By Mark A. Taylor
When thousands of us meet at the North American Christian Convention in Louisville this month, all the talk will be about unity.
We will remember the century old divide that has separated a cappella churches of Christ and instrumental Christian churches and churches of Christ. We will ask God to forgive us for staying apart from each other. We will sing together, pray together, and listen together to great preaching from God’s Word. And we will vow to find new ways to experience unity in coming years.
But none of that will be as good as the opportunity we’ll have to actually demonstrate unity. It will come each time a convention offering is received.
This year, according to convention president Dave Faust, the NACC will tithe all the money received in the week’s offerings. Ten percent of everything we give in Louisville will go to a special need faced by a group of missionaries working together in Africa.
Here’s the background: Christian churches and a cappella churches of Christ have supported missionaries serving together in Kenya for 27 years. They planted a church and operate a school and an orphanage in the city of Kitale.
They proclaim the gospel in a part of the world suffering from the plague of AIDS; today there are at least 18 million AIDS orphans in sub Saharan Africa, according to Milt Jones, adviser to the NACC executive committee and minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Shoreline, Washington. He explains the need today:
These missionaries now have an opportunity to start a center in conjunction with the Kenyan government that would bring AIDS testing and treatment to this area of Africa. . . . This center could bring long lasting and much needed hope for the victims of the worst pandemic in the history of the world.
It would happen in the name of Christ. And it would be a lasting testimony to the power that exists when Christians decide to work together.
We’ve said much about the historic possibilities for this year’s convention. And now convention planners have done one more thing that’s never been tried before. They will sacrifice a part of the crucial convention offerings to meet a need and provide a Christian witness long after the last closing chorus is sung.
I’ll take my checkbook to Louisville. I plan to give something extra in this year’s offerings. I’ve always believed in the NACC, and I’m thrilled by the unity ideal it’s lifting up this month; that would be reason enough to give. But now the convention will allow me to participate in unity as well as to talk about it.
I can hardly wait.