Friends World Committee for Consultation - Europe & Middle East Section

Pre-Triennial study booklet: Being Faithful Witnesses: Serving God in a Changing World

Contents

6. Quaker Message

Helmer Batista North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM)

(English translation by Marigold Best, Britain Yearly Meeting)

According to the word of God, the Lord demands that we should be his witnesses throughout the world. When God made the world, it was not His intention to divide it up and place frontiers to separate us. He wished to make of His creation an earthly paradise worthy of being cared for by us humans with our wisdom and knowledge, constantly improving it to fulfil His purpose of allowing us to live in a holy place and care for it well.

But human beings have put up barriers to divide us by race, culture, language, ideology, political and economic convictions and all kinds of concepts. Even worse, we have divided ourselves into different religions. It was not Christ’s intention to create a religion: he always strongly opposed all that was false in organized religion. Nor was it George Fox’s idea to found a religion. Yet over the years we have been enveloped, infected or contaminated by the ideas of certain religions which have gradually obscured the true meaning and practices of Friends.

We have a fresh message drawn from the Bible, distilled from the experience of years of work within and beyond those frontiers which have attempted to enclose Quakerism. It is the message of love, inner peace, freedom and acceptance which Quakers have lived out for hundreds of years. It allows people from outside the organized local group to feel accepted by their brothers and sisters and, without having to abandon all their old customs, become open to change through the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

We Friends need to take seriously our responsibility for enabling people who have not yet known God, who are not friends of Christ, who have not had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, to feel inspired to join in this unique and saving experience which makes them new, not because of any effort on their part, but because they allow themselves to be renewed by God.

From God’s perspective frontiers do not exist, whether geographical, political, cultural, economic, religious or any other kind. There are only men and women in need of a personal experience of Him, hungry for a personal encounter with Him, longing to find a truth as clear and straight as a ray of light. Those men and women work, travel, dream and wake up to the reality that technological advances, science, human knowledge, the humanities, have fulfilled certain needs, but that the spiritual needs which sustain us in moments of trial, make us joyful and give us hope for the future, depend only on an intimate personal relationship with God through Christ and with the help and participation of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, this is a great task. The workers are few, the fields are ready, the minds and hearts of men and women are ready for the seed of the gospel. World events over the last decade have been pushing us towards this realization. Today, more than ever, people yearn for this experience, an experience devoid of dogmas and religious rules that distance them from the central truth of a God who says, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you.’ As we face an uncertain future, the word of the Lord tells us, ‘I will not leave you alone. I will be with you until the end of the world.’ Friends need only to remember the words spoken to Joshua at an important moment for the Hebrew people: ‘Do not be afraid or dismayed, be strong and courageous’ (Josh. 10: 25).

Queries:

- What does the personal encounter with God mean for you?

- How can our Friends meetings and churches make sure that our organisation proclaims and does not hinder the truth of our message?

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