Saturday 19 September was dry, which was a blessing for the thirty or so people sitting outside the packed marquee with 250 attending this year’s WEST dedication service.
The congregation heard about the encouraging number of students receiving calls to full-time Christian service and the large intake of new students – sixty in all. Twelve of the new students are Welsh, of whom half are Welsh-speaking.
It was particularly heartening to hear of the 38 students – all but two based in the UK – preparing for initial ministry. Most of them were interviewed later by the principal, Jonathan Stephen.
The recession had hit donations, but the Lord’s people had helped the college through the summer months. The principal gave an upbeat assessment of the student body and staff, outlining the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
He spoke warmly of the support of local churches, many of whom were represented at the service, and said that more UK churches were appreciating the importance of establishing a genuine partnership with WEST.
Stuart Olyott was the preacher and his preaching was uplifting. It was crystal clear, simple and going to the heart of a major contemporary issue affecting evangelical churches in Britain – the error of ‘Word only’ preaching.
He demonstrated from Scripture that God alone can achieve certain things, including the salvation of souls. The need is for the Word and the Spirit.
Mr Olyott’s passage was Acts 16:9-15, especially verse 14, ‘the Lord opened her heart’. Lydia had a problem in that her heart was closed, and no one could do anything about it – not through philosophy, culture, learning, civilisation, religion, nor even gospel preaching. The Lord opened Lydia’s heart wide by a single act.
By way of application, Stuart urged the use of prayer and the ministry of the Word. Students: ‘Study yourselves to death and pray yourselves to life!’ (Charles Simeon).