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Kingdom Conference 2022: To Reflect on Suffering and the Church’s Witness of Hope in the World

Published Date: September 1, 2022

Suffering is part of human living, and the Christian calling is to be a community of “salt and light” even in the midst of our deepest pain. Within the past three years, we’ve experienced and witnessed unimaginable suffering in our world. For example, COVID-19 brought shock and grief as families lost loved ones and quarantining policies fostered mental distress, fear, and even endangerment to a countless number of people, with women, children, and the elderly being particularly vulnerable. Perhaps COVID-19 exacerbated suffering in ways taken for granted before the pandemic. Put differently, in addition to losing loved ones, the mental distress caused by quarantining policies and the fear of dying alone are some of the new ways suffering came to everyone’s doorstep. In some sense, the pandemic reminded the world of human fragility and our God-given need for interdependency. Of course, sadly, this is only one example of suffering in this world. People continue to endure pain and suffering due to natural disasters, war, persecution, violence, sickness, and disease.

However, in such deep, unimaginable suffering, the Christian calling is to be a community that is the “salt and light” of this world. Biblically, Christian responses to suffering can take multiple forms: lament, prayer, compassion, protest, etc. To use the words of Ecclesiastes, there is “a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). 

Therefore, this year as part of the Kingdom Conference (October 18-20), we are providing a space to reflect on the theme of “Suffering and the Church’s Witness of Hope in the World.” The intention is to offer various events during the Conference week to pause and ponder how suffering has impacted us (individually and collectively) and take time to lament. At the same time, we also would like to share the glimpse of hope the churches bring to our suffering individuals and communities.  

We will have Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra as our keynote speaker this year, who will help us to unpack the topic. Dr. Ramachandra lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He serves as the Secretary for Dialogue & Social Engagement in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. He holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from the University of London. He has authored several essays and books including Faiths in Conflict? (1999) and Subverting Global Myths (2008). His latest book Sarah’s Laughter (2020) explores the topic of suffering, and his insights will be invaluable for our time at this year’s Kingdom Conference. 

We will have more details in the next newsletter as to how you can join us during the Kingdom Conference. However, at this moment, we would request your prayers for this conference as we continue to reflect on the suffering we go through in today’s world.

See above for a video with Dr. Gregg Okesson.

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