Table talk by Table Mountain
Posted by Iwan Russell Jones on 19 October 2010, 0:46
MONDAY 18 OCTOBER – Table Mountain is hidden under cloud this morning as we drive down to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for the first full day of Lausanne III. Today’s theme is Truth. Is the murkiness, the obscurity, the reduced visibility some kind of a sign?
The hall where the plenary sessions are held is vast and in order to make this a meaningful experience for the 4,000 delegates, the organisers have come up with a creative solution. We’re not allowed to sit wherever we want. Everyone has been assigned a seat at a table of six, and we’re expected to stick with that same bunch of people every morning for the entire week.
Welcome to the Table – in more ways than one! This group will be our main way of interacting with the themes of the conference. It’s a great idea, but will it survive the stresses and strains of cultural differences, diverging eschatologies, halitosis and BO?
I’m more anxious about it than I might normally be because I’ve volunteered to be the table facilitator. Hmm… was this wise? It’s my job to lead the discussions at the morning Bible studies, and then again after the plenary presentations. What if mine is the table of death, a fatal mixture of the uncommunicative, the garrulous, the unpalatable and the barking? It could happen.
Mercifully, it doesn’t. Only five of us have shown up – maybe the sixth will appear later in the week. But they’re a fantastic group. There’s Ivan, who’s an Indian theologian and the pastor of a church in Calcutta that runs a number of schools, a hospital, and various ministries among the poorest of the poor; See-Young, a retired diplomat from South Korea, who was once their Ambassador to the UN and now teaches at a graduate school in Seoul.
Jong Yun, who is also from Korea, is an eminent New Testament scholar, national church leader, and the senior minister of a church with over 7,000 members; and Sergiy is the principal of a theological college training people for ministry in the Ukraine, in Russia and in many of the former Soviet Republics.
I feel very privileged to be sharing a table with such impressive people. How long they’ll put up with a mad Welshman is another matter.