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Notices 20th October 2019

Louise,

Priory Street (Corsham)

            9.15am             Alan Christie – Ps. 40

            11.15am             Alan Christie – Ps. 40

            6:00pm           Gathering round the Word (Rob Durant)

Church on the Green (Rudloe)

            10:00am           Rob Durant

Eddie and Kathy

A reminder that our pastor, Eddie, and his wife, Kathy, are on their one month break.  They will be returning at the end of October and Eddie will preach again at Priory Street on 3rd November.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Church Meeting

Tomorrow night at 8pm at Priory Street.  All members encouraged to attend.  Agendas, financial statement and previous minutes on the table at the back.

Women’s Bible Study

Next one takes place on Monday 28th October at 7:30pm.  Study notes are on the table at the back.  Please take one in advance of the meeting.

The Ark

The next Ark is on Saturday 26th October at 10.00am at Priory Street. Come along and enjoy Bible stories, puppets, craft, songs and refreshments if your child/ren are 0-7 years!! We’d love to see you.

Light Party Thursday 31st October 5-7pm

It’s that time of year again!!  Please put it in your diary.  If you are available to help, speak to Rhiannon. There is a sign up sheet at the back of church.  Please cover this event and all the preparations in prayer. 

Advance Date – Family Quiz Night

There will be a family quiz/pizza night for the 9:15 congregation on Saturday 16th November.  Please put the date in your diary.

Baptismal Service

We are looking to have a baptismal service on 8th December. If you feel this is a step God is prompting you to take, please speak to one of your congregational leaders.

Update on Steve and Ruth Lancaster

Steve is due to have a sinus operation on the 23rd October and will then need two weeks to recover.  If Steve makes a full recovery, they can travel back to Tanzania between 8th-18th November.  Please pray for patience, for the surgery and for a full recovery.

Christmas Carol Service

Our Christmas carols by candlelight service this year is being held on Sunday 15th December at 6pm at Priory Street.  If you would like to be involved in this service by way of singing or playing, please contact Nancy Sawyer, whose details can be obtained from the church office.

Meal Train

We are on the look out for more volunteers for the CBC Meal Train which offers meals to church members who are newly out of hospital, have recently had a baby, are struggling with ill-health etc. It is a wonderful service that offers support in a practical sense to our church family and beyond. If you are able to spare a meal on an ad hoc basis and don’t mind being contacted when the rota is put into action time, please email sarahblaikley@gmail.com. Many thanks.

Open Doors’ Event

On Sunday 3rd November, starting at 4pm, there will be an Open Doors’ event at Priory Street.  We will have a speaker from Open Doors and will be serving refreshments.  The normal Gathering to Pray service will follow at 6pm. The International Day for Prayer for the Persecuted Church is being held globally on 17th November but as a church, we are marking this day on the 3rd November.  If anyone can assist Vanessa with teas, she would be most grateful! Please contact either Vanessa or Louise in the office. Many thanks.

Women’s Retreat 2020

There will be a women’s retreat at Lox Lane from 17-19 July 2020.  The cost is £140 per person.  Deposit of £25 is required by 1st December 2019.  Limited numbers.  Leaflets are at the back.  Chat to Anne Holmes.

This week @ CBC

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 9:30am; Church Meeting, 8pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; CMADAC, 7:30pm

Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm; youth weekend away

Saturday: The Ark, 10am

Upcoming events:

The Ark – 26th October

Youth Weekend away – 25-27 October

Women’s bible study – 28th October

Light Party – 31st October

Craft Group – 2nd November

Eddie preaching – 3rd November

Infant dedication – 3rd November 11:15am service

Open Doors’ event – 3rd November, 4pm

Remembrance Sunday – 10th November

Gathering to Praise @ Melksham Baptist Church – 17th November, 6pm

RESCUED AND BROUGHT

kathylarkman,
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Hannah Spruijt, contributor for today’s post

I decided to do something crazy at the beginning of the summer holidays; I would memorise the whole of Colossians. I say crazy because I have a terrible memory at the best of times and in the past, I have had trouble getting just one verse to stick! However, I felt challenged listening to my lovely aunt tell me she was memorising Colossians every day during her dog-walking time, and I thought to myself a) what better way to spend my breastfeeding time and b) what better way to prepare for our year of studying Colossians in the women’s Bible study? A couple of months later, I can honestly say I’m loving it and really benefiting from it. I’m now over half way through chapter one and finding the Lord is speaking to me through the hiding of his Word in my heart (Psalm 119 v 11 tells us to do it!) and I’m finding hidden gems I would have otherwise overlooked.

