Introductory Note:

Tucked away at the end of Richard Foster’s book Streams of Living Water is a heartfelt cry for a new gathering of the people of God. To mark the publication of Streams twenty years ago, I’ve chosen that brief ‘afterword’ to put before us a vision of what the love of Christ could look like in our world. On Friday, I’ll share why the book is so significant and how it changed the direction of my own life.

James Catford

Excerpt from Streams of Living Water

Every­thing I have shared with you in [Streams of Liv­ing Water] grows out of a deep con­vic­tion that a great, new gath­er­ing of the peo­ple of God is occur­ring in our day. 

The streams of faith that I have been describ­ing – Con­tem­pla­tive, Holi­ness, Charis­mat­ic, Social Jus­tice, Evan­gel­i­cal, Incar­na­tion­al – are flow­ing togeth­er into a mighty move­ment of the Spirit. 

They con­sti­tute, as best I can under­stand it, the con­tours and shape of this new gathering.

Right now we remain large­ly a scat­tered peo­ple. This has been the con­di­tion of the Church of Jesus Christ for a good many years. But a new thing is coming. 

God is gath­er­ing his peo­ple once again, cre­at­ing of them an all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons with Jesus Christ as the community’s prime sus­tain­er and most glo­ri­ous inhabitant. 

This com­mu­ni­ty is break­ing forth in mul­ti­plied ways and var­ied forms.

I see it hap­pen­ing, this great new gath­er­ing of the peo­ple of God. 

I see an obe­di­ent, dis­ci­plined, freely gath­ered peo­ple who know in our day the life and pow­ers of the king­dom of God.

I see a peo­ple of cross and crown, of coura­geous action and sac­ri­fi­cial love.

I see a peo­ple who are com­bin­ing evan­ge­lism with social action, the tran­scen­dent Lord­ship of Jesus with the suf­fer­ing ser­vant Messiah.

I see a peo­ple who are buoyed up by the vision of Christ’s ever­last­ing rule, not only immi­nent on the hori­zon, but already burst­ing forth in our midst.

I see a people…I see a people…even though it feels as if I am peer­ing through a glass darkly.

I see a coun­try pas­tor from Indi­ana embrac­ing an urban priest from New Jer­sey and togeth­er pray­ing for the peace of the world. I see a people.

I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Ken­tucky stand­ing along­side a Bap­tist evan­ge­list from the streets of Los Ange­les and togeth­er offer­ing up a sac­ri­fice of praise. I see a people.

I see social activists from the urban cen­ters of Hong Kong join­ing with Pen­te­costal preach­ers from the bar­rios of Sao Paulo and togeth­er weep­ing over the spir­i­tu­al­ly lost and the plight of the poor. I see a people.

I see labor­ers from Sowe­to and landown­ers from Pre­to­ria hon­or­ing and serv­ing each oth­er out of rev­er­ence for Christ. I see a people.

I see Hutu and Tut­si, Serb and Croat, Mon­gol and Han Chi­nese, African-Amer­i­can and Anglo, Lati­no and Native Amer­i­can all shar­ing and car­ing and lov­ing one anoth­er. I see a people.

I see the sophis­ti­cat­ed stand­ing with the sim­ple, the elite stand­ing with the dis­pos­sessed, the wealthy stand­ing with the poor. I see a people.

I see a peo­ple, I tell you, a peo­ple from every race and nation and tongue and stra­tum of soci­ety, join­ing hearts and hands and minds and voic­es declaring,

Amaz­ing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Excerpt­ed from Streams of Liv­ing Water: Cel­e­brat­ing the Great Tra­di­tions of Christ. Copy­right 1998 by Richard J. Fos­ter. Used with permission.

Pho­to by Nick Kwan on Unsplash

Text First Published September 1998

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >