- WEA General Assembly 2019
In his second morning reflection at the World Evangelical Alliance’s General Assembly on Saturday, November 9, Indian Bible teacher and relief-work leader C. B. Samuel told delegates that the church loses its ability to be the Kingdom of God when it fails to be genuinely inclusive.
Samuel noted the promise of Zechariah 8:4: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem.” In contrast, he said, older people are often overlooked in society and even the church because they are not productive. Samuel quoted Jean Vanier’s critique of such behavior: “A society that discards those who are weak and non-productive soon becomes a society without a heart.”
Reading Zechariah 8:5, “The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there,” Samuel called for the restoration and valuation of childhood. “We tell our children to ‘grow up’ and not act like a child,” he said, “but Jesus says that unless you become like a child you cannot enter the Kingdom.”
Samuel told the story of a 13-year-old girl, rescued from trafficking and recovering at a rehabilitation center in Delhi. As she was explaining her story, she told one of the staff members, “I recognize you. I have seen you somewhere.” Eventually she remembered: while locked up in a nearby house, she would see the staff member walk by on Sunday mornings, heading for church. The story caused the staff members—and Samuel’s listeners—to realize that sometimes abuse can be literally just around the corner from us.
Noting that about 71 million people—or nearly one of every 100 people living today—have been forcibly displaced, Samuel declared, “The church should be the voice of the displaced, not of the powerful. You can’t talk about the Kingdom if you are not with people in need who cry out for the Kingdom every day.”
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