One such example happened recently as I got to Colossians chapter 1 v 13. That morning I heard that a relative had very suddenly died, leaving his immediate family in shock, which has had a ripple effect through my family. Thankfully he was a believer; a lovely man who had served Jesus with his life through various ministries. But the shock for me was very real; he was fit, healthy and active but then suddenly called home. When I came to open my Bible that evening to memorise the next verse of Colossians, I read “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves”. What a comfort right there!

As I repeated the verse in the half-darkness to commit it to memory while feeding Caleb, two words struck me; ‘rescued’ and ‘brought’. To be rescued involves deliverance; like being dragged out of the jaws of danger or pulled from the heat of a terrible battle. It is a strong word! We can be so thankful for what we have been rescued from! Our sin caused certain death and separation from our Father God. But that is not the end! He doesn’t just rescue us and leave us alone. No, the passage says “He has…brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (italics mine). I found the word ‘brought’ to be so gentle and kind in comparison to the forceful ‘rescue’ from darkness. In fact, the word is more powerful in the original translation. It actually means we have been ‘transplanted’ from the power of darkness into Christ’s kingdom. According to commentators of this passage, this word is properly applied to the transplanting of races, and the settlement of them in a new home. Therefore, our salvation, which is begun by dramatic rescue, is completed by our settlement as God’s adopted children in our new home; where Christ is King and we get to be with Him forever. What a hope we have! Death is not the end! This verse has brought me so much encouragement and I hope it uplifts you too.

28145-11122015-Colossians-1-13-14-social

WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY FOR?

kathylarkman,
grace place bio photo christine

CHRISTINE COLTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S BLOG POST

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that as I’ve been prepping for this term’s studies on Colossians over the summer it’s been the verses about prayer that have stood out, and then to return from the holidays and find that prayer is exactly the topic that Eddie is preaching on! God often seems to move several currents in one direction to get me to the place he wants me to be.

I’ve always struggled with prayer. I could blame it on having distracting children, or previously, a busy full-time job, but in reality, it’s always been something I’ve found difficult. When I read Paul saying at the start of Colossians, “We always pray for you” (v3), and “We have not stopped praying for you” (v9), I get a guilty jolt. After all, these were people he had never even met and I seem to struggle to even pray regularly for my family. Why is it so hard?

Then I started to look at what Paul prays for the Colossians:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding… We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so that you will have the endurance and patience you need.” (v9,12)

Paul doesn’t pray for the Colossians’ safety, finances, or even their health. He is asking that the they will know God’s character in full, and deepen their knowledge of Him. To know God is to understand His love for us, and to be completely secure in that. From this flows the “joy” (v11) we need for a full and active prayer life. After all, we naturally spend more time doing the things we love, especially when it’s with people we love, and if we are growing to love God more and more, we will want to spend time with Him, rather than it feeling like a chore.

I realised that what is especially exciting about these verses is that Paul is asking quite simply for what God has already promised. God says again and again in His Word that his goal is to make us, his children, more like Him. So, to ask for these things: “complete knowledge of His will, spiritual wisdom and understanding”; “His glorious power” is exactly what God wants us to ask Him for. God loves it when we hold Him to his promises because then He can deliver precious and good gifts to his children, rather than the foolish things that we ask for.

Paul understood that our greatest is to need to know God more, and I take encouragement that this can be my primary focus in prayer, and the best prayer that I can pray for others. It massively takes the pressure off me, stopping me from sitting in anxious silence trying to list all things I think I should be praying for others and myself, and instead sitting in joyful relationship with my Father, praying what He has told me to, for the eternal good of His kingdom.

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

kathylarkman,

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

kathylarkman,

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

Growing In Christ As We Serve Him

kathylarkman,

short-term-missions“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20

As many of you know, Eddie and I and a team of nine are going out to Uganda tomorrow to serve Christ through coming alongside missionaries and their children for a week. We know that you are praying and we appreciate this as this is always a community endeavour for Christ’s Kingdom. Thank you.

serve-rgb-1024x326There are two goals for our short-term mission team: First is service; and second is discipleship. These trips are as much a part of how we grow in Christ as it is about how we serve others.

Please pray for us as we endeavour to follow the paradigm of Jesus. I am reminded in the gospel of the feeding of the 5000 that Jesus fed the people through the disciples. Initially, the disciples focused on the problem of no food and not on God. But Jesus was teaching them about ministry and serving. Jesus was also teaching them about who He was. He gave to the disciples to distribute the food. In this way, Jesus’ disciples had to trust the Lord for it all. They gave as they received from Jesus. Through Christ’s three years on earth, He modelled intentional actions and habits in relationships with people in every day opportunities and hands on experience.

Isn’t it the same with all of us, whether we are in Rudloe, Corsham, or Africa? As followers of Jesus, we must bring our lives everyday to God in a spirit of obedience and sacrifice, no matter how insignificant…..or how confident we may think our gifts and talents are.

So please pray for us, and we will pray for you to that end. Thank you Lord.

Workers together for His Kingdom,
Kathy

FLOWER POWER- THE FLOWER MINISTRY OF CORSHAM BAPTIST CHURCH

kathylarkman,
02 wendy

Wendy Prior, Guest Contributor for today’s blog post 

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6.28)

Its lovely to have flowers in church during our services, and people have sometimes testified as to the powerful impact that they have had. They are a vivid reminder of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation – something which most of us can enjoy in our gardens, in parks, and sometimes in the open fields – and something which can be brought in to our services as a reminder of what God can do. His creative power is infinite, and it follows that His power to heal, to calm us and to uplift our spirits is just as great. I know of an occasion when a lady came into a service in some distress – she was a visitor – and said afterwards that she remembered little of what went on or what was said, but was greatly affected by the flowers on display which spoke to her and calmed her.

03 flowers croppedThose who support the flower ministry are contributing to a further objective too. Not everyone is able to go out and enjoy the beauty of flowers in their natural environment. There are quite a number of people known to us who have become housebound, and often the flowers go to one or another of them during the week, and this is greatly welcomed. In addition, there are people recently bereaved, people recently out of hospital, new parents, people with special birthdays, who are greatly encouraged when flowers are brought to them. It’s a point of contact in which the love of God and Christian fellowship can be expressed, both to CBC members and sometimes to others too, for whom it can be an opportunity to bring into the conversation the subject of CBC and whom we worship. It’s a rewarding ministry and we’re thankful to all who are involved.

JESUS IS THE COSMIC LORD

kathylarkman,

 

grace place bio photo christine

Christine Coltman, contributor for today’s blog post 

In preparing for this year’s studies in Colossians, I was reading the recommended Mark Meynell book, ‘Colossians and Philemon For You’. In the opening pages the author describes Paul’s claims about Jesus as truly ‘outrageous’. I read it and thought how jarring that was with my Sunday experience of God. I’ve gone to church all my life, surrounded by people who love singing praises to him and learning more about him. We are comfortable, unshocked and perfectly happy. Surely nothing about Jesus is that outrageous?
Then I began to think. How much do I limit God by my comfortable familiarity? Why does the truth about Jesus not blow my mind on a more regular basis? Paul’s claims about Jesus in chapter one of Colossians are big. He is the ‘firstborn over all creation’, the sustainer of everything – God himself. If I was as brave as I should be and told my non-Christian friends exactly what I believe about Jesus, they would be straight-out shocked. Jesus is that cute baby on Christmas cards, right? Yes, and he’s also the cosmic-creating, terrifyingly powerful, fearless ultimate hero who gave his life for me.
You may not know this about me but I love fantasy. Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (and many less well-known novels that I can recommend!). I like big; I like unbelievable – I like high concept fantasies where the incredible happens. Dragons fly, magic is real, one person can save the whole universe. Show me a crime drama, or a soap and I’m not interested. I don’t want to see something that could be happening down the road from me – I want my imagination to soar.
I know I’m not the only one. The success of superhero movies alone show that people have a longing for the incredible. Critics would call it wish-fulfilment; I’d call it our hearts crying out for something more: the inbuilt belief that there is a real superhero out there who really has saved us.
I was never quite sure why fantasy was so appealing to me until I read a quote from Tolkein. He said that myths and fantasies are ‘echoes or memories of the truths that God had originally made known to Adam and Eve’ and that the gospel is ‘the true myth, the great fairy story in which all the elements of the pagan myths find their fulfilment.’
Suddenly it clicked. I like ‘big stories’ because I am part of a big story; the greatest story ever told. I want more because I am built for more. I dream of an incredible land where the unbelievable happens because that is where I am headed; because a God – the one true God – sacrificed himself for me in a cosmic spiritual battle which he won.
Jesus is counter-cultural. He is not comfortable – in fact, he’s pretty unbelievable, and I’m glad of that. I don’t want to stake my life on something small. But there’s also a huge challenge in that. As Mark Meynell says, ‘If Jesus really is the cosmic Lord, then how can we not dedicate every fibre of our being to him and his service?’
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.’
Colossians Chapter 1 v 15-17

A reflection of 2018, and maybe life before then.

Matthew Little,

I would like to start by saying that this is not my blog post/update/newsletter/ thing/ whatever you want to call it for the latter half of January 2019 and former half of February. This is the result of thinking over the course of a week, and refuting past statements. See my last post. I have also just discovered that putting a slash into italics makes it lean a little further than usual. Putting lean into italics, aren’t I a creative soul. I don’t care if that’s grammatically incorrect. Plus, I have my first deck department evaluation this week, so it gives me an opportunity to think about how  I will respond.

I wanted to do a reflection in a separate blog post.

The things that happened…

So, how did 2018 go for Matthew Philip David Little go? Well, it went ok, I think. As you can imagine for an 18 year old, my life changed a fair bit in 2018. The first ‘BIG’ thing was, well, I turned 18. The age in life in which you become an adult. More on this later. After this, I completed my A-Levels. or High School, I guess, for my international friends that I have made over the past few months. Also, the crazy thing that didn’t occur to me when I started this blogging business On a hospital ship with a voluntary crew from 56 different nations was who this would reach out to. Looking at the stats regarding page views by country has wowed me. From the United States to Indonesia, of all places. I couldn’t even figure who this person could be!
So yeah, I completed my A-Levels. That period of two years were, without a doubt, the two most tense and worrying years I have lived through. I did Film Studies, Geography and Sociology for my A-Levels, plus an EPQ, that after months of consideration and fear, I eventually completed. I didn’t want to do an EPQ, because I just wanted to get through the three subjects I had chosen by themselves, and I thought it would just stress me out to focus on the subjects, and another thing to focus on for a few months. In reality, it did. But in the end, I chose a subject and topic that really interested me: History! History was my favourite subject in school, but I wasn’t able to continue it after GCSEs, because of my grades. I remember that results day well. Driving into school, opening that brown envelope to….. utter disappointment. It was gut-wrenching. It was like someone opened fire on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I passed my Maths though, which I never in a million years thought would happen first time. I still remember driving home, envelope in hand, responding to a joyous message of passes from my friend from another school who was like my closest friend that summer. (We are still friends, there wasn’t a betrayal, if that is how it sounds) I tried to congratulate, but I was too heartbroken by my own results. So what was sent was me trying to force my sadness onto someone else. This was all in 2016, so yes, the title is true.
But my A-Levels in 2018. To cut to the chase, I did much better than I thought would have done after my GCSE results two years ago. I passed Film Studies (Expected). I Passed Geography, like my Maths GCSE, did not expect that, but failed Sociology, which I was confident would be my best result. And I passed my EPQ, which I focused on the ‘Cultural and Political Impacts of the Crusades’. There were many times where I wanted to drop it. In the end, I was incredibly proud and happy with what I had done It didn’t really help by ‘bigging it up’ when it wasn’t necessary, Mother! Don’t call an EPQ a University paper with a smile on your face, expecting a sudden boost of confidence. Neither was “Matthew is graduating too!” She wasn’t talking about finishing High School (We don’t have graduation ceremonies from High School, we just go on our merry way), she was referring to me leaving St John Ambulance Cadets.  Which was just me going on my merry way. No more publicly outting my Mother, because she did encourage me to get through it all, so thanks, Mum! I wasn’t feeling all too confident on A-Level results day, also through that entire final exam period. I just wanted for it to be over. They were the two most confusing and exciting  (Who calls school exciting?) Luckily, thanks to a friend  I had made months before, fitting in was easy, and I mostly enjoyed spending the time with my new friends. Again, if you read this Catherine, thank you for all that, and thanks to the rest of that friendship group, who are either at University, doing apprenticeships or something else. Oh and also to the rest of you acquaintances and old friends who made new friends during Secondary School, I wish you all the best, and hope to see you again when I go back to England for a bit in the summer. after thought After many ups and downs and a few breakdowns, the sad passing of my Grandmother (My dad’s mum) I got through it in the end. And another chapter in my life was over.

