There were 17 couples sitting in a large circle in the education centre in Dubai. Along with the warm friendship sustained over more than two decades for most present, there was quite a bit of angst in the room. People expressing genuine and legitimate fears of anyone attempting to form an "uber" church planting movement. Was there a need for any structure at all? Could the Eph 4 ministries present not just get on with their own sphere of influence and connect organically and naturally? I think some may have been concerned that Chris Wienand was possibly hoping to form an uber group. Having talked quite a bit with Chris, nothing could be further from his heart! He is very clear that he does not have anything like the apostolic gifting that is on Dudley Daniel and sees the hope of the future in the multiplication of apostolic ministries that were raised up, equipped and envisioned under Dudley. The multiplication of apostles is the fruit and crown and legacy of Dudley's ministry.
We had two days together mingled with eating together and much laughter and catching up. We even celebrated Jan Howard-Brown's 50th birthday dinner! On the third day Terry Virgo and some of the Newfrontiers guys from the Middle East region joined us for the day. It was a very special day. Terry told us his story from salvation to the present and his hope for the future. Newfrontiers are recognising and releasing eight (I think it is) apostles to get on with their own spheres yet remain under the overall title of "Newfrontiers". There will no longer be a single leader of Newfrontiers, as Terry has been, but a group of apostles that will gather from time to time to keep their history and their future connected.
A particularly poignant moment was when Terry wept as he was talking about Dudley Daniel. Terry expressed such an admiration and love for Dudley and all that he has meant to Terry over the years. A number of us wept along with Terry. I think the emotion of the moment caught us all by surprise, including Terry himself.
At the end of the day Terry prayed for us all. He began by saying "If it is of any help to you..." and proceeded to say some very life giving things over us all. He said that he did not detect a whiff of rebellion and independence in the room. He said that he saw us as people trying our best to be true to the dream that Dudley had put in our hearts many years ago. Somehow Terry's ministry was affirming and healing. There were once again many moist eyes in the room. Terry was somehow uniquely able connect together love for Dudley, and love for us, into what was a healing moment.
What was the outcome of the Dubai time then? Nothing really! Except the genesis of an idea that apostles get on with their own spheres and gather together from time to time to connect relationally and to keep their spheres of influence connected to each other. To keep our deep, rich history connected into the future, rather than just letting it bombshell into nothingness. I reckon there were probably four or five apostles in the room - Pete Howard-Brown, Tony Johnson, Mike Eltringham, Chris Wienand (and possibly Andrew Selley as an apostle in the making?). Just my opinion mind. I think that just about every other man in the room was some other Eph 4:11 ministry.
I left feeling affirmed, encouraged and motivated to get on with my calling to be a local church pastor and an Eph 4 teacher. Chris Wienand is the apostle that I mostly serve with. Yet I feel complete freedom to work with any other apostle e.g. Tony Johnson invited us to come and minister in India. I also feel a great freedom to exercise and pursue my calling and gifting without having to check with Chris every 5 minutes. I want to walk that fine line of fully discharging my gifting to the best of my conscience and yet also working in team with an apostle.
I think we'll look back on the time in Dubai as the time of the genesis of a wonderful future.