Sunday, August 17, 2008

IICS vision conference, July 17-19

Once every other year, CSI/IICS professors are required to attend the annual IICS Vision Conference in Kansas City, MO. This year's conference was special, for it was a celebration of the 20th anniversary of IICS. The theme of this conference was 'worldviews'. Both of us attended this conference; it promised to be a time of renewing acquaintance with good friends,  both among IICS and CSI colleagues, and the plenary speakers: Elaine Storkey, whome we have known for many years, and Paul Marshall, whom we have known since the 1980s, when he taught at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto; in fact, when we returned from missionary service in the Philippines in 1987 we took over Paul's house in Toronto. Unfortunately, Elaine was unable to come to this year's conference, due to illness, but she is now scheduled for next year. Paul, who is now with the Hudson Institute, where he does research on religious freedom, gave two excellent speeches, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and we had lunch with Paul before we left Kansas City. The other main speaker this year was David Naugle, who has written  an excellent history of worldviews.  In addition, about sixty short papers were presented (about seven at a time); a few of these were given by CSI/IICS professors, but for the most part by academics who have heard of IICS and appreciate its vision of academic ministry. We certainly hope that some of them may take up the challenge of serving overseas with CSI/IICS.

We took the opportunity to have a photo taken of those of our "Africa team" present at the conference, from left to right: Rudy and Marlene Wiebe, who teach at the College of Education in Pangshin, near Jos; Henk and Vicky VanAndel, from Edmonton--Henk serves as executive director of CSI; Prof. Joseph Ilori, from Nigeria, who has directed the program of preparing manuals for teachers of Christian education there, and served as president of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary for many years; Danny and Mary McCain, who founded IICS and have been our neighbors at the University of Jos for many years; and us, Wendy and Adrian Helleman. As you may have gathered from this photo, one of the best aspects of such a conference is the opportunity to network with colleagues from all over the world. This year we met old friends and made new ones from places as far away as Russia, South Africa, and Nigeria. CSI and IICS now have 43 professors teaching in 16 countries.

We began our travels early in the week, since we had  to go to Florida to have our IICS dentist, Dr. Leong do some work on our teeth; from there we flew to Kansas City, but we did have some nasty experiences which have taken away some of the joy of flying. We were stuck in Atlanta for the better part of a day due to storms, and our luggage arrived at a different airport the next day. It would not have been so bad, except that services at the Atlanta airport were stretched to the limit, and people were in line for hours simply trying to get to a help desk or phone. We were still quite fortunate, since many people at that airport were delayed for more than a day, with no alternatives of finding a hotel room anywhere. On the return trip, via Minneapolis, our Sunday flight was also delayed, this time because of mechanical problems; we finally got home in the early hours of Monday morning.

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