Fellows Feature: God's Sari - page 1

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From the Summer 2012 issue of Knowing & Doing:  


God's "Sari": The Story of C.S. Lewis Institute - Annapolis

by Jim Phillips
Director, C.S. Lewis Institute, Annapolis, MD


avi Zacharias tells a story of the weaving of an Indian wedding garment known as a sari. He describes a process by which the saris are made by a father and son team. The father sits on a platform, while the son sits below, surrounded by spools of thread. At the command of his father, the son moves the shuttle back and forth through the loom. As the father leads and the son follows, eventually a beautiful design begins to appear. What is interesting to note is that the son worked below the father on the back side of the emerging design and had to wait to see the beauty of the end product. He had to trust completely in the father’s skill.
   In many ways, the story of C.S. Lewis Institute – Annapolis resembles the production of a sari. I now see in retrospect, how God, our Father, has begun weaving a beautiful “sari” in Annapolis through the obedience of his children.
   In July 2007 I attended Ravi Zacharias’s summer seminar in Oxford, England. There I met Tom Tarrants who was president of the C.S. Lewis Institute. Though my wife, Ann, and I lived in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, we also had a small house in Annapolis, Maryland. We visited there on special weekends when our son and daughter attended the U.S. Naval Academy. I also stayed in this home during the week, because it was closer to my office in Alexandria, Virginia. Discovering that our offices were only five miles apart, Tom and I decided to get together upon our return from Oxford. (Can you hear the Father saying, “Move the shuttle,” as the first threads are laid?)
   After Tom and I got to know each other, he asked if I would be interested in starting an extension of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Annapolis. Tom knew a number of people in Maryland who wanted to participate in the Fellows Program but were unable to do so because of the distance. As you would expect, God had been at work in my life, “nudging” me to consider relocating from Pennsylvania to Annapolis. After prayer and some unusual confirming events, Ann and I grew confident that this was God’s leading. We put our house up for sale in the summer of 2009 during the worst downturn in the housing market in years. Our home sold in one week, and we moved into the Annapolis house. (“Move the shuttle again!”)
   The first Annapolis Fellows class—of five men and five women—started in June 2009. They were followed by eleven men and women in 2010 and seventeen in 2011. Initially God blessed us with mentors, and then our first Year Two Fellows graduated and became mentors. Today our Fellows graduates are mentors, leaders of campus ministries, military officers, lay leaders, authors, and ministers. (“Move the shuttle!”)
   Following the lead of CSLI DC, the Annapolis extension began a quarterly Pastors’ Fellowship to provide a forum for fellowship and nourishment. We discovered there was no competing venue for local pastors to gather and converse, so this forum was embraced, and CSLI Annapolis became known to the area churches. Today more than twenty pastors regularly participate in these fellowships. (“Move the shuttle!”)

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