News from Austria, this time from 4 of our family

Tim Stephenson,
H's kiddies wanted me to try on her beautiful new scarf while we waited for her return from the health centre. I just love these innocent little ones, caught up in such turmoil, pain and heartache through no fault of their own. They're so very, very precious xx

If you haven’t heard, Joan and Louise visited Oasis last week; they’re back now so after you read their testimony in the blog why not ask them about their trip when you next see them?

Meanwhile, in this week’s update Neal and Lesley continue to ‘put themselves out there’ for God’s people. There is both joy and sadness in an update from H, who you will remember as the lady lost her son to drowning on the journey to Austria in a previous post. About of the photo accompanying this post Lesley explains:

“H’s kiddies wanted me to try on her beautiful new scarf while we waited for her return from the health centre. I just love these innocent little ones, caught up in such turmoil, pain and heartache through no fault of their own. They’re so very, very precious xx”

Here is the full story: http://nealandlesley.simplesite.com/431200758

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 25th Sept

Eddie,
Potter at work

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
What does God reveal about Himself?
How is my own heart revealed?
How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

25 September Jer 15:5-21

Jeremiah had to deliver an uncompromising word of judgement (vv.5-9, 12-14). Not surprisingly, this proved costly (v.10), and Jeremiah poured out his disappointment with his message, and even with his Master (vv.15-18). The Lord’s reply was challenging (v.19) and heartening (vv.11, 20-21).

26 September Jer 16:1-21

Jeremiah is denied a wife or children and even a normal social life to underline the seriousness of his message that judgement is coming (vv.1-13). Yet God will one day grant His people a deliverance from exile in Babylon that will overtake even the exodus from Egypt (vv.14-18). Jeremiah is granted a glimpse of a future global spiritual harvest (vv.19-21) – and we are part of the fulfilment!

27 September Jer 17:1-18

Another oracle of judgement (vv.1-4) leads to a frank statement of the two ways between which we must all choose (vv.5-11). The key word is “trust” (vv.5,7) because everything will depend on where our heart is. In the praise and pain of vv.12-18 we see the inside story of Jeremiah’s life and ministry.

28 September Jer 17:19-27

The Sabbath functions here as a test case for the people of Judah. Sabbath-keeping was a sign of the covenant with the Lord, and their reaction to the gift of a day set aside for God was a fair indicator of their spiritual temperature. It still is.

29 September Jer 18:1-23

The potter’s ability to make something new from a spoiled pot mirrors God’s own freedom to give His people a new future. This becomes a challenge to repent (vv.1-11). Alas, their stubbornness can only end in disaster (vv.12-17). Once again, Jeremiah cries out under the pain of rejection by his people (vv.18-23).

30 September Jer 19:1-15

Through the acted parable of smashing a clay jar, Jeremiah made his message of coming judgement even more forceful and memorable (vv.1-13). Then he bravely entered the lions’ den, confronting the nations failing leaders in the temple court (vv.14-15). The cost to Jeremiah is spelled out in the next chapter.

1 October Jer 20:1-18

Threats against Jeremiah turn to violence (vv.1-2). However, God’s punishment of Pashur will make clear who is the real offender (vv.3-6). In all his trials, Jeremiah feels he is wrestling not simply with his enemies but with God (vv.7-10). His emotions swing between soaring heights (vv.11-13) and unbearable depths (v.14-18). The raw wounds are recorded so that we will realize the sharpness of the spiritual battle, and remember the weakness of even God’s finest servants.

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 18th Sept

Eddie,
Jeremiah by Michelangelo on roof of Sistine Chapel

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
What does God reveal about Himself?
How is my own heart revealed?
How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

18 September Jer 10:1-16

The Israelites were drawn to their neighbours’ gods as they sought foreign alliances rather than trusting that the Lord was all they needed. Jeremiah ruthlessly exposes the folly of this. When we give our heart to an idol, we inevitably worship something that is not only far less than God; it is also less than ourselves (vv.4-5, 14)!

19 September Jer 10:17-25

God’s people will become refugees and exiles (vv.17-18). Babylon will invade and destroy the land (v.22). Jeremiah is grieved but acknowledges that the people of Judah have brought this discipline on themselves (vv.19-21 – notice especially the responsibility of the leaders, v.21). Vv.23-25 confess our need of both God’s schooling and His eventual rescue.

20 September Jer 11:1-23

God sent Jeremiah on a preaching tour of “the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem” (vv.2,6,9,12-13). He reminded them of the terms of their covenant with the Lord, but they would not listen. The people of Jeremiah’s home town (Anathoth) plotted to kill him as a traitor rather than accept the word of the Lord (vv.18-23).

21 September Jer 12:1-17

Jeremiah argues with God (vv.1-4). God’s bracing reply is that things will get worse yet (vv.5-6). Jeremiah’s tragedy is but a miniature of God’s own (vv.7-13). Yet in the longer view, the possibility of restoration is open not only to Israel and Judah, but to any nation that turns from idolatry to seek the Lord (vv.14-17).

22 September Jer 13:1-14

Just as Jeremiah’s linen belt rotted, so flirting with idolatry and foreign alliances had ruined the spiritual fabric of Judah’s life (vv.1-11). God’s judgement on them would be potent indeed (vv.12-14).

23 September Jer 13:15-27

The door of escape through repentance is briefly opened (vv.15-16). But for a people that will not listen to God’s gracious word, there remains only judgement (vv.17-27). Note the bitter fruit of placing our trust anywhere other than the Lord (v.21).

24 September Jer 14:1 – 15:4

Judgement through drought (14:1-6) leads Jeremiah to intercede for his people (vv.7-9). However, Jeremiah is told not to pray but to weep over them because their judgement is now set (vv.10-18). He reminds the Lord of his covenant with His people (vv.19-22). The Lord replies that not even Moses and Samuel could help them now (15:1-4) – a reminder of how much we need Jesus!

Notices for 18th September, 2016

Louise,

Midweek Service

The next midweek service will take place this Wednesday, 21st September at 2pm. The text is Philippians 2. 12-30 and Eric will be leading and preaching.

Oasis Visit

Louise du Toit and Joan Cooper will be flying to Vienna tomorrow. Please pray for their visit to the Grindrods and the Oasis Centre. They return on the 26th September. Thank you to those who have offered with lifts to/from Bristol Airport.

Toddler Group

Sue Sapiano is stepping down from LEADING Toddler Group on Thursday mornings (school calendar). A new leader is needed for this successful friendship evangelism outreach. Will you prayerfully consider it? Please speak to Sue Sapiano or Kathy Larkman.

Reminder…

The next Child Protection Training will take place on Saturday the 8th October. The session starts at 9:00am in the coffee hall. Please make sure you arrive in good time.

The Ark

This starts again on 24th September.  Do come along and join us for puppets, craft, songs, bible stories and cake. It’s aimed at 0-7 year olds but all are welcome. We particularly need extra help in the kitchen – preparing and serving drinks and cake but also people to pray are always very much needed.  Please speak to either Alexa Simm or Heather Chilcott if you are able to help.

2nd October, Harvest

A reminder that our Harvest service this year will take place on Sunday 2nd October across all our congregations. We will be taking collections of both non-perishable food (please refer to the bookmark) and a monetary collection. The food will go to the Corsham Foodbank and the money will be shared between Tearfund and the Oasis Refugee Centre in Vienna. Please use the gift aid envelopes at the back.

“One Anothering”:

Gift of God’s Grace For Our Growth in Christ

This is the name of the ladies’ bible study for the school calendar year 2016-2017! Our women will come together to address the theme of “One Anothering” from scripture and how God actually uses our relationships with one another to conform us into Christ’s likeness. Every relationship, even difficult ones, is a gift of God’s grace for our growth in the knowledge and likeness of Christ. If you would like to be involved, please contact Kathy Larkman, Anne Holmes or Vicky Stevenson. Also check Grace Place blog for additional information.

Please take a sheet about the studies from the table at the back as well as a note on one-to-one meetings which we call Study Buddies.

The bible study questions for our next meeting on Monday 26th September are now available on the table at the back.

Craft Group

A reminder that the craft group will meet again on Saturday 1st October from 10am – 12:30pm. Please contact Pam Mitchell or Kathy Ewins if you would either like to attend or know more about this monthly group.

 

…This week…

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 10am; prayer for persecuted church, 7:45pm

Wednesday: Morning prayer, 7:15am; midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 7.30pm

Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9.30am; Engage @ 4.30pm; Energize @ 5.30pm

Saturday: Prayer for gospel expansion 8.30am; the Ark, 10am

 

…Looking ahead…

26th Sept: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm

1st Oct: Craft Group, 10am

2nd Oct: Harvest services

2nd Oct: Evening prayer meeting

5th Oct: Midweek Service, 2pm

8th Oct: Safeguarding Training, 9:00am

16th Oct: Infant Dedication, 11:15am

17th Oct: Church Meeting, 8:00pm

19th Oct: Midweek service, 2pm

21st-23rd Oct: Youth weekend away

24th Oct: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm

29th Oct: The Ark, 10:00am

31st Oct: The Light Party, 5-7pm

Please continue to follow our short term missionaries, Neal and Lesley Grindrod in Austria via their blog http://nealandlesley.simplesite.com/429863455.

 

 

Sharing stories as the Lord turns tears into dancing

Tim Stephenson,
Praying in Oasis clothing room

God has not been idle in the Oasis! Lesley shares how struggles that for most of us are (thankfully) unimaginably remote can draw people from opposite sides of the world together and bring joy out of tragedy:

15 Sept

Psalms 30 (New Living Translation)
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 11th Sept

Eddie,
The prophet Jeremiahat the foot of the Colonna dell'Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857).

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:

  • What does God reveal about Himself?
  • How is my own heart revealed?
  • How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?

Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

11 September    Jer 4:5-31

Jeremiah prophesies that God will send armies from the north to attack His people and devastate their land. Note the reason (vv.18,22), and His people’s folly in trying to flirt with their enemies (v.30). Jeremiah doesn’t gloat; he grieves (vv.19-21). Yet there is a glimmer of hope (v.27).

12 September    Jer 5:1-31

A devastating analysis of Judah’s sins. Note the folly of sin (v.3) and its self-harming nature (vv.23-25). Hence God’s unanswerable questions (vv.7,9,22,29) leading to the crushing conclusion (v.31). Sin and rebellion have their own terrible logic. Yet once again, God holds out hope (v.18)

13 September    Jer 6:1-15

Judgement is coming, but no-one is listening to Jeremiah’s message (v.10). The sad words of vv.13-15 challenge the leaders of God’s people today as much as in Jeremiah’s generation.

