Mobilize, Brighton

Just recently, I attended a 4 day 3 night Newfrontier's Mobilize Conference at the beautiful UK southern beach of Brighton. Brighton has such a nice sandless, "stone-full" beach, unlike the sandy beaches of Malaysia. Though I was there primarily to accompany a friend of mine to the final Brighton Christian conference organized by Newfrontiers, I managed to sunbathe a little (can't imagine doing that under Malaysia's scorching heat), and had nice long strolls along the beach with ice-creams.

The Mobilize conference turned out to be very well organized, the accommodation with people of King's wasn't too bad, with everything very nicely planned, and the religious speeches I had anticipated had been excellent as well. Terry Virgo and David Holden ain't Terry Virgo and David Holden for nothing.   

Now what is it like for a self-professed agnostic, non-Christian with a convoluted belief system to be in a Christian conference meant for Christians with 6000 "crazy" believers? Weird, yet interesting. This meant that there weren't any annoying calls to bring non-believers to the front for conversion, because the preaching was primarily directed to Christians. Hence, allowing me to peer into the heart of the religion itself.

No one suspected I wasn't a Christian initially. (I carried a Bible with me, was familiar with a few of the popular worship songs, and blended in with the crowd) Until a friend from King's asked me what I thought of God, and I honestly said that I didn't know if he exists.
So much for my Bond identity.

There were 3-4 sessions of seminars in a day. Each began with worship along with intermittent prayers, followed by preaching, ending with prayer and worship once more. During breaks, we would head over to the beach for lunch, or return to Saks (one of the accommodation booked by King's) for dinner. Was originally rather horrified that there is a cooking system where everyone had to prepare dinner (for those not in the know, I can't cook for nuts). Fortunately, my group's was just spaghetti and all I had to do was to chop green, red, and yellow peppers. As messing with the knife happened to be my favourite part of cooking, that role suited me well.

Surprisingly, food in Brighton were actually about 10-20% cheaper than Edinburgh's. They even had Sports Direct and Primark there, though I never actually entered. Traveling to Brighton though, was the horrible part. I had heard before then that the London Tube was complicated, and true enough it was totally nasty.  Might not have been able to arrive on time without all the kind Samaritans and station officers who guided us through the maze.

During the third day of Mobilize, the night session was for the purpose of praying for all the nations. They cleared up all the chairs on the floor, and we had to wear hand tags indicating whether we chose to sit on the platforms at the top or to stand on the floor. Excited at the prospect of a concert, I chose to stay on the ground. Bad move. Inflated balls were being thrown into the air, and when one fell close to me, I excitedly threw it up in the air. Only to see it fall... into the area where the deaf were busy concentrating on the sign language interpreter and... hit somebody there.
The first time throwing a ball in a concert and this is what happened. Horribly embarrassing.

Then came the time for prayers where everyone was supposed to get into groups and pray for the problems faced by every nation. Which was fine, except that I don't freaking know how to. I slipped off quietly away from the conference hall, went to the computers the center had for public use, occasionally checking back to see if the prayer session was over, and slipping back in time to listen to a short speech before the worship session resumes.

The next morning, we were gathering for breakfast as usual at the Saks, and King's pastor's wife, a very nice lady asked me how I felt about the previous night. I forgot that she didn't know I wasn't one of them and happily told her that I was there "at the beginning and the end of the session, and sort of skipped the middle". The entire table fell into silence. Uh oh.

Altogether, I enjoyed myself, with several unexpected yet pleasant occurrences and company. After an interesting conversation with a friend at the beach, I opened an email at the conference's public computer to discover that I have finally passed my CIMA strategic level Financial Strategy paper, of which I had failed the past 2 sittings. I'm so glad I'd never have to face the paper ever again.

Brighton is such a nice place, that I found myself wishing that I lived there instead of Edinburgh. I could visit the beach everyday, cycle, kayak, learn to sail and surf, feed the seagulls, occasionally throw stones at them, have an adrenaline swing at the theme park, and to just read or sit and stare into the deep wide waters that lay before me. If only life could be like that, that would pretty much be heaven on earth.

The Brighton Centre

A view of the sea

At the conference

The famed Terry Virgo

Mobilize + Leadership joint session

Kayaking near the "structure"

 I passed!