RZIM Europe: A Firsthand Report
Winston Churchill was not a man to mince his words. Speaking in the House of Commons in 1933, he said of the then British Prime Minister, "We know that he has, more than any other man, the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought." Ancurin Bevan said of Churchill, "The mediocrity of his thinking is concealed by the majesty of his language." Although neither brevity nor plain speaking necessarily reveals volumes of thought or produces deep thinking, I hope that this simple outline of what is hoped to take place in Europe over the next couple of years through RZIM will reveal one thing - that God can continually surprise us and exceed all of our expectations.
Last year, Anne, my wife, and I felt called to accept RZIM’s offer to work with them to reach the thinker in Europe. At the time, I remember confiding in Dr. Zacharias that I was scared that very few opportunities for ministry would present themselves."Don’t worry," he said, "they will." And they have.
Consequently, it is hard to know where to begin. Dr. Roy Clements of Eden Chapel, Cambridge, had sug-gested to me that a conference be organised to bring together key thinkers in the United Kingdom to think through the issues of postmodernism, both in understanding what that term means, and how we can respond to such a dramatic change in our culture while remaining faithful to the Gospel. Such a conference is now planned to take place at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford at the end of February 1998, and is being sponsored by RZIM. Its aim is not only to sharpen understanding, but also to bring the leading apologists in the country together so that we may begin to learn from each other.
Possibilities for evangelism to university students have also arisen. Dr. Zacharias will be taking part in a mission to Durham University and also to Oxford University in 1998. At Oxford, further plans are being made to organize a dinner to which Christian lecturers can invite their colleagues to hear a defence of the Gospel. A similar meeting is hoped to be organized at Cambridge University. To date, very little outreach has been organized with university faculty specifically in mind, and many cannot recall when such an effort was last made. These events are therefore particularly exciting. Oxford and Cambridge are two sources from which much has been done to discredit the Gospel. Historically of course, this has not always been the case, and to see the Gospel once more take root amongst the faculty there would be amazing.
In addition to these meetings, preliminary discussions have taken place with the leadership of the Evangelical Alliance—a body representing over one million evangelical Christians in Britain—regarding whether RZIM can begin to implement a national training program in apologetics in Britain. Very little has been decided, except that there is a desperate need for such an initiative, and your prayers as to how it should develop would be most welcome. More immediately, I have been invited to be part of the mission team to Oxford University this February, and will be based at Balliol College. Balliol has a fantastic reputation for being one of the most academically brilliant and politically significant colleges within Oxford University, as well as being one of the three oldest. Please pray for effective communication and a move of God’s spirit.
It was George Deakin who said,"A vision without a task makes a visionary. A task without a vision makes for drudgery. A vision and a task make a missionary." It seems to me that we are often better at generating excitement as opposed to passing on a vision, the fact being that excitement soon passes, and without vision our determination perishes. Many have a great desire to see Europe reached with the Gospel. The problem is that we can often get excited about such a thought, but feel that somehow the task and vision is beyond us, that it is too big.
The key ingredient is prayer. God loves to answer prayer. Do we believe in a God who would listen to so much prayer and remain unmoved? I for one do not. The reason we often see so little being achieved may be that we are not praying. RZIM in Europe has made its aim to train, equip, and reach out with the Gospel. All we need now is prayer.