the Gospel is still revolutionary and our Call is still to churches, cities and countries.
As we studied the text, over and over again, certain things seemed to emerge:
* Jesus raised up 12 men in whom he entrusted this grand assignment to disciple all nations;
* They were to spearhead this adventure with no one man replacing him as a global pope - one man over all the work of the then church;
* He also sent other apostles who "fell from the sky" [Michael Eaton] like Paul and Barnabas;
* Each apostle was given a specific sphere [2 Cor 10] - Paul to the Gentiles, Peter to the Jews were the most obvious;
* These spheres were not lines in the sand with a spirit of territorialism, rather there was a clear sense that Jesus was the head of the church, no man was;
* There is a difference between first generation pioneering apostles and the second and third generation apostles - these latter gifts were to provide apostolic continuity in a multiplied adventure not to simply repeat the legacy of the past;
These and other key moments of reflection began to shape our thinking massively. One of our cornerstone commissions in the unfolding genesis story, is to -
Recognize, raise up and release emerging indigenous apostles, to develop their own journey, in the context in which they minister. When that happens, our work in that area is complete.
We are pretty passionate about establishing indigenous apostles and apostolic spheres in every context where we currently serve. They know their culture. They understand the storyline of their world. They know the pitfalls of their warfare. They understand the nuances of their context's silent screams. They get the gospel's work in their territory.
When that has been achieved, we will move on to the new place the Father opens up for us. There we plan to repeat this process... and again, and again. As Paul says in Romans 15 "But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain...: vs 23 - 24.
Like Peter, this apostolic sphere may be among a specific nation or ethnicity or however the Father plans to define it. The very multiplying nature of the heart of God is so empowering. We are not seeking to simply add more churches, nations to our spiritual landscape. Rather we want to follow the example of Christ, to see as many indigenous apostles and their spheres, raised up and released before we too will say: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim 4:7
This is a radical departure from the classic way of building apostolic movements where the emphasis is addition under one leader. That is not our story. As a father I have loved seeing my kids grow up, find their story, leave home and live out their divine global gospel assignment. That is why this approach to biblical apostolicity seems so obvious to us. We are simply repeating what we do at home onto a global stage.