For more than 100 years, mission has been at the very heart of the Keswick Convention and those responsible for the ministry at this time believe that’s exactly where it should stay, as that expresses the heart of God. So, today our strapline reads, Hearing God’s Word, Becoming Like God’s Son and Serving God’s Mission.
The first missionary meeting was held in 1888 and mission has been at the very heart of the Convention ever since. Missionary societies have been formed and people have responded to God’s call to global mission at Keswick.
This has included missionaries such as Dr Helen Roseveare who first heard the call to missions at the 1946 Convention. Dr Roseveare worked with WEC International in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1953-1973 as a medical missionary.
Hudson Taylor of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship) was the speaker at the first official missionary meeting in 1888. During the meeting a student handed in an envelope with £10 inside and an anonymous note explaining it was his savings for the year which he now wished to be used, ‘if others will join, to send out a Keswick missionary’. A collection was not taken but during the final hymn more slips of paper and envelopes were passed up to the front. They contained promises and bank notes totalling £1,060 – a large sum in those days. This money was given to individuals in sympathy with Keswick and working with recognised agencies.
Amy Carmichael was the first recipient of such a grant. In March 1893 she sailed to Japan and worked there for 15 months before going to India. She is best known for her devotional poetry and founding the Dohnavur Fellowship in South India.
This legacy continues today with mission evenings at each week of the Convention including interviews and prayer, as well as a call to respond to God’s word.
The Keswick Ministries Mission Hospitality Fund also supports those serving God’s mission overseas by offering grants to missionaries enabling them to attend Keswick Convention for a time of physical and spiritual refreshment.
Speakers at Keswick Convention:
- George Verwer (Founder of Operation Mobilisation) was a frequent speaker, challenging people to participate in God’s global mission.
- Peter Maiden (International Director of Operation Mobilisation and former Convention chairman) keeping us informed and calling us to pray for God’s work around the world.
- Watkin Roberts was called to missionary service at the 1907 Convention. He wanted to reach the Kuki territory but the British authorities would not give him permission because the tribe was one of the most feared in India. He used a gift of £5 from Emily Davies to send newly translated copies of John’s Gospel to the village chiefs. The chief of the largest village replied with a letter, ‘Sir, come yourself, and tell us about this book and your God.’ Roberts went and the region is now 95% Christian, worshipping in over 1000 local churches with a membership of more than 200,000 including children.
- Cambodia Action Trust – In 1973, Taing Chhirc challenged British Christians at Keswick to help Cambodia, before the 1975-9 genocide. Over 50 years since, Cambodia Action has been transforming Cambodia through the Gospel.