The snow was fast accumulating when we left Omaha for our trip to the L’Abri Conference in Rochester, Minnesota last Thursday morning. And it was going to make for perilous driving were we to take our regular route to Des Moines and up I-35. But a careful look at the storm’s path convinced us to head directly north towards Sioux City, Worthington, and then on east to Rochester. And, sure enough, after only an hour or so of driving, we hit clear and dry roads all the way. Thank You, Lord.
Because I was one of the presenters in the conference, we were invited to a Thursday night kickoff gathering with a warm welcome, introductions to other speakers, lively conversations, and a good time of prayer together. It was a nice start to the proceedings and made us appreciate all the more the hard work the small L’Abri team had put in to bring the conference off.
There were a few hundred people in attendance to participate in 6 plenary sessions; an evening “concert” featuring readings of the Dorothy Sayers radio play, The Man Born to be King; and then 28 (count ’em, 28!) elective workshop sessions scheduled in four time slots on Friday and Saturday. Oh yes, the conference theme? “The Christian Education Mandate and its Challenges.”’
Vital Signs Ministries’ part in the conference, beside Claire and I being deeply interested members of the audience, consisted of my presenting two workshop sessions and providing one of the 7 or 8 literature tables that were displayed outside the main lecture hall of the historic Kahler Grand Hotel.
On our table were our free pamphlets “Abortion and Church History” and “Scripture References on Abortion” as well as our bookmarks for the “3 for 5” Prayer Campaign Against Planned Parenthood. We also had single page Bible exegesis articles I had written on “The Real Emmanuel Event '' (Luke 1:26-45) and "An Old Testament Defense of Preborn Children: A Brief Exposition of Exodus 21:22-25. These are, if we say so ourselves, very good resources and we’ve now added them to the VSM website.
We also offered my novel The Christmas Room which proved a popular item.
My lecture sessions were Friday morning’s “Beware the Mad Scientist: Divine Warnings Against Playing God from Classical Literature” and Saturday morning’s “A Winsome Witness: Communicating the Bible’s Pro-life Ethics through Word and Deed.” We were very pleased with how those presentations went and the enthusiastic responses we received. For instance, one young fellow later wrote, “It was great to meet you and your wife this past weekend. Your workshop, "Beware the Mad Scientist," was my favorite of the whole weekend. I came out of that one edified and newly inspired for my own writings. Thank you for presenting!"
The other sessions we attended were also very enlightening and helpful with such speakers as Vishal Mangalwadi (author of The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, and several others), Greg Jesson, Peter Merz, Mike Sugimoto, Sarah Chestnut, Doug Groothius who we became friends with over Saturday’s lunch (author of Confronting the New Age, The Soul in Cyberspace, Truth Decay, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Walking Through Twilight: A Wife's Illness -- A Philosopher's Lament, and many others), and more.
We have ordered recordings of all the sessions and, as we have done before, we will probably plan at least a couple “L’Abri Evenings” in which we will play a lecture and discuss it over coffee. We know most definitely that we want you to hear Greg Jesson’s “Responding to the Inevitable Unraveling of Higher Education." It was really terrific. We’ll keep you informed.