October 11 and 12, 2013 marked a new milestone for Verse by Verse Ministry International. By the grace of God, we were able to host our first annual Bible conference, entitled Growing in Grace and Truth. Our goal was and remains to bring solid, Biblical teaching to San Antonio in particular, and, via our website, to the world. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we were able to present the conference all over the world in real time by live streaming video.
Taking the conference to the world was actually the easy part. To do this, we still needed to put on a physical conference here in San Antonio, and that was the difficult part. Except it wasn’t.
What I mean by this is that the Lord was gracious to us and brought us many, many like minded volunteers. God not only gave us the idea to have the conference, He also brought about the means to effectively put the idea into action. This is just as Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
The experience of working with believers to put on the conference brought to mind how the Lord describes His church in 1 Corinthians 12:
"14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts."
I have never been involved in something so comprehensive that went so smoothly. I had the privilege of organizing the conference, but the work was never overwhelming. Each of our volunteers was committed to the purpose of the conference. The work was not just “busy work”, or “church work”. Rather, by the Lord’s grace, the conference was seen as necessary, as something God called us to do.
While no doubt it was the Lord at work in each of us, the experience was a reminder of how each part of the body contributes in the Lord’s work. Indeed, it was amazing to see how God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. While the speakers (Gary Hedrick, Jim Bryant, and Stephen Armstrong) held the place of honor in that they were chosen by God to proclaim His word (and proclaim they did!), it would not have happened without the ears, eyes, hands and feet. So, I’d like to give thanks to all my brothers and sisters in Christ who made this possible.
We had to think about planning (Steve, Kathryn, Jim, Josh, Jerry, Kathy). There was marketing and advertising (Kathryn, Joe), website (Josh, Steve), recording and sound (Sean, Josh) registration (Kathy, Shari, Annette, Patty, Jeanne, Kathy), parking, greeters, ushers, clean up (Mike, Tom, James, Eddy, Pam, Wendel, John), photographers (Lin, Herb), food (Nancy, Diann, Sharon, Suzy, Chris, Laura), music, (Jose, Ivette, David, Daniel, Mark), our emcee and introducers (Jerry, Tom, Don). Most importantly, and something I initially overlooked, was prayer. Thankfully, the Lord did not let us overlook that, and He brought it to our attention and formed a prayer team (Dennis, Ava, Leesha, George, Vernada, Kimberley, Skyler, Lynda, Mark, Sharon, Clarke, Linda). There were also numerous others who simply jumped in wherever help was needed, not to mention those who also prayed apart from the prayer team. I probably missed someone, but not intentionally. If I did, remember Matthew 18:21-22!
Simply put, it was a beautiful thing to see the body of Christ work together in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father. I get goose bumps (actually, as a brother once put it, “angel bumps”) just thinking about it. Knowing the Lord was working in and through each of us truly produces “fear and trembling”, because everything went so unbelievably, supernaturally well. For this, I am thankful to God and to my brothers and sisters in Christ who helped bring this about. I am also thankful for my brothers and sisters at Grace Bible Chapel and Christian Jew Foundation Ministry. These are like minded brothers and sisters who also desired to bring the word of God to San Antonio (and the world) in a deeper way.
Thank you to all who attended, all who helped put on the conference, and especially thanks to the Lord for making this a success. Lord willing, this was the first of many conferences we will host. As was our prayer from the start, may we glorify God and edify believers in the process, helping all of us to become more like Christ.