Friday, 13 July 2007

IFES World Assembly: assembling!

Pod, Richard and Clarkey (now of Greece)!

Arriving in the airport, with an hour or so to spare before a coach to Hamilton...

(Pod Bhogal, Peter May, Eleri James, Richard Cunningham, Andrew Johnson of IFES Interaction, Jonathan Clark)

It has been fantastic to see familiar faces... in more ways than one, as John Stott sent us a video message, being advised not to travel:

Then there was the spotting of familiar non-faces, as in the first meeting, a few rows infront of me I spotted a certain Liverpudlian-New Zealander busy live blogging on the laptop! (A lot better than my retrospective blogging, it must be said.)

The great joy of World Assembly is tasting the reality of this global fellowship. As our speaker today expressed, God's new people are intergenerational, intercontinental, intercultural, interlingual, interracial, international, and any other inter- that's going! We are God's new humanity, and it's tremendously exciting. I think it resonates most with those of us with a fluid, or mixed cultural background. It may not be very confusing to be British but not from Britain, from NI but not representing it here, but it's such a joy that really that doesn't matter. We are in Christ, a new creation. I'm free to seek out French speakers at every opportunity here. They're free to welcome me as if I'm one of them.
So the roll-call so far: I'm in a flat on site with a student from GBU Italy and a staffworker of InterVarsity USA. Over breakfast the next day I met Enisa, the Gen Sec in Bosnia who works alongside Jan and Anneriet, a Dutch couple serving with IFES interaction who I know from when I was in Belgium. Also Patrick, a Dubliner of IFES Ireland, and Reiko of Japan. Yesterday we had Ziel Machado on Fellowship at the Table, Luke 22.7-30, and affiliated many new member movements with great joy at their establishment - there are now only 17 countries without a member or affiliated movement. I've caught up with Tom De Craene, a staffworker from the Flemish Icthus movement with whom I led music at a GBU-Icthus camp last year, who's since had a baby and been promoted to Gen Sec. Met Ales from the Czech Republic, whom I recognised from his joining one of our Relay conferences 3 years ago. Caught up with Gen Secs from Quebec and Switzerland whom I'd met in Brussels when we hosted the Platforme Francophone of French-speaking regional and national secretaries. Had small group meetings with Anon working in several -stans I'll leave nameless, with Terrell working with international students in the USA who's also served the SMD in Germany for many years, and Mireille from Lebanon. We've just had a ladies' lunch in which I was welcomed onto the francophone table so chatted with ladies from all over la Francophonie! And many more conversations with those of various nationalities here & there.
We are international in Christ. We don't survive alone. And what a joy that is!

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