‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21). This verse summed up the programme this year. On arrival we learned that two speakers were unable to come and another hadn’t arrived. In fact, the latter only arrived the day before the end of the conference!
The sessions began with Phil Arthur opening up the life of Oliver Cromwell. It was fascinating to hear of Cromwell’s achievements and, more particularly, his faith in God. Our second session was on the place of the Lord’s Supper in the life of the church. Bill James challenged us to take seriously the Bible’s teaching on this sacrament – it is not just a memorial service but a time when by faith we meet with Christ. Then Dr Robert Letham guided us in an informative way through the WestminsterConfession’s teaching on Scripture.
The next morning began with prayer and sharing. This is a highlight, with overseas students and missionaries sharing what God is doing in their lives and communities. We were helped to pray in a more informed way for Russia, Greece, Israel, China, Africa and other places.
For the next session the conference split into men and women. Dr Letham spoke to the men about Christ and culture, and Faith Cook to the ladies about God’s second chances.
We then had a special treat, with Faith Cook giving a biographical account of William Grimshaw to the whole conference. It was amazing to see how God worked through this man. When he began as an Anglican clergyman, the extent of his ‘devotion’ was his promise never to be drunk in the pulpit! Yet, after his conversion God used him powerfully to bring many to Christ.
During the next sessions Dr Russell Moore preached from Colossians 2 on the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, as the wisdom and power of God. We were stirred to place Christ at the centre of our understanding of Scripture and the centre of our preaching and evangelism.
David Ellis closed the conference by preaching from Colossians 1. He also exhorted us to put Christ at the centre of our lives and ministry – a powerful theme emerging from this year’s conference.
Mealtimes gave opportunity to renew friendships, talk to the speakers and meet new people. The Carey Conference is a great time, not just for the stimulating and refreshing teaching, but also for sweet fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.