An intern at LIFE International, Jared Gunderson, reflects on the Global Leaders' Life Summit, held at the LIFE HQ in August 2012.
I had the chance to be a fly on the wall at this year's Global Leaders' Life Summit at LIFE International. A group of about 25 men and women gathered there to strategize on how best to impact their regions with the sanctity of human life message. I have struggled with how best to describe what I witnessed. The experience defies simple descriptions but two words seem to be a start: joy and covenant. This is fitting, as one of the key outcomes of the Summit was a covenant signed by all those attending, affirming their commitment to fight the dehumanization of life worldwide.
There were leaders at the conference from all over the world. All from unique situations, with complex social and political issues at home. They were united at the conference by their desire to see the sanctity of human life restored. Hard things were being discussed, things that make a lot of people in the church and society at large, very uncomfortable. Child trafficking, sex trade, euthanasia, abortion, spousal abuse, and still others were all on the table. As I listened to the challenges, the complexities, and the scope of the problem, I was overwhelmed. Yet, they were not overwhelmed. There was no lack of joy in the room. These were not downtrodden or defeated people. Though life is dehumanized in a myriad of ways in their countries and regions, and this breaks their hearts, they see a mighty God on the move.
Where does this come from? Why are they so positive and full of joy? It is because of covenant. The King of the Universe has entered into a covenant relationship with each of them for the forgiveness of sins. Through this He has made many promises that they know He will keep; He's proven it repeatedly in their lives. God promises them abundant life in Him, He promises a light yoke, and He promises that He will be with them always. They are actively fighting and working, but their yoke is light because it is His, not their own. They are fighting alongside God, not against Him. Belief and faithfulness are all He asks in return. Their joy is only possible in light of this.
So it made sense that, as the week wound down, they responded to God by entering into a covenant born out of His covenant with them. They wanted to make a promise to God and each other that, in light of everything He had done for them, they were going to fight for His image, wherever those bearing it are victimized, in whatever way that image is being defaced. And as they did this important work they were going to lead others to relationship with Him as well.
As an outsider getting the chance to witness this, I was in awe. The challenges seemed immense, and the shortcomings everywhere. But they were talking about having too small a vision, not big enough! It is amazing to think that I have everything they have. I have the same covenant relationship with God. He wants to do the same things in me, to provide the same light yoke, the same abundant life and the same joy. All He asks for in return is belief and faithfulness. Am I willing to make these same promises? He doesn't need me to fight for Him, but He wants me to.