"WorldView Conversation" is an ongoing discussion of global events, issues and trends: What's happening, why is it happening, and how might God be using events for His purposes? How can you get involved and make a positive impact? My twice-monthly WorldView columns will be posted along with other thoughts and observations, but I want to listen to you. What do you think?
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The Creed: His glory their reward
Here’s a creed worth adopting — if
As a follower of Christ: I am
called not to comfort or success but to obedience. Consequently, my life is to
be defined not by what I do but by who I am.
Henceforth: I will proclaim His
name without fear, follow Him without regret and serve Him without compromise. Thus: To obey is my objective,
to suffer is expected, His glory is my reward. Therefore: To Christ alone be
all power, all honor and all glory, that the world may know. Amen!
Those 83 words challenge a number
of things we hold dear as modern Americans: personal independence, success,
comfort, unlimited options. They comprise the creed, which is first memorized,
then lived out, by students accepted into Fusion (imbstudents.org/fusion), a challenging year of mission training and action for
college-age Southern Baptists.
Fusion, now in its 10th year, is a partnership
between IMB and Midwestern Baptist College, the undergraduate program at
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri. It puts
students through far more than an academic overview of missions. They spend the
fall semester living and studying in a close discipleship community,
participating in specialized training programs, doing ministry and evangelism
in the Kansas City area — and holding each
other accountable to their commitment. For the spring semester, they head
overseas to join IMB missionaries in various locations. Fusion teams are
trained to go to the least-reached people groups, so they often travel to
physically challenging or high-security areas around the world.
Wishy-washy believers need not
apply. Well, they can apply, but they won’t stay wishy-washy for long.
Gwen Noonan* found that out for
herself when she signed up. Noonan, now 20, entered the Fusion program in the
fall of 2012. She was as an enthusiastic 18-year-old from California searching
for exciting ways to serve the Lord. In Fusion training, she soon learned that
God seeks more than our service; He seeks our whole being.
“During our contingency training, we were put into scenarios
that felt so real — even though they weren’t — that I really had to ask myself whether or not the
gospel is worth my life,” she said. “Is Jesus, really knowing Him, worth all
that I have to go and glorify Him in the nations?”
She also learned about Karen Watson, whose words and life
helped inspire the Fusion Creed. Watson, another Californian, was one of four
Southern Baptist relief workers killed by unknown gunmen in Iraq in 2004. A
former law enforcement officer known both for her toughness and her passion for
God, Watson knew the risks of working in Iraq. She had willingly returned there
shortly before her death after several previous close calls with death.
God calls there are no regrets,” Watson wrote in a now-famous letter found in a
sealed envelope marked “Open in case of death.” She left it with her pastor
when she departed for the Middle East in 2003. “I tried to share my heart
with you as much as possible, my heart for the nations,” Watson said in the letter.
“I wasn’t called to a place; I was called to Him. To obey was my objective, to
suffer was expected, His glory my reward, His glory my reward.”
Fusion training confronted Noonan
with spiritual reality. “Learning more about Karen’s story helped me
realize His Glory really is my reward and really is worth it,” she said.
“Knowing the sweetness of Jesus even in the midst of these hard things, knowing
Jesus even in His sufferings, was something I would be willing to lay my life
Noonan’s commitment deepened when she went to her mission
assignment overseas, which involved developing friendships with Muslims in
order to share the gospel. It wasn’t easy, but she found Christ already was
“I went through a time of loneliness,” she remembered.
“Jesus was just so faithful during that time, and He used the creed to
encourage my heart. [He said] ‘I am so worth it. I have suffered for you and to
obey My Father. Abide in Me and know the sweetness of laying your life down.’”
During that time Noonan, a musician, also completed a song
based on the Fusion Creed that she had begun writing during training. When she
returned to the United States, she recorded “The Creed” and participated in the
making of avideo featuring the song: https://vimeo.com/112718306.
This year, Noonan has become a Fusion “advocate,” one of the
alumni who return to help prepare the next generation of Fusion trainees — not only for their overseas assignments, but for a
lifetime as disciples who make disciples. In January, 59 people now in Fusion
training anticipate going in teams to North Africa, the Middle East, Central
Asia and South Asia to glorify God. Noonan will lead a team of three young
women back to the area where she served last year.