Great Commission Congress Focuses on Hospitality
October 31, 2019
Asbury University seeks to teach students how to live out their faith in a globally minded and conscientious way against the backdrop of an ever-changing cultural landscape. Each year, Great Commission Congress (GCC) is one of many events that challenges students to do just that. Held in the fall as a celebration of the diversity of the body of Christ, this year’s Great Commission aimed to address our fear of “the other.” View a photo gallery below!
GCC Chapels held this week celebrated the University’s own diversity with the presentation of the flag of over 36 nations represented by the Asbury student body. From the stage of Hughes Auditorium, speakers taught students about the importance of diversity and hospitality towards all those they may encounter.
Author Lisa Espineli Chinn spoke on Monday. Chinn is a native of the Philippines and came to the United States for graduate school. Her work has taken her all over the world, and her greatest takeaway for the Asbury student body was the power of accepting others with hospitality.
“In this changing world of people moving from one place to another, we need a different kind of missionary: a missionary who knows the power of hospitality,” Chinn said.
Chinn shared the story of her father, who bore his own prejudices against other cultures, until one day his heart was radically changed by a transfer student whom he welcomed in as his own son.
Indeed, the modern-day missionary need not even leave his home state to encounter a culture radically different from his own. The increase in immigration, international refugees and communities of different ideologies all present contrasting cultures within a 40-mile radius of our front doors.
“This is the hospitality this world needs, because the world is now coming to our doorstep,” claimed Chinn.
Yet sometimes, we tend to shy away from outreach, preferring the idea of inserting ourselves into new cultures rather than welcoming that culture into our own homes.
For Chinn, it is the beauty of our time that we can experience the wonderful diversity of mankind without leaving our city, and the ability to minister to the world just down the street.
All we must do, according to Chinn, is keep an open mind and an open door.
Rev. Dr. Isomar Alvarez is the perfect example of this idea. A minister in Lexington, Ky., Alvarez lived in Cuba until he emigrated to the United States in 2001.
Alvarez spoke in Chapel on Wednesday about the diversity of Christian faith throughout the world and how we should stop at nothing to bring the word of Christ to the ends of the earth.
“When we become disciples, something changes because the power of God means we cannot stay the same,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez talked about how in his travels abroad he saw many different expressions of faith, even different expressions of Jesus depending on the cultural context of where he was. Some were very different from the American idea of Christianity, but all shared the same fire for sharing the gospel.
“The Gospel is Life. It is a lifestyle, and when we follow God, we embrace that lifestyle,” Alvarez said. “We need this radical discipleship to prepare the earth for Christ.”
Through the speakers and the messages of the Great Commission Congress, Asbury students were challenged to make their communities a little wider, to live outside of their comfort zones and to bring the light and the word of Christ to those who otherwise may never hear it.
by Cooper Boss ’22