MFI 2013: Looking Back, Looking Forward

With the conference over, my time back in the USA is drawing to a close. My parents and I will be flying back down to Haiti on Monday. The MFI conference in Virginia closed Thursday night with a powerful message on the Kingdom of God from Pastor Mike Servello (Utica, NY). The Kingdom is a present/future Kingdom. It isn’t yet here in its fullness, but it breaks into the present when people submit themselves to God’s reign here and now. In an era of hype and despair, I think my generation is desperate for something real, some kind of Jesus language and experience that hasn’t been corrupted by TBN and televangelists. Jesus’ primary theme (oddly forgotten by the modern church), the inbreaking Kingdom of God, as expounded by scholars like George Eldon Ladd and N.T. Wright and preached by Servello, scratches me right where I itch.

It was great to see so many different people at the conference. My brother Gabe played lead guitar for the band all week before heading back to Oregon for another gig. My sister Deb came down with her fiance. On Friday, my family and I got to go to lunch with some great friends who were youth pastors in a Baptist church in North Carolina during my high school years. Their kindness in inviting me to youth camp in West Virginia in 2002 is a major reason I am still following Jesus today. It was cool to reconnect with them.

Now, it’s back to my classes in Haiti, where I have tests and papers to grade and classes to teach this week. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be speaking at a youth conference on the story of Joseph (where he flees the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife). The rough outline of it will be that in a country where 55% of people are under 25, it is imperative that young Christians take responsibility for their own spiritual maturity. There aren’t enough older Christians to disciple everyone, and in many ways, the preceding generation has failed the youth anyway. Youth shouldn’t be a time to flirt with the world before getting serious later in life; it should be the time when we lay hold of God’s promises for ourselves. Joseph pushed through the pain of broken dreams and a hopeless life and was exalted because of his faithfulness. The Kingdom of God is breaking in; the Spirit has been poured out. The old have dreamt dreams; it is time for the young to see visions (Acts 2:17-21).

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