Through our Global Theological Initiative we have the privilege of engaging in educational, leadership development partnership cohorts on five continents. We are literally training trainers for the international church all around the world and North America. God continues to raise up faithful church leaders. We can learn much from one another.
Because of our partnerships, I travel around the globe. Not too long ago I was in India meeting with a potential partner. While there I also observed a huge Hindu festival in the city in which I was staying celebrating one of their millions of gods. The festival featured beautiful flowers and brightly colored lights. The city was brilliant with color each night. The irony hit me. Thousands of people, or even more, celebrating darkness with light.
I even found myself in a conversation at one point with a man who had been Hindu his entire life. We spoke of the Gospel and of Christ. He was very interested in the discussion but was not ready for any further steps at that point. He told me how superior Hinduism is to Christianity because they have my God “outnumbered millions to one”.
In contrast I also had the great privilege of observing a village church dedicate their new building. This village is composed of an unreached gypsy people group. As we drove through the simple homes toward the waiting celebration, I saw idol after idol. Each home had a small wall around it with a gate. “Guarding” the gate on each side were small tiles with images of Hindu gods. They had the Christians outnumbered “millions to one.” Darkness.
Then I could hear the sweet singing of children, praising Jesus as we arrived at the building. Church members surrounded us with a joy and excitement that words cannot describe. It is always amazing to me how language barriers slip quickly away when two people know the Holy Spirit. These new friends escorted us in and the building was dedicated with prayer and worship. The singing and service continued long after we left. That building will be more than a meeting place it will be a center of ministry and Great Commission fulfillment in that place. Light.
I look forward one day to standing in a throne room with people from “every tribe and every nation” celebrating the one true God. I hope to see other members of that village there. A village where light overcame the darkness. A place where the One far outnumbers the millions.
As we continue equipping leaders and preparing students to serve the local church and fulfill the Great Commission, I pray we will have the faith, the endurance, the joy and the sense of dependency those gypsy believers displayed. I pray we will continue to have the passion to train other leaders like my new friends have. I pray we will have a desperate love for the church like I witnessed there. A love driven from the One out to the millions.
John Ewart serves as the Associate Vice President for Global Theological Initiatives and the Director for Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
A native of Oklahoma, Dr. Ewart has lived and worked, in various capacities, all over the world. He served for over 20 years in local churches in Texas, the Philippines, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky as an associate and senior pastor. John also served with the International Mission Board in the Philippines.