CAFO2018: The Rare and Beautiful Fruit of Unity

Each morning, my five kids and I read a passage of Scripture and discuss it over breakfast.  We enjoyed John 17 yesterday alongside our oatmeal, and camped out on the words Jesus prayed for everyone who would come to follow him over the centuries.

Jesus’ yearning desire was this: “that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.”  This unity, Jesus expressed, would be a confirming emblem of God’s love; it would make the most wonderful of truths touchable.

It is easy to look around and conclude that such unity is not possible in our broken world.  But last week, I was reminded otherwise.

More than 190 organizations played a part in creating all that CAFO2018 Summit represented.  Myriad churches and individuals from across the US and all over the world played linchpin roles as well.

It was impossible to miss the beauty of that unity — seen uniquely when God’s people join to pursue together things that matter most.

The roles of each varied like the parts of the body – from loaned support staff to free office space, shared expertise to free resources, help in driving overseas guests to hundreds of gallons of coffee.  Our host church, Stonebriar Community Church and Pastor Chuck Swindoll, were the most gracious hosts one could imagine.

Likewise, many organizations went “above and beyond” in ways that touched every person present.  Meanwhile, lead sponsors like the Global Orphan Project, Lifeline Children’s Services, Lifesong for Orphans, One More Child, and Bethany Christian Services — as well as many other sponsors — gave generously, helping keep registration costs low for every participant.

All of this co-laboring took flesh in a special way Thursday evening.  An ad hoc choir emerged as music-lovers from all over the globe gathered in the afternoon for a short preparation.  They’d never all been together before…and likely won’t again this side of heaven.  But they sang their hearts out together that night.  And their willingness to share their gifts — coordinated by the excellent direction Joseph Noelliste — made the sweet fruit of unity not just visible, but audible too.

To be sure, unity doesn’t mean agreeing on every matter.  CAFO member organizations often disagree on a host of issues, sometimes sharply.  (No doubt every member of the choir had their own strong preferences as to musical tastes, too.)  But they’ve chosen to join in…and pour in…to a shared vision that is larger than any one organization could achieve alone.

The fruit of this unity, just as Jesus promised, was breathtaking.  One could see and touch and hear it in every one of 2,000+ participants – gathered from across the US and 40+ countries, each bringing gifts with open hands, all joining in the giving-and-receiving.

Even better, every one of those organizations, churches and individuals has carried those good gifts home with them – and is now serving children with greater wisdom, skill and strength…because of gifts received from one another.

That’s what God’s love looks like when made touchable.  Beautiful indeed!