OAM annual meetings
The 159th Annual Meetings of the Open-Air Mission (OAM) took place in October last year, when roughly 240 supporters gathered at the Samworth Academy in Leicester.
You might think that two sessions of more than an hour and a half each, containing reports from 12 men all engaged in the same work, would at least feel like something of a marathon.
However, one lady attending for the first time was heard to observe afterward that it was the best mission meetings to which she had ever been.
The 12 men — general secretary Andy Banton and the 11 full-time evangelists — are all different characters, with different styles and humour.
Mr Banton painted a thrilling picture of the breadth of the work undertaken by the Mission. This ranged from open-air work in the Czech Republic, to the opportunities afforded by the 2012 Olympics; and from one-to-one conversations on the streets, to bringing the gospel to hundreds of schoolchildren by means of four Bible exhibitions.
There were encouraging accounts of people whom the Lord has brought to faith through the OAM; but the evangelists were also authentic in telling of some of the discouragements — such as continuing to preach when the only member of the congregation is a shaggy dog.
The secretary’s report began with the disturbing news that OAM was to change its name! It transpired that, in the light of a number of photos of team members apparently asleep while involved in outreach, he had concluded OAM should be renamed the ‘Often-Asleep Mission’!
Mr Banton expressed thanks to God for the great spirit of unity among the workers of the mission, a unity that must not be taken for granted. He then spoke of both the Lord’s faithfulness to the Mission over another year and the faithful service of the evangelists. He particularly highlighted the fact that Clive Williams had recently completed 40 years of service — a presentation was made to him later in the meeting.
Rev. Dr John Hall, a member of the OAM Committee, preached on the words of the open-air evangelist John the Baptist in John 3:36. He spoke of the need to convey the right balance between God’s love and holiness. We cannot have one without the other, and it is a solemn thing that he who does not believe the Son has the wrath of God abiding on him.
It was an encouraging day. And lest you think it was just a large amount of spiritual food on offer, the buffet lunch provided between the two sessions was excellent as well.