With a challenging caption: ”Growing in Grace”, the Philip Yancey conference, held in Cluj Napoca at the end of October 2010 captured the attention of Romanian evangelicals. The conference provided a large span of artistic and cultural expressions, meant to draw attention to the One who is the source of the grace we all long for.
For 4 days, around 600 people met with the famous US Christian writer in the conference venue of Napoca Hotel.
Well known to the Romanian audience through his writings, Philip Yancey stirred a great deal of excitement. We knew this to be true when we received, many months before the event started, all kinds of denigrating emails, first focused against the US author, then against us, the organizers.
We gave glory to God and understood that what we do is good, as confirmed by this tremendous opposition.
Along with the all the slanders, there came enough encouragement from those who are not easily lured by those whose main spiritual gift is to be stumbling blocks, so we also thanked God for the encouragements that gave us more energy.
Looking back, we can say that the participants’ expectations were not only met, but even surpassed by what happened in Cluj. “You never get too low for grace to pick you up” was the caption Philip used to take his listeners through a well documented journey through the book of Romans. His perspective was well anchored in the harsh reality we find in our contemporary churches, which are so stingy with the divine grace.
Because we live in a world governed by the talion law, it’s not surprising the Christians are so intolerant and seem rather concerned with the overuse of grace, than with giving grace.
With a pleasant and alert style, exposing his journalist background, Yancey captivated his audience with powerful illustrations and left his listeners draw the appropriate application.
Beyond Yancey the speaker, Yancey the man was impressive. A very thin individual, he does not look like the athlete he really is, having recently finished climbing the most high 54 peaks in Colorado. Aside from that, he is a very warm person, very patient with all those who assaulted him with questions and autographs.
Yancey’s presence in Cluj was also a pretext for some very fortunate partnerships – Andrei Marga and Vasile Boari, outstanding faculty members of Babes Bolyai University, who spoke on “God Today” and “Nowadays’ World Crisis”, bringing an original touch to this event.
Photographer Voicu Bojan exhibited a series of photos from the “Jesus Project”; also Liviu Mocan, a well known Romanian sculptor, had two exceptional artistic moments, the first focused on “The Cornerstone”, the second on his well known work – “The Ten Commandments”. He was also the author of a special work offered as a gift to our US guest, by the conference organizers.
Music could not be absent from such a celebration of spirit, so the conference included three concerts – two contemporary groups: “Continental” and “Aer Curat” and as well a chamber orchestra made from four brilliant Cluj Napoca Conservatory students.
We hope that the seed Philip Yancey planted in his listeners’ hearts will bring the much expected fruit, both by the event organizers, and by the One who had the strength to close his eyes to our unlawfulness, coming up with the perfect solution, a solution that cost him so dearly.
We did all this for his sake and we hope more and more people will capitulate to his divine grace.
We thank our partners from New Hope foundation, and those from Credo TV who filmed the sessions, the technical team that run the event with professionalism, and all those behind the scene who were part of the event.
Here are a few insights from participants:
Aside from being a gifted writer (you can clearly see this from the big number of his published books), I saw at this conference that Yancey is also a gifted communicator. The way he illustrated his message proves this point. I was blessed by the content of the conference – Growing in Grace – which I consider one of vital importance for our Romanian Evangelical context, which avoids this issue for the most part. (Florentin Clipa, Suceava, Missionary)
I attended Mr. Philip Yancey’s conference and I liked a lot that he used a language that was accessible to his audience, both for the bright and the simple. I liked that he used a lot of illustrations and that he is so natural on the stage. Through his personality, he spoke to my heart, not only my mind. (Dona Indrie, Timisoara).
I told Mr. Yancey that I am going home with a nice line he said at an AA meeting, where he was invited to speak. After studying their philosophy, he entitled his message “Why I want to be an alcoholic”.
It’s my new grace experience, meaning that to be in desperate need for God you are at the best possible place. It’s not being perfect, or wearing a great mask, showing all your performances, but rather admitting you have a need in any area in life is something fantastic. The need for God is the answer to the fundamental problem of grace. (Dina Nechita, Cluj)
I found is great at this conference that I don’t need to go back home and re-read the pages – everything that was said was filtered and concise – Philip Yancey has this ability to summarize things in a great way. (Andreea, Cluj Napoca)
I was kind of behind the scene, being able to see the attitude and feedback of the participants. Although I attended just some of Philip Yancey’s sessions, I can say he tackled with an open attitude both his content and some aspects of Christian life. I am glad I could take part in organizing such a conference and I hope it was a blessing for all those who attended. (Daniela Boga, Cluj Napoca)
Following is a picture gallery from this event. Please use the arrows to browse through the pictures. To be able to see a full size picture, please click on its center.
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