Day 31: Malmesbury
I first visited this pleasant North Wiltshire town in early 2016 for a meeting to discuss replanting the work in nearby Lea. Four years later, a church in Malmesbury is playing an increasingly important role in our efforts to evangelise the villages of North Wiltshire.
I’ve liked Malmesbury from the start. I remember telling the friends at Edlesborough if I ever disappeared, they should begin their search in Malmesbury. It’s a pleasant place indeed.
But Malmesbury is not only a pleasant place, it is a strategic point of entry to nearby villages like Grittleton, Lea, and Yatton Keynell. That’s why Mark Hope – an evangelist based at Bradford on Avon Baptist Church and supported via Grace Baptist Partnership – spends so much of his time there.
And that investment is beginning to yield a good spiritual return. On Sunday, 15th March – the last Sunday before church meetings were suspended due to efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus – a crowded congregation including 25-30 unbelievers gathered to witness the baptism of a new convert.
Those in attendance heard a testimony from Albert and a clear gospel message from Mark. After the service they enjoyed a lunch together for which most if not all stayed.
Please pray that many who heard the gospel that day – along with many others who have heard the gospel in Malmesbury and the surrounding villages in recent months – will come to a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Day 30: Special Call to Prayer
Day 29: Workington
With my travel and speaking plans scuppered for the next three months due to the outbreak of Covid-19 Coronavirus, I have been reviewing my commitments from July – September. Hopefully, the situation will have eased enough for me to be able to fulfil my commitments. One of these commitments – the one at Workington – is especially important to me.
The friends at Workington have invited my wife and I to spend a few days with them ministering and resting in late July. I so hope we are able to do this.
It has been a great joy to see the church at Workington emerge from various crisis situations over the past decade not only larger but healthier than in recent memory.
The membership has grown. Two elders and a deacon have been appointed. The needs of the church have been met financially and they have been able to help others.
Their pathway has not been easy. But they would be the first to say they have been helped by the Lord and his people.
Last year I was able to spend three Saturdays with them in instruction for their church members as well as for folk from other churches. How encouraging to see a church that had been helped now seeking to help others.
Please pray – whether Frances and I get to visit them or not – that the work will continue to progress for God’s glory.
Day 28: Govan
People have all sorts of ideas about church planting and few inhibitions about sharing them. That’s certainly been the case for the friends at Govan.
‘Just support a national, stadium-sized event nearby. It’s where the smart money is.’
‘Wouldn’t you get more momentum from a ‘branded’ church-planting partner? Kids love it.’
‘Shouldn’t you spend longer getting a ‘core group’ together? It’s easier.’
‘If more Christians moved into this undesirable area, you could boast better numbers?’
Alternatively, the friends at Govan use door-to-door, street evangelism and a drop-in as the backbone of their evangelistic strategy. They try to reach everybody in their community equally. Jesus ‘did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ – the very people they’re reaching today with Christ’s love in Govan and Ibrox.
Certainly, events in recent days have curbed their activities, they have not – and by God’s grace, will not – change their commitment to sharing the gospel as widely and as winsomely as possible.
Do pray for them today – and in the days to come.
Day 27: Shotley Peninsula
Hold your hand up if you had never heard of Zoom before the outbreak of Covid-19 Coronavirus? That’s what I thought. My how times have changed.
It’s almost a decade since the work of re-establishing a gospel witness on the Shotley Peninsula began. During that time the work has known its share of ups and downs.
There has been, however, from the beginning a remarkable gospel resilience. So, it will come as no surprise to learn that David Kelland is making the most of this present season.
He’s still studying. He’s still praying. He’s still teaching. Though governmental restrictions may have made it impossible to meet as a church at this time, David is making full use of Zoom and other technology to keep in touch with his scattered flock.
Though they long to meet together again, it is an encouragement to know that friends in other parts of the country – as well as other countries! – are being able to benefit from faithful Bible ministry during this season.
Please pray the gospel will continue to Zoom forward on the Shotley Peninsula – and beyond!
Day 26: Greater Works
It is inevitable that Covid-19 Coronavirus will place enormous strain on the finances of Grace Baptist Partnership. I am already working closely with trustee leadership to make prudent decisions for the coming days. We, as always, value your prayers.
