As I write I’m sitting on a plane having just left Italy. To be honest, I’m excited about being home with my wife and kids, and I’m coming home a bit heavier. I’m also blown away that God has allowed me to see first hand what he is up to around the world. I’ve been in Rome for the past week at a gathering for the Acts 29 Europe Network. Acts 29 (acts29network.org) is a diverse, global network of churches planting churches, and at Summit Church we are proud to partner with them as part of the Acts 29 US Southeast Network. At this conference, 280 people from 27 different nations came together to sit under the Word, to worship and pray together, and to be encouraged by what God is doing through Europe and the nations around it.
It’s no small thing that the meeting took place in Rome. It is a city that looms large in the scope of Church history, a city whose buildings and ruins whisper of times when the gospel was aggressively opposed and times when it was given room to flourish. The same city that boasts of the Colosseum where Christians were killed for sport and the prisons where the Apostles Peter and Paul were kept captive also holds the Vatican, the historical center of Christian thought, art, and practice. It is a fascinating, thought-provoking, and important city.
While taking in the sites and stories of Rome, it becomes all the more evident that we live in a time like none other in history. Sure, there has been technological advances and the quality of life is seemingly better, but there is something far greater taking place. The kingdom of God is advancing and the gospel is spreading like wildfire through Asia, Africa, and South America in ways we have never seen. Nations that were once gospel poor are now experiencing an explosive move of the Spirit of God, and it is happening in our lifetime!
Yet as we witness God moving on those continents, we also see in Europe and North America a church that was once thriving now spiraling toward decay and, in many regions, already dead. Embroiled in conflict with secularism, consumerism, false morality, and wicked ideologies, the church in the global west finds itself licking its wounds and crumbling at its core. And while this might catch us off guard (it shouldn’t, but it does), the Father is not surprised at all. He still sits on the throne, the nations still belong to him, and he is still building his Church. In fact, the 280 people from 27 nations I just spent the last few days with are evidence of it.
If there is anything that Rome convinces me of, it is that God can and will glorify himself no matter what. He will do it in good times and in bad, in healthy seasons and decaying ones, in life and in death. And how amazing that he has created us to be a part of it! This is a time to rejoice in what the King is doing around the world. But it is also a time to cry out to him to heal that which is broken and to waken the Church, his chosen instrument to bring the gospel to every man, woman, and child in Europe, North America, and around the world.
Is it any secret that we need Jesus? And not just us. Southwest Florida needs Jesus. America needs Jesus. And the world needs Jesus. Jesus is and always will be the only hope of the world. This never changing, rock-solid, life-altering certainty is why we plant churches, and it is why we partner with ministries and networks like Acts 29. It is why we give financially to gospel work around the world, and it is why we go, even to the farthest reaches of the globe, when he bids us come.
Though they were men and women of faith, Jesus’ disciples and the early Christians who were eaten by lions to satisfy a blood-thirsty crowd would marvel at the global impact the gospel has made throughout history. How could they not? We marvel at it now. And as I fly home, reflecting on the things I’ve experienced and remembering the promises that are ours through Christ Jesus, I know that we will marvel even greater still.
- Jamin Stinziano
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)