Tuesday, July 7, 2015
We arrived without any incident at Heathrow. Like Atlanta, you have to take a train to direct you to various terminals (our coach was waiting for us in Terminal 5). The trains are really nice. We were all very tired, but were instructed to stay up until at least 7pm local time in order to adjust better. After an hour or so bus ride from London Heathrow to Oxford, we arrived at Regent’s Park College. We unloaded and were immediately given our room assignments. We each get our own room (much like the students who attend college here). The college itself is relatively small, and the rooms are old, with outdated carpet. But there’s something awesome about it—mostly that you’re in Oxford.
We had a lot of time in between this and lunch, so I took the opportunity to aimlessly wander in a direction in which I saw a lot of people moving. I didn’t get very far, but I took some good pictures. Lunch was…all right. Chicken and rice with red and green pepper things that I swallowed whole. After lunch, we eventually had an orientation and introductory lectures. I was so tired I had to fight to stay awake. Even thinking about it resulted in me catching myself falling asleep again. The best part was when we walked to the city center at about 4:30. Dr. Yarnell spoke for a few minutes about the martyr’s monument (built in response to an Anglo-Catholic movement as a reminder of what evangelicals had gone through there). He then told us we were free to wander. Dr. Eccher and I decided to hit the town up (he was very interested in all the clothing stores). I bought a drink and scouted the phone stores for a SIM card (which I still don’t have).
I closed out the day with dinner (which was salmon and awesome), and while most people went to bed, I headed out with my new friend Danny to see what we could see. The day had been warm enough to make you sweat a little while walking a lot, but now (even though still light) in the shadows you could feel a cool breeze (enough to where I’m glad Jodi made me take a jacket—side note: I have been glad for everything Jodi made me take). We saw an open-air Shakespeare play (but only from a distance as we didn’t pay), and heard more foreign languages than English accents. I bought some fish and chips (because I was hungry!) from a street vendor. It’s remarkable how much like a junior New York City Oxford is (with respect to tourism and tons of people everywhere).
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Today there was so much to do and see it was virtually impossible to keep track. First thing was breakfast, and I just kept it real with cereal. Turns out they do have Frosted Flakes in the UK. Right away, I went downtown to the EE to pick up a SIM card and a new UK phone number (pointless, since I have absolutely no one to call, but I can use the data). I arrived about 20 minutes early and I saw a younger guy there. He let me know they opened at 9, and I found out he was an employee there waiting for another with the keys. We talked for a while. His name is James, he has a family, and he’s not anti-religion. He considers himself open-minded, but because of his family obligations he doesn’t have time to “do religion.” It was unfortunate that he seemed to believe salvation was primarily about doing! We had a very brief conversation about Christ coming to provide redemption for the sin that we’ve all done, but it could have gone better. He was very polite through it all.
After this time, we took a two-hour tour of the Regent’s Park College at Oxford (where we are staying) and their Angus Library. This Library was one of the greatest treasures of Baptist history that must be around. It had letters between Fuller and Carey, original-run tracts from Martin Luther in the 1500s, Thomas Cranmer’s study Bible, and so on (many of my pictures can be found on Facebook).
After lunch, we did a walking tour around Oxford (where the town is intertwined with the colleges that make up the University—essentially, if you’re in Oxford [the town], you’re in Oxford [the university]). This was a beautiful and informative journey that took us to the home of Dorothy Sayer (passing by), the river where Anabaptists would first baptize converts (during which time jeering and insults were hurled at them from the banks), and Christ Church College, where parts of Harry Potter were filmed. Lectures were conducted at various points along the way, and it seemed everywhere we turned there were beautiful buildings, historical points of significance, or both (in the case of St. Mary’s University Church, where Thomas Cranmer took back his recantation and would not go back to being Catholic).
After dinner, I went with Drs. Eccher, Gould, Grace, and Keathley (and a PhD student at SWBTS) to walk around town and eat some ice cream (I think I actually had sorbet). So what’s next? Touring the home of C. S. Lewis is on the agenda for tomorrow, and I really look forward to learning even more about Baptist and evangelical heritage, and how the UK played into all of that (especially with respect to the early Baptist missionaries of the modern missions movement).
Pray especially for boldness and wisdom for me as I interact with people. There are masses of people here from around the world, and most of them, as far as I know, do not know Christ. Pray God will work in their hearts and that they will respond!