As one door closes, another opens…

Of course, I regenerated into my next incarnation, my Mercy Ships life. (Yes, I used three different  metaphorical life markers. What you gonna do about it?) What started from wasting electricity with a documentary on in the background after school to gaming four years ago is finally real. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I finished my A-Levels. I thought about University, but I realized that University isn’t for everyone, my parents  were planning to do Mercy Ships and 2018 was the big year for the family, when we all finished things, Hannah graduated from Cardiff University with Civil Engineering, Zoe finished Child Nursing from University of Surrey and got married to Seth, and me, well read the paragraph above. I am a Deck Hand on the ship, under training to become an AB (Assistant Bosun) I don’t know if I’ll reach that  by the end of this two years, but this is about looking back, to what I know, only One knows the future, and He has it under control. He promises. I have only been serving for three months now, but I am really enjoying my time, and  I am  surprised by how much I am progressing,  and I am doing things that I never would have thought I would done this soon into this chapter. The chances of meeting people from this many different nations in a single community would have been very slim if I had taken a different path. Sure, we may confuse each other with different understanding of time. For example telling a Dutchie that you have to go at Half past Nine to see them get really confused when you leave at half nine (21:30), because they think you are going at half nine(20:30), because half  nine in Dutch is written as follows (20:30), so you should have said half ten (21:30) which to everyone else (Maybe) is written like this (22:30). My point is, I don’t know how to call time anymore. But it is truly amazing to experience these cultures with them, aswell as sharing your own with them. A few weeks ago, the (very small) Asian community onboard invited the rest of the crew to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. One of the hard things about life on the ship is that the culture on the ship is western. It still feels like home, yet step off the gangway, it’s Africa. It feels like another world.
At the end of On Boarding, we have a final project, which is to show that something has stuck out at you from all the things you learn over four weeks. I can’t remember exactly what I said, and my speech I wrote was on the notes section of  my old Tablet. That I left on the flight my Paris to Conakry. oops.  But what I said was along the lines of this. I am only young, and I haven’t had many opportunities to say yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things, but I think that saying yes to Mercy Ships was hopefully the first of many yesses. And who knows how many of these opportunities won’t have come up if I had said ‘No’.

Nearly finished.

Please forgive me for this being a wall of text. Why have I decided to reflect? As many of you maybe aware by now, that this year, Jodie Whittaker had her debut series, taking over from Peter Capaldi as the first female Doctor in Doctor Who. (My all time favourite TV show). And along with that, the show has been revamped (Again) now that Chris Chibnall is in charge. (Please don’t kill the companions off and then keep bringing them back to life. Everything has it’s time) New TARDIS, new Sonic Screwdriver, new friends, new everything. And I particularly related to Ryan Sinclair, one of the three new companions, played by Tosin Cole, because, like me is dyspraxic. I hadn’t related to a companion like this before, and it temporarily gave me a confidence boost and something to add to my defining characteristics. I wrote about this on Facebook, but now, I have gone back to my ways of  “I am dyspraxic. So what. I will ignore it.” because I don’t want to skip out on things because of my hand-eye coordination, but it has made somethings, including tying knots, and important skill required in the training book, difficult. Unfortunately, it is hard to work slowly trying to figure things out and taking my time to do these things, when some of my colleagues like to rush these simple things. Going back five years, to Matt Smith’s regeneration into Peter Capaldi, this was his speech.

We all change. When you think about it, we are all different people; all through our lives. And that’s ok- that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. – 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) The Time of The Doctor.

