3-8 July 2000
Serving with Europe Now in Bristol
PO Box 168, Bristol, BS9 2YE
This was the OAC national Training Seminar, teaching people how
to use the sketchboard for working with adults and children.
In previous years, it has been held at the BBI (Birmingham
Bible Institute), and a number of people refer to it as 'the BBI
Seminar'. This year, it was sometimes 'BBI in
The course wasn't really designed for me, but it was a good
opportunity to meet some people, do some evangelism, and
practice some sketchboard messages for myself. And, in
any case, it's just one of those things you have to do if you
are involved with OAC GB.
- Monday 3 July
Take the train to Nottingham. Start off 0730 at Sea Mills
station, where I bump into one of our neighbours and have a good
chat - he once shared breakfast with Louis Palau. What
can you say to that?
The trip is uneventful until some time mid-morning, when the
train slows down and stops. We eventually have an
announcement - the track ahead is broken, and they are working
out whether to go ahead very slowly, or wait for it to be
repaired. Eventually we continue, but I have missed the
connection for the final train.
Once at Nottingham station, there seems to be no signs telling
me where the main exit is. Try two exits, but they both
take me into car parks and side streets. Had intended to
take a bus from opposite the main exit, but give up and find a
Arrive at St Andrews and discover that there have been dreadful
delays on the roads, and most of the other people have been
delayed as well. We seem to be facing a re-run of the
organisational difficulties that plagued the Vienna campaign
last month, but fortunately the similarities are small.
I am staying, as I hoped, with Richard, the Vicar. I got
to know him a couple of years ago, when we were thinking of
moving to Bristol, so that is good.
The teaching sessions are mostly pretty standard stuff - most
of it we have covered in much the same way in Snowball.
Since I already know Richard and all the people involved in
giving the training, and contribute helpful suggestions every
now and then, some of the other students are a bit confused as
to whether I'm a student or staff. Since I can honestly
say I'm both, it's quite a good way into conversations.
- Tuesday 4 July
Not a lot to say about the training today - the staff do all the
work. The children's club is a bit disappointing - only 4
children - but we persevere and do the programme anyway.
The high point is the day is the evening, when I get the chance
to enjoy a good chat with Richard.
- Wednesday 5 July
Up to 7 children today. I do the memory verse, which
needed a bit more pace but was otherwise okay. Geoff did
the message again, as none of the students volunteered.
Had a good conversation with a chap called Philip after one of
the adult messages at lunchtime. Grew up in a Catholic
home, fell in with a bad crowd, short prison term, can't hold
down a job, but was very struck by the message, and allowed me
to go through most of the EE gospel message before he had to
move on. Interestingly, he was sure he was going to
Heaven, and based his assurance on God's forgiveness.
But his most pressing need was to find a hot drink and somewhere
to stay for the night.
- Thursday 6 July
Today, I preached my first message on the street with a
sketchboard. There was a good crowd, and three people
responded to the invitation. It was a real thrill, and
also quite a relief to be able to preach after watching other
people do it so often. Geoff identified two areas to
improve - it was a bit long (but I did keep them, despite the
street cleaner coming through the middle of the message), and it
was 'a bit political' (I padded the reference to the Russian
revolution with a personal note from my time in Finland).
Only two children at the children's club today... Geoff
did the message as before.
Learned some more rope tricks in the evening. One of
them, Neither Dave Glover nor I could get when we were shown, but
after working on it for half an hour or so, it finally started
to work. Now all I need is a routine to use it in.
- Friday 7 July
First thing, showed Dave G how to do the disappearing knot - he
was quite pleased. It's good to be of service!
This lunchtime, we had a bit of time spare after the scheduled
messages, so I did mine again. Kept it shorter, and
missed out the 'political' bits - and had a smaller crowd.
Also, my first heckler - a little old lady, maybe in her
seventies. "Excuse me, you're talking about Jesus, aren't
you?" "Yes, that's right." "Well, what about all
the suffering in the world?" "I'll talk with you about
that in a few minutes."
One person responded to the invitation, and I talked with the
lady at the end - a Mrs. Booty. The amount of suffering
in the world was a genuine problem for her, both spiritually and
emotionally. She couldn't recognise human responsibility
for causing suffing in many cases, and could not cope with the
idea that she had ever caused any suffering to anyone. It
was very sad: she was so bound up by this problem, and unable to
do anything to lighten the burden. I promised to pray for
her. She appreciated the chat.
Only one child at the children's club. I volunteered to
do the message, which would have been easier if the people doing
the memory verse beforehand had used the same verse that I had
been working with. Still, it was all good experience, and
the young lad seemed to enjoy himself and take in some of the
Biblical truth, so it was worth doing.
After the last session, Dave Glover drove me to the station.
There is another session on Saturday morning, but I had
already arranged to sleep elsewhere tonight when I discovered
this, and anyway it was on setting up a local ministry, which is
not really what I need to do. It's surprising how fond
you can get of people in such a short time - there are several
folk on that course I am really going to miss.
Took the train to Leicester, where Paul Cockburn picked me up.
The lights on his car were surprisingly dim, and when he
parked, he tried to start the engine again and absolutely
nothing happened. It seems we were extremely fortunate to
get back in the car, so maybe the week had not turned out like
the Vienna campaign after all.