Fellows Feature: God's Sari - page 2

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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


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   Because we knew of professional men and women who wanted to experience the Fellows Program but did not have the ability to commit to the Fellows curriculum, we offered separate Men’s and Women’s Fellowships. Scheduled monthly meetings were facilitated by some of our Fellows Program authors and lecturers. Today we have approximately twelve men and twelve women participating in this pre-Fellows experience. (Another thread is placed in the fabric, “Move the shuttle!”)
  Then came an epiphany, not the completed sari, just an “aha” moment. One morning in 2009, walking back home from a downtown coffee shop, I stopped in front of our home on Prince George Street. Standing there it occurred to me: we were one block from the U.S. Naval Academy, one block from the Statehouse, one block from downtown Annapolis, and two blocks from St. John’s College. This little house, which we had bought years before with no intention of it being our permanent residence, was located at the center of the community, military, state government, and education. It was like the “grand conjunction” of Annapolis. This house is now the home of the C.S. Lewis Institute Annapolis, which Ann named the Aslan House.
   As I considered the significance of this location, I questioned the mission God had given CSLI Annapolis to be at the “hub” of the Annapolis community. Why had God placed the CSLI in the center of this community? I did not have to ponder the question long before God gave me a Scripture. While reading Daws, a biography of Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, I noted that he believed that God had given him Isaiah 60:11 to be the motto for his home.1 I also felt the Spirit offering this passage as a governing promise over the Aslan House and CSLI Annapolis.

Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations – their kings led in triumphal procession. (Isa. 60:11 NIV)

  As I read this the Spirit communicated to me: “You are to keep the doors of this house (CSLI Annapolis) open, and I will bring through them ‘the wealth of the nations.’” That is, “I will bring men and women whom I plan to use mightily in my kingdom, and they will bless the nations.” (“Move the shuttle!”)
   At this point, God had added many threads, and we had moved the shuttle to properly place them in the sari, but we had not yet gone “topside” to get a glimpse of the Father’s design. First, a few more threads.
   About the time Isaiah 60:11 was given to me, two young men came to the door of the Aslan House. They were students at St. John’s College (SJC). They asked if Aslan House had anything to do with C.S. Lewis. That conversation was followed by their request to be discipled. One of our Fellows was already hosting a weekly fellowship of SJC women. The men wanted “equal opportunity.” So two of our Fellows discipled these two young men. Two became four, and four became six, then ten, and we now have a SJC Women’s Fellowship and a SJC Men’s Fellowship totaling more than thirty students who love Jesus and each other. It has not been the mission of CSLI to do campus ministry, at least not recently, but there was clearly a void at SJC, and CSLI Annapolis was asked to fill the gap. (“Move the shuttle!”)

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