14 September    Jer 6:16-30

A frightening picture of the hardness of heart that is possible even among those who profess faith in the Lord. God’s judgement comes, not because God is a tyrant, but because people stubbornly choose evil and refuse all warnings (vv.16-17, 27-29). The coming disaster is “the fruit of their schemes” (v.19).

15 September    Jer 7:1 – 8:3

Jeremiah warns that outward religious observance is worthless without a change of heart and behaviour. God had earlier destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel for such hypocrisy (vv.12-15). In fact, He had been faced with similar disobedience ever since He rescued His people from slavery in Egypt (vv.21-26). Now He will do the same to Judah and Jerusalem.

16 September    Jer 8:4-22

Jeremiah describes how sin hardens us, making us stubborn (vv.4-6), foolish (vv.7-9), greedy (v.10), blind (v.11) and shameless (v.12). Yet he doesn’t condemn his people coldly; rather, he suffers alongside them as he anticipates the coming judgement (vv.18-22).

17 September    Jer 9:1-25

This chapter underlines the sad necessity of judgement (v.7,9) which is as grievous to the Lord Himself as it is to Jeremiah. Verses 23-24 are worth memorizing: three fading glories (v.23) and one unfading one (v.24). These verses lie behind Paul’s words in 1Cor 1:26-31 – look them up!

Photo by Ian Scott: The prophet Jeremiah at the foot of the Colonna dell’Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857). Creative Commons Attribution and Share Alike license https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian-w-scott/4621985308

Relaunching after ‘dry dock’

Ruth,

I heard from a friend recently that their mission agency refers to home assignment as “dry dock”: where ships are taken out of the water to allow maintenance and refitting work to be done.  I can see the analogy.  We’ve been taken out of Tanzanian ‘waters’ for the last six months and it’s been a time when the engines haven’t been at full throttle; an opportunity for some maintenance and repair work, both physical and spiritual!  It’s been a time of assessment and examination, and an opportunity to prepare for the next ‘voyage’ as we launch out for our next cruise!  Hmmmm!  I guess you can only take the analogy so far – I’m not so sure I like the image of a ship sitting idle for any length of time, because that doesn’t reflect what the last six months have been like for us, but you get the picture!  So, what exactly has this period of ‘dry dock’ been like for us?  We thought we’d give you an idea by giving you the A to Z of what’s been happening in the Lancs Lane during that time.  The following is a random collection of memories, observations and highlights which have made up a wonderful home assignment!

A: All Nations Christian College. We attended the AIM retirees conference at All Nations right at the end of our HA; a fitting place to finish as I spent three years there preparing for overseas mission!  These folks are serious prayer warriors and it was great to be at prayer meetings where there was barely a second of silence!  In fact it was hard to get a prayer in!

img_5062B: Blessings & Birthdays.  HA has been full of blessing and we’re grateful to God for this time.  All of our planning has come together well and I’m not sure it could have gone any better!  There has also been a number of significant birthdays to celebrate too!

C: Corsham Baptist Church; Cakes, Coffee & Chats.  Corsham Baptist is our supporting church, and not just in name!  The folks there have been so supportive, and again we’ve been humbled by that support.  The opportunity for cakes, coffee and chat with various church friends has been much appreciated by Ruth!

img_5051D: Deputation, Debriefing, Donkeys & Dolphins!  We’ve done 19 presentations to various church groups reporting on what we’ve been doing in Tanzania.  Debriefing was done at the AIM offices in Nottingham.  We made friends with the braying donkeys next door to us, and on Ruth’s birthday weekend we even succeeded in seeing the dolphins of the Moray Firth!

E: Ebay & Endoscopy!  Ebay doesn’t exist in Tanzania and so we’ve made the most of internet buying whilst we’ve been home.  Something I didn’t get on Ebay was an endoscopy!  Results were good but they don’t explain the stomach discomfort that I sometimes get – load up on the Gaviscon!

F: Family.  You miss those family happenings and gatherings when you’re away, and so it’s been a real joy to spend quality time with family in places like Bicester, Newark, Portsmouth, Nairn, Elgin and Carlisle.  Some quality memories are stored in the memory bank!

img_4615G: Golf & Generosity.  Many a hole has been played in various parts of the country and it’s been a nice change to play on ‘greens’ not ‘browns’!  My wife gave me a birthday card with the following words on it, and it seems she knows my game well!  “If the ball goes right it’s a slice; if it goes left it’s a hook, and if it goes straight it’s a miracle”!  In terms of generosity, we’ve been blown away by people’s kindness and support for us and, indeed, for the work of IBM at Sanga Sanga.

H: Health.  Ruth has been able to see a specialist haematologist with regard to the blood clot she experienced on our outward journey back in July 2013, and whilst she needs to take various precautions, she’s been told that she doesn’t need to be taking meds on a daily basis.  Thanking God that there’s been no reoccurrence of the DVT.

I: Invitations.  We’ve been on the receiving end of some serious hospitality!  On 30 occasions we’ve been invited out for meals – wonderful times of sharing and fellowship and eating!