The real challenge – and strain – will come when these days are passed. Churches which have been weakened during this period will need to be revitalised. There will, no doubt, be churches which will close permanently as a result of this crisis. They will need to be replanted. The number of places where new churches need to be planted will be greater not smaller. We will need to be actively involved in planting more churches than ever before.
The need for Grace Baptist Partnership will be greater than ever before. The needs of Grace Baptist Partnership in terms of men and the means to support them will likewise be greater than ever before. We are not preparing to wind our work down. We trust, by God’s grace, to have only just begun.
I need every Christian who has read this far to prayerfully consider making a one-off donation to Grace Baptist Partnership tonight as an indication that you are standing with us in prayer and practical support at this time.
Please use this link to make your donation.
Day 25: Southall
Sonny Simak – along with others – has commented that the Lord may make use of Covid-19 Coronavirus to prune churches across the world. What would this look like in reality? Would the outcome ultimately be good or bad?
Churches that long ago departed from the faith once for all delivered to the saints may close entirely.
Leaders that have no genuine desire to care for God’s people and to share the gospel with the lost may finally give up the charade.
Nominal church members who have struggled to even attend services with any degree of regularity much less have meaningful involvement with other professing believers may disappear from the radar screen completely.
Like most churches, it is impossible for the friends at Southall to meet face to face at the present time. However, they stay in touch via audio and video calls. There seems to be a real urgency about praying together that might have not been there before. This is a good thing indeed.
They are also concerned for their homeless and vulnerable friends in Southall in the current climate. They are unable to welcome them to the church building on Fridays. They miss them. But they have not stopped praying for them.
Back to that idea of pruning. Is it intended to decrease fruitfulness? No, the exact opposite. Please pray this season of pruning will give the church at Southall greater fruitfulness than they have ever known before.
Day 24: Halstead
The practice of putting DV on church notice sheets and flyers advertising special events has fallen out of fashion in some circles. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, in the wake of Covid-19 Coronavirus to see DV make a comeback.
I had longed – no exaggeration – to receive this email. It finally arrived earlier in the year.
“If you are not aware already, I am sure you will be pleased to hear that the group that have been meeting over the last few years here in Halstead have recently formally adopted a Basis of Faith and Church Rules to enable us to become an independent Church. We also confirmed as a Church that we wished Graham Field to be appointed as our elder.
We are planning to have a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday the 9th May at 2.30 pm, DV, in order to enable those who have supported and encouraged the work here, to join us in thanking God for bringing us to this point. As a Church, we also want to recognise Graham as our elder.”
If I’m honest, at the time, I didn’t even see the DV in the first sentence of the second paragraph. But looking back it was very apt to include it.
As things have developed it now appears highly unlikely the Thanksgiving Service will proceed on that particular day.
This eventuality, however, will not keep us from thanking God for his blessing on the work in Halstead in recent years and for praying for his continued help in years to come – will it?
Day 23: Chingford
Many Christians view church as a building to which they go rather than a body to which they belong. Bernard Roberts is trying to challenge that way of thinking at Chingford. It’s not always easy.
With aging – and ailing parents – to help look after, Bernard and Michelle Roberts have plenty to occupy their attention these days.
There is one ongoing ministry concern, though, that especially burdens Bernard. He wants the members of his church to have a fundamental mindset change. He wants them to stop ‘going’ to church and to start ‘being’ the church.
Who knows but that governmental restrictions put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus might actually help achieve Bernard’s desire? People can no longer go to church. What will they do now?
If church going is replaced by church viewing the situation will be even worse. But, if in addition to viewing, people give their time to praying and practical ministry action, this could prove beneficial over the long run.
Please pray for Bernard and Michelle as they care for their family – physical and spiritual. Please pray that the church in Chingford will increasingly function Biblically to the glory of God.
Day 22: Sky City
It has been an eventful year for Grace Baptist Church Wood Green’s ministry to the local Sky City estate.
After meeting Ryan King at the gym, one woman began attending church and became the first person to profess faith and be baptised through the church’s efforts on the estate. She continues to walk with the Lord but sadly has had two mental health relapses, and presently is in the hospital for an extended period of time.
