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Summer Under The Son 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011  | Paul Arnott and Janine Stewart

During this year’s CMS Victoria Summer Under The Son conference on Phillip Island, I (Paul) was asked about its purpose. Having suggested that it exists primarily to equip participants to live more biblical mission-focussed lives I’ve continued to ponder the question. I believe Summer Under The Son does many things. It resources us to focus more on mission, both here and overseas. But it also enables us to hear from missionaries from all over the world.


It provides top-line biblical teaching which we can continue to benefit from throughout the year by listening or watching the talks again or using them in small groups. Here are some excerpts from the 2011 conference. From Hugh Palmer, the rector of All Soul’s, Langham Place in London: “Does the cross define who I am and who my family is? The church in Corinth was proud of the immorality in its midst, which it proclaimed as freedom. The Church cannot ignore blatant, defiant sinfulness. Sometimes action not listening is what is needed. Preaching that gets God wrong is empty no matter how many people believe it. If we give sin a foothold it takes a stranglehold. Love makes life more complicated. Is your ministry too important for you to have time for love? Nothing has replaced you and I as the most effective way of getting the Gospel to our family and friends and colleagues, and those we have not yet met who have not heard the good news.”


From Naomi Reed, a former Interserve missionary and best-selling author: “Mission is all about going, very little about doing and everything about being. No matter how overwhelming the need is around you…remain in the knowledge that God loves you. He’s loved you for a very long time and he loved you so much that he gave his Son in your place and he’s going to keep on loving you for a very long time, in that place he’s prepared for you. He will keep loving you even if you never get out of bed again. Remain in his love. Remain in what he’s already done for you through Jesus. Remain in his word.”


From Kenyan born National Director of CMS New Zealand, Steve Maina: “Given declining church attendances in the West why should the African church follow Western church models? Maturity in the Church is interdependence, not independence. We all need each other’s perspectives. We need to become more adventurous in mission. When faced with a mission challenge Western people tend to ask where will the money come from, while Africans are more likely to ask where do you want me to go?”


Missionaries spoke of the joys and difficulties of sharing the good news in a different culture and in a new language. Among those who spoke were a young couple who have just left for Rwanda. Tim, a gastroenterologist, and Catherine, a primary school teacher, described how the way has opened for them to share their skills with the people of Rwanda, where there are great needs to train doctors and teachers, as the country continues to recover from the terrible genocide of  1994.


Fiona Oates, an architect currently working in Tanzania, shared the exciting story of the way solar power is transforming lives in that country. Low cost solar panels enable people who formerly spent 12 hours a day in darkness, to have light. The many students in a country, where the average age is 17, can now study at night. The solar panel quickly pays for itself, as it allows people not only to re-charge their own mobile phones, but to receive a small fee from others for re-charging their phones, and it saves money formerly spent on kerosene for lamps. It is much safer as it eliminates the many accidents and fires.


Over 100 people took time to attend a seminar on Justice for Australia’s Indigenous people. This was a response to the motion passed at the 2011 Melbourne Anglican Synod that we need to pay the debts we owe our Indigenous people for the theft of their land, of which we are all beneficiaries. Discussion groups brought out the complexity and difficulty of the issues, the importance of listening and understanding, the assumptions so many of us bring to such a matter, and our feelings of inadequacy in knowing how to respond.


Many of those at the Conference were ministers and for them Summer Under the Son helps equip and encourage them for their ministry in the year ahead, particularly those from rural areas where there are limited opportunities for them to hear world-class speakers.


The year 7-12 Youth Camps were attended by 150 young people. Some committed their lives to Jesus for the first time, while others committed themselves to being willing to go wherever God should lead them.



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