J: Jerusalem & Jericho.  Once again, I had the privilege of introducing people to the land of the Bible with another Oak Hall trip to Israel and Palestine.  Despite the ongoing tensions that exist in those lands we didn’t feel unsafe and the trip went without a hitch.  Highlights included an early morning run around the city walls of Jerusalem and an ascent of Mount Arbel in Galilee!

dscn7066

Steve surveying the view from Mt. Arbel

dscn7052

By blue Galilee!

K: Keswick & Kilograms.  I was able to take in some Bible teaching at the Keswick Convention, a conference that in the past has been used mightily by God to call men and women into serving overseas.  In terms of kilograms, owing to the numerous meal invitations we’ve received, and also to the amazing variety of food one can buy in UK, we’re going back a tad heavier!

L: Long summer evenings.  In Tanzania it’s dark by 7pm all year round so we’ve enjoyed the light summer nights.

M: Ministry, Miles & Motorways.  The little red car that Mum & Dad lent us has clocked up over 14,000 miles in the last six months and has enabled us to motor around England, Wales and Scotland visiting friends and family, and also to talk about our ministry at various churches.  Oh, the joy of motorway driving – except for the often-clogged-up M6!

N: No mosquitoes!  It’s been a welcome relief to be away from those munching mozzies and not to be spraying ourselves with the sticky stuff that’s meant to keep them away!

O: Ornithology.  Whilst Tanzania is great for birding, we’ve managed a couple of birding forays here in the UK and have seen Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Doves – and the odd Blackbird, to name a few!

P: Pulpit & Preaching.  It’s been great to get back in the pulpit to preach in English again and I’ve had the opportunity on 16 occasions.

Q: Queuing.  This is something the Brits are good at!  Whether it’s at the bank or the post office we like our orderly lines and as I sat there in another M6 queue I wondered what the equivalent would look like in Tanzania.  It certainly wouldn’t be three orderly lanes and an empty hard shoulder, so maybe it’s a good job they haven’t got any motorways!  It’s bad enough on a single track road!

dsc_9359

Ruth, Steve and twin Rachel relieved to have finished the race!

R: Running.  We enjoyed running the country lanes of Wiltshire in a sensible climate!  Our training schedule saw us run about 200 miles in preparation for the Nairn half marathon.  T he event itself went well – even if it was a tad hot!  We both managed personal best times (1:58) and Ruth managed to raise £1,950 for IBM—thank you to everyone who donated.

S: Skiing in Switzerland.  After a three year absence we were finally able to strap our skis on and hit the slippery slopes of the Alps!  Wonderful weather, stunning scenery in the surrounds of the Eiger, good snow and great to be cold again!

T: Tree work.  In a former life I used to be a tree surgeon and so it was great to be able to wield a bow saw again!  I spent seven days in my sister’s garden in Elgin pruning various trees and reducing the height of a long Leylandii hedge – loved it!

U: Unpacking & repacking.  Being on the road has meant some heavy usage of the suitcases!

V: Val D’Isere.  What a wonderful family holiday we had in Val D’Isere (France) to celebrate Mum & Dad Lancaster’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Dad celebrated by doing some paragliding and Mum celebrated by anxiously watching on!  The week included running, boating, swimming, tennis and walking the heights.  One of the highlights was playing 18 holes of golf with my brother on Europe’s highest course; mountainous golf at its best!

img_4763

W: Worshipping in English.  One of the things we miss when we’re in Tanzania is being able to sing out songs of praise in English, and to be back at our church in Corsham belting out songs and hymns we knew and understood was wonderful!

X: Xamine!  I couldn’t think of a word beginning with ‘x’ that fitted here so I had to bend the rules slightly!  Our time here has enabled us to spend time thinking, reflecting, and examining our time in Tanzania.  What did we achieve?  What did we do wrong as we tried to blend into our new culture?  What could we have done differently, and what will it be like second time round?

Y: Yatton Keynell & the Stable Cottage.  For much of our time we’ve been based near to the villages of Yatton Keynell & Castle Comb, and blessed with the provision of Stable Cottage.  This place was balm to the soul and we praise God for it.

Z: Zurich in the snow and Zzzzzz’s!  Our flight back from Tanzania in March took us through Zurich airport.  We were buzzing to find the place covered in snow and marvelled at how, just eight hours previously, we had been sweltering in the heat of Dar at temps in the mid 30’s.  Zzzzzz’s represents sleep, and having suffered with bouts of insomnia for 7/8 years, I think it’s safe to say that good sleep has returned because the last year has been much better.  During our HA we slept in 21 different beds!

056b

What next? 
The ropes are being loosened as we prepare to set off on our return voyage!  We’ll be flying to Tanzania via Zurich and Nairobi on Monday 12th Sept and then settling back into our various roles with AIM and IBM (Institute of Bible & Ministry) in Morogoro, along with our team mates Tony & Cath and Matt & Amy.  Ruth is very much looking forward to seeing our ‘guard’ dog and I can’t wait to tackle those Swahili verbs again!  Within a week of arriving back we’ll be on the road to an IBM pastors’ conference near Mbeya in the west of Tanzania, although I won’t have any teaching responsibilities.

