What do I stand for?

I’m struck by a message I just finished listening to by Paul Manwaring. He asked this question – “What do you stand for? What are you willing to pay a price for?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet.

As I look back, I have paid a price for certain convictions, but at the same time I’m not aware of clearly defined life messages in me or people knowing what I stand for. It seems that this is still developing in me – at the tender young age of 53!

At one point in the message I heard, Paul asks people who DO know what they stand for, to stand up and make declarations. Declare what they want to see; what they’re pulling for.

Well, I’m going to start to declare (write):

  • what matters to me
  • what I want to see

By writing it down, it gets it out of me and puts words onto sometimes shifting feelings/experiences. By posting it, I’m just starting to stand – to be public – preparing to pay the price for my convictions.

Here goes (in no particular order):

  • Europe matters to me – both the land and its people.  I wasn’t born here, but I most certainly trace my ancestry here.  It certainly began before I could say it was “God” but I know now that it was God who put it in my heart and brought our family here to live.
  • Reconciliation – ever since being awakened to reconciliation as a “thing” by Nadine Roure and Elvire Dieny, seeing reconciliation happen – at ALL levels – has been deeply satisfying and I increasingly see where it’s vital.  After all Paul told us in 2 Corinthians 5 that we’ve all been given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • Family matters to me – I’m certainly NOT the poster child for how to do family (in ANY of my family roles thus far in life), but the theology of family continues to grow for me on a regular basis.  God’s design for family; God’s government is family; The enemy’s incessant targeting of family; etc.
  • Identity/Son (and daughter) ship – WHO we are is so incredibly important.  When we understand the glory that God put in each one of us and His design for us and how being His son or daughter literally unlocks eternity TODAY for us – Wow!  It’s just the key to everything.  If I can (and increasingly as an older man, I CAN) help someone to find their identity – call out who and what God has made them to be – that is TRULY  satisfying and has eternal value.
  • Marriage matters to me – Why?  Because Jesus is coming for a Bride.  There’s going to be a wedding!  The power of this eternal union is echoed by what we experience right now between a man and a woman who commit before God to each other for their whole lives.  The power of that covenant is amazing and it’s only a shadow of the covenant that Jesus has with His Bride.  The depths of this are amazing.
  • Worship and God’s Presence matter to me – Not simply because I’m a musician, and one who is named David to boot, but I was made to be in His Presence and to focus on Him.  We all were, in fact, but because God has given me this gift and desire, I believe that He’s also given me a mandate to facilitate the experience of His Presence to others.  I also believe that we are changed by His Presence and we are fundamentally designed, as creatures, to become what we behold – to become like what we worship.  Hence if I worship God, I become like God.  If I help others worship God, I help them become like God.  This is my principle tool of discipleship that I have to offer.
  • The Kingdom of God matters to me.  It is so important to me that my citizenship is primarily with Heaven and that my understanding of “progress” in society is linked to the advancing of the Kingdom where Jesus is King and not necessarily a particular earthly government. My love of a country must be motivated by Jesus’ love for that country (and He loves them ALL) and what Jesus wants for that country.  This may or may not be my country of birth or my passport country(s).
  • Erasing Dualism and Living in Tension matter to me – So I’ve just finished stating “where I stand” but actually because of the things I stand for, I refuse (in principle) to let these stances hinder love or put God in a box.  Jesus was “box buster” in so many ways.  Our detachement from the cultural context of His earthly sojourn makes it easy for us to miss just how many boxes He exploded in His time.  We probably will never discover fully how He made people feel and react in in 1st century Palestine, but the willingness to understand that Jesus does do that – not just to 1st century Palestinian residents but to us as well – is the first important step to letting our own boxes disintegrate and letting Jesus out of the box that we so-easily stuff Him into. When we let typical “either/or” thinking dominate our reality, we immediately begin to de-humanize those who think differently.  In so doing we declare where Jesus is not welcome to challenge us to love that which we don’t understand or with which we don’t agree.  If, for example, reconciliation matters to me, then I can’t afford those walls to stand in my reality.  Not easy at all this wall-dismantling-process, but essential as members of God’s family.