A man with whom Ryan had interacted for a couple of years returned to the estate from university and began worshipping with the church. He too professed faith and was one of the last baptisms of 2019.
Around ten others from the estate attended church gatherings over the past year, at least two quite regularly.
Regular food parcels have been delivered. Childcare has been arranged. Ryan worked with police to close a crack house. Every flat on the estate has received an offer of assistance through coronavirus self-isolation and lockdown.
Much has been done. We are beginning to see fruit. There is still much to do. We press on. We need God to heal, help, and hold the people of Sky City.
Please pray for the continued progress of the gospel on Sky City estate.
Day 21 (Special): COVID-19
The global pandemic has placed additional stress and strain on those seeking to minister during these trying times. Grace Baptist Partnership is committed to giving them additional support during this season. Here’s one way in which we are seeking to help.
With almost four decades of pastoral experience (including 17 years in the United Kingdom), Barry King has faced a crisis – or two. Through previous service as an elder in his local church and his present work as a Biblical counsellor, Dean Foley has helped numerous people go through periods of personal and professional crisis.
On Monday, 30th March 2020, Barry and Dean will give GBP-related church planters the opportunity to benefit from their experience and expertise in a special online forum. Their topic will be pastoral self-care.
Will you please pray for Barry and Dean as they prepare for this event? Will you pray that the tech side of things will run smoothly?
Will you pray for those church planters and pastors who are feeling stretched – and stressed! – at this time?
Day 20: Ukraine
It sometimes seems like we sow and we reap, but we don’t always reap where we sow – at least not visibly or immediately.
A Growing Leaders course in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine assisted a group of men already planting churches, but we also hoped to equip workers for a new church plant. Sadly, the prospective leader of this effort had to step away from the project and the plant did not develop as hoped.
In the midst of this, a man and his family in another place 150 miles away, contacted Ryan King about their efforts to plant a church in their village, and desire to plant more churches. A year on, and Grace Baptist Church Wood Green sends monthly support to the work in Sushky, Zhytomyrska and plans are underway for various outreach projects in the area.
We have also produced a booklet in Ukrainian based on content from the Growing Leaders course – “The Bible-Driven Leader: Basic Principles of Ministry” and hundreds have been requested and distributed.
Just because things don’t happen as we planned; doesn’t mean they don’t happen. God is working out his plan, and it is for us to support that plan instead of forcing our own.
Would you take a moment just now to pray for the work in Ukraine?
Day 19: Vienna
Many friends around the world face challenges related to Covid-19 Coronavirus. Our friends in Vienna face another ongoing challenge. Here’s how to pray for them.
If you mention Vienna to friends of Grace Baptist Partnership or Grace Baptists in Europe, the name of Steve Missios immediately comes to mind. Steve is a faithful brother and servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.
However, this article is not about Steve. It’s about his wife, Kathrin.
She is warm and hospitable. She is prayerful and supportive. She uses her musical abilities to serve the Lord in opera houses as well as church houses. She translates from English to German flawlessly. She is patient – except when you forget your keys and wake up her household at 3am after an impromptu visit to McDonalds with friends!
She has cancer. Yes, cancer. She has undergone an operation. A second operation was scheduled for today. That operation has been postponed due to the strain Covid-19 Coronavirus has placed on hospitals in Vienna.
May I ask you to pray for Katrin, the entire Missios family, and the church they faithfully serve – despite difficulties – in Vienna?
Day 18: Ryarsh and Lea
What does a small village in Kent have to do with a small village in Wiltshire? More than you might think. Read on.
As Christmas 2015 drew near, I sent round an email encouraging prayer for a church replanting initiative in Ryarsh in Kent. In the email I opined – as I’m wont to do – about the importance of maintaining a gospel witness in each of England’s villages.
The email was read by a couple en route to deliver a last-minute Christmas card to friends in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. They found their friends dispirited by the fact that the chapel they had attended for years in nearby Lea was set to close at the end of the month.
My friends told them about Grace Baptist Partnership and an effort to replant a Baptist witness in a village not dissimilar to Lea. Later that evening an email would land in my inbox asking for help to keep the work open.
