Over 350 people travelled from far and wide to be at this year’s National Conference of Christian Friends of Israel (CFI), as they celebrated 30 years of ministry in early September.

The venue was the splendid King’s Centre in Eastbourne, which gave great opportunities for fellowship, teaching, worship and making connections, and people were able to browse the CFI resources, Holocaust photographic exhibition and the other exhibitors’ stalls.

Worship was led by CFI’s David Soakell and team, and the main speaker, Dr Kendall Soulen, who usually teaches Wesleyan theology students, in the USA, taught in depth on the biblical significance of Israel to the Church.

In redefining ‘replacement’ theology, which has caused so much Christian anti-semitism over the centuries, Dr Soulen pinpointed three different ways in which Israel is still misrepresented as being insignificant in churches. Then he encouraged us to go back to Genesis and re-examine the Fall. Quite subtly, he challenged us to start before the Fall and see that God’s purpose for mankind was to have ‘a fullness of mutual blessing’. There is not room here to explain this, but the CDs can be purchased by CFI.

The second speaker was Rick Ridings, a congregational leader from Israel, who spoke on ‘The Church and Israel today – how it’s working’ and how the Scriptures are being fulfilled in these days. He shared some of the extraordinary things that are happening in Israel with some of the most unexpected people coming to faith in Jesus and befriending Israel as a result.

CFI’s CEO, Jacob Vince, read a touching letter from the founders of CFI Jerusalem – Ray and Sharon Sanders – thanking UK supporters for their faithfulness and prayer during their 30 years of ministry.

Tributes to those who had made substantial contributions to CFI’s work included, of course, memories of much loved Bible teacher Lance Lambert who died on May 10 this year. Derek White, CFI UK’s founder member, and Tim Vince (brother of CEO Jacob) perfectly captured Lance’s character and legacy. Lance will be much missed, but CFI will continue in its core aims of teaching the Church and blessing Israel – while always aiming to honour God in all they do.

With thanks to David Soakell for providing this report.

Sharon Sanders will be speaking in Heathfield, Sussex on 16 October – see the Events section

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