It is mid-September 2001.

I am in Togo, West Africa for the first pan-African student Christian consultation on human sexuality (including same-gender relationships), HIV and AIDS and sex education.

I am one of 3 or 4 ‘Westerners’. The rest gathered are young Africans.   It is good, though difficult to be in the minority.

There is a deep grace in the conversation.  Over 50 student leaders from across Africa have come to discuss difficult topics.

There are Anglicans, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists…

I am amazed at how the African church exhibits a breadth of diversity, a deep gentleness (and, yes, humour!) as it discusses these ‘issues’ – some of which literally mean life and death for many of the folks gathered.

How this differs from the church courts and splits and polarization I have witnessed back home.

At the end of the consultation a leader approaches me:

–  Brother Rob, you play?
– I barely do (I nervously respond).
– Please lead us in “The Churches One Foundation”.
I am humbled.  I am handed a beaten up guitar.  I don’t have chords.  I get half of them wrong.

Still, the 4-part harmonies blend – the Spirit sings through us.

Tears are rolling down my face as we join together:

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride;