The three conferences in Auckland went really well. The weekend with both students and graduates was particularly significant. I think we had over 200 there at the weekend including around 70 graduates from different generations which was more than we had hoped for and was a huge encouragement.
"It is so thrilling to see TSCF with a clear vision and to see students excited by the things which excited me as a student and have shaped my life ever since" commented one graduate. Mark Grace, staffworker in Palmerston North described the conference as the highlight of 5 years in ministry.
Among those attending were three generations of the Yule family. Sarah is currently working with me in the office, her sister Emily was the student rep on my interview panel to come to New Zealand, their father Rob is a presbyterian minister in Auckland who has been an encouragement since I arrived and their grandfather was at the 1938 conference.
Emily said to me on the last day. "I came out of a sense of duty but I am leaving with a real joy and excitement".
I spoke on the first and last nights and again the response was very encouraging. A Nigerian student from Dunedin asked if he could transfer cities to hear me speak every week and was rather disappointed to discover that was not possible. He said "I have been to so many churches since I came to New Zealand and this is the first time I have heard the kind of preaching I have been searching for". Another graduate thanked me saying "I woud travel 1000 miles every week to hear a message like that".
Apparently this picture of the various ones taken of me speaking is the most "me". It is a little disconcerting to learn that I speak with the mannerisms of Hong Kong Phooey but I guess you win some and you lose some. In any event I am grateful to all who pray and who partner in us being here.
Two final comments received since the conference.
The first from Chis Grantham a former general secretary.
"I want to encourage you by saying what I saw of the conferences, both of them, was really so encouraging. A great bunch of students, some powerful content, keen staff, challenges for the future. Plus a bunch of old timers with a strong heart for what they had received from TSCF. Good on yer, and all those who helped to make it happen. I trust you were encouraged, and feel a sense of movement forward with God."
The second from Pete, a current student at Massey.
"It's awesome to come to the end of conference with the cross of Christ firmly imprinted into my soul...everything else seems to fade in significance. For me the lyrics to the song 'In Christ Alone' sum up conference perfectly. My prayer is that everyone who was at conference will take the message of Christ crucified and spread it all over their campus to a greater measure than at present!!"
So the 70th Conference was like the first... a beginning.