Dear Partner in the Gospel
Today is day seven of our 29 Days of Prayer and Giving for Grace Baptist Partnership. Each day we will focus our attention on a particular church planting, church replanting or church revitalisation project in which we have an interest. We trust you will remember these situations in prayer and that you will take advantage of the opportunity to support the spread of the gospel by means of a donation to Grace Baptist Partnership this month. It will also help us if you will share these requests with your friends by forwarding these emails to them.
7 February 2016
Barry King, Pastor
What’s wrong with your church, the lady asked? Not even the Christians in the village will go there! Lest you make the mistake of thinking – as I did – that she was just a busybody who didn’t know what she was talking about; she was right. Exactly right.
Our first morning living in the village I looked out our bedroom window. I could see 100 metres away a well-dressed man waiting patiently for a lift outside his house. He used to be the pastor of the church that met in the Baptist chapel. Almost 40 years ago he left the church midst controversy and has met with other former chapel goers in a bungalow in the village ever since.
I then looked at the house directly opposite ours as our near neighbour and his wife pulled out of their drive and set off for church in a neighbouring town where he serves as a deacon. They, too, were formerly members of the church in the village who found it necessary to leave almost 20 years ago. I thought to myself. This is not right. By God’s grace this must change.
But where do you begin? Prayer. I began to pray. I asked others to pray with me. The Lord then used a funeral of a man (the father of my neighbour) long associated with the chapel to pave the way for reconciliation. The former minister was invited to attend as did others who met with him each week in the bungalow. We sought on this occasion to show Christian love in extending them a genuinely warm welcome.
Afterwards, I wrote the former minister and his little flock and asked them to join us for a time of worship and fellowship in which we could seek to demonstrate kindness, tender-heartedness and forgiveness toward one another. They accepted our invitation. The meeting was held. It was a joy to be there with both men I had seen out my window that first morning. We sang and prayed together. We presented gifts to the former minister as a token of our love and esteem. He read the Scriptures to us. I preached. We all enjoyed fellowship together afterwards.
We turned a corner that night. The church is growing spiritually and numerically. New members – including some who had been travelling out of the village to worship elsewhere – have been added to our number. Slowly but surely the reputation of the church is changing in the local area. This has given us renewed confidence to engage people in the village with the claims of Christ.
Please pray that bridges for the gospel will continue to be built in Edlesborough. Please pray that walls of suspicion and mistrust will be broken down. Please pray that those of us who have been reconciled to God by Jesus Christ will be ministers of reconciliation to others.
What about your church? What sort of reputation do you have in your local area? Are there steps you should take to ‘rehabilitate’ the image of your church in your area? If so, what’s keeping you from doing so now?
Warm regards in Christ
Grace Baptist Partnership