Global Assembly 2018: some personal reflections





Dale Williams and Jenny Fallon, SIM Australia and serving with SIM Malawi, share some personal reflections of Global Assembly 2018

SIM’s Global Assemby 2018 was held in South Africa and saw around 400 people from around the world come together for a week of celebration for the 125th Anniversary, Bible Study, worship, training and much, much more!

We came from 55 passport countries and represented 80 ministry countries. It was wonderful that so many national Board members were able to be there, as well as representatives from SIM’s partner churches in many of the countries where we serve. There was worship in many languages – English, French and Spanish, but also some African languages – thoughtfully and enthusiastically led by a wonderfully gifted multicultural worship team.

Key address: SIM International Director, Dr Joshua Bogunjoko, addresses delegates at Global Assembly 2018

At the opening ceremony, a large group of girls from a local school entertained us with rousing and rhythmic music on xylophones. At the closing ceremony the colourful men and women of the Soweto Gospel Choir sang a series of numbers that had us clapping, dancing and full of delight. It was a fitting culmination to an inspiring and thought-provoking week.

Plenary sessions (led by Ramez and Rebecca Atallah) on 2 Corinthians were definitely a highlight for both of us. It is Paul’s most personal letter, where he is serving Christ and the Corinthians amidst struggle and criticism.

The leaders provided guidelines for us, too, amidst our struggles and discouragements in particular. Typically, the West seeks to avoid pain and struggles - but counter-culturally, here we see praise, hope and the constraining love of Christ compelling our comfort of others, through the comfort we have in Jesus (2Cor1:3,4,7)! We will just mention a small number of points among the many that stood out for us.

Plenary 1 (1:1-11,2:1-3:6) was headed, “Suffering: the road to compassion”. The question about pain is not so much “from where does it come?” as “where is it going?” Results of suffering include: the ability to comfort others; patient endurance can developed in those who suffer; and, the necessity to rely completely on God. In exploring howour c ompetence comes from God, we noted: God uses us to spread his aroma (2:14-16); our credentials are the people in whom we invest – don’t underestimate the ‘insignificant person’ in whom we’re investing - such investing is the most important thing we can do (3:1-3); and, we are being transformed into God’s image (3:18).

Malawi in South Africa!: SIM Malawi delegates gather for a meal at Global Assembly 2018

Plenary 2 “We do not lose heart” : weak, yes, but being transformed (4:1-18). Some thoughts: discouragement is the greatest enemy to ministry and persevering; love (through someone) is the supreme ‘missionary technique’; dying - it’s the treasure, not our jars of clay that is important; faith - it’s not our task to convert people, but to be faithful and love them. And our identity is in Jesus.   

Plenary 3 “We are ambassadors of reconciliation” (5:11-21, 6:1-2) - God the Father being the author of reconciliation, Jesus being His agent, the Holy Spirit being the down-payment, guaranteeing the full reconciliation to come, and we are given that ministry of reconciliation. Some thoughts: if we don’t have love, we shouldn’t be on the mission field; those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Christ; we’re helping people be reconciled to God and to one another: we are ‘peacemakers’ for God.

Plenary 4 “Endurance, Transparency & Generosity” (6:3-15, 7:1, Chapters 8&9). Christian leaders, especially, do not have to be generally over-busy and exhausted - there is a problem if you are not appropriately delegating and trusting things to others - but delegate, not abdicate and then micro-manage. Leadership is not easy: be diligent, transparent and impeccably honest, especially sexually, financially and in managing personnel - too many leaders end badly. But excel in joy and giving.

Planary 5 ‘Being and Making Disciples of Jesus Christ’ {2 Cor10:1-6, Ch12, Ch13:11ff). When understanding hurts (so often linked to other Christians), we are called to respond in a way that honours God and does not revert to the ways of the world and then to trust God for the results. Coping and weeping with weakness, both for ourselves and for others. “It is not so much what happens that can destroy us, as our attitude and choices about it.”          

Closing worship: The Soweto Gospel Choir added a splash of colour as they led the worship at the closing session of Global Assembly 2018

A western Christian blindspot about honour and shame (H/S) - Jenny and I have been exploring this new-to-us, but very important lens (and related lenses e.g clean/unclean) for over three years/ and joined the four session training track on it at the Assembly. It not only has profound meaning for the Gospel for the majority of peoples of the world, but we believe it has key relevance for many Westerners, too.

Our special Afghani friend in Australia, Asad, often talks about matters of shame and strained relationships. We would like to share just a tidbit of honour/shame (H/S) aspects with you. Anthropology earlier provided a proposal of three archetypal cultures of the world (see chart below).

But more importantly, the cultural relevance of sharing the Gospel in non-Western H/S cultures is huge. For those interested, why not start now by just googling the words: honour, shame, Gospel. Check out the several H/S websites e.g.

Perhaps reread ‘The Prodigal Son’ looking with this lens?

Happy journey and ministry!

















Eastern, M. East, parts of Africa, L. America, etc.


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