So those are the things that I can say that I stand for and that I want to see – in me, through me, and around me.

Freedom Walk

(This post is an excerpt of my daughter Rachel’s Facebook post about her participation in the Freedom Walk in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago)

Around 300 years ago, a religious group of people suffered severe persecution in Switzerland. A certain Lord Ribeaupierre invited those people to come and live in Alsace, France and farm the land. Among his conditions were that the people take a ‘vow of silence’ and refrain from any kind of witnessing or proselytizing. They agreed, moved, and withdrew as religious communities from the outside world. Later, many emigrated to the United States.

This story is about the Anabaptists, who are still around and known as Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. And strange as it may sound, this is the reason I went to Pennsylvania last week.

Sins committed in the past can be confessed, repented of, and forgiven in the present. God leads individuals and groups today to stand humbly in the place of their ancestors and deal with these sins. This work of reconciliation breaks off generational curse of sin and spiritual strongholds that affect and imprison places today.

A team of people from my church in France flew to Pennsylvania to ask forgiveness for having imposed the ‘vow of silence’ and to intercede (pray for) Lancaster by joining a group of various believers to complete a prayer walk around the perimeter of Lancaster county.

I was invited to join by the leaders of the prayer walk (who are good friends), and to help with translating for the French team!

And it was awesome.

Revival is coming to Lancaster.
Revival is coming to the Amish.

We saw some of the beginning signs of this in the 5 Amish families who prayer walked with us! A few years ago, they were given a supernatural healing ministry and were consequently excommunicated from the Amish church. Now they are a community and call their work Light of Hope Ministries. They see themselves as bridging the gap between the Amish and the rest of the Christian community. I LOVED (lovedlovedloved) being with them, spending time with the children, mixing with another culture, and being challenged by their passionate spirituality and vision.
Read more about them here: https://charismamag.com/articles/index.php?id=17482

Because of the French team and their need for translation, I feel like God has also used this week to give me a second chance – (that I really didn’t deserve – to appreciate the French and the French language. For the last few years, I’ve generally resented speaking French and feeling doomed to substandard communication. Despite what people say, I know just how far from fluency I am! Not only that, but my confidence had gone way down after being away at BFA for two years…

So, knowing that He could, I asked God to help me translate beyond my abilities this week. There were MORE than enough opportunities to serve, and of every variety – French to English/English to French, simultaneous/phrase-by-phrase, informal/formal, one-on-one/group situations… and yes, many times it was easier than I anticipated. God was helping me! I learned several things: first, that I may actually be gifted in translating. Second, I learned better to dismiss the fear of being judged for my mistakes. The fact that the people in the French team all know and love me helped. I had to think about others first, and realize when they weren’t understanding… forcing me to be very NOT self-centered. Not always easy.

I’ve been on a total of eight plane trips this summer, and – what are the odds – been given a window seat every time. I know heaven isn’t really a straight up shoot from earth (more of a parallel realm), and yet, there’s something about that “God’s eye view” that takes my mind outside the box… and I smile at the big screaming deal we think we are.

Do you ever wonder what it would look like to fly over the US on July 4th in the evening? I do.

Touching History A Few More Times

I need to blog about this before it becomes ancient history!

But…I don’t think the impact of this will fade into history to be forgotten. Indeed “ancient history” and “making history” are central to this.

What is this?

Walking in beautiful Alsatian forestsWell, I blogged about it a while ago in: “Risky Business…” It’s about a 3-week intercession walk along the borders of Alsace that we (our church, intercessors in the region, intercessors from other countries) recently completed.

I personally was involved in the logistics of the walk…mainly the communication. I also walked the 3rd week of the walk along with my daughter Rachel.

There were many moments in the walk that God was speaking to individuals and to the group as the borders of Alsace were walked by groups of 5-20 people. Hopefully at our church site there will be a fuller report by those who took notes at the daily debriefing. Those would be initially in French and I’ll work at getting them translated into English.

I’ll just explain two times that were particularly noteworthy in that 3rd week of the walk.

