“God loves you, God has saved you, God has in store for you a future so dazzling your mind cannot comprehend it. There is nothing you have done to deserve all that – nothing – and that’s OK, because it’s all freely given. This is all true of anyone who trusts in Christ. Anyone. YOU.
Holiday Club Tues Aug 28th – Fri Aug 31st 10am – 12.30pm
This year will be a water-themed holiday club for primary school aged children.
“How can I help?” I hear you ask. There are sign up sheets at the back of church with many roles available including: registration team, refreshments team, team leaders and helpers, sound, projection, set up and set down, please sign up! There are plenty flyers at the back so please take some for neighbours and friends and encourage them to come. Above all, please pray.
The craft club will take place next Saturday, 4th August at 10am at Priory Street. Please speak to Pam Mitchell or Hazel Hammett for further details.
Life in the Lancs Lane
Steve and Ruth Lancaster, our missionaries in Tanzania, have put out another information-packed newsletter. Paper copies are on the table at the back or you can read their blog online.
The men of our church will be getting together for fellowship and a BBQ at CBC on Tuesday, 14 August at 7:30pm. Look out for sign up sheets at the back or contact Ian Holmes, Paul Kelly or one of the other members of the men’s ministry team if you would like to attend.
YOUTH to SOUL
We are taking a group of young people to Soul Survivor summer festival from
4th – 9th August. Please pray for the young people as they spend time with one another and with God.
… Looking ahead over the next few months…
4th August: Craft Club, 10am
8th August: Midweek service, 2pm
13th August: Men’s fight night, 8pm
14th August: Men’s bbq 7:30pm
22nd August: Midweek service, 2pm
25th August: Zoe Little / Seth Lavington wedding 1:30pm
26th August: Infant dedications at 9:15am and 11:15am services
28th-31st August: Holiday Bible Club
2nd September: Week of Prayer starts
9th September: bbq for 11:15 congregation – 12:30-3:30pm
9th September: tea before evening service (time to be confirmed); ommissioning service for Littles, 6pm
10th September: men’s fight night, 8pm
12th September: Midweek service, 2pm
24th September: Women’s bible study, 7:30pm
26th September: Midweek service, 2pm
30th September: 2nd open meeting to discuss leadership restructure, 4:30pm
Three down, three to go! In our last newsletter we used this map to indicate where our six regional pastors’ conferences would be taking place. We’re now able to put three giant ticks alongside three of those locations, and the fourth one will be taking place this coming week when we head off to the backwaters of Ifakara. Thank you to those who have prayed for me during these seminars. Each conference and venue has its own distinctive flavour but one constant is that folks here just don’t seem to get fazed by distractions! During the first conference in Babati we had children peering through the windows and the sound of a nearby band-saw cutting wood! In the Kilwa conference the unfinished floor of the church was as level as the Uluguru mountains, with clods of clay-soil increasing the risk of much ankle-twisting! It didn’t seem to matter to them! Nor did it matter greatly, during the last session of the last day, when someone spotted a venomous snake curled up in a crack in the wall, high above my head! It was ironic that the topic we had been looking at was that of Satan and his scheming! Peter talks about Satan prowling “around like a lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8), but we also know that Satan slithers around as a serpent looking for people to deceive, even within the walls of the church! One of the pastors grabbed a stick and quickly ‘dealt with it’! “Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Pet 5:9)!
A harmless grass snake seen on safari – not the one at the Kilwa seminar!
During the recent Pwani conference, which was held in the relative peace and quiet of our Sanga HQ, a couple of dogs and a bleating goat made an appearance in our un-walled thatched banda – but again, it didn’t seem to distract the listeners! As for me, it often seems like an uphill battle trying to ignore these various distractions, whilst also trying not to lose my train of Swahili speak! Oh the joys of preaching in Africa! There is one exception that I can think of, where mobile phone distractions obviously grated with a certain pastor! On the wall of his church there is a notice quoting a verse from Habakkuk that says, “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him”, along with the accompanying words: “please switch off your phone”! Anyway, distractions aside, the teaching on 1 Peter seems to have been well-received, and about 70 pastors/evangelists now have enough material to craft at least 20 sermons for their congregations! All part of AIM’s goal to see “Christ-centred churches amongst all African peoples”. Onwards to Ifakara, Magambua and Mbeya!
