On the road in Dubai: Closing reflections from GAFCON 2019

Mar 2, 2019 by

[Editor’s note: Phil Ashey, writing for American Anglican Council, shows how Anglicans persecuted for their faith in global South countries offer a challenge to comfortable Western Christians.]

In a few hours I will fly home from this extraordinary gathering of Anglicans who live, witness and worship in restricted circumstances where they are often the religious minority. Four primates, 31 bishops and “internal provincial” archbishops, 44 clergy and 59 lay leaders from twelve countries shared their humbling testimonies. Unlike the trials I have faced, these dear Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ face ongoing violence and unrest, severe restrictions on how they may share their faith, and even death over a single, false accusation.  Yet they still witness in word and deed to the transforming love of Jesus Christ with whomever they can. It was an honor to be in the presence of the suffering Church within the Anglican Communion.

A statement from this conference will be available within the next few days on the GAFCON website and the American Anglican Council will certainly post it. In the meantime, let me offer a few closing observations of the suffering Church in the Anglican Communion:

They believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6)—not a way, a truth and a life. They believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired, clear and final word of God—rather than a book that contains spiritual truths. They do not understand, nor do they accept, Anglican leaders and churches in the west that have departed from the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and Biblical standards regarding human sexuality, marriage and leadership in ministry. Not only do they grieve such false teaching, they suffer accusations of departing from Christ and the Bible and even persecution from other religions on account of such false teaching from Anglican leaders and churches in the West.

I heard testimonies of suffering Anglicans who even use inter-faith dialogue, among the most restrictive conditions, to intentionally sow the word of God from the Bible into the lives of people who have never heard the Bible. I listened to their testimonies of how such sowing came with power that led to further conversations and, ultimately, turned listeners and even other religious leaders to following Jesus Christ.

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