Well schooled

As the inevitable cycle of ‘back to school’ advertisements recede and the yearly cycle of our lives commences once again, I have found no better way to begin the New Year than participating in the annual CMS Summer School.

For over forty years my wife and I have been regular attendees at Katoomba, even before we were married. A week of excellent Bible teaching and a focus on global mission is a good tonic for the year ahead, as well as an opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues in the beautiful Blue Mountains.

The program is well structured with morning sessions of Bible exposition, prayer and songs of praise. Following morning tea one can choose from a variety of interesting and informative seminars, each with a missional focus led by missionaries on leave, recently returned missionaries or staff members of CMS. The afternoons are free and the evening sessions provide more opportunity for thinking through the challenges and demands of making Jesus known in different parts of the world. A fully developed children’s program from pre-school to Year 12 is available in the mornings, led by a competent team of leaders who care for over 1000 children through the week. If you have never been to CMS Summer School, may I encourage you to consider making this a priority for 2017, even if only for a day, though if you are wanting to enrol your children, register early!

This year Bishop Greg Anderson and Canon Peter Rodgers (both previous CMS missionaries) were speakers in the evening sessions and the morning Bible studies were led by the new Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel. His stimulating exposition of the Book of Acts was much appreciated by all who went, as he opened up the vista of the growth of the kingdom of God through the proclamation of Christ in the first century—the unstoppable gospel—and its application to us in the twenty-first. For those who missed his teaching, weekly opportunity will afford itself in the Cathedral Church of St Andrew because he was installed as Dean on Thursday, 4th February. This is an exciting new phase in the life of the Cathedral and I am so grateful to Kanishka for his being willing to leave Perth, where he has had an extensive ministry as rector of St Matthew’s, Shenton Park for 17 years. 

However, my wife and I were unfortunately unable to attend Katoomba this year as I was invited to give the Bible Studies at Mt Tamborine for the Summer School run by the Queensland and Northern NSW Branch of CMS in the same week. With similar structure, we were encouraged by the presence of missionaries among us, the teaching of David Williams, the Director of Training and Development for CMS at St Andrew’s Hall, as well as the insightful presentations by Bishop Greg Anderson on ministry by and to Aboriginals. In the second week of January I was also invited to deliver the Bible Studies for CMS Victoria, at their Summer under the Son.  As President of CMS Australia, it is a great privilege to attend Summer Schools across the country, not only to encourage them in their work for the kingdom, but also to be encouraged by the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of so many members of CMS, whose passion for mission is infectious.

CMS aptly describe their desire or overarching goal as ‘A world that knows Jesus’. I think this is a wonderful expression of our own desires for the outcome of our lives. It is an excellent way to begin the year and be reminded of the power of the gospel for salvation and the great need of so many who do not know Christ. It is equally true on the global mission field as it is in our own local situation, as by our words, actions and prayers we seek to see Christ glorified as Lord and Saviour in every community. May God so bless us for this mission in 2016.