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Grace Baptist Mission CIO
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Oxon, OX14 3JD, UK
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Root Hill Report 2017
Outside Mission Centre in Abingdon, the leaves on the trees are already turning brown and beginning their wafting descent to earth. The throng of children milling around the park at all hours of the day have gone with the start of another school year. Summer has ended and autumn has begun, which means this year’s Root Hill youth camp has also passed. For those of you who missed it, here are some highlights.
This year on Youth Camp we were blessed to have the ministry of Ian Parry for the week. Ian was pastor for many years in Cardiff, and has worked for European Mission Fellowship for the past year. He brought a mixture of dry humour and serious challenge as he spoke to us from the life of Jacob.
There are two key ideas are present throughout the entire life of Jacob. First, relationships with other people are important, but they can be messy and leave a lot of wreckage in people’s lives. Second, there is one relationship that matters more than all the others: we need a right relationship with God. Jacob’s family is our family, the family of faith to which all Christians belong. However, throughout the Bible we don’t find any heroes, just broken people living in a broken world. God does not need you to be a perfect hero before he can use you. Yet there is a hero across the whole Bible and that hero is our ‘Great God of Wonders’, who is rescuing, protecting and saving all the time. We need to make sure that we know God, who we will see most clearly in Jesus Christ, in his life and his words, in whose grace we can come to God.
In his second talk Ian talked about the unhealthy place that love for others can have in our lives. When our love for others becomes and idol or a false god in our lives and we try to find fulfilment in them and in that relationship. We saw it in Isaac’s love for Esau, Rebekah’s love for Jacob, Jacob’s love for Rachel, Leah’s love for Jacob. Ian’s third talk explored forgiveness in relationships, because we are all broken people and we will break our relationships. The only sure fire way for a person to be able to forgive is for that person to be forgiven themselves, and to be forgiven for something much bigger and greater than the offence that was caused against them.
Sessions four and five moved on from our relationships with each other to our relationship with God. Ian looked at Jacob’s dream of the angels descending and ascending, with Jacob discovering that wherever we go, God is near. He is not silent and far away, he is here and speaking grace into our lives. Ian explored the common term ‘unconditional love’ in an age of consumer relationships, explaining that our relationship with God through Christ is a covenant relationship in Christ. Session five then covered our response to God and to his offer of a covenant relationship with us. We have to realise that God is the only solution to the mess in our lives. All the other issues in our lives pale into insignificance before the problem of our broken relationship with God. We have nothing that we can offer God; we can only come empty handed as the sinners that we are.
In his last talk, Ian explained the link between our relationship with God and our relationship with others. We cannot have right, proper and unbroken relationships with other people unless we first have a right, proper and unbroken relationship with God.
In the evenings of camp we were joined by a variety of people through the week. On Monday, Sonny Simak, a pastor from Southall, gave us his testimony of his conversion from a Sikh background – a memorable story that will stay with us a long time – and then spoke to us on what it means to have faith and be faithful to God.
James Hammond was with us on Tuesday, reporting on his work among students in Bordeaux, and then preaching from Psalm 73. Wednesday was a different format, when Stuart Parker and Rob Wood from True Freedom Trust led us in thinking how we can respond lovingly and biblically to those from the LGBTQ+ community.
Phil and Lydia Evans who joined us on Thursday evening, speaking about the Latvia
Envision team that they led last year, and then also the work that they hope to be
doing when they go to live in Latvia long-
We finish the week each year with a time for testimony and prayer, after which Adam Laughton spoke to us from the Revelation 21, calling us to keep our eyes fixed on the prize and the goal, and to be living our lives as if Jesus were coming back today.
All the recordings from this year’s Root Hill Camp can be found here.
As well as the ministry, our week was mostly dry (!) and we had our annual walk up Box Hill, trips out to Horsham and Littlehampton, table tennis mania and lots of singing, although quite a bit of it was purposefully bad.