Sir Fred then spoke and shared about the appointment of Lindsay 16 years ago. At that point there were 100 movements in IFES, at the end of this conference (18 movements being affiliated) there are now 132 movements affiliated, with a further 20+ working their way to affiliation. The world political climate had radically changed since 1991 and IFES has seen significant growth in that time, the post-soviet establishment of movements in eastern Europe and Eurasia and more recently an opening of some opportunities in the closed countries of north Africa and the Middle East.
Lindsay was presented with gifts and the given an opportunity to speak. He pointed us to 4 priorities, teaching from Paul's address to the believers in Ephesus in Acts 20.
1. Remember your roots - an anchoring in an historical perspective teaches us how to worship (remembering what God has done, always leads to praise), increases our determination (if God used the weak in the past, he can use the weak like you and me today) and strengthens our sense of purpose (we have come so far, we cannot give up now).
2. Recognise hardship - don't go looking for it but don't be surprised or discouraged by it: IFES movements have and do face sever hardships, it is part of normal Christian living, expect it in the future.
3. Retain your focus - IFES focus is the proclamation of the gospel: teaching and preaching it. The making known of the gospel is about staying faithful to the biblical truth of the word and applying it into every area of life and service. All Biblical evangelistic sermons lead to three points: there is only 1 God who created us, God raised Jesus from the dead and you must turn from sin or face judgement from God. Is our gospel the Biblical gospel.
4. Run to the end - the task is too big to complete by ourselves, and completion means death or the return of Jesus. What keeps us going to the end? Nothing but grace in all it's splendour, beauty, majesty and compelling marvellousness. It keeps us from being hardened and from despair.
Every time I've heard Lindsay speak it has been stirring, full of stories and fully Biblical. I felt tonight much as I did at Word Alive (UCCF student conference) in 1994. Lindsay spoke then - I can't remember on what but I do remember being moved to go forward and commit myself afresh to reaching far off places. Lindsay spoke to an 'after meeting' group of about 30 of us. He prayed with me. He has no recollection of it, neither should he - it was significant for me rather than him. He prayed that I would be willing to go and serve God at the ends of the earth. His prayer has been answered!
We sang a hymn I've not sung for a long time, a hymn which was often on the Relay conferences song list, one which reminds me of the beauty of Jesus and my own limitations and a song sung at the 1946 conference which would give rise to the establishment of IFES the following year:
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength,
safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
We finished the evening eating cake (with 152 country flags on it) - giving thanks in a real party atmosphere. I chatted with Yando (Papua New Guinea) and Vinnie (Fiji) as we ate.
This post has become quite long but I just want to make a quick note - the NZ contingent had dinner with Becky Pippert (Out of the Saltshaker) and Dick, her husband. It was a great time of talking with her, hearing stories and sharing about New Zealand. I'm often really skeptical of 'big name' authors, but Becky is a lovely woman and with whom I could spend a lot of time talking about evangelism and learning a lot from her. Again, had a real sense of privilege sharing dinner with her.
It's the last day of the conference tomorrow - I'm looking forward to going home (though not the journey - 30 hours with Air Canada!) but I want to get everything out of tomorrow I can. Daniel Bourdanne is speaking tomorrow eveing - his first address as General Secretary: I'm looking forward to it!