Dear Partner in the Gospel
Today is day 27 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.
When Grace Baptist Partnership was formed in 2010, we were asked to specify our area of operation. We said England and Wales. In reality it would take several years before we would have any tangible involvement in the work of the gospel in Wales. That involvement, when it came, would be in the form of a monthly grant to Grace Rural Wales Partnership for the work of Simon Bowkett.
I had known of Simon for several years due to his church planting work in Kent. But since he was moving to Wales about the same time I was moving to England, we had never crossed paths – or swords! That’s right, swords. When I first visited Simon in Wales we sought to get the measure of one another. We discussed all manner of issues – personal, theological, missiological. We didn’t agree on everything. Neither of us minded telling the other one so. It was exhilarating and perhaps a little exasperating at times. But it was eye opening to say the least.
Wales is not western England – as some naively suppose – any more than Britain is the 51st state of the United States of America. Simon helped me see that. Wales is different. Very different. Different culturally. Different linguistically. Different religiously. And I could not make him accept my preconceived notions of the way things were – or should be – just by stating them more loudly any more than we can help a foreigner understand English by shouting at them.
There were some things, though, that were not matters of culture but matters of principle that we agreed together should be addressed. In time we both felt we were in more or less essential agreement on the things that mattered. I asked Simon to come to London to share his work of evangelism and church planting with our trustees. We were fascinated by the approach he took to rural evangelism through a blend of ‘on the ground,’ ‘on the road’ and ‘on-line’ ministries. The trustees chose to support his work.
We want to do more than simply transfer some money on a monthly basis. We want to pray for his work as well. If you would be interested in receiving regular prayer updates, we can put you touch with Simon who would be more than happy to keep you in the loop. Also, there is the possibility of short or longer-term service for those with a burden for rural evangelism and church planting. Let us know if you are interested in this possibility.
Back to that matter of sword crossing. I’m always happy for dialogue – and debate! – with those who are actively involved in mission. Such people who have firm convictions and great passion are among my heroes. Sometimes they – as do I – get it wrong. But whenever they challenge our preconceived notions and urge us toward thinking not only biblically but innovatively as well, they do us all a great service.
I trust you will cross paths – even if not swords – with Simon in the future. When you do he will be pleased to hear of your prayerful interest in the work of Grace Rural Wales Partnership.
Warm regards in Christ
Grace Baptist Partnership