It was great to travel to the Channel Island of Jersey, for a few days of ministry in churches, schools and out in the community. I also had the opportunity to lead the first ever Solas Confident Christianity conference on the island. About 35-40 people from three or four different churches came together for the event, based in St Helier, the island’s capital.
As usual, “How to talk about Jesus without looking like an idiot” was my opening session at Confident Christianity – and that is because it looks at the way that Jesus himself communicated, and I invited people to learn from him. Then we went into a session called “Good God / Bad World: Why Does A Loving God Permit Suffering?” That will always be a key subject to address, as it so often comes up in evangelism. One of the things we looked at there was learning to speak with pastoral sensitivity; not just intellectual or philosophical credibility when answering questions in this area. “What’s so unique about Jesus” – was our final session. It’s another really important subject to tackle in our context today as we share the gospel in a pluralistic world with competing truth-claims.
After some discussion-time there was the usual Q&A, which was (as is so often the case) a highlight of these events. Chatting to several of the people there during coffee breaks and at the end, it became clear that they had never been to an event of this kind before – and they weren’t aware of anything like it ever having been held on the island either. It felt that we were genuinely breaking new ground there, because while individual Christians in the fairly small church community there, have been active in sharing their faith; they hadn’t gathered together to get better equipped and trained and to encourage each other in evangelism. Having done a half-day Confident Christianity conference the churches have invited me back in 18 months time, because they think that a bigger event in the Spring/Summer for churches across the whole island will be worthwhile for them.
The connection between Solas and the St Helier churches began in the middle of 2020 – which as you probably remember was the middle of lockdown. I was contacted by Simon Lewis, who is a Maths teacher at Jersey College for Girls. They had come across our Short Answers videos, and had been using them in school’s Christian Union group. So, Simon emailed me and asked if I’d be willing to do an event for them online. The idea was not just go beyond showing our videos, and give the students the opportunity to interact with the content and ask questions. I was delighted to help them with that, and then subsequently received an invitation to visit the island in person. He sounded surprised that I said I would love to. One of the privileges of working for Solas is that I do get to see some wonderful places, meet great people, see what the churches are doing and be a resource for them too.
So it was great to be In Jersey, to make friends and work with the churches there. I look forward to being able to go back.