Chicago has been our number one choice in several categories. It was the first city we identified to include in our world tour. The family voted the skyline as the most beautiful one in the world. Tinus and Charlie completed their first half marathon there. The best local church we have visited is there. The best car we had on the tour, we drove there. It's the location in which we made the most new friends. It's the most innovated city we have visited. It's Tinus' first choice for after graduate studies. It's the city in which we have exercised the most. And the list continues...
The innovative and architectural buildings and structures, 1000+ km running/bicycle tracks, numerous parks, cleanliness, various famous educational institutions, museums, art festivals, etc. contributed to my gaining respect for the city. The pace against which the city and it's people develop are remarkable. Chicago for example, produced the most Noble price winners ever. (I am sure some other family members will elaborate more on Chicago and the friends we made here)
Chicago was indeed very special.
But so were all the other places and all the other wonderful people and churches we have visited.
We had the most remarkable eight months as a family, but believe me, it is here in Chicago that I felt our relationships matured and grew in depths, more than ever before. I once again realized that I am very proud of my wife and three godly sons.
The visits to the Willow Creek Community Church and the Global Leadership Summit ("GLS") surely contributed to make Chicago even more special.
The church is relevant, innovative and lead by people with the spiritual gift of leadership. The focus on God's Word and Jesus is real, which ensure that they are practical and sensitive to the needs of their people and of the world. The GLS was once again a world class event; excellently organized and executed. It was full of practical information for leaders in today's changing world. It is "a must" for every leader who desires to glorify God through his or her church/organization.
My meetings with Bill Hybels and Gary Schammlein were fruitful and inspiring. There are so many win-win opportunities in Africa if the Willow Creek Association and the African Leadership Institute can work closer together in the future. Something , I think, which will develop.
Something I once again realized on this trip is that if one desires to make a difference you need to do the following:
- Be willing to learn from everybody and be sensitive for opportunities to gain knowledge, experience and wisdom.
- Never think that you are better than other people
- Work hard, with excellence, and in unity with teams
- Actively and innovatively seek new solutions for challenges and be willing to take risk for a Kingdom reward
- Your own abilities will take you only so far...we all need the power of God's hand on our lives.
It is not fair to all the other very special places, people and churches to give Chicago the official "no 1 -Fouries-around-the-world-prize"...Lets just conclude with the statement that it was an truly amazing and blessed visit!
Psalm 127 (NIV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.