By God’s grace – and with the cooperation of the chapel trustees – we have been able to do just that. Mark Hope regularly evangelises in the village and with assistance of a couple of other brothers ensures that there is faithful preaching in the chapel each Sunday.
The work is slow and encouragements are sometimes few and far between. But, you will be interested to know, the lady who wrote me that Christmas Eve has now been baptised at the chapel and is seeking to encourage others to come along as well.
Villages like Ryarsh and Lea still need faithful gospel witness and places for Christians to gather for worship. Please pray that Grace Baptist Partnership will remain a source of encouragement and support for those seeking to do such important work.
Day 17: Chatteris
In response to the global pandemic churches around the world are having to make significant modifications to their regular schedule of meetings and ministries. Here’s the current state of play at Chatteris.
Their normal meeting place – The King Edward Community Centre – has closed for the foreseeable future.
The small membership – half over 70 – will not be meeting together either.
The ministry of prayer and the word will continue as Robert Read records his sermons to be posted on the web. They will likely be heard by many beyond the membership of the church both locally and further afield.
Weekly study notes and prayer requests will be sent by email in place of the midweek meetings for the time being.
The friends at Chatteris – like those of us in many other places – long to be able to meet together again.
Please pray that the friends at Chatteris will be kept during this time of trial. May they be able to testify in time to come – God meant it for good.
Day 16: Wood Green
Fifteen years ago, a church reckoned to be on its last legs, merged with a church plant taking its first steps, to form a new church in Wood Green. Here’s why that matters to friends of Grace Baptist Partnership.
It was through the ministry of the church in Wood Green that many people who play a role in the work of Grace Baptist Partnership came to faith and were baptised.
It was through the efforts of the church in Wood Green that a number of new churches came into existence.
It was through the church-planting outreach of the church in Wood Green that Grace Baptist Partnership and later Grace Baptists in Europe came into being.
But it’s not all about what has happened in the past. There’s an exciting story to tell about what is happening today.
People are coming to repentance and faith and being baptised from all sorts of backgrounds. Converts are being discipled and are becoming faithful members of the church.
Leaders are being raised up, trained, and appointed.
The church at Wood Green is not nostalgically looking back to the past. They are purposefully looking forward to the future.
Please pray for protection and provision for this good work.
Day 15: Halling
Blessed to be a blessing is more than a ministry maxim at Halling. Here’s why.
The church at Halling was blessed to be able to call a pastor after a lengthy interregnum in which some had advised the closure of the church was the best available option.
The church at Halling was blessed to be able to purchase a house in the village for their new pastor and his growing family.
The church at Halling was blessed to be able to sell its former chapel thus enabling them to purchase a new building and refit it for their needs.
That’s a lot of blessing. What have they done with it?
They have maintained an active evangelistic witness in the neighbouring town of Snodland through a weekly market stall. A witness which resulted in the recent conversion and baptism of an older woman.
They have overseen and supported the replanting of a Baptist witness in the neighbouring village of Ryarsh.
They have hosted monthly training days this year to equip others to study, teach, and evangelise more effectively.
Please pray the Lord will continue to bless the church at Halling and that he will increasingly use them as a means of blessing to others.
Day 14: Edlesborough
Most new pastors will tell you the concept of a steep learning curve is not simply theoretical. Alister King’s curve just got a bit steeper.
Alister was married this past September.
Alister was inducted to the pastorate at Edlesborough in October.
Alister and his wife both have ongoing health concerns.
Then came Covid-19.
A significant number of the members at Edlesborough – including, Alister – are considered by government guidelines to be ‘at risk’ of contracting the virus and suffering its ill effects much more so than others.
Difficult decisions about the shape of life and ministry over the coming weeks are being made. That’s quite a responsibility for anyone but especially someone at Alister’s age and stage of ministry.
Prayer for Alister and the church would be greatly valued and appreciated. Offers of support of various kinds have come and will be weighed up as the situation develops.
For now, we should all pray.
Day 13: Edinburgh
Naysayers and faultfinders are nothing new – or unusual – in Christian work. Ali McLachlan has attracted his fair share of both in his ministry in Edinburgh.
‘I feel sorry for you. Planting with your family and one other? It’s too hard.’
