The whole world apparently loves a rescue story. Hundreds of millions saw at least some coverage of the salvation of thirty-three miners from a tomb a half-mile underground in Chile yesterday. I caught as much coverage as I could, marveling every time the metal capsule was opened for a man to be resurrected from a near-certain grave. (The world media largely ignored this story for weeks, assuming it could not possibly have a happy ending.)
I’m writing from Cape Town, South Africa. About an hour’s drive to the south is the southwest tip of this great continent. This is the famous Cape of Good Hope. Gale force winds often buffet this passageway, as they did yesterday. In 1488 the first European explorer to pass from the Atlantic currents into those of the Indian Ocean, Bartolomeu Dias, named the passageway Cabo das Tormentas, Cape of Storms. But a Portuguese king decided in 1495 to impose a more optimistic name, Cape of Good Hope, because he believed the welfare of his country lay in the riches of lands to the east. (And, it was probably easier to recruit sailing expeditions without referring to it as a place of death.)
I’m thinking today of the incredible storms of the world in which we live. The clash of the cold water of the Atlantic and the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean at this cape are nothing compared with the political, military, religious, and cultural conflicts waging in the world today. There are no easy answers. And perhaps it is not “answers” that will be discovered, after all.
We need salvation. Pure and simple. Rescue. Deliverance. Redemption. Reconciliation. The creator of the world knows that, which is why the Father sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world but to offer it rescue. God the Holy Spirit is doing amazing things today in every corner of the world. The salvation of individual people is the starting place of reconciliation, but then God’s reconciling power works its way into movements, institutions, and even whole countries.
In a couple of days Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization will begin a ten-day working session on some of the key issues of Christian identity and mission today. 4,000 leaders from 200 countries will gather. But a congress cannot produce hope. No human institution can provide enduring hope. The church is not hope. God made it unambiguous for us: Jesus Christ is the hope of the world.
Have him captain your ship, and you can get through the stormiest passages of your life. And then he will allow you to help others–many others–round the bend.
Minister at Large, Elmbrook Church
P.S. Here are some ways you can follow the unfolding story at Cape Town. Follow me on Twitter@MelLawrenz; friend me at Facebook; or go to the Elmbrook Missions NEWS page. We’d love to have you learning with us.