So that’s why. Looking back on the person I once was, but it’s important that whilst you look back on yourself, but to keep changing as a person, otherwise that’s some pretty rubbish character development, if you ask me.. I have been feeling fairly nostalgic this year. I am not saying I haven’t been nostalgic in the past, but I have found myself wanting to back to my childhood, and wanting things from my childhood, for instance, my 12″ Radio Control Dalek. Which was my first ever Doctor Who toy. That I bought (I say bought, It was probably my mum) from Woolworths, that fossil. Did you know that the first ever Woolworths was opened around the same time that Moses and the Israelites left Egypt? But I know at heart that I am now, as an adult supposed to be responsible, let the new children do what they want to do, play with their toys, read their comics, watch their films, whilst I put my childish things away, as in Corinthians, But that’s hard. With lots of voices trying to tell you how they want you to be, and trying to integrate them into yourself.   So now I don’t want know what to do, but I am happy at where am in life. Confusion and Contentment. (A nice way to end this, right)

Thank you for reading, and goodbye.

And one last reflection, and to clear some confusion. I didn’t break the window.

                   

“We’re leaving on a jet plane”

Ruth,

Back in February 2016 the title of our pre-home assignment newsletter was taken from a John Denver song: “Take me home pot-holed roads”! Three years on and it’s another one of his songs. We are indeed “leaving on a jet plane” after completing our second term in Tanzania. On the morning of 7th March you can expect me (Steve) to be humming JD’s words: “All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go; the taxi’s waiting, he’s blowing his horn”, although I won’t be able to sing along with the words, “I hate to go”, because I’m very much looking forward to heading home! In fact we both are.

In February 2016 I referred to the first home assignment (furlough) of a certain missionary explorer that you may just have heard of! And so it seems fitting to refer to Mr Livingstone as he prepared for his second home assignment! His first stint in Africa lasted a whole 15 years but he decided to take his second home assignment after only 8 years of trudging around Africa! During that time he ‘discovered’ Lake Nyassa in Malawi, buried his wife in Mozambique, encountered the ‘wretchedness’ of the slave trade, and sailed a small boat 2500 miles from Zanzibar to Bombay in 45 days! Having then sold his boat, he got back on another one and headed home for England. He arrived in London to find that not one member of his family had come to meet him, and so he ended up having dinner with the Prime minister instead! It had been an extremely tough term for him. He wrote in his journal: “Due to the failure of our recent mission all my work seems in vain. Am I to be cut off before I can do anything to effect permanent improvement in Africa? I have been unprofitable enough….”

Well, as we prepare for our second home assignment, I can assure you we’re not feeling as low as Livingstone was! Whatever hurdles and hardships we’ve had to deal with can in no way be compared to what DL had to endure, although we both admit that this term seems to have been tougher than our first one. I’ve struggled with illness for the past 10 months (sinusitis and gastritis) and we’ve both had bouts of what they call “culture fatigue”, although which missionary hasn’t experienced this?! Sadly I’ve had to deal with a disciplinary matter concerning a Tanzanian pastor who had been a close friend and, just a few weeks ago our ‘guard’ dog died, a faithful companion who really enabled Ruth to settle here in Tanzania. Ruth has also felt the burden of various responsibilities more this term. All that to say, we’re ready to get on that jet plane and we’re thankful for the fact that we can be home in 12 hours!

However, and it is a big ‘however’, we do have much to praise God for! Many positive things have happened during this second term – so here goes! I’ve driven over 50,000 km without accident or breakdown. We’ve seen the Conference Centre grow to its completion with the facilities being well-used by various groups. I’ve preached or taught over 160 times, mainly to Tanzanian pastors & leaders, and had a go at my first Swahili commentary! Ruth has dealt with over 80 bookings at Sanga with over 2600 people staying there, taught several English courses, and she’s also processed donations for work at Sanga totalling 507 million shillings (£170,000)!

We’ve also had the pleasure of introducing family members to Tanzania, as well as a number of church teams and Oak Hall groups. It was also heartening to hear that a number of those Oak Hall folks have gone on to invest further in mission. So, whilst we travel home with jaded eagerness (!) we’re counting our blessings, and we’re thankful for what God has gifted us to do. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, using the words of Paul in 2 Cor. 3: 5 & 8: “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work, for the capacity we have comes from God alone”. And one of Ruth’s favourite verses, Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us.”

