In the era of eternal youth we're prone to despise our elders, to imagine we're the great generation, the innovators who have nothing to learn from our past. That however is stupid. This is not the first or greatest generation. History is a long old story. And if we don't learn from those who've walked before us we're going to make a big mess of our lives.
Here are a few of the elders who have influenced me in my 11 years as a Christian for whom I am deeply thankful.
Oliver & Daisy Barclay (late 70s/early 80s). Oliver worked with UCCF for about 35 years after doing a PhD in Zoology at Cambridge around the same time as John Stott was there. I first met Oliver and his wife Daisy in January 2002 when they accomodated me at a Relay conference. They've been a frequent encouragement to me in ministry. Here is a man who has great experience and yet great on going interest in what we're doing today with students. I'm convinced that the presence of UCCF has had an immeasurable benefit on the British church in the last 80 years, and Oliver probably did more than most to lead that.
Bill & Shirley Lees (70somethings). More Cambridge Alumni and contemporaries of the Barclays, Bill & Shirley were missionaries in Borneo, where they saw revival, and were my home group leaders between 2002-2004. They have a spear hanging on their lounge wall, which is pretty awesome alongside decades of God's work in their lives. Shirley is increasingly frail and recent sustained a broken arm in a fall, so you could pray for her.
Michael Green (78). Michael is a theologian-evangelist who I met for the first time two weeks ago, though I'd been familiar with his ministry for many years through his books. At 78 he's still going strong in mission and in training young evangelists. I love this charismatic Anglican's passion and humility. Evidently a strong influence on the life of Lindsay Brown.
Terry Virgo (68). Leader of Newfrontiers, aged 68. I met Terry for the first time about four years ago when he spoke at the UCCF leaders conference Forum. I was assigned to help him find his bearings. We've only met twice since then and I don't expect he'd really remember me. His teaching on grace has been a great encouragement to me, not because it was new - UCCF have instilled grace in me since I became a Christian - but however many times you hear of grace you can always hear it again. The domino effect of his ministry established our local church which we love.
John Piper (62). Pastor for preaching, Bethlehem Baptist Church, aged 62. I met John Piper briefly at our Forum conference this year. I had absolutely nothing to say to him except thank you. More than many he's helped me develop a God-centred Christianity. He doesn't know me. He has no reason to know me. His ministry shows the power of the internet to be used for the spreading of good stuff.
I thank God for these men and women and others like them, for his work in them.
I think this, by Marcus, probably inspired me to write this post