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Wisdom Conversations Invites Hundreds to Courageously Proclaim the Gospel

News March 26, 2024

In a world fractured by ongoing wars, refugee crises, food insecurity, political uncertainties, and shifting cultural values, the fifth Wisdom Conversations presented by Cornerstone University on March 14 examined the essential role of Christianity as lived out by the church today. Four global leaders joined moderator Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, president of Cornerstone, for a 90-minute panel discussion on the topic “Christianity and Its Global Impact: Commission or Colonialism?” Over 700 guests registered for the free event, and attendees included university students, faculty, parents, trustees, donors, and members of the West Michigan community.

With decades of experience on the frontlines responding to humanitarian and spiritual needs, the spring event’s distinguished guests united around a shared faith in the entirety of the gospel message. The panel featured:

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, founder of the AHA Foundation and a former member of the Dutch Parliament. Recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2005,” Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee, converted to Christianity last year after being an atheist for 20 years.
  • Edward Graham, chief operating officer for Samaritan’s Purse. Prior to joining the nonprofit organization, his vocational journey included 16 years of service in the U.S. Army and combat missions with Special Operations.
  • Georges Houssney, founder and president of global missions organization Horizons International. Houssney, author of “Engaging Islam,” has 45 years of experience in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.
  • Dr. Matt Lucas, president and CEO of Our Daily Bread Ministries since 2022. With an educational background in English, Lucas previously worked in higher education for almost two decades, holding leadership positions at Corban University and Indiana Wesleyan University.

President Moreno-Riaño’s first question prompted the panelists to consider the impact of Christianity and share examples from their first-hand international experiences. Stories from countries such as Ukraine illustrated the unique effectiveness of the church, in contrast to other institutions, in building relationships within local communities and embodying Biblical principles such as honesty when stewarding limited resources. These characteristics also provide opportunities to share the gospel when responding to individuals in need.

“The church will be bold, and it will stay there and live out the Great Commission and also the example of the good Samaritan, meeting the immediate needs of those that are suffering,” Graham said, reflecting on the work of Christians engaging in international disaster aid. “But the most important part of the good Samaritan is that there’s a debt paid, and that’s the blood of Jesus Christ. So what good is the church if it’s just doing good works? That’s not what we were told to do. It’s to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The unfolding conversation led panelists to wrestle with differing viewpoints on contextualization as an evangelical mission strategy for clearly communicating the transformational gospel message in countries around the world.

“I think the language I like to use is: Are we Christo-centric and ethno-conscious, or are we ethno-centric and Christo-conscious?” Lucas posited. “One has to be subservient to the other. As Christians, we’re all called to be citizens of another kingdom — Jesus is that King — and so Christo-centric, living under the gospel, is what we’re called to be, but we’re going to not abandon our ethnicity.”

Responding to critiques of the global outworking of Christianity and misinterpretations of the Great Commission set forth in Matthew 28:16-20, panelists identified existing barriers to greater impact. The global leaders discussed the role of wealth and need for sacrificial giving; an emphasis on humanitarian relief efforts with a scaling of evangelism and discipleship training; and the responsibility Christians must have to not overlook their neighbors in need of local ministry support.

“If you want to take on the mantle and the call to spread the gospel, then we do it at home, at school, in our neighborhood, in our society, in our communities and abroad,” Hirsi Ali stated, reflecting on the challenge she issued to Christians in 2010 after leaving Islam.

In closing, each panelist issued a charge for today’s Christians to share and defend the gospel message with unashamed boldness and conviction.

“Don’t be ashamed to recommit yourself to Jesus Christ and be filled with the Spirit and be able to be an effective witness as a result,” Houssney concluded.

To hear the full panel discussion, watch the video or listen to the audio recording on the Cornerstone University Chapel podcast available on Spotify. Previous Wisdom Conversations recordings are also available.

Register Now for the Upcoming Wisdom Conversations

Wisdom Conversations returns on October 3, 2024, with a new lineup of nationally respected panelists who will discuss “Christianity and American Democracy: Living as a Faithful Christian and a Good Citizen.” Featured guests include best-selling author Gabe Lyons. Early registration is open now. RSVP today to reserve your seat!

SIGN UP TODAY!

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