'God, I want to see a new thing!'
British Baptists have been challenged to be open to God doing a new thing, and stop clinging to what worked in the past
That was the message from Ben Francis, BMS Associate Team Leader for India, who gave an energetic and passionate address on Saturday evening.
Repeatedly urging delegates to be prepared to change their focus, Ben said it took him over a decade to respond to God’s call on his life. ‘I thought it was mission impossible to bring the gospel to West Bengal, there were just too many people,’ he shared.
‘But He said: “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”’
Ben had taken Isaiah 43: 18-19, as his text, reading it in Bengali. He said God is now 'getting ready to do something new' in the UK.
To be ready for this, we have to change our mindset in three areas.
Firstly, we have to stop looking behind. ‘God is saying, you cannot depend on your past victories.
‘Thank you - you have impacted the world. But those past victories are not going to sustain the world. You need to see what God is doing today. What is God doing new today?
‘That’s what I had to in Calcutta.’
Secondly, we can’t allow our past failures to stop us. We need to ask God to forgive our failures, and move on.
And thirdly, we cannot live on yesterday’s faith. The church needs to go out and seek the lost.
‘Go out from here thinking: “God, I want to see a new thing”,’ Ben said. ‘I want to see healing on the streets of England. I want to see neighbours knocking on my door asking who is Jesus!
‘If you want to see what you’ve never seen, you’ve got to do what you’ve never done.’
Ben shared a story from Kandhamal, Orissa. Back in 2008 Christians in the Indian state had been subjected to a massacre, with 100,000 people murdered, and churches razed to the ground. Some managed to escape, including one particular pastor, who had started a new life in Mumbai.
But one day he’d had a call to return to Orissa, scene of the awful persecution – and has now helped to plant 1500 churches.
The pastor is even working alongside someone who had originally wanted to kill him. A man called Kishor was behind the Kandhamal massacre, but was now a modern day Saul, Ben said. Jesus had spoken to him over the course of seven days, asking ‘Why do you persecute me?’ Initially Kishor didn’t want to believe, but eventually relented, and is now a church planter.
‘If God can do that in Orissa,’ said Ben, ‘God can do that in your neighbourhood.’
Challenging delegates, he said, ‘Say to God, “I stand here. Where do I go from here?”
‘We will pray that God rain down here, God will do a new thing here.’