Let me explain the daily schedule of the five-day convention. “Main sessions” were held on the morning and evening of each day; all convention delegates (approx. 22,000) gathered in the Edward Jones Dome (home field to the Saint Louis Rams) to worship, hear teaching, watch drama, and see video presentations. Late mornings were spent in large (approx. 1,000) group Bible studies. Each afternoon was devoted to smaller seminars; dozens were held at various locations near the dome. Convention delegates could choose which seminars (if any) to attend. I have divided my memories into three categories.
Their leader states, in reference to the motto on US currency, “I believe America has forgotten how to trust God.” They explain that the war in Iraq “has made made things very difficult for some Muslims, and it makes relationships between Muslims and Christians over here very difficult.” “Your policies have made it very difficult for us, especially Christians, in our region.” They are preparing to “go in front of the government of the US to get them to change their policies for the sake of” their people. This scene ends with one of the Africans asking, “have you and your friends spoken to your government?”
The second scene is an frank conversation between two young men repairing their bicycles. One is a Christian. The other is homosexual; he asks, “Why do Christians hate gays?” The Christian says that “the Bible isn’t so much anti-gay as pro-sex.” They do not offer an easy resolution, but they do honestly address tough questions.
Several video presentations from 2100 Productions, which “is InterVarsity’s multimedia department,” were interspersed among the speakers, dramatic presentations, and songs at the main sessions of the convention. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, the most stunning few minutes for me came during a video presentation about Christian Creation Care entitled “All Things.” It acknowledged the existence of global warming without question and quoted harsh words from Ezekiel against those who do not care for the Creation, and my jaw dropped in astonishment.
Lisa Chinn is an InterVarsity staff member; she spoke to the main session on the evening of Dec. 30 on the topic of cross cultural missions. While telling the story of her life, she said, “In college I chose to major in foreign service because I heard that it only had one required math course.”
Sharon Cohn, who is a lawyer for International Justice Mission, spoke to the main session on the evening of December 29. After telling the horrifying story of a girl named Elizabeth who was rescued from sexual slavery, she exhorted the delegates to “imaging what God might want” us to do about injustice. “Imagine how many more enemies injustice could have this evening.”
I support IJM financially and with my prayers. Ms. Cohn is doing extremely laudable work, but she irked me when she told the delegates not to let their perceived smallness keep them from bravely following God’s call for justice. She said, “Okay, so you don’t know exactly what to do. There is so much…27,000,000 slaves…You are so small. Also, you might be failing calculus, but so what?”
So, I passed calculus. I could not do the work I am doing in Physics without passing calculus. You cannot present credible Christian apologetics to people like Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins without passing calculus. You cannot achieve what Francis Collins has achieved if you choose a major because it has only one required math course. You cannot conceive, design, and build machines that use antimatter to kill cancer without passing calculus and many more advanced math courses. I wonder if you can be accepted into law school after failing calculus.
Chris made an advertisement at the end of his highlights, and so shall I. The Emerging Scholars Network, which presented several of the seminars, “is called to identify, encourage, and support the next generation of Christian scholars, at all stages of their academic careers, who seek to be a redeeming influence within higher education.” Among other things, they want to encourage me and other Christians to pass calculus and our other required math courses on our way to becoming high-quality scholars and exemplary Christians. They support my vocation when many other Christian organizations and leaders do not. I am a member, and I ask all of the Christian scholars reading this to consider membership as well.