Recently I was walking in a shopping mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. Because we had several hours before going to the airport for our 16-hour flight home, the group I was with wanted to do some last-minute shopping before boarding.
Wandering the halls and looking at the stores with their goods, I saw a bold sign ahead reading, "Salvation!" Nearing the store, I was taken aback by the fact that the sign really read, "Salvation Ink," a tattoo parlor.
Around the corners and down the halls, I came upon a Christian bookstore. As I stepped inside, the accoutrements of global Christianity smiled at me from the covers of books, CDs, and posters. A friendly voice asked if I needed any assistance, to which I responded that I was simply looking.
Nearby, the name "Stan Toler" was emblazoned on a book jacket. Knowing that this was one of our general superintendents made me realize that while home was still 21 hours away, at least in this place, my church was very much nearby.
That same helpful person asked again if I needed any assistance. Perhaps I was looking too intently at the pages of Toler's writing. I assured her again that I was fine. Then I had an inspirational thought. (Looking at Stan Toler's books will do that to you!)
I asked the young woman this question: "Which churches in Johannesburg seem to be enjoying the favor and blessing of God?" She responded with the names of probably a half dozen or so.
Then I asked her, "If you could sum it up in one sentence, what would you say God is saying to the churches in South Africa?"
Without pause she replied, "That's easy. God is challenging the church to holiness." Assured of my interest, she continued, "The church in South Africa has had a long emphasis on the grace of God without the call to holiness. This has produced too many Christians who are living lives without transformation."
What ensued was an enthusiastic conversation, joined by another store employee, elaborating the fact that young people in South Africa are hearing the call to holiness. They are hearing the call to surrender and transformation.
As I walked out of that store, my mind was struggling to take in what I had heard. Here in this land of contrasts, God is moving in His Church. He is calling His people to holiness-to live out of the transformation that is produced by the power of the Holy Spirit when we surrender everything to the Lordship of Christ.
Later in the darkness of that long flight across the Atlantic, my mind's eye envisioned the splendor of God's holiness. It is sweeping across an ancient land, changing, transforming, and renewing the Church and spilling that message across the boundaries of oceans and continents.
-David J. Felter, editor in chief
Holiness Today, January/February 2010