Changamoto Kubwa! One of the most challenging verses that we look at in 1 Peter comes towards the end of ch 2: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart” (2:22). In Swahili I would say to the pastors: “Hii ni changamoto kubwa sana.” Roughly translated it means “This is a big challenge”! And don’t we know it!? Loving one another can be tough and we can only do it effectively in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in our own strength. Leading on from this verse I then head towards John 13:34-35 where Jesus instructs his disciples (and us!) to love one another, stating that if they do this, outsiders will realise that they are followers of Christ. Love is indeed the key to the gospel isn’t it? Paul says to the Corinthians that if we lack love in our lives, our witness amounts to nothing.
I recently heard a great story that highlights the importance of love within the Christian community; love for each other and love for those who do not know Christ. We have an AIM team living out in the Tanzanian bush that I sometimes visit and they’re seeking to live out the gospel to an Islamic people group. This is what one of the team said: “One day I happened to be sitting in the market with some of the local men who didn’t know that I was part of the team. Two of my team members happened to be passing by and, as always happens when they go to market, kids came flocking! I heard one of the elders from the mosque comment: ‘Do you see that? Before long, this area is going to become Christian.’ The team member sitting in the market asked the elder what he meant and the elder replied: ‘Those Christians really love our people. They care for people when they are sick and they visit their neighbours every day. They really love and pay attention to the kids, and they’re even learning our language. That kind of thing is so different from how we are… it’s irresistible. That’s why I say this area is going to become Christian.’” Wow! What an encouragement that was to that particular team, and what a reminder to us of how important agape love is as a witness to those who don’t know Christ. Father, fill us with your love; strengthen and equip us to love each other, so that a watching world may be drawn to your irresistible love.
Dressed up for the Opening Day – Steve didn’t want to wear a matching outfit!
Conference Centre Opening: Following hard on the heels of our Pwani conference in July was the long-awaited opening of the conference centre, three years after the project began. Ribbons were cut, plaques were unveiled, and cameras clicked as we gathered to give thanks to God for the people who had helped to make it possible. When Solomon had finished building the temple in Jerusalem all those years ago, his prayer of dedication was recorded for us in 1 Kings 8. In response, the Lord said to Solomon: “I have consecrated this building which you have built by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (1 Kings 9:3b) We’ve had that reference inscribed on a stone tablet near the main entrance and, having dedicated the building to God, we trust that He will indeed always be there and that His powerful presence will be felt by those who use it. The Centre will be used by the AICT, various other churches, kids camps and other organisations and our hope is that God’s name will be glorified in what takes place there. We also want to thank the various people and churches that have contributed to this project, and especially to Oak Hall for their generous support; hence the reason for the naming of the main hall! Click to view slideshow. Time off and random holiday happenings! In the middle of July my sister and her family came for a ten day holiday and we had an awesome time introducing them to all-things Tanzania. We certainly packed a lot in: swimming in the Indian Ocean, playing tennis in the heat, experiencing the bite of the notorious Tsetse flies whilst on safari, climbing gigantic Baobab trees, walking up the Uluguru mountains, wandering amongst the rickety fruit and veg stalls of Morogoro market, and sitting in a three-hour church service; what more could you want!? In regard to the latter, they coped admirably, and even introduced the congregation to the chorus ‘My God is a great big God’. Not so sure Ruth appreciated trying to translate the words, “He’s higher than a skyscraper and deeper than a submarine’! However, one of my favourite memories was introducing my bro-in-law (Phil) to the game of golf! It turned out to be quite a random game! On the 8th hole, as we prepared to tee-off, we encountered a Masai choir strung out across the fairway filming a DVD! I’m not so sure they had ever seen a golf ball before, but they signalled that we should play on, and so we walloped (not an official golfing term!) our balls down the fairway. From 150 yards my ball sailed over the heads of the dancing Masai, whilst Phil’s ball left a dent in the back of a Masai warrior! However, there didn’t seem to be too much hard feeling, as Phil and the family were then invited to star as guest dancers in their production! My lasting memory will be of Masai warriors dancing with their sticks, alongside Phil dancing with his golf club! Only in Tanzania! Click to view slideshow. Dates for the Diary:
31st Jul – 4th Aug: IBM Pastors’ Conference in Ifakara
18-31st Aug: Oak Hall group at Sanga
25th-29th Sept: IBM Pastors’ Conference in Magambua
11th-16th Oct: AIM Missionary Conference in Dar (Corsham Baptist Team!)
23rd-27th Oct: IBM Pastors’ Conference in Mbeya.