‘You’re too old to plant churches. Like attracts like. Young people will never come.’
‘Your evangelism is too pushy. You need a slower, more subtle approach.’
‘Another Reformed Baptist work is not needed in a city of this size.’
‘I can’t see how you’ll afford to carry on over the long haul.’
By God’s grace the friends in Edinburgh ignored such ‘advice’ and committed themselves resolutely to a biblical strategy. They kept preaching Christ, despite early discouragements. They now find themselves the only Grace Baptist church serving Scotland’s capital.
They have a continually growing membership – median age: 31. They are financially sustainable, with their own building and through support from Grace Baptist Partnership have been enabled to support the planting of three further churches.
Please pray that the work in Scotland in general and in Edinburgh in particular will continue to confound the wisdom of the wise and bring increasing glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Day 12: Walthamstow
Dealing with the fallout of taking a stand is not always easy. Just ask Akin Olawale from Walthamstow.
It is never easy to see someone leave your church. When the person leaves in an abrupt and unbiblical manner it is even harder. When the person leaving is someone you baptised it is harder still.
Almost two years ago, ‘Wale challenged a new convert about a relationship with an unbeliever. The convert was upset and walked away from the church.
What do you do? You pray. You weep. You wait. What you don’t do is compromise.
Some times that is the end of the story. Thankfully, that is not the case in this situation.
After 22 months the man has been in contact to ask for forgiveness and to seek reconciliation. He has returned to the church meetings and is coming to grips with the practical implications of the Lordship of Christ.
Please pray that in this age of compromise leaders like ‘Wale will continue to stand firm for the gospel and the purity of the church.
Please pray that others who have gone away from our churches will come back to the Saviour and his people.
Day 11: North Watford
I’m getting long enough in the tooth that I find myself waxing nostalgic more so than in the past. A trip to North Watford last month to preach for their church anniversary triggered a flood of memories.
I remembered preaching there for the first time in 2008. On that occasion, I was the only one in the congregation! Last month I preached to more than 60 people of all ages.
I remembered baptising Daniel Shwe at the church in Wood Green in 2005. He has now baptised 19 people at North Watford.
I remembered the church in Wood Green sending Daniel to serve the Lord in North Watford in 2008. Three men – including two baptised by Daniel – have now been sent from there to serve the Lord in other places.
I remembered how Daniel used to long for someone to labour alongside him. I rejoiced that God heard that prayer in the person of Stuart Lee.
I remembered the first time I ever took Daniel with me to do door-to-door evangelism. After three doors the student became the teacher. He has now helped more than 20 different local churches with their door to door evangelism.
I remembered the occasions when Daniel has been unfairly criticised by friend and foe alike. I marvelled that he continues to serve the Lord with resilient joy.
Please continue to pray for the work – and workers – in North Watford. Important decisions loom on the horizon for the church. May God grant much wisdom.
Day 10: Hyde Heath
A ‘sorrow full of joy’ is one of the most apt descriptions of ministry I have ever heard. The friends at Hyde Heath know something of this reality in their own experience of late.
Their oldest member died recently after a period of declining health. But their sorrow is full of joy because he has entered the immediate presence of his Saviour.
One of their faithful workers died suddenly last month. But their sorrow is full of joy because he is now at rest.
They have longed for years to see people from their monthly lunch club coming to faith and fellowship in the church. But their sorrow is full of joy as two of these friends are now seriously considering baptism.
Their efforts to evangelise families in the village haven’t borne immediate fruit. But their sorrow is full of joy when the son of one of the leaders requests baptism.
Ministry is sorrow full of joy – in villages and cities alike.
Ministry is sorrow full of joy – in small churches and large churches alike.
Please pray for the friends in Hyde Heath that in their sorrows they may know inexpressible joy and inexplicable peace.
Day 9: Dunstable
How can you serve as pastor of a local church and general secretary of Grace Baptist Partnership at the same time? For those who have wondered, here is my answer.
I could not serve in this sort of dual role in many churches. However, the Dunstable church is a good fit for this type arrangement.
The church is large enough – about 65 members – that all the burden of ministry does not fall on me. At the same time, it is not so large that time away from daily pastoral responsibilities would be unwise if not impossible.
