A few weeks ago Mark and I departed for the United States for the last Together for the Gospel Conference. We gathered with over 10,000 pastors and church leaders in Louisville, Kentucky to be edified under the Word and encouraged one last time to remain faithful to Christ and his work. One surprise Mark and I both received, as well as a few pastors from UCCD, was Covid–19! By God’s grace, we’re all recovering. But for now, I want to reflect on three encouragements from T4G.
I didn’t know it when I left for the States, but T4G was like an old reunion for me. In God’s providence, I ran into my old youth pastor, Brian Richardson. He was my youth pastor from 6th–12th grade, and then he was the first boss I had when I entered ministry in 2009. Brian and I have lots of differences theologically, yet how refreshing it was to see him and his son–who I taught in Sunday school for two years. I was reminded of the deep unity the gospel brings. No matter our differences, Brian and I share the most important truths together. I’m so thankful for his investment in my life.
I also ran into my old college pastor, John Crawford. John is a dear brother who has become a ministry mentor to me. He is gentle, kind, and wise beyond years–a man I hope to become. What a blessing to run into him in the line to get a drink of water! John was the man I first saw true expositional preaching under. He walked us through the book of 1 Peter and I will never forget it.
I ran into over 20 ‘old friends’ while at T4G! Some of my friends were going through really difficult times and needed encouragement. Others–fresh in the ministry and excited. I left reminded of the rich friendships I have. What a blessing to labor for the gospel knowing that others are doing the same thing in different contexts.
As one who preaches, it was refreshing and strengthening to sit under good preaching for three days straight. Every single message left an impression on me, and I only desire to continue faithfully opening up God’s Word and re-revealing God’s Word back to you. What an incredible, weighty, and joyous task it is to preach from and before God!
Recent and newer friendships were formed while at T4G too. It’s amazing how many people you can know through social media or through another friend, yet never meet in person. T4G provided a unique time to grab a meal, sit down over coffee, and share ministry burdens and blessings with new friends. Even as we walked down the street we would run into people and share ten minutes of edifying fellowship. So many pray for the work in Dubai, and so many have come through and seen it for themselves too.
All in all, I left T4G encouraged and ready to keep laboring for the gospel here in the Middle East. While T4G has come to an end, I’m glad Mark and I got to be at the last one. I don’t think we’ll ever forget it!