As background, some research this past spring into the local history of Alsace and Guebwiller in particular, brought to our attention some horrible war time experiences that the people of Alsace had suffered. These were not the war time experiences that you might quickly associate with Alsace in WWI and WWII. These were from the 30 Years’ War way back in 1618-1648! Specifically during this conflict the climate of fear which developed in the Alsatian civilians was such that they did not even leave their homes to cultivate their land lest they be attacked. This led to starvation conditions and and people even exhuming human remains for food.

…hard to read…hard to write…imagine experiencing it…

A part of the invading/occupying force during the 30 Years’ War was from Sweden. During the 2nd week of the walk, the group came upon a large, old oak tree that had a marker indicating that it had been used by the Swedish during the 30 Years’ War to hang Alsatians. Hold that thought…

The Lord has His ways of orchestrating His redemptive purposes…

A few weeks before the walk, we got an email from a family from Sweden asking if they could join us during the 3rd week of the walk. They were going to be on staff at the OM Teen Street camp in Germany near that time and wanted to come a bit early and participate in the walk for a couple of days. They had heard about the walk through Martin Scott’s e-mail newsletter (read his report of the 3rd week of the walk here). We were thrilled to have them come and indeed they were a blessing but I don’t imagine that we had any idea when they first asked just how key their presence and participation would be.

They joined us Tuesday morning and walked with us all day. It was a day where we got lost (took the wrong forest road) and ended up 9kms short of our goal for the day (about 40kms/day normally). The day ended in driving rain and we felt a fair amount of spiritual resistance. We ended the day near the foot of Mont Donon where there is some overt historical occult traces (roman and celtic temple remains, sacrificial stone, etc.). That evening in the debriefing time, the wife/mother of the Swedish family, Maria, mentioned that while we walked and prayed, she had had an image of a “large tree of unrighteousness” that we were uprooting as we prayed. Vito, our leader, took that as a cue that perhaps now was the time to share with them about the oak tree that they had seen the previous week during the walk and the history of the Swedish occupation of Alsace during the 30 Years’ War.

The Swedish family was not aware of these things and we did not want to press/push any “resolution” right then and there.

BlogPic250_IMG_7371.JPGThe next morning, Wednesday, August 2nd, at the foot of Mont Donon, before we started walking, we had a time of prayer to start the day. We broke bread and poured out wine and milk and honey on the bread and prayed for the region. At the end of this time the Swedish family (the father and mother and teenage daughter) came forward and, standing for Sweden, confessed, repented of, and asked forgiveness for the occupation of Alsace and the atrocities committed by the Swedes during the 30 Years’ War. It was a powerful time of reconciliation between the Alsatians and the Swedes and facilitated the rest of the day. We started walking down to St-Marie-aux-Mines while a small group want to the top of Mont Donon.

Meanwhile, another couple who walked with us the 3rd week, Rusty and Janet, from the States, had already been all this time in St-Marie-aux-Mines searching for the perfect spot.

for what?

They had come from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with a signed declaration of repentance to bury in the ground at St-Marie-aux-Mines.

why?

Well, it turns out that also way back in history, just after the 30 Years’ War, the aristocratic Ribeaupierre family in Alsace invited persecuted Swiss Anabaptists to come and farm their war-torn region around St-Marie-aux-Mines…

under one condition

They could not evangelize. They were muzzled from sharing their faith. The Swiss Anabaptists (from the Bern area), had had enough of deadly persecution and they agreed. They agreed to keep quiet and be hard workers.

In this town, there eventually came a split among the Anabaptists that had settled there. The followers of Jakob Ammann split with the the Swiss Brethren and became the Amish.

Rusty and Janet come from the heart of Amish country in the US where they are active in reconciliation ministry between the various Anabaptist streams (Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, etc.) and the Swiss Reformed church which had brutally persecuted them so long ago. Janet recently published a book entitled Unlocking our Inheritance – Spiritual Keys to Recovering the Treasures of Anabaptism. (Read about the reconciliation process and how to acquire the book at https://www.anabaptistreconciliation.org/).

Their declaration had been signed by Mennonites and Amish leaders from the Lancaster area and was a specific declaration of repentance for having accepted the agreement to stop evangelizing in order to avoid persecution and for the origins of the Amish split in the Anabaptist tradition.

