I have been asked by several readers to write a report on my travels this year to conferences in England and Canada. It truly has been a remarkable year and much has taken place, of which time will only allow some highlights. First it was off to England in June and July for a four-week visit.
London hotel prices being quite steep, a room at a hostel for the first week was secured across the road from the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. You may recall the magnificent sight of this historic church that was the location for the famous wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. This was nearly as big news in America as it was in England, with the entire wedding ceremony shown at that time on our local television. I had the wonderful privilege of touring St. Paul’s Cathedral with some dear British-Israel friends a couple years ago and of climbing the 560 steps on the narrow stairs all the way to the roof for a bird’s eye view of London. Fantastic!!!
The church was designed by the famous architect, Sir Christopher Wren, and replaced a very old cathedral that burned in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Five church buildings have been on that spot at the top of Ludgate Hill since the early Christian centuries, and some believe that the Apostle Paul visited London and preached at that very location. In the expansive crypt below the present church are buried in beautiful tombs some of the most famous and respected people in all of British history: the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, William Blake, and so many more.
From my window at the London hostel in June, Queen Victoria smiled toward me from her pedestal in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. What a perfect spot! Sunday came a few days after arriving in London, and so at 9 am I left the hostel for the morning church service at Orange Street Congregational Church. After enjoying the privilege of taking part in a wonderful worship experience at that historic church, a British-Israel friend joined me in walking for hours all over London doing much sightseeing, after which I returned to the hostel about 9 pm. To my surprise, London police officers were all around. There had been a major robbery earlier in the evening!
The police were taking depositions from guests staying at the hostel. I learned that around 6 pm that evening, a professional thief entered the unlocked front door of the hostel, went up the stairs to the men’s bedroom, knocked on the locked door and told the only guest present at the time in the large room (that holds twelve beds) that he had just checked in and forgot his room key. It sounded plausible, so he was granted entry. As soon as the room was empty, the thief pulled out his tools and broke into the locks on the guest lockers in the room. He ransacked and stole any money, jewelry, laptop computers, or other valuables in the lockers, and quietly left. It was an hour before anyone returned to discover the robbery.
Upon hearing this news at the door, I rushed to my locker and was relieved to find my padlock bent and distorted all out of shape, but still holding. The thief had not gotten into my locker! This was very fortunate, thank God, because I had left most of my money and valuables locked in the room thinking it was safer than walking around London with all of my travel money. My joy and great relief were tempered, however, at seeing the grief of others who had suffered losses. Some of the men had lost money and possessions worth several thousand dollars apiece.
By coincidence, a couple days later one of the London newspapers had a front page story revealing the extent of the crime in that city. London police records reveal that there are over 1,100 knife attacks every month on average, and robberies of money and goods most probably occur in the amount of many hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds, the exact amount unknown because most tourists do not report their losses to the police, either out of embarrassment, lack of time, or figuring that there is little the authorities can do after the fact. To avoid scaring away tourists, the extent of this crime is not advertised. However, here and there throughout London, I noticed small signs posted outside of pubs and shops with the message: “Warning: Bag-thieves operate in this area!” Such is the moral state of affairs today.
In a stark contrast to the growing state of lawlessness are the Christians I met at church and conference services, a relatively small but exceptionally wonderful group of people who are a joy to meet, worship with, and get to know. They too are concerned and upset with the moral state of society today, and have a growing unease about the future. In addition to participating in three consecutive Sundays of wonderful worship services at Orange Street Church, I enjoyed being a part of the annual week-long convention of the Covenant People’s Fellowship at High Leigh, north of London.
Some of the other speakers at the well-organized High Leigh convention this year included Pastor Robert Phillips of the Bible Pattern Church, Pastor Tony Martlew of Orange Street Congregational Church, Pastor David Hilliard of Northern Ireland, Pastor Robert Williams, Pastor Ken Kemble of Aleithea Ministries, Cora Birch, Colin Farquhar, and Ann Knight. You can hear audio recordings of many of the convention addresses on the audio page (under the “Other Helps” drop-down menu) on the CBIA website: www.israelite.ca.
So much more could be said about my experiences this year in England, but we must move on to the recently concluded joint CBIA-BIWF Canadian convention in Toronto, which was held on the weekend of September 14-15, 2013. It was held at the lovely longtime headquarters of the BIWF-Canada in the heart of the downtown area, a prime area when the building was purchased in 1929, but now seeing an increase in area crime, especially at night. Only a year or two ago, a multiple-casualty shooting occurred at the shopping mall around the corner from our hotel; not during our convention, however!
I took the four-hour Canadian VIA train ride from Windsor with CBIA chairman, Mary Bennett. As usual, we had no problems during the entire time we were there, the convention was well-planned, and our hosts did an excellent job of looking after us. Again I met a delightful group of British-Israel Bible-believing Christians and we had a very enjoyable time of learning and fellowship at this year’s convention. The speakers included the BIWF-Canada chairman, Kent Purvis, and myself, as well as two video presentations prepared for us by Pastor Allan Campbell of Belfast, Northern Ireland. A visit by Brooks Alden of the Association of the Covenant People was a special pleasant surprise. You can hear audio recordings of all of the Toronto Bible addresses, as well as the Lord’s Supper service and closing ceremonies, on the CBIA website at the address above.
The moral state of our Western Christian nations is in rapid decline, which is mirrored by the attendance decline both at our conventions and in our own church denominations. We all have an obligation to be witnesses to the truth of the Scriptures, and to be ambassadors of Christ and the Gospel. May we all redouble our efforts to reach the lost in this generation!