We would very much value your prayers for us as we begin our second term in Tanzania and here are a few Prayer Pointers:

  • We’re praising God for a wonderful home assignment and that we go back fully supported.
  • In many ways it feels as though it should be easier this time round as things are in place, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, and we know a bit of language etc – but we also know more about the challenges before us!  Please pray that we’ll settle down quickly into our roles and into team life.
  • Please pray for safety and protection on the roads and as we go about our daily business.
  • Pray that God would use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him in Tanzania.
  • We will need to make an effort in terms of continuing to learn Swahili – please pray that we’d recall what we’ve already learnt but not used during the last six months, and that we’d really push on towards some sort of fluency!

The secretary of the London Mission Society Rev Arthur Tidman, back in 1840, wrote to David Livingstone with these words: “Let your ardour be sustained by incessant communion with Christ and your consolation drawn from the conviction of His power and sympathy, and then you will neither be faint not wearied in your mind, whatever obstacles may exist or trials arise.”  This is our prayer – that we would know Christ more and more in our lives, marriage and work; that we would be sustained by that ‘incessant communion’; that we would know more of His power in our lives, and so become more effective for Him as we go about our various roles.  It’s a big prayer, which is why we’d love you to join us in praying it for us!  Many thanks for your prayers and support.

Diary Dates:

12th Sept:          6am flight from London Heathrow to Dar via Zurich
13th:                  Travel from Dar to Morogoro
21st-23rd           IBM Pastors Conference in Njombe  (travelling 20th & 24th)
1st-8th Oct:       Hosting personnel from AIM UK office
13th-18th:         AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
23rd-28th:         Showing AIM Eastern Region Staff around AIM ministry placements in
eastern Tanzania
15th-18th Nov:  IBM Pastors conference & the opening of the new Sanga conference
centre
26th-17th Dec:  Intensive Language refresher course in Iringa?

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

img_4870

 

Relaunching after ‘dry dock’

Ruth,

I heard from a friend recently that their mission agency refers to home assignment as “dry dock”: where ships are taken out of the water to allow maintenance and refitting work to be done.  I can see the analogy.  We’ve been taken out of Tanzanian ‘waters’ for the last six months and it’s been a time when the engines haven’t been at full throttle; an opportunity for some maintenance and repair work, both physical and spiritual!  It’s been a time of assessment and examination, and an opportunity to prepare for the next ‘voyage’ as we launch out for our next cruise!  Hmmmm!  I guess you can only take the analogy so far – I’m not so sure I like the image of a ship sitting idle for any length of time, because that doesn’t reflect what the last six months have been like for us, but you get the picture!  So, what exactly has this period of ‘dry dock’ been like for us?  We thought we’d give you an idea by giving you the A to Z of what’s been happening in the Lancs Lane during that time.  The following is a random collection of memories, observations and highlights which have made up a wonderful home assignment!

A: All Nations Christian College. We attended the AIM retirees conference at All Nations right at the end of our HA; a fitting place to finish as I spent three years there preparing for overseas mission!  These folks are serious prayer warriors and it was great to be at prayer meetings where there was barely a second of silence!  In fact it was hard to get a prayer in!

img_5062B: Blessings & Birthdays.  HA has been full of blessing and we’re grateful to God for this time.  All of our planning has come together well and I’m not sure it could have gone any better!  There has also been a number of significant birthdays to celebrate too!

C: Corsham Baptist Church; Cakes, Coffee & Chats.  Corsham Baptist is our supporting church, and not just in name!  The folks there have been so supportive, and again we’ve been humbled by that support.  The opportunity for cakes, coffee and chat with various church friends has been much appreciated by Ruth!

img_5051D: Deputation, Debriefing, Donkeys & Dolphins!  We’ve done 19 presentations to various church groups reporting on what we’ve been doing in Tanzania.  Debriefing was done at the AIM offices in Nottingham.  We made friends with the braying donkeys next door to us, and on Ruth’s birthday weekend we even succeeded in seeing the dolphins of the Moray Firth!

E: Ebay & Endoscopy!  Ebay doesn’t exist in Tanzania and so we’ve made the most of internet buying whilst we’ve been home.  Something I didn’t get on Ebay was an endoscopy!  Results were good but they don’t explain the stomach discomfort that I sometimes get – load up on the Gaviscon!

F: Family.  You miss those family happenings and gatherings when you’re away, and so it’s been a real joy to spend quality time with family in places like Bicester, Newark, Portsmouth, Nairn, Elgin and Carlisle.  Some quality memories are stored in the memory bank!

img_4615G: Golf & Generosity.  Many a hole has been played in various parts of the country and it’s been a nice change to play on ‘greens’ not ‘browns’!  My wife gave me a birthday card with the following words on it, and it seems she knows my game well!  “If the ball goes right it’s a slice; if it goes left it’s a hook, and if it goes straight it’s a miracle”!  In terms of generosity, we’ve been blown away by people’s kindness and support for us and, indeed, for the work of IBM at Sanga Sanga.

H: Health.  Ruth has been able to see a specialist haematologist with regard to the blood clot she experienced on our outward journey back in July 2013, and whilst she needs to take various precautions, she’s been told that she doesn’t need to be taking meds on a daily basis.  Thanking God that there’s been no reoccurrence of the DVT.

I: Invitations.  We’ve been on the receiving end of some serious hospitality!  On 30 occasions we’ve been invited out for meals – wonderful times of sharing and fellowship and eating!

