Dear Partner in the Gospel
Today is day eleven 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.
11 February 2016
Twas the day before Christmas. That morning I sent a quick Christmas Update to those on our email distribution list. In the update I opined about the lack of emphasis on village evangelism and sought to encourage support for a new replanting initiative in Ryarsh, Kent. That afternoon Robert and Rachel Oliver were travelling to Malmesbury, Wiltshire to deliver a Christmas card. Robert read my email on his mobile as they journeyed along. Upon arriving at Malmesbury they heard the sad news that the chapel doors at nearby Lea had closed. With the thoughts of my earlier email still fresh in his mind, he encouraged the lady – who had never heard of Grace Baptist Partnership – to get in touch. That very evening she wrote with a plea to help keep this village chapel open.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have no sentimental attachment to chapels – village or otherwise. Nor, is it my goal to simply help chapels keep their doors open. Though on more than one occasion I have championed a so-called lost cause, it has always been with a view toward helping a village chapel become a vibrant church. So simply maintaining a cause – through the ‘baneful’ supply system and grants from trusts – is not what I’m all about. I do, however, have a passion for the preaching of the gospel in places large and small. Were there people in that region who shared my passion? Could they be mobilised to seek to evangelise Lea and the surrounding area? I decided to find out.
A meeting was quickly organised at the Malmesbury Town Hall for Tuesday, 19 January 2016. Would anyone come? With almost no notice, 14 people representing seven different churches came. Robert Oliver opened the meeting in prayer. I opened the Scriptures and read and explained a relevant passage illustrating it with some experiences in village evangelism and church planting. I then opened the floor for discussion. And what a profitable discussion it was!
In the end it was agreed that we would have a village evangelism day in Lea on Saturday, 2 April 2016. In the morning I will give two talks and after lunch we will visit every house in the village. We will give them a copy of ‘Ultimate Questions’ and an invitation to attend a weekly Bible study in the village beginning the next week. It went so well that I wondered whether or not everyone’s enthusiasm would wane as the days passed.
Far from it. First came an offer to lead the eight weekly Bible studies by a gifted pastor from a neighbouring county. Next came financial gifts to cover the cost of the booklets and leaflets we would be distributing. Then came a volunteer to prepare lunch for everyone attending on that Saturday. Finally, repeated assurances of prayer and offers of help have come from throughout the region. It seems that the reports of the demise of Grace Baptists have been greatly exaggerated!
Please pray for the evangelism day as well as for the weekly Bible studies commencing in the village. Please pray that a vibrant church will be established in Lea for God’s glory.
Please let us know of other places – large and small – where openings for the gospel exist but there seems to be no one else to fill them.
Warm regards in Christ
Grace Baptist Partnership