Delegates from this year’s VCF Weekend reflect on all aspects of the weekend, what it meant to them and how it expresses the love and fellowship within this amazing group of people.
“It was just so good to be there. It felt like ‘coming home”.
“Although I officially joined VCF a couple of years ago, this was my first attendance at a VCF event, but I wish I’d made the effort sooner! I was slightly apprehensive about attending on my own, but I took the plunge and I’m so glad I did. I received such a lovely warm welcome from everyone there, especially the committee members, who really put me at ease. The icebreakers worked really well to get everyone chatting, and putting us in changing groups based on location, university etc helped me get to know people and make some very useful connections. I felt the presence of God through the whole weekend, and had some very emotional moments as well as learning a lot more about Jesus and his love for us.
I was inspired to volunteer for Street Vet following one of the Saturday afternoon seminars. This was something I’d been thinking about for a while, but I got a powerful nudge and emailed them directly as soon as I got home!”
“This was the first year I have attended the VCF weekend and I am so glad that I did. There was a whole room of people who got both the vet and faith aspects of my life! I felt truly understood for the first time.
I now have a close support network ready for my transition into practice in the summer and that brings me great comfort at a time of uncertainty.
It was a truly incredible weekend to connect with God and lots of lovely people.”
“I was excited to attend the VCF national conference this year, and my expectations were exceeded by leaps and bounds. I moved to the UK in 2017 and had the chance to attend the southern conference near Oxford last year in snow that made even this New York girl blanch. Yet, I had made connections and experienced God’s love and presence in a tangible way that had stayed with me all year. Throughout the year, I had continued to experience God’s love through our regional group meetings and felt part of a family of believers. Needless to say, all of my experience with VCF this year set my expectations quite high.
Pulling into the car park at the Hayes I was trembling with nerves, but as soon as I got to registration and was greeted with a hug from Ann and Ali, most of my fear was erased. Throughout the rest of Friday evening, as we worshiped together, God’s presence was evident in the honest and loving conversations as we renewed relationships, sharing both the hard news of the year and the good news of successes and redemption. A good work that God had already started in all of our lives was continuing.
On Saturday, we were particularly blessed to receive Keith Warrington’s teaching on some of the miracles and healings that Jesus performed in his ministry. While they may have been familiar stories to some of us, he gave a new life and vitality to Jesus and the message that was being shared through these stories.
Keith’s passion for the gospel and his personal relationship with Christ was powerful and inspiring. The afternoon seminars led by several of our fellow veterinarians and believers were encouraging. We could share our struggles in the profession and strategies for practicing our faith and medicine, whether they be time management skills or new opportunities in programmes like street vet, overseas missions, and humanitarian relief efforts.
A day full of learning and sharing our experiences with God’s heart was sustained by the excellent food and hospitality of the staff at the conference centre and topped off with the exuberant ceilidh!
Worshiping and praying together on the Sunday with Revd. Andrew North, and continuing the discussion of Jesus’ ministry with Keith led to a strong close to the weekend. Several of us needed to be pushed out of the door at the end of the afternoon!
I am sure that many of us share the same overwhelming gratitude for the VCF committee and trustee members who facilitated this weekend and all of the work they do throughout the year to allow us to come to gather as a family. Whether or not we see each other again on this side of heaven, I couldn’t be more ecstatic to be part of such a supportive group of people.”
“I came to the VCF conference weighed down by family concerns and feeling somewhat heavy hearted but looking forward to a break from stress in pleasant company and surroundings. What I got was far better than just a reprieve! I left, literally driving to engage with those cares and the people from whom they flowed.
Why this turnabout? Great teaching that brought to life the accounts of Jesus’ healing showcasing his care and compassion giving grounds for courage in my circumstances. On top of that, so many personal interactions with different folks who showed such a strong family resemblance to that same Jesus: people who listened, cared and prayed. Only 48 hours but I feel a far weightier impact!”
