Thursday, August 02, 2007

“In Christ, Into the World”
IFES World Assembly 2007
Toronto, Canada

The IFES World Assembly took place from 11 to 19 July on the campus of Redeemer University College, not far away from the city of Toronto, Canada. This was my second participation at the IFES World Assembly (I was a delegate at WA 1999 in South Korea) but it was again a very memorable event for me, and I believe for the rest of the 600 participants from 150 countries around the world. It coincided with the sixty year anniversary of IFES so we celebrated God’s sovereign leadership and guidance for us since 1947 when 10 national movements gathered together to set up the international family of IFES comprising now more than 400,000 students.

So, among other things on the agenda, we celebrated IFES’ birthday. And, of course, there was a huge birthday cake with the flags of all 152 countries with student witness (see picture).

The WA theme was “In Christ, Into the World” and it was reflected in the holistic approach in the morning expositions as well as the seminars in the afternoon and plenary sessions in the evening. Peter Cuzmic from Croatia spoke about the healthy balance between ‘reading the Bible and reading our newspaper’, between text and context of our evangelism; Ziel Machado from Brasil referred to the need for our movements to develop strategies of ‘table fellowship rather than desk fellowship’; Jack Buchhold from France encouraged us not only to follow rabbi Jesus and Jesus the prophet, but also to follow Jesus the servant; Becky Pippert reminded us that we should not only declare God’s love but also display God’s truth if we want to follow Jesus’ incarnational model of witness. Then, there were also speakers like Antoine Rutayisire, Stela Kasirye and Sir John Houghton, who spoke respectively on such important issues as reconciliation, HIV/AIDS and the environment crisis.

Each afternoon there were the General Committee sessions in which the IFES Gen Sec Lindsay Brown, the Chair and the Treasurer gave their reports for the last four years. The members worked on an Constitutional amendment, elected new Gen Sec (Dr Daniel Bourdanne), President and Vice-Presidents, new International Executive Committee. There was also a session on the IFES Strategic Priorities where we all worked in small groups and the result of this workshop will soon be announced by the Regional Secretaries. Another highlight were the 18 new national movements, among which EXODUS Macedonia, which were affiliated to IFES.

And, last but not least, the World Assembly was a great place to meet old friends and establish new contacts with people from the global family of IFES. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet and learn from so many people, as well as for being able to present BCSU by showing a video about our Social Project and telling a few stories of God’s work among Bulgarian students. At the end of the conference, having reaffirmed our position in Christ, we all headed ‘into the world’, bringing with us new ideas and possibilities for interaction with other IFES movements.