The last few weeks have seen Bible Weekends and Festivals up and down the country in the UK. This coming together for teaching, envisioning and fellowship is now a very important and widely attended activity for Christians. What a contrast to a few decades ago when such things did not happen at all. In those days people looked at you aghast to think that anyone would choose to camp in a field and attend meetings in marquees for a whole week of their annual holiday.
Over the years enormous blessing has flowed from these initiatives. I love to meet church leaders who tell me they became Christians or were baptised in the Holy Spirit at one of the Bible Weeks organised within the family of Newfrontiers churches – Downs or Stoneleigh Bible weeks (1979-‘88 and 1991-2001 respectively). And now there are several such events both within this family of churches (click on link for audio recordings of ministry from Newday for young people, New Ground and Westpoint), as well as many events in other streams of churches.
It was thus with anticipation that I visited the excellently organised Westpoint Bible Week near Exeter over the recent bank holiday weekend, hosted by Guy Miller and his team from the Commission family of churches. I was there for only one day as I knew that several of my friends who lead churches in other parts of the world would be there. I have travelled together with many of them through our respective spiritual journeys for many years and it was so good to catch up with them and to be updated on some of what God is doing now in their various nations. I found a great faith-filled ‘buoyancy’ among them, a sense of being ‘on the front foot’, as they are reaching out into their communities with the love of Christ, often planting churches and starting new ministries.
The weather at Westpoint was lovely (a minor miracle this year in the UK!) and the 3,700 who attended seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the ministry. It was exciting to realise that when, in 1979, we launched the first Downs Bible Week 2,900 attended. Now, in just one of the Newfrontiers apostolic spheres, a greater number gathers. Imagine what the next decades will bring as each of the twenty or so spheres grows!
I did not attend a lot of meetings as I went to meet people, though I was glad to arrive in time to hear Terry Virgo share the Bible reading on the first morning on the subject of Prayer. I encourage you to listen to this as it was rich in content, drawing from both scripture and his own personal walk. It could not fail to provoke you to seek how to set aside more time to pray when you hear the stories of answered, persistent prayer. Prayer changes things!
Reading of Romans
On the day I visited, Andrew Wilson gave a dramatic reading of the whole of Paul’s letter to the Romans. This was powerful and I urge you to set aside an hour to watch it – have your Bible in hand. You will be edified and blessed.
There is huge value in these festivals. The format is peculiarly British – camping as church groups etc – but the fruitfulness has international ramifications. May they continue for many years to come as we see the Kingdom advance in our generation.