1. Where Stoneleigh Bible Week (Terry Virgo and Newfrontiers) used to be held (near Coventry, UK):
2. Where the Anglia Bible Week (my home church Bible Week visited by Ern Baxter) used to be held (Norfolk, UK);
3. Finally where the Dales Bible Week used to be held (Bryn Jones, Ern Baxter, Bob Mumford and Terry Virgo among other speakers and leaders) - this was in Yorkshire, UK.
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So why did I indulge in this rather nostalgic practice? Well I was challenged recently by a blogging friend as to why I spend so much time thinking about the great men and women of the past - such as Ern Baxter. He suggested that I should move into "today's" anointing. I respect him so listened and have thought through for some time whether I have an unhealthy emphasis on the past. There is a sense however that thinking about the past is important - and a vital reminder to what God HAS done - particularly when He doesn't seem to be doing much.
Note I didn't say He isn't doing much. I said when He doesn't "seem" to be doing much.
Joshua 4: "Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder ... to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' ... These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
Matthew Henry comments on these verses from Joshua;
"The works of the Lord are so worthy of rememberance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial".
It struck me that there is very little that I can do to provoke or see a new move of God. I can pray clearly, I can look and watch. But start a new move? That is God and God alone's glorious timing and work. But what I CAN do is to provide "various methods" to refresh the memories of us. To remember the great and glorious mountain-top occasions at those now-empty showgrounds - to reflect on the prophetic insights and teaching that came from those Bible weeks.
I've still got the "Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000" leaflet - the first Stoneleigh I went to. Terry Virgo wrote the "Welcome" and said;
"We want to come together again to celebrate, be encouraged, renew our vision, encounter God in power and be sent on our way solidly renewed, empowered and freshly commissioned to our great task".
The thought that struck me was this - is there any LESS need for any of those things? To me - they aren't luxuries. They are NECESSITIES to the Christian life. But Stoneleigh Bible Week was stopped for reasons well known. Newfrontiers invested quite a bit in their annual "Together on a Mission and Mobilise" conference held in Brighton. But that's stopping too next year apparently.
The question I'd still pose is - how is the church celebrating, being encouraging, renewing vision (if we have one) and encountering God in power? Has the "age of Bible weeks" passed and how have those necessities been replaced? Until those questions have been answered, I will still remind of those high times past - a pile of stones if you will.