This also was a powerful time of repentance and reconciliation between the Anabaptists represented by Janet and the Alsatians and even a Swiss lady from the Bern region.

The end of Wednesday was at the top of St-Marie pass were one re-enters Alsace from the interior of France. At this pass we found a military cemetery, a large “mile-marker” from the days when Alsace was German, and a large information board which mentioned many of the difficult parts of Alsace’s history tied to that very area…including issues of the Swedish in the 30 Years’ War. The Swedish family was leaving the next morning, and because we had had that time of reconciliation Wednesday morning, we could face that information about the Swedes in the 30 Years’ War Wednesday evening and know that it was dealt with and have a wonderful time of blessing and prophetic send-off for that family that became so precious to us in just 2 days!

Our time of prayer at St-Marie pass

This was truly a blessed week. Don’t get me wrong, it was physically hard at times (especially on a nearly 45-year-old body like mine!) and not always comfortable (weather, wet camping two days, etc.), but we were used by the Lord to redeem history. In all, it was rich beyond measure!!!

Repentance and Reconciliation…

On Valentine’s Day this year, Angela and I participated in repentance/reconciliation commemoration. It was a low-key event convened by a friend of mine with whom I participate on a regional intercession team in the Alsace region of France. The commemoration marked the massacre way, way back in 1349 of 2000 Jews who were burned alive in Strasbourg, France on February 14th. They had been accused (falsely) of poisoning the wells during the height of the Black Plague that was ravaging Europe. That crime was the ostensible justification for their massacre.

The commemoration event was a time where about 30 people from the Christian and Jewish communities in Alsace gathered together near the physical site of the massacre. Representatives of the Christian community presented the facts of what happened and the motivations that lay behind it (quite probably the motivations were more heavily weighed on the side of greed, jealousy and self-interest than anything having to do with the Plague). These representatives confessed the role of the Christian community in this injustice and asked forgiveness of those in attendance who represented the Jewish community.

(You can find out more about what happened in 1349 here or simply do some internet searches. Strasbourg was not the only place where such atrocities occurred during that time.)

I mentioned this activity in our prayer bulletin and got the following question from a good friend of mine:

I have a question that I am wondering about. You reported about gathering to repent for the 1349 massacre of 2000 Jews. Can explain to me the value of that? Seems like the ones doing the massacring should be repenting. Is there a theological principle that you are exercising?

This is an excellent question and deserves a response, not the least because God is really on the move in areas of Reconciliation right now. I’ll say first of all, that Reconciliation and its various sub-topics is a vast ocean (as the length of this blog entry will begin to reveal). Secondly, I’m far from being an expert. I’ve been blessed, perhaps, to be exposed to the topic a bit more fully than most by virtue of being on staff at a 10-month YWAM School of Reconciliation here in France during the 2003-2004 school year. That opened my eyes to many things. Others however, have already written in depth treatises on aspects of the subject. Here are some that I found while searching around on the Internet:

Interesting to note that among Christians there is not necessarily 100% agreement about the specifics of Reconciliation. When one begins to discuss “Identificational Repentance” (heck, “identificational” doesn’t even pass the spell-checker!), well, let’s just say that the dialog becomes even a bit more…shall we say…interesting… (let the reader understand).

Back to February 14, 2006…and my friend’s questions…

I believe that there are several legitimate benefits to such an action and many perspectives from which it can be viewed, but I want to specifically answer the question from the perspective of evangelism.

To start with, indeed the ones committing any injustice should be the ones doing the repenting. Other than the ideal of not committing any sin in the first place, justice would demand that the perpetrators be held responsible. Of course, we all know that human history is littered with injustices where the perpetrator did not confess, did not repent, and in the case of the death of the victim could not possibly have made sufficient restitution/reparation for the damages and suffering.

There is only one solution to this mountain of injustice (even if those with blood on their hands are directly involved in repentance), both on a theological level and a personal level…the Cross of Jesus.

