“Thank you so much for the privilege of opening God’s Word at the VCF Weekend. It was an encouragement to see such good numbers on Zoom, and a special joy to connect with some former students who had attended the church I served in Glasgow.
I want to encourage you all to keep digging into God’s Word for that is where we meet Jesus. I mentioned a method of studying God’s Word ‘inductively’, which has helped me greatly over the years. Remember Paul wrote to Timothy (and us) “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”. Maybe you will have heard a sermon at some time and wondered, ‘How did the preacher get all that from the text?’ or ‘Is that what it really says?’. When facing a difficult passage, we can so easily become discouraged and can be tempted to settle for a spiritual mediocrity. (This was my experience.) It does not have to be like that. I would encourage you to check out the Precept Bible School websites: in Scotland preceptscotland.org, for the UK site precept.org.uk, and Ireland preceptireland.org. There are some free resources called Lightning Studies which are a good way of introducing the method. May the Lord help you as you journey with Him and may others catch a glimpse of Christ in you.”
“Mental Health CPD? What could be better than relaxing with fellow Christians from my home country. I felt so peaceful by the end. Being able to play along with your worship group was so uplifting. I really felt a part of it even from the other side of the world. Absolutely priceless.”
“It was my first VCF Weekend and it was uplifting to see so many VCF members from all over the country and the world. It was encouraging to hear how God has been speaking to different Christians through lockdown. Most beneficial were the bible verses that have helped and encouraged individuals during the past year, and I found many of the verses spoke to me.”
“An online conference amazingly well organised by the committee! I felt like I’d been away for the weekend by Sunday and really enjoyed catching up and meeting new people in the breakout rooms. The worship was brilliant and the talks were really engaging. I can’t wait to see everyone in person at the next conference.”
“I loved taking the time to praise God and enjoyed the lovely songs performed for us, especially the one which was chosen as the ‘theme tune’ for the weekend. Thinking about the attributes of God, the one which spoke mostly to me was seeing God as a leader, showing me the way.”
“My first conference was a treat! I felt so blessed to be surrounded by brothers and sisters and encouraged by Michael with the words he shared. Our time of prayer in the Vet Nurse room was a pure joy. To be able to pray with and for others in practice was brilliant”.
“For me, the highlight of the weekend was reconnecting with someone from university whom I had not seen or spoken to for over 20 years. She had been two years ahead of me, and provided many cups of tea, chocolate digestives and a listening ear. She was hugely supportive to me as a new Christian. As so often happens, after graduation we lost touch, and that was it. That is, until the Saturday afternoon of the VCF weekend, and the alumni group breakout rooms. There she was! It was so good to see her, and to start to catch up on the last 20 years. I certainly hope it is not another 20 years before we talk to each other again.”
“I would like to say for me as a newbie of 64 years having the conference on Zoom was really helpful. It meant I could attend while being on call and, as it was my first time, it allowed an easy way in.
Having come from a strong Evangelical background as a student but becoming more liberal as I have got older, I was able to understand what people were wanting to say which as a newcomer could have been difficult if I had not had that history! My emphasis now is on God’s love for us and His desire to journey with us, to be part of His healing for the world. I felt a lot of reflection on our sinfulness was not particularly helpful for such a diverse group. However, seeing the video on Sunday morning from Ireland full of testimonies was one of the highlights for me as I love hearing how people are putting their faith into action inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Hopefully I will get to a conference in person next year!”
“I was very pleased and grateful for all of the work that the VCF Committee did in putting this weekend together. Before the conference Pete Duncalfe had encouraged me to practice my violin some more by giving me the incentive of participating in the music. Sadly, I didn’t quite get to a standard you could comfortably sing to, so we contributed some vocals instead, but the effort helped my recovery from neurosurgery, regaining more use of my fingers through this neurophysiotherapy. The music was really great all over the weekend in praise of God.
Michael Healey’s message was inspiring and challenging in guiding us to know God through appreciating what He looks like in reference to the scriptures.
160 people attended which was really very good from the ‘getting to know people’ point of view, and it was surprising how well that worked through Zoom and the breakout groups. Meeting people from right across the profession in all its diversity of age, family situations and from such diverse areas of work as mission, with the military and Government, in research or business was extremely helpful in regaining a perspective on life and our choices in it.
The creative activities included social chats, baking cakes, and producing artwork. We also shared stories of our various exercise regimes which included cold water swimming and walking the dog. All good for our mental wellbeing.
It will be good to continue the conversations after the conference with opportunities to follow up on the many and diverse issues discussed. These included mentoring and the new RCVS GDP, first jobs, life changing experiences, and learning from our work. With such a breadth and depth of wisdom it was fun and good to learn from each other. If there was anybody who would like to follow up, I would be happy to receive an email.
A few take away thoughts:
We need to learn to continue to be patient in situations which make us irritated, angry, frustrated or anxious.
When we feel righteous indignation, do we know God well enough to take His advice and act on it?
Take a breath and pray.
I concluded that my retirement was planned and orchestrated by God in His time. I am thankful for all He has done for me.
The beauty of God’s Creation could be seen through the stories and conversations with everyone at the conference, who represented the whole of the profession and how Christians are involved in every part of it. We are small in number but guided by our amazing God who is building His Kingdom.
There were lots of practical ways we helped each other through sharing our experiences at all stages of our careers and lives.
Paul and Hilary Manning.