The whole world in one country -- that's the way South Africans refer with pride to the patchwork quilt of many cultures and climates which make up their nation. And never was this expression more true than this past weekend as travel-glazed visitors from over a hundred nations arrived at Johannesburg airport looking for a friendly face at the end of the customs queues. The friendly faces turned out in abundance, with warm smiles and helping hands to lug heavy bags around the airport and to the busses which would take delegates to one of the ten venues for the conference.
Obviously a great deal of careful planning had delegates escorted smoothly from line to line and place to place. Once in the venues, located in churches all over the city, host families arrived with bright faces and more helping hands and welcomes. Because South Africa is a half world away from many of the delegates, a warm dinner and a warm bed never looked quite so inviting as after a day or two and several time zones of continuous travel.
South African host, Lazarus Selahle, with a winning smile, worked his way through the crowd of international leaders gathered Saturday, answering questions about his country and lavishing visitors with warm compliments, in my case on how well I pronounced the difficult names of the Nguni tribal groups: Xhosa, Ndebele, Swazi, and Zulu. And like warm rain on parched ground, all of the various welcomes served to help delegates feel as if they were entering a new home.
The intercessors who have already been preparing the way spiritually for the meetings have adopted a blessing for Pretoria from Jeremiah 33:9 "Then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them..." As our host family showed us around the region on Sunday, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the country and the graciousness of its people. Thank you, South African brothers and sisters for hosting this momentous Global Consultation on World Evangelism just three years from the culmination of the vision of the AD2000 and Beyond Movement: "A church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000."
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