Our theology tells us that though Jesus came, lived, died and rose for us, it takes a personal heart connection with that reality and its motivating love for an individual to enter into a covenant relationship with the God of the Universe and to actually partake, on a personal level of those blessings…of that reality.

Aye…there’s the rub…

From Peter’s first sermon until now, figuring out how to draw people to a personal heart connection with that reality, Jesus, has been the focus of the Body of Christ…and figuring out how to keep people from drawing close to Jesus has been the focus of Satan.

Because simply as humans we bear the image of God (Gen 1:26-27 ), if Satan can get us to be offended with another human (not to mention despise them!) he’s put a stumbling block between us and intimacy with God because our image of God has become twisted and distorted. Now to really drive a stake into it, Satan loves to get people offended with the Body of Christ (“you know, those Christians!”) because then it is the literal image of Jesus on the earth that is twisted. Oh no, we’re not finished. Now this process is repeated generation after generation and century after century. So, though Jesus is the very definition of love and beauty in all of eternity, strangely enough you have people couldn’t possibly hate God and all the people who represent Him more.

So now the stage is set…

  • Sincere, Jesus-lovers are following His commandment to “preach the Gospel”
  • They present the Gospel message clearly
  • Nothing happens
  • Even worse, they receive an antagonistic response!

Our evangelistic focus ,has been wrestling with this question since the first century and the reasons for such negative reactions are many and can be complex and combined. Indeed we’ve discovered and overcome many barriers to the reception of the Gospel message. We’ve become skilled at avoiding certain pitfalls. We’ve applied perseverance. We know how to train and motivate people in the evangelistic process…indeed we understand that it is a process and not just a “transaction”. For this all we can praise God because it is truly the Lord who has guided us in all this process of learning.

I believe that the Lord is in the process of revealing to the Body of Christ yet two other aspects that can play important roles in Evangelism:

  • Generational factors
  • Corporate factors

In our current western society and mentality…particularly (though not exclusively) in America, our focus is often on “now” and the “individual”. This is exceedingly pervasive and has many philosophical, historical and spiritual roots that have led us to this place. This has an effect on how we evangelize and how we perceive the process and its dynamics.

But, whether we are fully aware of it or not, God is a god of generations and the past is a part of who we are…and not just the past from the day we were born…indeed many generations back. God is also a god of not just individuals but the corporate also. He loves His Church. He loves nations. He loves peoples. He loves cities. He loves neighborhoods. He loves families. He loves couples…

Because we are made in the image of God, we enter into the dynamics of generation and corporate dynamics…even if we don’t realize it! It is simply part of how we’re created and how life functions on earth. The implications of that begin to dawn on us when we realize that:

  • In history (that is to say…not in the present…perhaps way back)
  • Injustices (sins) have been committed by…nations, armies, governments, companies, families…The Church
  • Which have never been recognized; which have never been apologized for; for which no one has repented; for which no one has asked forgiveness; for which no one has offered restitution
  • Which continue to be deeply felt as unhealed, festering wounds by all kinds of people
  • But for which Jesus paid the price

Ok, so how does this affect evangelism, you ask?

Well, suppose I come up to you and push you down and then steal your wallet. Overcome by guilt, I walk into a revival meeting that same evening and get saved and filled with the zeal of the Holy Spirit for bringing others into this wonderful new Life! I run into you the next day and I give you a theologically correct, sensitive presentation of the Gospel message.

You’re not going to be too receptive to my invitation to share in this wonderful life of Jesus. It seems obvious as to why, but let’s break it down a bit:

  • You have been wounded by me
  • You doubt my sincerity and my character
  • I have never acknowledged my sin against you
  • I have never apologized for it
  • I have never asked you to forgive me for it
  • I have never made restitution for it

But…Jesus’ blood covered my sin 2000 years ago! It’s a done deal. The power of the Blood of Jesus is absolute. The work on the Cross is 100% finished.

What stands in the way?

Well, without much thinking we can see what stands in the way. In this situation the Gospel message is actually hindered by the messenger. Despite our theological understanding of the Work of the Cross and the Blood of Jesus, we realize that there is a practical solution to this. I have to confess my sin against you and you have to forgive me for that blockage to be removed.

