Too Great to Count: God's Movement at World Wide Conference [Photo Essay]


CRM’s sixth World Wide Conference at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, is about a month behind us, and our staff have dispersed back to their various contexts around the globe with a rich array of encouragements, prophetic words, and courageous commitments to gospel movements. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we repented, we worshipped, we played. We remembered who we are and what we’re about. We learned the new identity and name that CRM will be taking on in the near future. And we linked arms with each other and with God in the great commission he’s given us.

Here's a summary of some of the great moments our staff and Conext partners shared together in the mountains of North Carolina.


About 750 people, including children, gathered together from ministry contexts all over the world! One of the great encouragements at a conference like this is connecting with old and new friends, all committed to boldly participating in the mission of God. Our family of Kingdom innovators is growing, and this was the largest conference yet!


Guest speaker Ronnie Stevens speaks on the conference theme from Revelation 7:9-10, "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count..." This vision to reach all peoples through movements of the gospel, and invite those people to join us in the great mission of God, came through loud and clear from multiple speakers. Another theme that came through loud and clear was that we not only want to reach all peoples with the gospel, but we want to build them up as disciples who also make disciples, so that the movement of God spreads far beyond anything we could ever accomplish on our own. This is the only way to fulfill this Kingdom vision.


One of the sub-themes of this conference was prayer and intimacy with the Lord. Here, guest speaker Anne de Leyser joins us to share about the movement of God at Ffald-y-Brenin in Wales and how a fresh movement of prayer and blessing is spreading around the globe. Anne offered special workshops throughout the conference for our staff to dream about local houses of prayer and how to initiate prayer movements of blessing in their contexts.


There were many interactive workshops and practical learning opportunities around prayer, including optional morning strategic prayer walks, discussions on healing prayer, removing blocks to intimacy with Jesus, and creative intercession. Here, parents and children attend a workshop together to explore creative intercession for children.


The themes of honor, blessing, and reconciliation for the sake of the gospel emerged over and over again. At times we had to throw out our agenda and conference schedule to follow what God was calling us to do and his agenda for our time together. We were challenged to pursue reconciliation and honor across racial, gender, and cultural lines. Here, Colletta Rhoads speaks powerfully and vulnerably about how racism has gotten in the way of our witness, and calls us back to God's Kingdom values—stating that there's room for everyone at God's table. Hundreds of staff came forward for an extended time of prayer and repentance in response.


Around CRM we like to break up the serious world-changing with a little bit of fun. In line with that, this Conference saw the first ever "Conext World Cup," where teams from different nations competed with each other in silly relays and challenges on stage. God had his own plans for this little game, and the finale was a divinely orchestrated time of reconciliation between two nations that are currently at war with each other and deeply hurting. As a result, we all got to experience what it looks like to be citizens of God's Kingdom and not let barriers of national division and pain separate us.


CRM is getting a new name and identity, and our staff got the inside scoop on the change that's coming. There was a sense of deep resonance and excitement with the new name and what it captures about our mission and vision—our heart to bring redemption in creative ways to all peoples, everywhere. It was almost like there was a collective "Yes!" to who God has called us to be, and for some, a sense of belonging in the organization at a much deeper level. Here, Rhonda Gervais, head of HR, shows off the new logo (and consequent enthusiasm) at the Conference information center.


CRM has been around for 38 years, which we were reminded is equal to the number of degrees for the "tipping point" of an avalanche. These words were spoken over us as a blessing: that we are at the tipping point as an organization and God has positioned us for breakthrough in ministry and gospel movement. We took a moment to celebrate our 38 year history with a timeline exercise; each staff marked their name at the point where they joined the CRM family. Together, we're ready to ride the avalanche where God leads.


CRM missionaries shared helpful ministry tools with each other in more than a dozen equipping workshops, on subjects ranging from addressing sexual identity issues to cross-cultural acuity to understanding the times. Here, Darren Prince, director of InnerCHANGE, leads a session on productivity in ministry.


CRM is "a place for everyone to play," Ethne director Jody Hovda shared. One way guests at Conference had a chance to "play" was at Open Mic Night, where we got to enjoy each others' creative talents. Here, Olivia Baker, one of CRM's grown and gifted missionary "kids" shares an original song in honor of her dad's 30 years on the field.


We had multiple invitations to pray for and bless one another during plenary sessions. Many evenings, times of worship and ministering to each other in prayer lasted well into the night. As we listened to the Spirit and allowed God to use us to bless one other, we were able to experience his love and care for each of us personally and profoundly.


When you get hundreds of pioneering missionary type folks together, you have to leave a little room for adventure! One afternoon was set aside for adventures and excursions in the area, and staff enjoyed tubing, rafting, a high-ropes course, and other fun activities. Not even the downpours and thunderstorms we encountered at inopportune times (like during river tubing and the outdoor BBQ) could quench our spirits. Here, an MK (missionary kid) takes a tumble into the river, and other missionaries rush to the rescue.

 Since the conference, staff have been describing the time as "life-changing" and "a kairos moment." We trust that as we continue walking out what God showed us at Ridgecrest, that our hearts and ministries will be expanded, and the fruit will be multiplying all over the world.

May the outcome of this World Wide Conference and God's movement among us truly be "too great to count."