J: Jerusalem & Jericho.  Once again, I had the privilege of introducing people to the land of the Bible with another Oak Hall trip to Israel and Palestine.  Despite the ongoing tensions that exist in those lands we didn’t feel unsafe and the trip went without a hitch.  Highlights included an early morning run around the city walls of Jerusalem and an ascent of Mount Arbel in Galilee!

dscn7066

Steve surveying the view from Mt. Arbel

dscn7052

By blue Galilee!

K: Keswick & Kilograms.  I was able to take in some Bible teaching at the Keswick Convention, a conference that in the past has been used mightily by God to call men and women into serving overseas.  In terms of kilograms, owing to the numerous meal invitations we’ve received, and also to the amazing variety of food one can buy in UK, we’re going back a tad heavier!

L: Long summer evenings.  In Tanzania it’s dark by 7pm all year round so we’ve enjoyed the light summer nights.

M: Ministry, Miles & Motorways.  The little red car that Mum & Dad lent us has clocked up over 14,000 miles in the last six months and has enabled us to motor around England, Wales and Scotland visiting friends and family, and also to talk about our ministry at various churches.  Oh, the joy of motorway driving – except for the often-clogged-up M6!

N: No mosquitoes!  It’s been a welcome relief to be away from those munching mozzies and not to be spraying ourselves with the sticky stuff that’s meant to keep them away!

O: Ornithology.  Whilst Tanzania is great for birding, we’ve managed a couple of birding forays here in the UK and have seen Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Doves – and the odd Blackbird, to name a few!

P: Pulpit & Preaching.  It’s been great to get back in the pulpit to preach in English again and I’ve had the opportunity on 16 occasions.

Q: Queuing.  This is something the Brits are good at!  Whether it’s at the bank or the post office we like our orderly lines and as I sat there in another M6 queue I wondered what the equivalent would look like in Tanzania.  It certainly wouldn’t be three orderly lanes and an empty hard shoulder, so maybe it’s a good job they haven’t got any motorways!  It’s bad enough on a single track road!

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Ruth, Steve and twin Rachel relieved to have finished the race!

R: Running.  We enjoyed running the country lanes of Wiltshire in a sensible climate!  Our training schedule saw us run about 200 miles in preparation for the Nairn half marathon.  T he event itself went well – even if it was a tad hot!  We both managed personal best times (1:58) and Ruth managed to raise £1,950 for IBM—thank you to everyone who donated.

S: Skiing in Switzerland.  After a three year absence we were finally able to strap our skis on and hit the slippery slopes of the Alps!  Wonderful weather, stunning scenery in the surrounds of the Eiger, good snow and great to be cold again!

T: Tree work.  In a former life I used to be a tree surgeon and so it was great to be able to wield a bow saw again!  I spent seven days in my sister’s garden in Elgin pruning various trees and reducing the height of a long Leylandii hedge – loved it!

U: Unpacking & repacking.  Being on the road has meant some heavy usage of the suitcases!

V: Val D’Isere.  What a wonderful family holiday we had in Val D’Isere (France) to celebrate Mum & Dad Lancaster’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Dad celebrated by doing some paragliding and Mum celebrated by anxiously watching on!  The week included running, boating, swimming, tennis and walking the heights.  One of the highlights was playing 18 holes of golf with my brother on Europe’s highest course; mountainous golf at its best!

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W: Worshipping in English.  One of the things we miss when we’re in Tanzania is being able to sing out songs of praise in English, and to be back at our church in Corsham belting out songs and hymns we knew and understood was wonderful!

X: Xamine!  I couldn’t think of a word beginning with ‘x’ that fitted here so I had to bend the rules slightly!  Our time here has enabled us to spend time thinking, reflecting, and examining our time in Tanzania.  What did we achieve?  What did we do wrong as we tried to blend into our new culture?  What could we have done differently, and what will it be like second time round?

Y: Yatton Keynell & the Stable Cottage.  For much of our time we’ve been based near to the villages of Yatton Keynell & Castle Comb, and blessed with the provision of Stable Cottage.  This place was balm to the soul and we praise God for it.

Z: Zurich in the snow and Zzzzzz’s!  Our flight back from Tanzania in March took us through Zurich airport.  We were buzzing to find the place covered in snow and marvelled at how, just eight hours previously, we had been sweltering in the heat of Dar at temps in the mid 30’s.  Zzzzzz’s represents sleep, and having suffered with bouts of insomnia for 7/8 years, I think it’s safe to say that good sleep has returned because the last year has been much better.  During our HA we slept in 21 different beds!

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What next? 
The ropes are being loosened as we prepare to set off on our return voyage!  We’ll be flying to Tanzania via Zurich and Nairobi on Monday 12th Sept and then settling back into our various roles with AIM and IBM (Institute of Bible & Ministry) in Morogoro, along with our team mates Tony & Cath and Matt & Amy.  Ruth is very much looking forward to seeing our ‘guard’ dog and I can’t wait to tackle those Swahili verbs again!  Within a week of arriving back we’ll be on the road to an IBM pastors’ conference near Mbeya in the west of Tanzania, although I won’t have any teaching responsibilities.