“Words just could not describe how much I love you guys and the weekend. Thank you so, so much again for all the “behind the scenes” hard work and effort from the team to make this happen. We are all so blessed by the lord.
Absolutely loved those tiny little ideas here and there in the conference, especially the seating by geographical location! It is awesome to know vets and students around you and more importantly, to share and pray together. The badges are fabulously designed, and the ‘bingo’ sheet is very cute.
Nevertheless, my favourite parts of the conference are still the Bible talks and seminars. Keith’s messages from the Bible moved me and gave me a whole new perspective to reading and understanding God’s words. At one point I started revisiting memories of the big and small decisions in my life, guided by God. They had eventually led me here to become part of VCF and loving my studies. I could not help myself but to give thanks. Who am I to receive such grace and the loving relationship of being his son? He even lets us play a part in His ministry and promises to sustain us with blessings through times of despair. The experience of congregating with like-minded vets, vet students and vet nurses, and sharing the same desire to learn from the Bible is humbling and unforgettable.
And the Ceilidh was great! I don’t think anyone can deny that I had loads of fun.”
“Absolutely loved those tiny little ideas here and there in the conference, especially the seating by geographical location! It is awesome to know vets and students around you and more importantly, to share and pray together.”
“I enjoyed the weekend so much. The teaching was good but the main plus for me was meeting like-minded people. Everyone was so friendly, and I really appreciated how you got people to mix and sit together at dinner. It was a great idea for people who came alone.
I loved meeting the students and seeing their general enthusiasm for life!”
“Honestly, it was a challenge for me as an international vet not so fluent in English and quite new to Christian faith to come to this conference, However, I felt like God called me to trust the love He put in His children through their faith and to learn what He had to say about the important aspects of my life, my faith and my career. Gratefully, after wondering how I was going to travel down financially, folk from Glasgow kindly invited and gave me the ride and we had such a beautiful trip both on the way to and the way back.
Everyone there was so warm, welcoming, friendly and open, especially the committee. The little pink dot on my badge amazingly brought me to lovely people, I’d like to have them forever in my life. The regional group also helped me to know better about the people I’ve met already and what are they struggling about and how I can practically help. The seminars were interesting, and the messages were relevant to our lives. It’s always nice to know not just that God loves us, but how and how much as well. The ceilidh was a great idea to spend the night and the worship band was amazing.
I thank God for this conference and how everyone helped make it happen. I pray for the VCF and everything you do (got the diary) and will join the fellowship as much as I can. Every blessing..”
“I first attended a VCF weekend 20 years ago as a first year vet student. Back then I was delighted to find that there were actually other Christian Vets out there. I also remember being fascinated to hear about the lives and experiences of vets who were already working in practice. If my memory is correct, I have been every year except one ever since! So I have many memories of the annual VCF conferences across the years. These include:
– being encouraged and prayed for through exam times as a student,
– finding the teaching incredibly helpful one year on dealing with stress, especially as I was finding calf castrations and bitch spays and anything else that might bleed very stressful.
– going along with my husband for the first time then with our 6-month old baby.
The highlights this year for me were catching up with wonderful friends from 20 years ago and making new friends, meeting lots of interesting people with such varied experiences, great Bible teaching and the childcare giving my son lots of fun. Neither of us wanted to leave!”
“I loved everything about the weekend, but especially the cooked breakfasts and making a new friend in the kids’ group who I hung out with for most of the weekend. Abigail, age 8.
I made lots of new best friends at ‘Vet Land.’ Samuel, age 4.
I loved the ceilidh. I laughed so hard! It was a great weekend and felt like continuous fun, food and fellowship! I loved hearing other people’s stories of God working in their lives as well as their struggles and challenges. It was a wonderful opportunity to pray for, and encourage each other.
A fabulous weekend. As the missionary liaison officer, I was so encouraged by people’s interest in mission and for their enthusiasm for wanting to be involved in it. It was also a great opportunity to just hang out with my family with no stressy demands on our time and just be together. I now know several other Christian vets who live fairly close by so we can expand our regional group too!”