The congregation prays for me. Several members have asked to receive regular reports about my wider work for the purpose of prayer. Their prayers – as well as those of the church as a whole – are a great encouragement.
I have help. I have the benefit of three fellow elders and three deacons. Two of the elders are employed part-time by the church to assist with pastoral care and evangelism
respectively. The church has recently appointed one of these men, Steve Burton, to serve with me fulltime beginning in July.
Most importantly, the church increasingly views church planting and revitalisation not as what their pastor does but what we as a church do. This, understandably, changes everything.
Please pray for the Dunstable church as we continue to serve the Lord in fellowship with one another and the wider Grace Baptist family.
Day 8: Linslade
It’s been just over a year since the work at Linslade came under the oversight of the church at Dunstable. Though it has not been easy or quick there are some indicators that the Lord is blessing this work.
Though two people resigned from membership. Two others joined the membership. Two couples – new to the area – have begun attending the services. Will one or both of these couples come into membership?
Two leaders – one a trainee pastor and the other a deacon – were appointed.
The trainee pastor – with the assistance of a grant from Grace Baptist Partnership – has been employed alongside part-time study at London Seminary.
A confession of faith, covenant of membership, and constitution are under consideration and we trust will be approved in coming weeks.
A number of building and finance-related issues – including trusteeship – have been addressed.
Please give thanks to God for trainee pastor Cliff Wade who now preaches twice monthly. Please ask the Lord to help him in his studies as he prepares to serve the church more fully in the future.
Day 7: Leagrave
I joined another dozen or so men from the DELL Collective (Baptist churches in Dunstable, Edlesborough, Leagrave, and Linslade) today for a work party at Leagrave. Occasions like this are a good opportunity to get to know one another better as you work alongside one another for a few hours. Two or three men I am just getting to know asked me, ‘What brought you to Britain?’ As I looked around the room, I saw some of the answers.
There was the young man who first attended a meeting at Leagrave simply because he saw the door open. He would later get a Bible at Christian Books in Dunstable, and would still later be baptised at Edlesborough where he is now a member.
There was an older man who has been a part of the progress of the gospel in Dunstable, Edlesborough, and Leagrave.
There was the man who I first saw at Leagrave at an evangelistic meeting last year. He is now attending regularly.
There were young men who have recently become members of the church at Dunstable – one by baptism – using their practical skills for the glory of God.
There was the young man who was baptised along with his wife recently at Leagrave who is now asking questions about serving the Lord more fully.
There was the man from Sierra Leone who has begun attending the church with his wife and children.
There was the man and his wife who recently stopped driving to the other side of Luton to attend a church and have begun serving in a church in their own neighbourhood.
Please pray that God will continue to work at Leagrave for his glory and that many others will be added to this church – not because a missionary came from America or a pastor from Zambia but because a Saviour came from Heaven to seek and save the lost.
Day 6: 10 Anniversary Thanksgiving Service
As we approach the thanksgiving service for our 10th anniversary we would greatly value your prayers for this time of worship and fellowship. If you plan to attend but have not let us know, please do so by emailing email@example.com
Day 5: Bydgoszcz
One of the realities of church planting – whether in the United Kingdom or Poland – is that received wisdom often runs counter to revealed truth.
‘People won’t leave a low-commitment religion where being nice gets them to heaven. The pope says so.’
‘Street evangelism, tracting and home visitation only makes you look like the JWs.’
‘Concerts, entertainments and big programmes for youth are needed to get people to church.’
‘’People expect a big, impressive building.’
‘You can’t expect people to obey scripture if they join your church. Not literally. No one does that! They’ll think you’re a cult!’
Alternatively – we could preach Christ; humbly, personally, tirelessly. We could keep teaching the truth. We could insist that our church pleases Christ our King, instead of popular opinion. We could see a small but faithful church, growing month by month. We could trust the Lord’s timing and provision, and labour for His approval always.
That’s what, by God’s grace, Mariusz Bartkowski is seeking to do. And, by God’s grace there is fruit as the church in Bydgoszcz has been constituted and is reaching out locally as well as more widely. Please pray for Ali McLachlan and Ryan King as they hope to visit Poland in May for a conference intending to train more labourers for the daunting task of evangelism and church planting in Poland.