We would very much value your prayers for us as we begin our second term in Tanzania and here are a few Prayer Pointers:

  • We’re praising God for a wonderful home assignment and that we go back fully supported.
  • In many ways it feels as though it should be easier this time round as things are in place, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, and we know a bit of language etc – but we also know more about the challenges before us!  Please pray that we’ll settle down quickly into our roles and into team life.
  • Please pray for safety and protection on the roads and as we go about our daily business.
  • Pray that God would use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him in Tanzania.
  • We will need to make an effort in terms of continuing to learn Swahili – please pray that we’d recall what we’ve already learnt but not used during the last six months, and that we’d really push on towards some sort of fluency!

The secretary of the London Mission Society Rev Arthur Tidman, back in 1840, wrote to David Livingstone with these words: “Let your ardour be sustained by incessant communion with Christ and your consolation drawn from the conviction of His power and sympathy, and then you will neither be faint not wearied in your mind, whatever obstacles may exist or trials arise.”  This is our prayer – that we would know Christ more and more in our lives, marriage and work; that we would be sustained by that ‘incessant communion’; that we would know more of His power in our lives, and so become more effective for Him as we go about our various roles.  It’s a big prayer, which is why we’d love you to join us in praying it for us!  Many thanks for your prayers and support.

Diary Dates:

12th Sept:          6am flight from London Heathrow to Dar via Zurich
13th:                  Travel from Dar to Morogoro
21st-23rd           IBM Pastors Conference in Njombe  (travelling 20th & 24th)
1st-8th Oct:       Hosting personnel from AIM UK office
13th-18th:         AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
23rd-28th:         Showing AIM Eastern Region Staff around AIM ministry placements in
eastern Tanzania
15th-18th Nov:  IBM Pastors conference & the opening of the new Sanga conference
centre
26th-17th Dec:  Intensive Language refresher course in Iringa?

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

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Welcome to our Week of Prayer!

Tim Stephenson,
photo of candle

Next week (week commencing 12th Sept) is our annual week of prayer.

To help you get started, I have prepared some prayer points some of which are requests from those involved in the ministries and some of which are suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, so please don’t be constrained by it but pray as the Spirit leads you. You may like to begin by reading a psalm of praise and praising God for all He is and has done for us in Christ. (Some suggestions – Psalm 8, 96, 103, 145, 146.)

Our vision is to be a “gospel-centred church”, aiming to make disciples, reach out to the local community with the love and truth of God and to play our part in taking the gospel to the “ends of the earth”. (Acts 1:8) With this in mind, let’s lift the ministries of our church to God in prayer!

LEADERSHIP TEAM

Eddie, Rob, Dan, Alan C, Alan K, Adrian P, Roger, Joan, Wendy, Martin S, Matt, Rhiannon, Paul

Pray for them in their

  • Leadership roles
  • Work life
  • Home life
  • Their walk with God

MEN’S MINISTRY

  • Men in our fellowship that God would increase in them the desire to know Him and to love Him more each day
  • Mike P, Paul K, Tom B, Tim H and Tim M as they take on more responsibility in leading this ministry alongside Ian H

PRISON MINISTRY

  • Those involved in leading Christianity Explored, Discipleship Explored, preaching and leading services
  • Those in prison

LADIES’ MINISTRY

  • Women in our fellowship that God would increase in them the desire to know Him and to love Him more each day
  • Those who lead, teach, prepare and serve refreshments, play music etc.

YOUTH & CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

  • Thank God for the many children and young people connected to the church
  • Praise God for the opportunities to witness in the school, the good relations established and pray that this will continue to grow
  • Christian Union in the school
  • The young people themselves as they stand up for Jesus in their schools
  • Dan, Rhiannon and the many teachers and helpers involved in this ministry
  • All the children and young people that they would continue to learn about God and grow in faith and love for Him
  • The two new groups – Engage (ages 7-10) and Energize (ages 10-12)
  • Pray that all our children and young people would desire to know God

TODDLER GROUP

  • Team will reflect God’s love and everyone will feel welcome and cared for
  • God will be at work in people’s hearts and will use the Bible verses and songs to speak to them
  • The children will be safe in their play and will have fun
  • Children and carers from the group will be encouraged to go along to The Ark and other church activities and will be drawn to God
  • God will raise up a new leader and enough helpers
  • Pray for the team – Sue, Kathy, Jenny, Heather, Helen C, Vanessa, Jean, Ted, Margaret, Zelda

THE ARK

  • That the love of Jesus would shine from the Ark team as they grow together and in their love of God
  • Visitors would feel Jesus’ love and the thankfulness that the team has for what God has done for us in Christ
  • People would come to realise what Jesus has done for them
  • All those involved in organising and running the ministry e.g. Alexa and Heather, Roz and the puppeteers, those providing refreshments, those involved in craft, music, sound, lighting etc.

