Can I Get a Witness? Reflections and Photos
On February 27th and 28th, 2015, over 500 people from nearly 100 different churches in the area gathered together at the eleventh annual TrueCity Conference. This year we explored what it means to share the Good News in a way that connects with our friends, neighbours, and city. Writer and Hamiltonian Rachel Wallace shares her experience below:Last Friday night, I rushed home from work, scarfed down some food ten minutes before the annual TrueCity Conference was supposed to start, kissed my family and ran back out the door. I quickly walked toward Ryerson United Church, and as I approached the side door, the sound of singing wafted through the walls. Joining in worship with such a large group of believers from so many different churches across Hamilton is one of my favourite things about the TrueCity Conference. I walked a little faster.
Having grabbed my registration package, I made my way through the large maze-like church to the back of the sanctuary, where I was told I’d need to keep going up to the balcony. I climbed the next set of stairs, and was surprised to find that even up there, I had to look for a seat. Once I found one, I settled in for a glorious evening of worship, storytelling, and teaching. I left feeling encouraged and hopeful, pondering Mike Goheen’s call to preach a gospel centered on proclaiming and living the kingdom, just as Christ had done.
The next morning, my husband, sons, and I walked together to Ryerson. We settled the boys into the childcare room, then slipped into the back of the quiet sanctuary, where people were being guided in silent prayer. After a time of hearing different people’s stories of coming to faith in Jesus, mixed with song and opportunities to reflect and pray on our own experiences of hearing and sharing the gospel, we went our separate ways for the morning break-out sessions. I was again encouraged as I was reminded by Bruxy Cavey that evangelism doesn’t have to be crafty and complex, but that it is simply “telling your story and the Christ story and how they fit together.”
After sharing a potluck lunch at a nearby home of friends, we returned to our afternoon sessions. For the afternoon I went to a session facilitated by Natalie Frisk and Thelma Eisan on sharing the gospel with children. The phrase that stuck with me from that discussion was “You don’t need to dumb it down,you just need to break it down,” and a simple way of breaking down God’s Story into a few steps – Creation, Fall, Struggle, Jesus, the Church – with actions for each, of course! At one point it was mentioned that the disciples would’ve done a lot of learning from Jesus while walking and talking, and likely would’ve carried on that teaching approach as they explained Jesus’s life and teachings to others. That stood out for some reason.
We all gathered again for the final session, once again with uplifting, beautiful worship, and a closing message from Mike Goheen. The final question I jotted in my notebook is “How do we make kingdom known in creative and imaginative ways…?”
As we walked home, my five-year-old son and I talked about our days. I told him we (the adults) had been talking about how we can get better at sharing what we know about Jesus’s love with others. “One of the sessions I went to was on talking about Jesus with children. Can I tell what I learned there?” “Okay!” He replied.
“Well, the first step, is Creation – when God made everyone and everything. Can you think of an action we can do to remember creation…?”
We continued walking, talking, and telling the story of redemption through ridiculous over-exaggerated actions, I got to thinking about Jesus walking with his disciples, and Mike Goheen’s question about making the kingdom known in creative an imaginative ways. In our own little way, we were doing it. I think we have lots of walking ahead of us.