So New Horizon 2011 is underway. After all the preparations, at ten past seven Ian Hannah and his band launched into the opening songs (yes – you need to get there early). The ever-popular safety announcement made the start official, and a very tanned Stephen Cave took to the stage for the announcements.

It turns out that Stephen has been attending New Horizon for some twenty years. He introduced a video presentation where several “old timers” (Stephen’s expression) talked about what New Horizon has meant to them and how they have seen it shape and influence the lives of others.

The other video presentation of the night was a mission presentation highlighting the challenge of some two billion unreached people around the world. One of the statistics presented was that more money is embezzled from the church than is spent on mission.

Ian Hannah is leading the musical worship again this year and he combined the old with the new. Among the old was “All people that on earth do dwell.” Were the words on the screen really right when they talked about us being God’s “folk” rather than his flock? A typo? Or maybe it’s a New Horizon turn of phrase! Among the new, a beautiful song about the love of God from Kathryn Scott and her mother, Mildred Rainey.

Greg Haslam is responsible for the talks for the first half of the week of evening celebrations. He is the pastor of Westminster Chapel, following in the footsteps of, among others, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and RT Kendall. Greg shared a nice story of how he met Dr Lloyd-Jones as a nineteen year old student in Durham. Little could he have imagined, as Lloyd-Jones put a hand on his shoulder, that he would one day be his successor.

(The one disappointment for some in the tent was the revelation that he is is a Liverpool supporter.)

In tonight’s opening message, Greg talked about the parallels between Ahab’s Israel, under the influence of the Baal-ite Jezebel, and modern day Britain where there are almost three times as many occultists as clergy. God’s solution for Israel was a man – a man like us. Elijah stepped onto the scene unannounced and unknown, making such an impact that his name dominated for centuries. He arrived from a place of hiddenness to a place of disclosure. As God had a call on his life, so he has a call for each of us.

Three things that explain Elijah:

  1. His relationship with God. “The God before whom I stand.”
  2. God’s authorisation on his life.
  3. His ability to convey a word from the Lord.

As Greg concluded, he spoke of some of his own heroes who have either been called home or have come to an end of public ministry in the past decade or so. As they go, it is like a wood where great trees are cut down. How will the gaps be filled?