Please pray for Ruth as she deals with administration and financial ssues, along with managing guest bookings. We’re currently looking to recruit an accountant/book-keeper for 12 months, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please give them a prod! Please pray for me in the remaining conferences; that I would teach faithfully & biblically, and that the pastors would go away spiritually well-fed and better equipped to feed their congregations.
We currently have a team of 17 people from All Souls, Langham Place, London, staying at Sanga Sanga. They’re here to experience the Tanzanian culture and to help out around the site. In mid-August we’ll also be getting ready to receive 22 guests from Oak Hall. Please pray for Ruth and I as we lead that trip, and that people would be challenged with regard to mission, and what they can do to help build God’s kingdom.
We are sad to report that Sanga Sanga’s cows were recently stolen – by the security guard employed to guard the site! As you can imagine, this has been very disheartening for all the team and workers at Sanga Sanga. The thief is now in custody but the cows haven’t been found yet. Please pray that they would be returned to us. They aren’t just valuable in themselves but also provide a useful source of income through selling their milk.
Please pray for our team here in Morogoro. The Swansons (Tony just recovered from pneumonia) leave in December, although we’re encouraged that a family plan to join us here in January next year. We’d also be grateful for your prayers as we think beyond our next home assignment (Mar-Sept 2019), and ponder the question of whether we should return here for a third term.
CATHERINE DONOVAN, contributor for today’s blog post
We have been studying about God’s grace and our thorns and these series have come to an end. There are many thorns in my life, but even more evident is God’s grace. For me, one of those constant thorns or pain in my flesh and soul has been the sense of loneliness through my life. By God’s grace, I have learnt to dress up in the mantle of God’s fatherhood each day.
I was born in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, in East Africa. Tragically my mum was shot when I was 6 and I found her body. My dad was murdered when I was 10. Left a total orphan in a country that UNICEF estimates to have 2.5 million orphans, it is a miracle that I have never lacked clothes, slept on the streets or gone a day without food. God has been my Father. Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 11 when a call was made to come forward in Church after a sermon. I knew I had no one and God would be my refuge. At the time when my Dad died, I was left with one of my stepmothers who took out her frustrations on me to the point that I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking she was shouting my name. I worked hard to go to the best secondary school in the country, a boarding school that banned corporal punishment. I found out more about what it meant to be a Christian in that school and joined the Christian Committee.
My faith was quickly tested when at the age of 15, I was purportedly rescued from my step mother by a maternal uncle. When he came to collect me from school his financial circumstances had changed and he gave me over to his very rich best friend, who had a daughter in the same school. Unfortunately this rich man wanted me for a wife. I spent my time hiding from him and locking my bedroom door with a belt through the door handle and keyhole. God protected and delivered me from that situation. However, my faith faltered as I could not understand how God could take me from one state of suffering to the next. I stepped down from serving on the Christian Committee because the rich man’s daughter had spread the word in the school that her dad was my sugar daddy. I left their home but did not know where I was going to live or find school fees. I was filled with hatred, had a hit list and asked a local security man to teach me how to use a gun so that I could enact vengeance on those who had wronged me. “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”(Leviticus 19:18).
Overwhelmed by life, I took to blanking my mind using transcendental meditation through a book I read. This situation was turned around when staff members introduced me to a Pastor and his wife who opened their home to me and the staff members sorted out sponsorship for me. Their commitment took me through my secondary education and I passed highly enough to get a scholarship for my University education and qualify as a lawyer.
I am grateful that: the Lord rescued me from the rich man as many young girls died of AIDS because of him; because of my stepmother’s ways I ended up in that specific secondary school; God has been a Father to me and has brought healing, deliverance and bestowed the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair- Over and over in my life (Isaiah 61:1-3). Truly, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose“ (Romans 8:28).
“Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:31-32
“Lord, Jesus, scanning through the book of Proverbs recently, I noticed how many verses are about staying teachable, receiving correction, and loving discipline I’ve underlined over the course of the years. I wish the sheer number of highlighted verses was an indication of how humble and nondefensive a man I am. But that’s simply not the case. I still shift blame, make excuses, and sew fig leaves with the best of of them.
So here’s my prayer: I want to own, grieve, and repent of my defensiveness, Jesus. I’m not sure why, but I’ve become a little more touchy of late, a little more likely to bristle when confronted. I’m sure it’s my pride, insecurities, and self-righteousness, but I’m equally sure you’ve got grace for that.
