Imagine a large room full of people who represent the American diversity of the African diasporas: Afro-Caribbean, Afro-South American, African national, Multi-racial, and African American peoples. In their diversity, they are unified not only in their African heritage, but also in their love for Jesus. In the front of the room is a worship team as diverse as the crowd they are leading, swaying in unison and singing “Jesus, Jesus, that’s what we call you…” shaking the foundations of the building and praising the God of the heavens.
InterVarsity’s fourth national Black student conference at the Simpsonwood Conference Center, located about 23 miles north of Atlanta, GA, was held from December 27-31, 2002. The theme of this conference was Discerning the Times: Wisdom in an Age of Deception. The theme Scripture (Ephesians 5:13-19) exhorted the participants to be wise and understand the will of the Lord. Just as God raised up Esther to save her people from peril, God is raising up Black students to save people from the troubles of the 21st century. Like the son in Proverbs, God wants to save this generation of Black students from those “whose words are perverse” (Proverbs 2:12) and to help them walk in “the ways of the good” (Proverbs 2:20).
Over 350 students and recent graduates gathered from all over the United States to hear speakers, attend seminars, meet exhibitors, enjoy fellowship, and respond to the call of God in their lives. Dr. Tim Tyler opened the conference with a sobering assessment of the troubles in many Black communities. Bishop George McKinney taught from the book of Proverbs in the mornings, encouraging the participants to be discerning in their communities and relationships, wise in their successes and with their material wealth.
Evening speakers also spoke about discernment and practical wisdom:
- - Dr. Harold Dean Trulear recapped the Christian history of the African diasporas in North America;
- - Dr. Carol Parks-Bani challenged listeners to put their sexuality under the Lordship of Jesus;
- - Rev. Paula Fuller deconstructed “health-and-wealth” theology, and encouraged listeners to handle their money for the work of the Kingdom of God.
Other conference highlights included:
- - Afternoon seminars that looked at a variety of issues, including discerning God’s will, reaching out to Black Muslims, being multi-racial, dealing with abuse, and being faithful women in ministry;
- - Exhibitors from various organizations that gave conference participants contexts to put their faith into action;
- - A presentation and a financial offering for the Lost Boys of Sudan Foundation (two conference attendants were Sudanese war refugees);
- - A presentation to the family of Alex Anderson, the previous Black Campus Ministries director who died tragically the year before the conference;
- - A nightly Café, where conference participants displayed their poetry, music, dance, and humor to the glory of God.
The Black Campus Ministry (BCM) of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is dedicated to developing in Black students the love of Jesus Christ. BCM is connected to many Black churches in the common goal of helping to raise up a new generation of Black leaders with moral, spiritual and personal integrity.