Saturday, November 11, 2017

The changing world (7) - undergraduate years, 1965-6

College Christian Union had weekly speakers. I have some notes but not names though I do remember Prof. J N D Anderson, chair of Islamic law at SOAS. He had owned the Ealing house bought by L'Abri where our IPC church started.
   Ranald Macaulay spoke at a meeting in our hall. At the time he was an undergraduate at Kings but married to Susan, daughter of fancies Schaeffer had started English L'Abri. What he taught on apologetics helped me in witness to those like my fellow students who were happy to think their godless philosophy was rational. Schaeffer's teaching later published in "Escape from reason' gave a basis for destroying the thought strongholds of unbelief.
   Among our weekly titles were, Can Christianity be proved true?Happiness, The historic faith ]we proclaim, Biblical wisdom, The person of Jesus, Judgement. In November David Sheppard did a university mission. I think it may have been before he was a bishop. Dr Spanner also spoke to our CU on, Is humanism the answer.
   I managed to get to some top sport. England rugby at the old Twickenham for all the games except Wales which was sold out. I was not buying tickets in advance nor did I for football. The most memorable rugby moment was hank's try the length of the pitch against Scotland. From the French game I remember the cockerels.
  I am fed up correcting caps lock so won't.  February 1966 the doctor was in Acts 5 in the evening. This was one of the two occasions he was memorably topical. He usually did not refer to current events. But that month Nkrumah, first president of Ghana, fist independent former British African colony was overthrown. The Doctor was preaching on Christ the cornerstone, Acts 4. He made reference to, Matthew 21:44 - And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Nkrumah had a statue with the blasphemous inscription, 'Seek ye first the political kingdom'. Politician overthrown and statue too. The rock had fallen on the politician.
   In April I attended an IPF CU leaders conference at Swanwick. Met Gill from Bristol a medical student. She visited me in London and I went to hers but nothing came of it. I wanted two things. The right woman and guidance for the future. I was president of the college CU and missionary secretary for LIFCU. My second year exams in June saw 8 papers in the first week including a six hour chemistry practical. The next two weeks saw five more papers then leaving international hall I moved to the home of my cousin Roger in Woking for a couple of weeks. He was surgical registrar at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital Portsmouth. His wife Hilary was a medic too, a Cambridge sailing blue. Their children Robert and Sara. Roger got me a job in his hospital's pharmacy. I stayed with a Christian family. The memorable event was the world cup final. Saw England win on my own in the nurses home where they had a TV. But more significant was meeting the Berry family. Tony had been the first pharmacist for the Sudan United Mission's hospital at Vom, Benue Plateau State , Nigeria, The country had entered the Biafran civil war. Tony challenged me about work in Nigeria. Welcoming overseas students for IVP I was getting a similar message from Nigerians.  I remember taking one to Perivale to the tin research centre his sponsors.This was crucial. I knew God wanted me to serve overseas for England had lots of Christians and Was willing to go where the gospel was not so established. All my degree honours depended on the last year. Should I serve overseas as an academic or a missionary? The former required at least a 2:1degree to enable me to enrol for a Ph.D. I fancied that and Prof Fairbairn would have had me researching bio synthetic pathways in the opium poppy. He was feeding poppies grown in Enfield, radioactive isotopes to see how the opium was produced than he could modify it for synthetic opiates. But if I was not to follow the academic path any degree would do and I could give more time to CU in my final year. I was being guided to missionary work.
  Summer ended youth hosteling on my own in the Lakes.then IVF leaders conference at Swanwick.
June 1966 saw the death of my uncle Tom Rayner in his forties.he was married to my mother's younger sister, Joyce, a favourite aunt. He was a farmer, wrong as an ox but in his thirties he noticed he was starting to drop things like the heavy sacks of corn. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the disease took away his muscle powers over the next ten years until at the last the only controls over his neck muscles. Well meaning people wanted him to go to healing meetings. Some fools taught that with enough faith there was healing. There was not. The only blessings were his cheerfulness and my aunt's loving care. She was a tearful lady but shed no tears at the funeral. When asked the reason she replied that she had shed enough. Now no more crying.