MID-WEEK SERVICE, CORSHAM

  • Pray for those involved in leading and running the service e.g. Eric, David, keyboard players, tea and cake makers
  • Praise God for the mutual support and friendship that people have found there
  • Praise God for the baptisms and pray for more conversions and baptisms
  • Pray for the congregation to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

CHURCH ON THE GREEN, RUDLOE

  • That they would see new believers through gospel ministry in and around Rudloe
  • That they would not grow too comfortable but be increasingly bold for Christ.
  • That all their conversations in the community would be seasoned with grace
  • That they maintain faithfulness to the gospel and Christ above all things (and hold on lightly to everything else)
  • Toddler group on a Tuesday
  • Café on a Saturday – for people on the estate to come and that relationships would form and grow and that they would show them the love of Christ
  • Wisdom regarding the building
  • Their leaders and families – Rob, Adrian, Paul

WHERE NEXT? GOSPEL EXPANSION

  • Pewsham? Bradford-on-Avon? Somewhere else?
  • Doors to open and the courage to pursue opportunities when they arise
  • Pray that God would so fill our hearts with the love of Christ that it overflows to those around us
  • Thank God for Pat and Norman’s willingness to share the gospel in Wadswick Green. Pray that hearts would be softened and eyes opened in that community

WELCOME AND IN-SERVICE MINISTRY

  • Praise God for the many services we have
  • Pray for the many people involved in serving before, during and after our services e.g.
    • The Welcome Team on the door
    • Those who prepare and clear away Communion
    • Those involved with taking up the offering and counting it afterwards
    • Those who serve teas and coffees
    • Those involved in prayer, leading worship, the overhead, the sound desk, preaching………..
    • The duty elders and deacons
  • Pray for Brenda as she oversees this ministry

PA MINISTRY

  • Those who record the sermons
  • The sound desk operators – Steve, Callum, John, Tom, Dom and Ben
  • Pray for new volunteers to join the team
  • Wisdom in deciding how to improve the system

WORSHIP AND MUSIC MINISTRY

  • Praise God for the many gifted musicians and worship leaders He has given us
  • Pray that they would all grow in their walk with God as they serve in this ministry
  • Ask God to raise up others gifted to serve in this way
  • Pray for David as he oversees the 11.15 worship teams and Matt as deacon for worship and music
  • Pray that we would all grow in worshiping God in spirit and truth

LIFE GROUPS

  • Praise God that we have so many Life Groups
  • Pray for the leaders of all the groups that they would grow in wisdom and strength: Sharon, Adrian and Jo, Paul, Pam, Natalie, Kathy, Vicky, Katherine, Edna and Terry, Esther and Nigel, Helen and Phil, Hannah and Reinier
  • Pray for the two new groups starting led by Sarah and Mike and Jen and Mike – for the new people joining these groups
  • Ask God to raise up more new leaders
  • A growing balance within the groups across all four areas in the vision statement i.e. Loving God, Individually known, Family and Evangelism

PASTORAL MINISTRY

  • Pray that God would help us all to reflect His love in caring for our brothers and sisters
  • Pray for the sick and housebound and those who visit them
  • For Joan as she seeks to oversee and meet the growing pastoral needs of the fellowship
  • Those organising, preparing and distributing meals

PRAYER MINISTRY

  • Praise God for the many opportunities to meet together to pray
  • The Prayer Chain – many answered prayers – those who administer it and those who pray
  • Those who lead us in intercessory prayer and those who pray with us after services
  • Pray that God would give us all the desire to draw closer to Him in prayer

MISSION AND THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

  • Steve and Ruth in Tanzania – with AIM
  • Gill and Steve in UK – with WEC
  • Neal and Lesley in Austria – with Oasis
  • Compassion and the children sponsored by church members
  • The Bible Society – Sue and Alan who work there
  • Persecuted Christians around the world

TRAIDCRAFT

  • Praise God for those who established Traidcraft as a Christian response to poverty
  • For wisdom for those working with marginalised, small scale producers to be able to provide for their families and communities
  • Julie as she seeks to support this work by purchasing and selling products

CORSHAM MONEY & DEBT ADVICE CENTRE

  • Thank God for new advisors – Brenda, John, Tom and Lucy, Colin – pray for them as they train for their new roles
  • Alan as he takes over from Alan in leading the ministry
  • Others involved – Dave, Michael and Roger
  • Keep the ministry rooted in prayer and gospel centred
  • Clients – their financial situations and opportunities to speak the gospel to them

CRAFT GROUP

  • Thank God for this opportunity for fellowship within the church and pray for more opportunities to reach out to non-church ladies
  • Pray for Pam and Kathy as they lead this group
  • Pray that the group project to make a quilt for an elderly lady in Tanzania will not only be a physical blessing but a spiritual one too

TUESDAY LUNCH CLUB (TLC)

  • Thank God for the fruit we have seen from this ministry
  • Pray for wisdom and guidance in the way forward

COMMUNICATIONS

  • For all those involved in assisting our church in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and giving God all the glory e.g. those who design and distribute flyers, those who provide information about our church and our ministries
  • Pray for Tim as he takes on greater responsibility for co-ordinating communications and in particular the web site
  • Pray that God would be glorified and that all our communications would always point to Him, not us!

HEALTH AND SAFETY

  • Praise God for a good health and safety record within our congregations
  • Tim as he oversees this ministry
  • Raise up others with the necessary gifts to serve in this ministry

OTHER ACTIVITIES

  • Christianity and Discipleship Explored groups, Connected, walking groups, one-to-ones etc.
  • Pray that in all our activities we would seek to point others to Jesus, to share the gospel with unbelievers, to encourage and disciple one another and to give all the glory to God

Photograph by Evan Courtney Creative Commons Attribution https://www.flickr.com/photos/mufan96/2741759137/in/photostream