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ss nucleus - spring 2005,  Real Right Through

Real Right Through

Hugh Ip reports on the 2005 National Students Conference

The annual conference was over. I was back in my London flat after a four hour journey by car, train, underground and foot. Impatiently I tossed item after item out of my bag and found everything but my Bible and conference notes. I sat on the floor and felt like throwing things at the wall as I wondered how to write the conference report…

An inspiring conference address on ‘The Marks of a Christian Doctor’ was delivered by Dr David Stevens, Executive Director of the US Christian Medical and Dental Associations. He spoke of competency as the foundation of our witness and living up to our role as servant leaders. He described Christ as the master communicator who listened intently and managed to respond ‘emotion to emotion, heart to heart’. Compassion is not merely a technique we need to learn, but a genuine concern. Dr Stevens does not define integrity as only a high moral standard, but rather a balanced life and being who we say we are.

After eleven years as a medical missionary in Kenya, Dr Stevens understood suffering. But even that did not prepare him for his wartime trip to Somalia. His depiction of the bleak situation left all 330 of us in a stunned, tearful silence. He realised then how Jesus loved the crowds.

Bible addresses

Richard Cunningham, Director of Student Ministries for UCCF, spoke on 1 John. He elaborated on the person of Jesus, the pitfalls we must avoid, and the pathway we must take. He began with the importance of knowing Jesus and how he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He said that God is committed to eradicating sin; we must not deny our sins or continue sinning.

He warned us against loving the things of the world in his second talk on 1 John 2:15-17. However, we must strike a balance. Legalism will lead to self-righteous Pharisaism. But rejecting God’s good gifts by not taking pleasure in his creation would destroy our relationship with him.

Finally, we were reminded of our identity as children of God who are being sanctified. To be who we are, we must follow Christ’s commands to love one another (1 Jn 2:3-11) and to live holy lives (1 Jn 2:29-3:10). Our love must be sacrificial, costing us time or convenience.

Outside the conference hall

Biotechnology, Dealing with the Dying, When Christians Disagree – these were just a few of the seminar topics on offer. The leaders gave succinct overviews of difficult issues. These were run in smaller groups where we had opportunities to interact. I had not come across gender identity disorder in my studies and I found Professor Andrew Sims’ Transsexuality seminar an extremely useful introduction.

Andy Flannagan, medically qualified songwriter and worship leader, led us in praise before each main address and before breakfast for the early risers. His impromptu band was formed by a few of our very own CMF members on the viola, flute, keyboard, voice and saxophone! His praise concert was a chance for us to worship God and reflect on our personal relationship with him.

It was a privilege for us to meet medical students from 16 different countries such as Israel, Belarus, and Egypt. It was amazing for me to pray with my Romanian roommate on the first night we met – simply because we were brothers in Christ. They shared with us challenges they faced in their own countries in a presentation on the final day. These included corruption in the medical sector, government opposition to local CMF groups, and storm damage in Estonia. We prayed together for their needs.

During the newsround we were updated on happenings in CMF UK: upcoming events, publications and our role in shaping euthanasia legislation. Our university CMF groups encouraged one another similarly through prayer in the AGM for student representatives.

The conference was certainly not all work! Under the guise of journalistic inquiry, I walked into the line dancing session ‘just to watch’. I was soon drawn into the four wall dance while we were instructed to ‘get into the groove of country music’. A question and answer session took place at the same time. The panel was grilled on issues ranging from nanotechnology to relationships between Christian groups.

It is hard for students within a medical course to get to know each other, especially when clinical students are sent to far off hospitals. The conference was a precious opportunity for us all to catch up and spend time with our own medical school’s CMF group. We strolled through nearby fields and tried unsuccessfully to walk on the semi-frozen pond. Some of us even set up a rounders game!

What of my story though? It turned out I left my Bible and notes in the conference hall as I packed up the keyboard. Thankfully, CMF sent them straight back in time for me to write this report! The conference is definitely one of the highlights of my year. Seeing so many Christian students and doctors serve God in the unique position of a medic is truly encouraging. By next year’s conference, I hope to be mature enough in Christ as to be rid of the urge to throw things. Will I see you there?

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