This doesn’t nullify the work of the Cross but it does show that we, as agents of the Cross, often play an important role in this…both in blocking and un-blocking the way for the message to pass to a willing heart.

We find that the Bible shows this dynamic as well. God has laid the groundwork of all reconciliation through the work of Jesus (Colossians 1:19-20) and has asked us, the Body of Christ to steward that work (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) very much as the priests stewarded the reconciliation of God and man in the Old Testament (Romans 15:15-16, 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10)

What did the Old Testament priests do to steward the connection between God and Israel? Well there are a lot of details, but a couple of points are important:

  1. They administered the sacrifices and applied the blood.
  2. On their uniform, they wore representations of the 12 tribes of Israel on their shoulders (to bear their burdens) and on their breastplate (to keep them near their heart) (Exodus 28:9-21)

In the same way we administer the sacrifice of Jesus in the specific sphere of time and space in which God has chosen us to walk. Also, in the same way we perform this act of stewardship for more than just ourselves as individuals.

That brings us back to this whole issue of generations and corporate identity. In my example, we spoke of you and me (individuals) in a present-tense scenario. What if I was bringing the Gospel message to you but you were distrusting me because of something that I represented. When we come before the Lord and when we walk before men, we are more than our flesh and bone of individual presence. Oh no. Our identity, whether we know it or not, goes much deeper than that and projects much farther than we might think.

Take me for instance…David Leigh

I’m me, the unique individual, sure, but I’m also:

  • A man
  • An adult of my generation
  • A Caucasian
  • A father
  • A husband
  • A brother
  • A son
  • An uncle
  • Of Norwegian descent
  • Of English descent
  • An American
  • A Hoosier
  • A Christian
  • An English speaker

I don’t think about it all the time (in fact I had to do a quick mental run-down in my mind to think of those categories) but those are the stones I wear on my priestly garment all the time. I am called to administer the sacrifice of Jesus…to apply the blood of Jesus as a representative of those “tribes”. So, depending upon whom I’m communicating with, any combination of those aspects of my identity may affect greatly my message.

Instead of the assault scenario, I’ve just met you on a short-term missions trip I’m taking. You’re, for example, an Afro-Caribbean lady born and raised in the UK who is about my age. In high school you went on an exchange program to a high school in Indiana in the US where, during a church youth retreat someone had invited you to, a group of white boys taunted you and made fun of the way you spoke. No one has ever apologized about that or tried to make it right. You, yourself have probably long forgotten about it…until now. Until I try and share the Gospel with you. Until you realize that a personification of your wounding (though not individually personally involved in any way) is standing in front of you offering you the Greatest Gift Ever. You are blocked. You are blinded by the enemy of your soul, who would tell you that this Message of Life is tied with that wound you suffered personally…and with that great wound of slavery and colonial repression and on-going discrimination.

Sure it’s a lie, but you see what a twisted mess we’re in here. This is an eternal battle for souls and the devil didn’t sign up for a fair fight!

This is where I can choose to say, as did Nehemiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, “I and my fathers (those with whom I identify in the past and the present) have sinned”. I can steward the sacrifice of Jesus into this situation and apply the Blood of Jesus to this wound.

So, for those injustices of history that have been perpetrated at a corporate level (and the list is practically inexhaustible it would seem), the sacrifice of Jesus is effective. The administration of that sacrifice that allows an individual’s heart to be unblocked (from barriers that they may not even realize themselves that they have) is a facet of our evangelistic task that we’re just now waking up to.

For the massacre of 2000 Jews in 1349 in Strasbourg, France, we are honored and burdened as Christians of today to identify ourselves as members of the tribe “Body of Christ” and stand in the gap of wound and pain and declare that there was an injustice; to repent for the complicity of The Church; to ask for forgiveness; to steward the sacrifice of Jesus and “apply the Blood” to unhealed wounds so that the enemy might be robbed of more souls and a way paved for more trophies of grace.

Berlin-Congo 120 Years On…

This past weekend, my daughter and I witnessed history. We were just 2 of about 300 people, I would guess, who had this privilege…tied to a responsibility.

