Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mixed 30-Year-Old Memories

Thirty years ago today, some friends and I excitedly boarded a plane to London, anticipating three months of missionary training at the now defunct Living Waters Bible College in North Wales. Looking back, I can't say that I learned much Bible at the school. The leaders gravitated toward legalism, and a low-grade form of Charismatic experience. That said, I praise the Lord for those three months, treasuring the opportunity to spend time in both Wales and London.
At the train station in Wales  Jan 3, 1985

It would, of course, be preposterous to even consider trying to record all that the Lord did with me during my time at Living Waters, though I definitely consider it one of the most important, intense and inspiring times of my life. Living in Wales (ever so close to England and, consequently, the home of the great writers I'd studied at Dominican) filled me with wonder. At the same time, I struggled with health issues and homesickness.

The fact that I remember so little of the actual classes encourages me, since I question their doctrinal purity. Early on, for example, we had a week entitled  Old Testament Survey, during which we studied Song of Solomon as an allegory of Christ's intimacy with each believer. Next, New Testament Survey highlighted the miracles of Jesus, insisting that He makes those same miracles available today. The classes after that fade from my memory, and I'm fine with that.

I mostly remember the funny stories, such as when we lured one of the girls downstairs by singing praise songs. When she entered the Round Room, she found the Resusi-Annie doll from our First Aid class on the sofa "playing" a guitar. Another time, I "stole" one of the guys' hats, which my  friend hid in her room for five days.

One memory, however, stands out as an encouragement that, despite my Charismatic leanings at the time, the Lord had given me a measure of discernment. Toward the end of the course, two converted gypsies came to teach for a few days.  On their last afternoon, they met with each student individually to "prophesy" over them. Every student but me. I refused to meet with them, knowing that they merely "Christianized" gypsy fortune-telling. Leadership disagreed with my stand, and my PCA accused me of stubbornness, but people respected my convictions.

Six years later, I began my journey away from Charismatic theology. But that afternoon in Wales, perhaps the Lord planted a seed of discernment, certainly protecting me from an occult experience that I really didn't need.

Thirty years ago today, I embarked on one of the most exciting adventures of my life. Not a perfect adventure, I admit, but one that demonstrates the Lord's kindness and faithfulness.

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