Several years ago my family went to Disneyland in California. One of our anticipations was experiencing the famed Disneyland fireworks at the close of the day. While we waited, I suggested that we get in the short queue for the “It’s a Small World” exhibit, a boat ride along a canal which is completely enclosed in a massive building. The boat takes you by numerous scenes highlighting different nations from around the globe. Walt Disney designed it to celebrate unity amid diversity. A bit boring, but interesting.
For some reason, the queue moved very slowly and we were a bit nervous, not wanting to miss the fireworks. Unfortunately, as our boat entered the huge building, we heard what definitely sounded like fireworks. Had we missed them? Several minutes later, when our boat came out of the tunnel, the last firework fizzled out. We had managed to miss the entire thing. It turns out that not only is it a small world, but sometimes it is also a disappointing world. Not so the other evening.
Every second month, I am on a Zoom call with other pastors from different nations around the world. It provides an opportunity for likeminded pastors to hear how the gospel is progressing in our countries. It’s an expression of unity amid diversity.
Of course, the conversation in recent months has centred on the pandemic and its effect upon the ministry of our churches. As we talk, it soon becomes apparent that it really is a small world, after all. We discover we are all facing the same challenges. Different cultures, different demographics, sometimes different languages, but the same concerns about God’s flock.
Many shared their experience of seeing the Lord continuing to build his church during these difficult days, just as he promised (Matthew 16:18). We also shared our concerns that, while many are persevering, others perhaps are falling by the wayside. One brother shared that, before lockdown, their church membership was 650 but he wonders how it will look when lockdown is lifted. Most shared of God’s faithfulness and how our churches were making budget even in these tough times. But one brother shared about the financial setbacks because of COVID while a brother from Beirut spoke of how the recent massive explosion decimated their building and how, even before lockdown, Lebanon was in dire financial straits. At that point, a pastor spoke up and offered financial help. He said that their church had $100,000 to aid other churches! He then said, “Many of our churches in our fellowship have been blessed financially and we’d love to help churches which are in need.” Wow. What a small world! True unity amid diversity.
I shared that BBC has experienced great blessing, but also great heartache because of COVID. As I spoke of Martin’s death by COVID, the care of these brothers—several whom I have never met—was palpable. It felt like I was speaking to family. For the Christian, it really is a small world, after all.
As I shared about the death of Annette Franks and how Gareth was unable to be here for the funeral, the moderator of the meeting (who doesn’t know Gareth personally) said, “Brothers, let’s pray for Gareth. He asked the pastor of a church in Dubai, who does know Gareth, to lead in prayer. Dave gave thanks for Gareth and for his ministry in Abu Dhabi. It was clear that this brother holds Gareth in esteem. You could hear the other brothers entering into the prayer, which closed with a tender, sincere, and corporate “Amen”! I thought, “Because of the gospel, it really is a small world, after all.”
Unlike Disneyland, our current “ride” is everything but boring. And we certainly are not missing the fireworks! But be encouraged, brothers and sisters, for we are not alone. God, in his gracious providence, has so connected the global church that it really is a small world, after all.
On the ride with you, along with a multitude of others,