Four years ago Chris and I were at De Kroze Danne Conference Centre for our GO Conference – an introduction to the values and work of OM. This August we were back there for the third time, watching 243 more people embark on their journey with OM. Having helped with OMNIvision at the 2 previous events this summer I felt much more part of the crew this time and enjoyed the chance to try some new things. However, I was also there in my role as Family and Educational Advisor so my time was split between the two roles. Here are a few of my highlights from the conference:
“I thought I spoke English before I came to the UK” I exclaimed to those gathered at the table. The night before the big celebration a few of us close friends from ship days gathered together for dinner and were sharing our experiences of adapting to British culture.
A little over a year since we shared two years of our lives in close quarters with so many people we called friends, I cannot describe to you how refreshing it was to be back in the company of these old friends. Chief amongst these for me were some of my closest friends from my time onboard. Ruth also enjoyed meeting with friends of hers. I was encouraged by others sharing their stories of difficulty adapting to british culture after marrying Brits. Calling crackers biscuits and calling biscuits cookies, parking on the wrong side of the street and misunderstanding social cues. Sometimes I feel totally foreign and at other times I feel like I belong here.
The celebration lunch happened the day before they left for the US and just weeks before their US wedding and held all the hallmarks of a wedding reception. It was a delightful affair – and it was so nice to see them walking the road to marriage so well. I was very impressed by the way Colton had prepared every detail for their future life together in the states.
Christian weddings are often a great witness to God’s goodness to us and our ability to celebrate without excess in drinking and the like – and this celebration was a shining example. I loved the way the speeches reflected God’s provision and guiding in their lives, that whilst alcohol was available it barely featured, that we celebrated with such a lovely barn dance – and mostly that we could all gather around Claire and Colton to pray God’s blessing upon them as they travel onwards and together. They say that Christian marriage should reflect the way Jesus loves the church and we love him – and this is already evident in their lives.
“That morning when we awoke, the Lord had just taken him” – the Knight family had lost their son Mike unexpectedly, mysteriously one morning. The coroner could give no reason and so they concluded that the Lord had simply called him home.
After spending the summer traveling around Europe doing big events, this week’s evangelistic concert evening took place right here in Carlisle, UK. Out of the tragedy of their son’s passing, the Knight family brought together Christian entertainers from all around the world for one night to ponder together the mysteries of life and death. Dan and Suzie (Duzie) Potter hosted the event in their peculiar style, the band performed top tracks from Mike’s iPod – songs with challenging lyrics, rap artists WriteWay performed and actor Steven Baldwin shared the story of how his life was changed dramatically by Christ. He lead the audience in a prayer to receive Christ and at least 6 of those who prayed with him made contact with a local church to start an introduction to Christianity course. Many people shared that they had also struggled with loss and grief and questioned God’s existence or goodness but felt differently at the end of the night. I’m sure that many seeds were sown that evening that we will never know about – but in the future they will grow into Christ.
For me personally God answered a very dangerous prayer – to be more humble. During the GO conference I had become rather proud – thinking that I could have done a better job than those around me. Through the mistakes that I made during the setup that had to be fixed for me, and simply observing how talented my co-workers are I felt at the end of the night that God had reminded me of my place as a new team member with OMNIvision and given me a new respect for those I work with.