   Tom had been in partnership farming with his younger brother and father. Their agreement was that if one of them wanted to leave the partnership the others would decide about his share of the business. So they did not keep my aunt in the business. Though she nursed Tom's father too in his final days the farm went to the other brother and my cousins unjustly lost their inheritance.  Aunty Joyce became a widow sought in marriage. There were several suitors but she fell for William Houlson a widower and a retired  successful farmer. William was devastated when Joyce died of cancer and predeceased him.
   I left International Hall for a flat share in Holloway with tree other Christian pharmacy student. John Sullivan mentioned before was from Birmingham. He too was to go to All Nations and serve in Yemen and Mali. David Durham fro Southampton became an academic. Stan Steadman from Pontardawe managed a Boots in Liverpool Street before owning his own chop in Robertsbridge, We cooked in turns. Stan's specialised in sheep's  heart. I did curry. My introduction had been the interview at the Square back in 1963 I looked for a restaurant for lunch and settled on an Indian. Never eating in such before I in ignorance chose vindaloo. Hot in, hot out,. Lips burning I finished it off. I paid up so I ate up too and got a taste for Indian. In those days you had to go to Soho for the spices, a respectable reason to visit there.
  I cycled everywhere. I was faster into college than my friends via the tube. I cycled to the chapel including round Trafalgar Square which was less regulated in those days, I was keen on collecting Spurgeon and advertised in the Christian press. My first visit to Ealing was by cycle to buy some Spurgeon.
   October I heard the Doctor two days after Aberfan. He was devastating. 'People will ask how did God allow this? What was it to do with God. Man in his greed built a slag heap on uni spring and then wants to blame God?' In this he was prescient. This indeed was the cause of the disaster. 'I know Aberfan. It used to be a place where the gospel was honoured. Now people turn their backs on God and expect him to protect their children.'Only a Welshman and a Calvinist count have said it. My Welsh flatmate Stan was shocked when I told him what the Doctor had said.
   1966 Autumn term Herbert Carson, assistant to the Doctor gave three LIFCU bible readings on the sovereignty of Good. He started with providence then on bonfire night, election. With the smell of fireworks in the air I met a girl I did not find particularly attractive.
   Kathry Overend fro Potters bar was reading music at Trinity College. Her friend and fellow musician Fiona Pallant suggested a group of us come to her home after morning worship at Westminster Chapel. But no-one else turned up and I started to get to know Katy on the long Central Line ride to Fiona in Loughton. Romance was slow for I did not ask Katy out until the following September.
    But Carson on the sovereignty of God had a seminal effect me I became an enthusiastic Calvinist. The talks divided the CU. One student particular, a LSE man became militantly Arminian. I was strongly the other way and read voraciously on the subject starting with Spurgeon's Early Years borrowed from my father who though Methodist was not an Arminian. I also read his books on ecumenism published by the Banner. So when I was baptised by the Methodist minister I declined church membership. I did not want to be part of a mixed denomination with liberals.
   Though regular at the Chapel, no-one there talked about membership. I was never invited to so much as a cup of coffee. There was the doctor urging evangelicals to come together in Bible churches yet his own congregation had for me no life whatsoever. I know know members could spend the whole day there with lunch together and tea but no-one invited me. The consultant physician was happy to run church like a surgery.You could come to him. He did not seek you out. This is even evidenced by Carson and others never being associate ministers only assistants to the Doctor. So he get s 10/10 for preaching and 0/10 for church body life.
   Our CU had a houseparty at Ashburnham Place , Sussex addressed by John Dart of Barry Bible College.
  Researching for my dissertation on the history of cannabis the prof took me to visit Scotland Yard's black museum.
   Alan Stubbs of Oak Hill spoke for our CU. I had a December interview at All Nations,Missionary College Ware, principal David Morris, ex R.A. and SUM Nigeria. He was a major in the war commanding an anti-aircraft battery in Dover during the Battle of Britain.
   I saw the new year in at Swanwick, IVP missionary conference with Donald English.

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