On God our Maker we depend for love
that’s gracious strong and sure
God’s faithfulness will never end
from age to age He will endure
As delegates arrive, slightly late, this is the song on the screen. We depend on Him. We express it in song, live it in our lives, proclaim it in our weakness and remind ourselves in our strength – God alone is the One we serve.
A woman comes to the stage – traditional Ukrainian dress. Olena speaks of hearing stories from different movements. We are not just to listen but to engage – with heart, with ears, in prayer. Tonight we will experience a deeper sense of community – like a Ukrainian family at the dinner table.
We are told to find a person we do not know, to introduce ourselves and to talk. Answer the following questions: share your personal reality, about your ministry and how is God at work in you.
I talked with Jean, a church leader in Africa. “IFES ministry has shaped who I am, how I lead, how I live.” We spoke and in a short time shared what God has been challenging us about. We prayed at the end of our time. It was a huge encouragement to talk to this gentle man of God – an encouragement and a challenge.
Igors from Latvia comes forward and tells the story of EUS, the movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now an officially recognised organisation and today freshly affiliated into the International Fellowship. This beautiful, diverse and once war torn country is still recovering from the scars of the aftermath of the civil war. Today’s students are the children of the war period – “There is hope for Bosnia – that hope is Jesus Christ”. The movment is growing and facing significant challenges. “The work is great… please pray for us” God is greater still!
Enisa Dedic the General Secretary and the student who established the first group in Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke of partnerships with other movements, and shared her thanks. Her greatest praise and thanks goes “to my King, Jesus Christ”. A Serbian student comes to the stage and prays for EUS. He prays in English – I understand the desire to be clear, affirm it even, but I long to hear more languages from the front of our gathering.
Daniel Bourdanne comes to extend the formal welcome of IFES to EUS.
Mirek comes to the stage: “Europe has become the prodigal continent”. He speaks of how Slovenia excells in the unreached tribes of prodigal Europe. The Slovenian Movement, ZVES, is lead by Nenad Vitorovic who shared this amazing story. Marco, a non-christian, came to an event organised by ZVES with Henri Blocher – these event, among others, led to the establishment of a Bible study. Marco invited more people to these groups and attended faithfully but did not come to Christ. Marco in the next Uni year suggested a joint public debate – between a Christian and an atheist.
The debate was packed by 80 or more students and went for two hours. The debate swung on the character and nature of God. An atheist man, studying a PhD, at the end of the debate said he had to go with the Christian side of the argument because the argument from the Christians was a better presentation of truth. “I feel compelled” He said.
There are many stories of events and opportunities which have opened up. There are many surprising opportunities and this is having a small but significant impact. Marco continues not to believe but remains close to his Christian friends. Pray for this man!
Daniel Bourdanne comes to the stage to announce the sad news that John Stott has finished his part of the race of faith. He went to be with the Lord this afternoon. We each have benefitted from John’s ministry – IFES was close to John’s heart and often the context of his ministry. God’s provision of great friends in the ministry is part of the expression of his love. John passed away peacefully, his family gathered around him. They read from 2 Timothy. All of the weakness that had troubled this dear saint has now left him and he is with the Lord.
During his lifetime, Stott wrote and preached with clarity and powerfully – he was a great mentor and friend, a significant catalyst in the application of God’s grace in people’s lives.
Daniel speaks of a man who he knew as a friend, whom he called Uncle, with warmth and commends to us the sort of life that John lived. For me Stott’s two works “The Cross of Christ” and his Bible Speaks Today commentary on 2 Timothy were life changing: deepening my confidence in the saving confidence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
After that sombre interlude we are treated with a video from Mauritius. Tracing the growth of the movement there to the preaching of the gospel since the mid 1970s. SCF is the movement. 2008-9 were a hard time – but the vision of living stones came at the right time. It has made a real difference bringing focus to the work which depends on enthusiastic and committed leaders. Students appear on screen speaking of how they have been shaped, changed, trained and equipped for leadership and service. One Malaysian student speaks of her experience with the SCF and how it has this which has led to her becoming a leader in her Malaysia CF. It is very moving to hear these students speak of God’s work and to see the confidence of the gospel working itself out in their lives.
Two students from KGK Japan take the stage. They speak of the impact of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaste. They speak with dignity. They speak of the fellowship and practical help of other IFES movements – especially the other East Asia movements. They speak of how KGK offered relief work and offered the love of Christ in the midst of the hard times. They saw some come to faith in Christ Jesus. “Jesus Christ is alone worthy of praise; He is the Lord of the Universe… As we read the Bible together we realised we were not serving other people for our own satisfaction but because God has called us to serve him… not only by works but also in words we are called to serve the local people with God’s Word and God’s love.”
KGK really appreciate the support of KGK.
Another video plays – this time about the Bible Study Consultation. Sabine Kalthoff and Bob Grahmann speak of the work of the consultation. All of the participants were under 35. All wrote regional reports after research and these papers shaped the consultation. 3 key issues were identified:
- A global weakness in personal bible study – there is a drop-off in staff and students spending time in God’s Word regularly.
- The idea of the studying the whole Bible rather than just our favourite bits: especially in evangelistic Bible study.
- We need new forms of helping this generation of students in looking at and engaging in Bible study.
The presentations of Scripture engagement were diverse and powerful. Ideas have been suggested and global networks are being planned and set out. Sabine spoke of the new role of Secretary for Scripture Engagement – inviting further discussion and sharing here at World Assembly.
Closing students come tonight from Havila, a student from UESI.
Abraham was a living stone: living in the presence of God, approaching the Lord with problems. God keeps His promise to Abraham, providing Isaac – then his faithfulness is tested. God calls Abraham to sacrifice Isaac – Abraham intends to obey, confident of God’s promise and as God stays his hand Abraham is blessed. God is the only one with power and He will meet our every need.
We close in prayer.
The video at the end of the day is PURE GENIUS!