Over the next six months we’ll be spending time with our home church in Corsham, meeting up with family members, some of whom we’ve never met before, and talking to folks about the work we’ve been involved in. I’ll be doing some Bible teaching on a number of Oak Hall trips, and we’re hoping to get away for a few breaks, one of which will hopefully see me celebrate a significant birthday! Among the more routine matters that need attending to will be visits to doctors, dentists and opticians, preparing presentations and sermons, sorting out tax and pension issues, and having a debrief at AIM’s HQ in Nottingham. At some point along the way, we hope to be able to see many of you, so that we can say a personal “THANK YOU” to those who have supported us. Without the financial and prayerful support of many of you, we simply couldn’t do what we’ve done – so “ASANTE SANA” for your backing and for lifting us up to the throne room of the Almighty! A privilege indeed.

The last few months…. As well as dealing with bookings and the finances of Sanga, Ruth has spent a lot of time training up an AIC pastor to look after the accounts. Fortunately, he’s not just a pastor but a qualified accountant! Praise God for this provision. Whilst on the subject of the AIC (Africa Inland Church) we were recently very encouraged to see a clip of the General Secretary addressing the Tanzanian President on TV. Once in a while various church denominations get the opportunity to make requests to the President, and one of the requests that our AIC guy raised was whether it would be possible for missionaries not to have to pay for work permits! At $500 a time, we’re hoping for a positive result!

In terms of recent preaching appointments, I’ve formed firm friendships with a number of local churches. The AIC church at Kihonda meets in a dilapidated school classroom on the edge of town, and for that privilege they get to pay £17 per month in rent! Thankfully there’s no electricity! It means there are no microphones or sound systems to damage the eardrums! The singing is great and it’s from the heart. The décor is also interesting! They decorate the front of the dusty classroom with brightly coloured material and stick a couple of yucca plants in the corner wrapped in plastic bags! They also wrap up the pulpit as if it were a Christmas present! At the end of the service everyone files out whilst singing with the added benefit that you get to shake every sweaty hand along the way! Apart from the dive-bombing sparrows that target the gaudy pulpit, I’m always encouraged when I preach there, because the percentage of note-takers outnumbers those who don’t! They’re keen to study the Word, and that’s always an encouragement to the preacher.

The folks at AICT Kihonda

AICT Kiloka

One of the other churches we sometimes visit is out in the bush at a place called Kiloka, although it could be Kiroka! We never quite know due to the problem many Tanzanians have with their L’s and R’s! The AIC church at Kiloka is led by a man called Francis who is actually one of our trusty workers at Sanga – even though it’s an hour’s journey from Sanga to Kiloka! I’m not sure I’ve ever met such a godly, committed, smiley evangelist during my time in Tanzania. Just a few weeks ago, I was preaching to the small congregation there and was able to give out Bibles thanks to a monetary gift from someone who had read about the church in one of AIM’s publications. Other gifts have also meant that the church had a makeover a few months ago. In fact it was more like a rebuild due to the fact that the cracks in the bowed walls were getting bigger! Whilst it can be a bit of a challenge getting to the church, it’s always well worth it and we come away feeling blessed at their generous welcome, often shown with a big bunch of bananas! The church provides a small glimmer of gospel light in an otherwise dark community where Islam rules, and we pray that this small gathering would be protected and blessed as they witness for Christ there.

20 things we’re looking forward to on HA!
The cold! No mosquitoes! Visiting Israel. Being spiritually fed. Running in cooler climes. Spending quality time with family & friends. Watching Carlisle United get promotion?! Not battling with Swahili! Enjoying long summer evenings. Food variety. Driving on smooth roads where most people adhere to the highway code! Playing golf on greens. Skiing. Climbing a mountain or two. Going to the chippie! Not having ants crawling around the kitchen! Cycling the Hebrides. Not being at the mechanics on a weekly basis! Not being stared at! Being at our home church.

Prayer Points:

  • Please pray for us as we aim to finish well and handover our various responsibilities. Pray in particular for Pastor Heri Ruma who will be looking after the accounts. Pray that our home assignment would be a time of refreshment, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
  • Please pray for our teammates Matt and Amy Dixon as they will be the only missionaries left at Sanga, at least until May when we have another family joining.
    Please pray for stomach healing for Steve! Recently diagnosed with gastritis and duodenitis.
  • Please pray for the two K churches; Kihonda & Kiloka. Pray that the Kiloka folks would be protected as they live out their faith, and for the Kihonda church which is currently leaderless as their pastor recently went to Bible College!

Every blessing and see you soon!

Steve & Ruth

Yikes!

Found this magnificent critter on Steve’s shoe – a praying mantis.