Day 4: Bounds Green
About this time last year, we were asking you to pray for an effort to plant a new church in Bounds Green. Whatever happened to that?
After more than a year of praying, preparation, evangelism, and small group Bible study in Bounds Green, the friends in Wood Green decided the next stage of their church planting effort there would be weekly Sunday gatherings. Despite a strong start, there were only two men who attended regularly who were not from the team (leaders and members from Wood Green and a missionary couple).
One of these quickly lost interest, and resorted to lies against the leader, and the church to excuse his lack of involvement. The other openly admitted to an agenda that could effectively be described as making any potential new church into his image, with all of his eccentricities: thus AV-only, exclusive psalmody, no instruments, and a hyper-Calvinist soteriology. Other people they had contact with who had expressed considerable interest did not follow through with their commitments or interest.
Major life changes in the missionary couple led to their withdrawal from the project and increasing open doors in their immediate local area meant the Wood Green Church would need to reallocate their efforts elsewhere for the time being.
While disappointed, the (temporary?) closing of this door gave way to other opportunities and blessings in the church. For example, the last Sunday of this gathering, they were able to send a brother from the Wood Green team who was helping them at Bounds Green to a new career in Jordan, where he has established himself in a local church and is seeking to share the gospel with colleagues and friends.
The need remains in Bounds Green. Please pray that in time another church-planting attempt can be made.
Day 3: Bexleyheath
Somehow the idea that troubled churches should be closed has gained traction in some circles. Certainly, the Lord does at time remove lampstands but I’ve always viewed ‘lampstand removal’ as being above my paygrade.
Five years ago, the church at Bexleyheath was by anyone’s estimation a troubled church. For various reasons – some not appropriate to discuss here – the witness of the church had been diminished to the point that some interlocutors
suggested closure of the church was the best available option.
Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and those plans didn’t materialise. Chola Mukanga – now GBP chairman – was appointed as pastor in 2016. Through faithful Bible ministry and fervent prayer, the church has made remarkable progress toward greater Biblical health and vitality.
Troubles have not vanished. After all, we remain the church militant until the Day we become the Church triumphant! But they have been – and are being – dealt with. May we never again seek to compensate for a lack of pastoral wisdom and personal courage by closing a church the Lord himself has opened.
Please pray for the friends in Bexleyheath as they look to their triumphant Lord even in the midst of trouble. I trust their resilience – and progress! – will be an encouragement to those in similar situations.
Day 2: Angel
Faced with the ‘genuine possibility’ that the building in which the Angel church meets and her pastor and his wife live will be sold, the friends at Angel have been trying to come to terms with what appears to be a major setback for their work in the local area.
Where will the 50 different people who attended on a regular basis (25 – 30 in attendance on any given Sunday) over the past year meet for worship?
Where will those leading the work live in what is an incredibly expensive part of London?
Where will the day conferences and special evangelistic events serving so many be hosted?
Where will the regular meetings for Christian/Islam engagement in which a good number of Muslims are regularly hearing the gospel be held?
Where will the Biblical counsellor based on the premises two days a week be able to continue his vital work?
Where will community outreach groups for people of different ages and ethnicities meet?
At this stage there are more questions than answers. Please pray for clarity and unity as a way forward is prayerfully sought.
Day 1- Aberdeen
A year ago, we were asking friends of Grace Baptist Partnership to pray for the planting of a new church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Despite a number of encouragements there are still naysayers.
‘It’s hard and unrewarding. Small numbers, grotty venues, financial limitations, disinterested neighbours.’
‘What have you got to show for a year’s work in a rough district? Apathy, resentment, or maybe mild tolerance.’
‘You’re clearly not doing it the way the pros do.’
Alternatively, the friends at Aberdeen view it as an incomparable joy to serve the Lord according to His Word. They thank Him for the hundreds who have heard the Gospel preached – on the streets, the doorstep, or through friends. They praise God for their growing membership and for all the ways they’ve been able to serve their Saviour who is building His church.
Why not pray for Grace Baptist Church, Aberdeen today? Ask the Lord to help them even in times of disappointment to be undeterred in their resolve to serve the Lord.