It’s early morning in Trinity’s section of the New Wine campsite. John, Dave and I sluggishly emerge from our respective tents. Meanwhile, there’s an insistent ‘keeeew, keeeew, keeeew’ from the sparrowhawk family that lurk menacingly in the nearby trees – often heard but rarely seen.
The morning teaching sessions are given by Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda. He’s an inspiring teacher, devoted to the Word of God, and urging us to be courageous for the Gospel and obedient. As he comes from a part of the world where people may be persecuted for their faith – he himself has been locked up for his preaching – his words carry weight. Throughout the week he is insistent that we testify to our faith in a hostile world – and resist the temptation to be diplomatic!
This theme of taking courage runs through a number of seminars as well. One of these was given by Andrea Minchiello Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, who defends Christians who are facing opposition in the workplace, such as the wearing of symbols such as crosses. (Also see Christian Concern for Our Nation) What I hadn’t realised was the key philosophical shift behind the emphasis on human rights: by placing man at the centre of the legal system, and the primacy of natural knowledge, it was inevitable that it would come into conflict with a Christian worldview that places God, and supernatural knowledge, at the centre.
New Wine is a great time for socialising as well – this year I was determined to spend less time in seminars than I had when I was last here! The three of us decided to go on the speed-dating that was being run. It’s a really intense experience! A row of about 15 guys faces a row of 15 ladies, and you have a series of roughly two-minute conversations. Each person has a list of those they ‘date’, and ticks those they want to exchange contact details with – if two people match, then contact details are given by the organisers. It was a unique experience!
There were a range of speakers in the evening, including Nicky Gumbel and David Ruis, but possibly the best session was with Mike Pilavachi. As he started, he sensed that the Spirit was leading him to minister in certain areas – and over the next quarter hour, he followed where he was prompted. A couple of times he said to those who weren’t being affected, “If you’re not feeling anything, don’t worry, neither am I – I’m just trying to follow the Spirit’s lead”.
As the Sun set, what sounded like a semi-automatic squeaky air pump started up. Dave and I discovered that this was due to a pair of little owls. They often kept air-pumping for hours. Perhaps they needed to: I saw a third one try to invade their tree, which was repelled.
All told it was a great week – very refreshing and inspiring.