“It has been a privilege and absolute pleasure to have been able to attend the VCF conference for the eighth year in a row. I started attending as a first year student at Edinburgh university, and have continued to do so since qualifying.
I spent the first few years preferring to hide away at the conferences, wishing I had the courage to speak to more people. But God works in such wonderful ways, calling me back to the weekends every year, leading me to people from whom I can learn, and, in recent years, people whom I can encourage.
There’s something very special about meeting another vet who is also a Christian. You understand each other, and I find it so helpful to be able to share the laughs and tears together. Some people I maybe met once and never encountered again. But at those specific moments in time, we shared our lives with one another, had meaningful conversations, and prayed for one another.
Whatever stage in your career or faith, I encourage you to attend the VCF weekends. Particularly students, who have the luxury of time on your hands and hopefully a local VCF Bible study group. Devote yourselves to the Lord, learn to cherish and encourage one another, that your faith may mature and be fruitful. Remind yourselves that life is a marathon and not a sprint. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2.”
“Looking back at this year’s conference the things that stand out for me are:
– Seeing old friends and making new ones. Even though I haven’t seen some people since the last VCF Weekend two years ago, it’s as if it was only yesterday.
– The Ceilidh, with me nearly collapsing out of exhaustion and too much laughing!
– The seminar ‘Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?’. I’m not sure we came to any definite conclusions but it was great to be able to discuss it.
– The special times of worship and sharing communion. The blessing of God feels very present when Christians from many different denominations meet around this meal.
But the highlights for me were the talks from Keith.
He took some very well-known Gospel passages, some of the healings of Jesus, and explained what life had been like for some of the people that Jesus encountered, the slaves, non-Jews, and those marginalized and rejected by society. He explained how Jesus saw and met these people’s deepest needs, he had time for them, he wanted to help them, to heal them.
Through Keith’s love of the Word and the Lord he shone a light at Jesus, as pictured in the Gospels. Jesus was lifted up and put in his rightful place as the beautiful, compassionate, caring God that we worship. God who wants to walk with us and impact our lives too with his power and love. Keith gave me a renewed hunger to know God more, to love Him more, and to share him more. Hmm lots of food for thought.
So a big THANK YOU to Keith and everyone on the VCF committee for a great weekend.”
“God, the awesome creator of the universe, cares for me. He wants to engage with us all and even in our moments of fragility, when we feel we have nothing to offer, God still wants to engage with us. God is all powerful. He could do his work in this world without us but instead he chooses to work WITH us and through us and wants to use us despite all our fears and failures. God has called me to my vocation and my place of work for a reason. There is work he wants to do in my practice.
I really enjoyed meeting up with people from all over the country, friends old and new. It is so encouraging to see relationships formed, people encouraging each other in their faith and building bonds of fellowship united by our common profession and love for Christ.”
“Keith’s talk about how the Lord asked Peter to do something that he was well qualified to do, i.e. catch a fish, and then how He completed the plan by miraculously producing the required shekel for the temple-tax, impressed me tremendously. Why?
Well, this situation is mirrored in all of our veterinary lives. God has skilled us and given us abilities which we use every day. And we are all well-able to carry out lots of different surgeries but it is God Who completes the process and carries out the healing.
All we do is use sutures to hold various bits in apposition but the rest is down to God to bring about the healing – that’s the miraculous bit. However, we are all so used to doing this work that we take it for granted and don’t recognise it for the miracle that it truly is.”
“A huge thank you to VCF for putting together such a great weekend. I really enjoyed meeting other like-minded vets and was so encouraged to see so many students and younger vets there. The talks were excellent too, so a really refreshing weekend all round.”
“I often feel isolated and out of my depth at work.
During the weekend I was reminded that God is always with me each and every day. I draw my strength on him by being entwined with him as I “wait upon the Lord”. He has time for me and wants to partner with me every day.”
