26 - 31 Jul 2006
A conference took place in Voiteg, at the Kwasizabantu Mission
station in Romania, from 26 July - 31 July 2006.
Most of the approximately 400 participants were young people from
In several services Rev Erlo Stegen spoke from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25: "Do you not
know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that
you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to
receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."
Paul wrote these verses to the Corinthians, where he illustrated
the glory of the heavenly crown by comparing it to a race. He wanted to demonstrate that
it is worthwhile to give your all for God's Kingdom.
These races were the forerunner of our Olympic Games and took place every three years.
Like today the athletes did their utmost to be victorious and they would deny themselves
from anything that could hamper them in their goal. While others were relaxing at home,
they were busy training in wind and rain, week after week, and year after year.
Only the one who was the best in his or her particular event
received the wreath as a reward and the honour that went along with it.
When we ponder on the effort these athletes put in to obtain a
perishable crown, we should strive even more to obtain the heavenly, imperishable crown!
We must throw off all weights and everything that hinder us. Sin hinders us to run the
race. We can only run, when we have confessed our sins.
When we are in the race, we have to run in our lane. God gives
rules and everyone his or her duty to fulfil. If we go against God's will, we be like a
runner who is disqualified because he did not compete according to the rules.
Some athletes throw in the towel when the long struggle and
privation becomes too much for them and the onlookers taunt them. But the athlete receives
new courage when he fixes his eyes on the goal. In the same way our heavenly Father wants
to renew our strength by fixing them on God in stead of our fellowman.
When lions want to attack the cattle of a farmer, it is almost
impossible, because the farmer lock them away in the cowshed. However, some of the older
and more experienced lions have developed an amazing tactic - the lions place themselves
skilfully in front of the farm, so that the wind brings the typical smell of the lions
into the cowshed. The smell causes the cattle to become so hysteric that they rage in
panic and destroy their shelter. Then they are helplessly handed over to the lions.
Many Christians act similarly when they allow themselves to be intimidated by temptation
and leave God's fortress.
We should treasure the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ above
everything else. The prize we will receive is worth much more than the perishable wreath
of the athletes. The world has the right to expect from us to bring them the Good News. If
we don't do it with all our strength, they will accuse us before God's Judgment throne,
"You had the answer to eternal salvation, but never shared it with us!"