From November 1884 to February 1885 Berlin, Germany hosted a significant conference whose repercussions are still strongly felt today and are likely to be felt for awhile yet. We pray, however, that this past weekend will mark a significant shift in history and a different direction in the future.

Original Berlin-Congo ConferenceAs can be seen in the picture, this original conference 120 years ago focused its attention on the continent of Africa. The intent of the gathering of 13 European nations and the United States was to attempt to bring some order into the “Scramble for Africa” (the European Colonial Era in Africa). The participants (which included no Africans) desired to lay out some “rules of the game” to which the European colonial powers would theoretically adhere. The principal effect of the gathering being to draw up borders in Africa that would be used to denote where the influence and control of each colonizing nation began and where it ended. While the primary desire was avoid inevitable conflicts of colonial maneuvering. In fact, quite the opposite was the end result. Conflicts were not avoided in Africa, nor in Europe, where the activities of African colonization quite literally became the foundations of World War I…which led directly to World War II…and which are arguably the two defining events of the world in which we live today.

In addition to two World Wars, which are in and of themselves defining, the importance of the legacy of colonialism and, in particular this conference, cannot be overestimated. While the figures are difficult to come by exactly, it is estimated that nearly 10 million people died in the Congo alone during this period. When the clear link between this era and the World Wars is made, you quickly see another 10 million lives robbed. Then when one considers that instead of sending the flower of their youth onto the mission field, the two largest missionary-sending countries, Britain and Germany, sent their youth to die in the trenches of World War I fighting each other, you can see that Satan has had a hey-day of rage against humanity in the last 120 years.

This conference drew up borders in Africa with a regard only to commercial and political interest…of only the colonial powers. The fact that many tribes were split into 2 or 3 nations (perhaps with different official European languages imposed on them) and then put together in the same nation with tribes with which they already had a warring relationship, was of no interest to the participants of the original conference. It was of significant interest to the Africans of that time and today and it is of significant interest to those European powers as well as they eat today the fruit of those seeds planted 120 years ago.

African-European Reconciliation Conference 2005 - Berlin, Germany

This last weekend, we gathered at “Gemeinde Auf Dem Weg” (Church on the Way) in Berlin, Germany to take responsibility for our sins against Africa. No one is left from that time to confess, repent, ask forgiveness, reconcile, and offer restitution to our African brothers and sisters who themselves daily experience the results of the colonial era. God is looking for His Church to stand in the gap and apply the Blood of Jesus to this sin and place the Cross of Christ between our continents. That’s what we did this last weekend.

The table of declaration and reconciliationAs you can see, just as 120 years ago, we too had a table around which all the delegates would sit. The big difference was that Africans were there! As you can see in the picture above, witnesses were there too. We had people who represented each of the nations who had been there around the table as well as Africans from, perhaps, about 20 different African nations.

The African delegation that had not been invited 120 years earlierWe prayed, worshiped, testified, declared, wept, reconciled. We did this in English, French and German; representing not only the three most practical languages at this gathering, but also representing the 3 of the primary tongues that have been foisted upon Africa and representing strong colonizing nations that speak those languages. The translators worked tirelessly and, I think, prophetically as we sought to honor one another’s languages instead of use them as a weapon.

Personally we had the privilege to travel there with 2 ladies from our church, one of whom spoke German as well as French. So the 4 of us went as a team representing France, the United States, Alsace and our church. We had the opportunity to dine twice with a Congolese lady now living in South Africa. We heard her stories of the situation in the Congo and in South Africa. It was not always easy to hear especially as one hears views about Europe and the United States that are not all that flattering….and those are not opinions about past history but about today.

The Congo blesses Belgium - releasing their former oppressorsNow the question is what do we do with what we’ve heard. The more we know the greater our responsibility. I’ve not had a real heart for Africa but I know that we have a responsibility to live in such a way that the mind-sets with which we’ve conducted ourselves where Africa and Africans are concerned, must begin to be replace with those of the Kingdom of God. Our Imperialist and neo-Imperialist ways (I’m as guilty as anyone) need to be transformed by Jesus’s Kingdom ways. Lord help us!