“What a great weekend this was! We had so many new faces here this time. It was a delight to see people meeting each other and then realising they only live 20-30 minutes apart and that was a real encouragement.
As always, it was over far too soon and we are already looking ahead to 2020!”
“It was great to meet and share with other Christians and veterinary professionals, to see how many are so close and be able to network with them.
It was a pleasure to give the seminar with a lovely interactive group where we could share and learn amongst ourselves.”
“Take home message for me:
God always has time for me.
Do I always make time for God?
Keith emphasised the use of “and” and “immediately” in the Gospel. In the worship sessions I noticed the word “all”. It made me think that God asks for our all, or we give our all. But sometimes we feel like we can’t, if we’re under pressure or have a lot of priorities for example. But actually our all can be all that we can give, even when not at our best.”
“I have the interesting role of being married to a vet for over 30 years, and attending VCF conferences over those years.
I remember starting at a day visit to Conference ‘in the south’ as a newlywed, a little bewildered by the variety of jobs vets did, but then gaining confidence by having some of these strange creatures to our home for a VCF evening near Wigton in Cumbria. Then as our own family and the VCF family grew, we would drive for several hours with 4 children in the back of the car, asking ‘are we there yet?’, to a VCF conference in yet another large rambling house near Stafford. As the years have passed we no longer have 4 little people to take with us but we still have their interest!
Our eldest, nearly 30 sent a text during this year’s conference asking if there was still a Saturday night ceilidh? Fond memories and a strong legacy of community from attending VCF over 3 decades.
So to this year’s conference in March at Swanwick I came looking forward to seeing old faces, and yes we all did look older! But there was so much more…
We had a great mixing time thanks to coloured dots on badges, clear instructions to share lunch tables with folk from our wee part of Great Britain, a growing awareness on my part that I need to brush up on my vet vocabulary …’seeing practice’ is old terminology, simply underlining my age and my grey hair!
What a thrill to find that there was much more that bound us together than what divides us. The joy of singing praises to our amazing, powerful, One-who-notices-me-God was a gold thread running through the conference for me.
Watching little people toddle around at coffee times, reminded me of the healthy community that is growing at VCF where all sizes, ages and experiences are welcomed. There were also two gorgeous assistance dogs who served admirably as vacuum cleaners when given half a chance!
Although life is obviously very busy for many, I sensed that the conference had helped build shalom, peace and wellbeing, to all who were able to be there. As my mother said frequently, “God is good”, not just when we are having fun, on the ceilidh floor but also when we share our tears, our struggles and our hopes in conversations and carry one another’s burdens for the vet world.”
“It was a great weekend. It was really good to be away from the usual day to day things and stop and think about what it means to be a Christian in our home situations, with Christians who understand our situation.
Our closing thoughts were on what are you going to take home from the VCF conference?
What are the changes you are going to make?
What challenges will you be facing?
To think about this, we looked at the LICC “Fruitfulness on the frontline” ideas of the 6M’s
Modelling Godly character-
by showing the fruit of the Spirit, holiness, patience and being generous and kind to ourselves and to others
Making good work and having a good work life balance
Knowing what you are doing.
Being a Paul in looking for younger colleagues to support as Paul supported Timothy.
Looking for Paul’s to speak in to our lives so that we can continue to learn and develop.
Rejecting perfectionism. There is no such thing as a perfect vet or a perfect parent but aiming to be an OK parent and an OK vet.
Ministering grace and love
Who needs your help? Who needs your time? Who needs your compassion?
Being aware of the culture and thinking about it.
Thinking about the chatter and the attitudes.
Looking to make small changes, one degree shifts
Being a Mouthpiece for truth and justice
Standing up for those in the workplace that find it difficult to have a voice, standing up against unfair practices or ways of doing things.
Doing what is right and always arguing for truth
Being a Messenger for the gospel
By actions, by words, by an attitude of grace. So please pray that we may all make a difference where we are, and blossom where God has planted us.
To explore this further, visit the LICC website www.licc.org.uk”