Jesus, help me to anticipate and welcome feedback from my spouse about my attitude, choices, and excesses. Help me to hear your voice in things my children may want to or need to share with me about the past and the present. Help me to cultivate friendships in which growing in grace is just as important as the fun stuff we choose to do. Don’t let me ignore concerns and corrections from mentors, ‘underlings,’ neighbours, even angels you send.
Help me not just to read the Bible but to have the Bible constantly reading me – exposing my sin and brokenness and revealing more and more and more the riches of the gospel. There’s no way I’ll make ‘my home among the wise’ without having my heart at home in your mercy, grace, and peace.
Jesus, it’s because you made yourself of no reputation, becoming sin for me on the cross, that I don’t have to live for my own reputation. Because I’m not long guilty or condemned for my sin. I can live in the freedom of convictability, teachability, and humility. Help me Jesus, help me. I pray in your gracious name. Amen.”
Rob Durant and Adrian Pillinger would like to say an ENORMOUS THANK YOU! to everyone involved in making last weekend at The Gathering so blessed. Sermons from the weekend can be found on the following link: https://www.thegatheringweekend.org.uk/
July Church Meeting
The next church meeting will take place tomorrow evening, Monday 16th July 2018 at 8pm at Priory Street. Minutes from the last meeting in April as well as the agenda are available on the table at the back of church. Please take a copy in advance of the meeting. They are also available to view on the church website.
MK Staff Training Course
From 22nd July to 2nd August CBC will be hosting an international group of people training to work with missionaries’ children. On Wednesday 25th July at 7.45 pm at Priory Street, there is an opportunity to meet them all, hear their stories and learn about where they are going. All welcome – contact Steve and Gill for more details.
We would love to have some tray bakes, home made biscuits etc. to offer our group for the coffee and tea breaks. If you are able to provide something, please bring it to the church from Sunday 22nd onwards. Many thanks!
On Sunday evening 22nd July we need some help to set up the church. If you are there for the evening service, please stay on for a few minutes if you can help with moving tables and chairs. The same assistance will also be needed on Sunday 29th.
Pray for safe journeys for Catharina (from Brazil), Hohwan (from Korea) and Esther (from South Africa) who are travelling to the UK this week. Thank you.
Access to the Church Building
In the near future Martin Sheringham will be changing the locks to the Priory Street church building. If you have keys and need access please let Martin know so he can allocate a new key for you.
Prayer for Sanga Sanga
For all who are interested, if you sign up to become a Friend of Sanga Sanga you will receive their updates and requests for prayer via Whatsapp as and when they happen. To sign up let Ruth Lancaster know by giving her your mobile phone number. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Church on the Green in August
Rob and Sharon Durant (Church on the Green congregation) will be away for a few weeks in August so:
Paul Garcia will lead a communion service on the 5th August
Adrian Pillinger will preach on the 12th August
Thank you for the Ark
A HUGE thank you to everyone who came to the Ark this year and to the numerous people who helped in large and small ways to make it so successful. Thank you all for supporting us and for your prayers. (And huge thanks to God too for his amazing provision). The Ark will take a rest over the summer and will be back on 29th September.
Monday: Mums’ bible study, 10am; Church Meeting, 8pm
Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; Corsham Money Debt Advice Centre, 7:30pm
Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm
Our July Church Meeting will be held on the coming Monday evening at 8pm in Priory Street. Alan Christie will be in the chair.
This is the agenda, with a short introduction to each point:
Open in worship (AP)
Welcome and apologies (AC)
Previous minutes (NF): An opportunity for those who were there to correct and affirm the minutes as a true and accurate record.
Matters arising (AC): An opportunity to raise items in the life of the church for future consideration or in unusual cases consideration on the night.
Leadership restructure (TS): As you are hopefully aware we are midway through a 6 month consultation on the structure that can best serve the church now that we are four distinct congregations. We will recap the thinking so far and steps towards a complete proposal with the current expectation that the Leadership Team will approve and recommend it to the October Church Meeting.
The Gathering Weekend feedback (AP): Just over a week on I expect this will be preliminary feedback but if you’ve not yet filled your feedback form or written to Rob or Adrian please consider this a reminder.
Mission updates (WR): Recent news from our mission partners
Finance (RH): The inimitable update from Roger, possibly with assistance from Ebenezer McDuck
Membership: Several people have asked to join the church and will be recommended by their sponsors