Three of us rode together to Detroit, Mich., to the Inspire 2017 conference with much anticipation. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I do know this: That I needed to be inspired. I needed to know that the Christian Reformed Church in North America is alive and well.
Three of us rode together to Detroit, Mich., to the Inspire 2017 conference with much anticipation. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I do know this: That I needed to be inspired. I needed to know that the Christian Reformed Church in North America is alive and well. That my efforts at being a church member, a committee member, a Coffee Break member, a Story Hour leader were worthwhile.
We have a good church here in Western Springs, Illinois—a good preacher, good music, good leadership. Our church people show love and concern for one another (I learned that when my husband, Ted, was sick and going through cancer treatments). But are we alone in this? I had to know.
So I was prompted to meet with 800 people in a lovely hotel in the heart of Detroit. Was I inspired? Yes, even more than I might have anticipated.
I found others, encouragers, who love our gracious God. I found a caring hotel staff who made sure that we all had good food and comfort in our time of need. Something precious happened on that weekend. I was challenged to live out my faith in such a way that others can see Christ in me. The Holy Spirit seems closer to me now. Electrifying for me was the enthusiasm shown, for instance, by Kizzy Thomas, whose love of God was evident through dramatic readings spoken with rhythm and cadence.
Pastor Carey laid out the gospel clearly and sometimes loudly. He said it is easier to preach in his own church because the “Amens” come through even before he begins his sermon. It is different, he said, when he preaches to white people.
The people who attended Inspire were a widely diverse group from all over the globe. I sat next to a man who emigrated from Lagos, Nigeria. A South Korean woman sat next to me at a Coffee Break event. At the main event, we sang a song or two with phrases in several languages. A diverse praise team led us in upbeat songs and traditional hymns. An especially meaningful time was when all 800 of us sang "It Is Well," especially verse 3: “And through it all, through it all my eyes are on you and it is well with me.”
Friday evening, we were introduced to a lively song by the impromptu gospel choir. If you think CRC-ers are a stuffy lot, think again. There is nothing more inspiring than 800 people singing heartily to the glory of God.
The main speakers gave us much food for thought.
Richard Mouw: “It is well with my soul but it is not well in our cities. We long for the day when it will be well. God calls us to be faithful to do his will. Jesus is coming again and he does all things well.”
Liz Curtis Higgs: “Passion grows the more you worship, the more you study, the closer he becomes to you. Jesus paid it all and we get it all. You can go anywhere in the Bible and it will lead you to Jesus.”
Ruth Padilla DeBorst: “We need to face our own fears and learn to trust in God. Perfect love drives out fear; we can step out in humble boldness recognizing that it is God’s love that enables us to be involved in God’s reconciling work. Love will have the last word.”
Harvey Carey: ‘Anyone can depict peace in a tranquil setting but peace in a violent scene is true peace. We must not forget where we’ve come from. What is your story? There are people who are going through so many challenges that only Someone holy can help them face those struggles. Don’t go back home the same as you were before. Be inspired to bless.”
For more on what they said, visit the Inspire 2017 page on our website.
—Sharon Bulthuis, leader at Western Springs CRC in Aurora, Colo.
Be Inspired Again
Inspire 2019 will be held in Windsor, Ont.
When: Thursday, Aug. 1 through Saturday, Aug. 3
Where: St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, 201 Riverside Drive West,
For more information visit Inspire 2019