I love Missionfest and have gone every year but one or two in the last 15 or 20 it’s been happening in Winnipeg. I grew up on mission stories and as soon as I had money to do so (around age 12), I started buying my own. To spend a weekend listening to those who are serving in the front lines is heaven and I can’t remember being disappointed with any of the speakers except perhaps the one long ago who seemed to have a need to constantly check that his fly was zippered as he spoke.
We’re meeting in a new venue this year with much more space for the 120 exhibitors (mission organisations, Bible schools and camps), the plenary sessions and the seminars in between. Last night I walked so much, trying to see everything, that I was totally done in. Last year I bought nearly every book that was being sold but this year I’m limiting my purchases to books that are stories. They’re faster to read and I still have some of the slow-to-read books from before.
There are five plenary sessions with Doug Nichols, founder of Action International in the Philippines (they work with thousands of street children), speaking Friday night; Ron Pearce, founder Empower Ministries that takes Bibles, motorcycles and goats to the spiritual hotspots around the world who spoke this morning; Paul Estabrooks from the organisation started by Brother Andrew, “God’s Smuggler,” who orchestrated the clandestine delivery of one million Bibles to China talking to us this afternoon; Joseph D’Souza, founder of Dalit (untouchables) Freedom Network in India sharing this evening and Setan and Randa Lee who survived Cambodia’s killing fields, brought the top general of the Khmer Rouge to Jesus and thus opened the country to the gospel Sunday afternoon.
In between there are workshops led by these and others. I’m looking forward to the last-minute-put-together session later today that will discuss what is happening in Egypt right now.
The other fun thing about Missionfest is that people from churches of all stripes come together to worship and learn despite denominational differences and I get to see people I know but rarely see.
The worship music has started out slowly. Last night we were led in hymns by a mass choir that sounded like some favourite CDs I have and this morning we sang slow contemporary songs but I expect the beat will pick up as the event progresses so that the older attendees might want to come with ear plugs and younger folk may be dancing in the empty spaces. Tomorrow will end with a parade of the nations.
As the weekend progresses, I plan to share the things I’ve heard and learned. I hope it will inspire you like it has, is and will inspire me.