The annual trek to Holland for the OM new recruits’ conference was over quickly this year. I flew in on Wednesday and out on Saturday. These were almost the last days of a 12-day conference, so it was exciting to get in on the action at a key time. The conference was held in a new venue, but I think any concerns are gone – it seems to be an ideal venue!
The important number is 252. That is 252 new recruits heading to many parts of the world, to two ships and to an adventure of spiritual growth and missions. My sessions seemed to go well. In the mornings I preached from the second half of Ephesians on several OM core values – loving and valuing people, being people of grace and integrity, sacrificial service and global intercession. I was struck by how core these values are to basic biblical Christianity (and by how much we need to be reminded of them!)
The Thursday evening session on ethics in missions was especially important. Again, I decided against a complicated approach to ethics and equipping people with lists of rules and qualifiers to rules. The far greater need is for us all to have heart-driven desire to please God in every situation. The focus was on integrity in respect to some of the pressured situations many will face, with encouragement from some senior workers that it is possible to achieve God’s purposes, even in the face of great opposition, with real integrity. At the same time there was a sense of conviction in other areas too. We can preach, but only God can work in hearts. That night it seemed to be a significant time for many. I praise God for that, and pray also for the deep follow up that only He can do.
It was great to see old friends again and connect with some new ones. Now I’m sat on a train typing this (and will post it later). I’m tired. Not physically, more just drained – drained emotionally by giving in preaching, drained by the very real humanness of us all in OM (with the concerns that come from that), probably drained by being in a slightly more overt spiritual battle zone. Yet at the same time my heart is stirred by the excitement of what God is doing. The same God who has transformed lives down through the years, who has built the church despite all opposition, who has taken thousands of raw recruits into OM and through OM . . . the same God is still at work!
I’m struck again by something we can never forget in OM. It’s not primarily about missions. It’s about spiritual discipleship and spiritual reality. OM is still about people joining others in the adventure of faith and growth – missions is the natural overflow of a close and real walk with God. After all, if we become like the One we love and worship, if His values become our values, then surely the nations must loom large on all our hearts, for they do on His!