Into the Mind of God
by T. Austin-Sparks

About the Conference

The following report of the conference in which these messages were given, was printed in the November-December 1964 edition of the "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine.

AESCHI (SWITZERLAND) 1964

There is a spiritual fellowship constituted by the ministry of this little paper which can never be more than spiritual. That is, it will never be possible for the readers in so many parts of the world to meet in one place at one time - until we are in glory. But we feel that it may be a ministry of Christ to you all if we tell you something of what is experienced when a representative gathering takes place, as in the case of Aeschi 1964.

Through many years, there has always seemed to be a special blessing from the Lord on times when - out of the nations - His people gather together. These occasions so much savour of the goings up of the tribes of Israel in olden days as they sang their "Songs of Ascents" converging upon Zion.

The meeting after long separation and - often - isolation; the discovery of so much unrealised mutual experience; the sharing of the inner history of His dealings; the song and prayer together; and the prepared feast of heavenly food; all combine to result in new vision, renewed strength, and holy inspiration to leave the mountain-top for the valleys and plain again. So it has been - in the Lord's goodness - once more this year in Switzerland.

As to the place: Aeschi is a village in the Bernese Oberland, some three thousand feet (1,000 metres) above sea level above the Lake of Thun. Below, in full view, lies that lake, stretching from Thun to Interlaken. In the early morning of a Lord's Day there spring to mind spontaneously the words:
"Oh, Sabbath rest by Galilee;
Oh, calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love."
Above, and on either side of the village, stretching to the horizon, are the mighty mountains of the Oberland, with their year-round snows and green valleys.

The Lord has indeed given us an ideal spot for these gatherings in the last seven years. Not the least of the blessings is the Christian co-operation of the proprietors of the hotel in which we accommodate the main part of our conference guests. In addition, we exhausted all other available accommodation round about, and at meeting times we were crammed to capacity. This will raise a serious question should it be that another conference is considered.

As to those attending: some ten or eleven countries were represented, the largest contingent coming from France.

Now, perhaps, you are impatiently waiting to know about the ministry.

We started each day with "Prayers" at the breakfast-tables. A brief message was given before prayer. This ministry was shared: Mr. LAMBERT, Mr. WARKE and Mr. SPARKS taking it. Then we met for the morning session at 10.30 o'clock. Throughout the conference Mr. SPARKS had as his morning theme: "Into the mind of God". While many Scriptural references to the 'Potter' and 'vessels' were used, the basic one was Jeremiah 18. The governing thought was that the vessel being made by the Potter is an expression of the mind of the Potter, so that all the experiences of the clay and the sovereign activities of the Potter are related to a Mind which will be fully seen in the being and service of the vessel - progressively now - and consummately in the ages to come. It will be appreciated that, for six full mornings to be occupied, much ground was covered. The afternoons - with two exceptions - were free from any arrangement.

Then the evening sessions throughout were occupied with the theme: "Into the heart of God". This led us by the eight stages in the life of Abraham from the repudiation of the world to that climax of oneness in the passion of God in the offering of the "Son, whom thou lovest"; in which the final step into God's heart was taken, and God was able to say "My Friend".

The two afternoons referred to above as 'exceptions' were: one when we went together in coaches to Grindelwald, so that the good of the country could be enjoyed, especially by those who were new to the country.

The other was a surprise to us all.

Without any expectation or hint of the matter, we were asked if it would be possible to have a baptismal service, as someone who had come to the Lord at Aeschi the year before was concerned to give that testimony. When it was known that the enquiry had been made, another let it be known that he was only waiting for such an opportunity. After seeking for facilities for this service of testimony, and letting it be known that it was definitely in view, two others came forward with the same request. Thus, on the Friday afternoon, we set out again by coaches to a distant small town where the Pastor had placed his church and baptistry at our disposal, and did everything possible to help. We packed the chapel, and not many will forget the so precious and blessed time of life which we had. This was a high-light of the conference, and we were all filled with joy.

Our two Lord's Day mornings saw us gathered around the Lord's Table. At these times there was a stream of spontaneous worship from many present in their various languages. Truly a testimony to the "One Loaf", the One Body, and the One Life.

All the ministry was given in three languages: firstly in English, and then interpreted into German and French. The hymns also were printed in the three languages. This created no confusion in the praise, and the singing was a very inspiring part of the conference.

This conference, although triumphant and full, was not gone through without conflict. That is not something at which to be surprised, but the forms taken by the conflict are rarely the same, and can gain some strength from their unexpectedness. However, we are not aware of anyone being able to say that Aeschi 1964 was not in life or power.

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