Awesome event, but what's its significance?
NECF Malaysia Research Executive Eugene Yapp reflects on the GDOP 2010 stadium event and throws some tough questions.
Like all big events drawing crowds by the thousands, the GDOP 2010 held on Pentecost Sunday was no different. It had all the fanfare and hype of a successful mega event.
In terms of organisation, the coordination of personnel and volunteers were spot-on and the organising committee must be commended on a job well done.
In terms of programme, the flow was faultless. As for participation, the crowd came in droves and charged up the atmosphere. In short, the evening was simply electrifying as attested by many.
Yet, for all its magnificent display, mega events such as this usually attract differences of opinion. Some dismissed it as all hype and lacking in prayer. Those from the more conservative tradition labeled it as too triumphalistic for their liking. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who found it moving and exciting.
On the surface, how one perceived GDOP 2010 will depend on one's own liking or preferences. But on a deeper level, several questions spring forth. What is the significance of this event and how does it relate to the transformation of Malaysia? Is it just about another "event" in the calendar of the Malaysian Church?
From the viewpoint of social dynamics, it must be pointed out that events have the potential of changing not only the casual forces but the very logic by which consequences flow.
Events may bring about changes by transforming the cultural categories that shape human thoughts and actions, thus impacting the social institutions and individuals leading to change. It is capable of altering the very perception and conception of different social actors, thus serving as construction of new discursive resources and mobilisation of collective action for change.
Yet for such historical events to be meaningful in ways just described, significance must be attached to the event in the collective memory of the church.
In the Old Testament, the one single defining event for the Israelites was the Exodus. And yet for all its signs and wonders, a major significance was attached to this great event. What is it?
Deut.7:7-9 says, "It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" (emphasis mine).
Following this great proclamation, an ethnical injunction was attached to its significance thus: "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." (vs 6)
In the same way, if GDOP 2010 is to have a lasting impact - a potential for transforming human thoughts and actions, and capable of altering the perception of Christians as the new "social actors" who will be mobilised for collective action towards change - a significance must be attached to that event.
In this post-GDOP 2010 event of the 90 days of blessings, it is incumbent on the leaders of the organising committee, intercessors and pastors to give meaning to this event and to then articulate this meaning in clear terms as a follow-up for the benefit of the masses.
With the significance spelled out and encased in our minds, then only will be meaningful for us. In that way, we believers will be reminded and embedded in our collective consciousness as to how God has worked in our midst, thereby motivating us for greater actions and sacrifices.
Specifically, as intercessors and pastors articulate the significance of GDOP 2010, it must address several practical questions faced by the Christian community in her social-cultural context:
- How does this event serve to move the hearts and minds of Christians to engage in collective witness in transforming society and nation-building in Malaysia?
- How does this event serve to prepare the hearts and minds of Christians in the words of Jesus to "deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me"?
- How does this event serve to allow the presence of God and the Holy Spirit to work though the church and begin empowering the individuals and collectively to lead ethically and transformed lives?
Admittedly, these are no easy questions to answer and any significance attached to GDOP 2010 must, to a reasonable extent, address and provide an answer to these questions.
Otherwise, GDOP 2010 may at best be said to be another wonderful Christian event that came and went, just like the rest, without any lasting impact or difference. Is the significance therefore unity, prayerfulness, victory, the fall of Satan, a contrite heart? Or is it a precursor to greater things to come?
It seems to me that much work needs to be done on the part of us Christians in preparation and nurture before it can be said that we are in reality "transforming the nation through the local church".
Let us all put our hands together and plow ahead for the sake of Malaysia to the glory of God.