Dear Church Family
I spent the first part of this week at the Anglican Larger Churches Conference in Hertfordshire. It was an excellent gathering, and great to meet men and women who are leading all sorts of Anglican churches in different parts of our country and to hear stories of God at work. Topics we explored included healthy leaders, discipleship and church planting. I was invited to be one of the speakers on discipleship on the Tuesday morning and I shared some of the things we're discovering at The Belfrey about the daily practice of following Jesus.
When it came to lunch after the session on Tuesday morning I switched on my phone to discover I had a number of messages.
One was from someone from York who we've been praying for who's been unwell and was awaiting test results. The results were now back and they wanted me to know they were clear and normal. I gave grateful thanks to our Father!
The next was from a senior leader from another part of the North, asking if we might be able to assist in some way with a new project, which sounded interesting. That was followed by a message from someone in the church who felt they had a prophetic word about us doing the very thing the senior leader was enquiring about. The fact that both came so close together in time (and neither knew of each other) certainly got my attention!
Then came a message from a member of the House of Prayer team, sharing how a lady had come into St Cuthbert's Church that morning to find out more about the building and what goes on there, who also enjoyed the peace of the place and of church buildings. She was asked if she would like that peace all the time - the deep peace that comes from Jesus Christ - which resulted in her giving her life to Christ. I rejoiced!
As I was thanking God for this new sister in God's kingdom another message came in from York, telling a further story of a woman who'd just begun following Jesus, through our Hot Dog & a Prayer ministry. I was so pleased I shouted out loud in thanks - probably to the amusement of some around me!
Those are a few stories from just one morning this week.
And there are more from the rest of the week. I could also include the story of the woman in Lancaster who had a significant encounter with the Lord when she was prayed for by one of our clergy who was over there visiting family last Saturday. She then went to church next day to St Thomas' Lancaster to say she was now a follower of Jesus. I heard about this not from The Belfrey but from the St Thomas' team, who I just happened to sit with at lunch on my arrival at Monday's conference in Hertfordshire! They were so exited to tell me the story and how they're now linking her into their church. And then there's the man who gave his life to Christ this Wednesday at the Lunchtime Service who now wants to make The Belfrey his church. And then there are various stories of healing over the last few weeks, one which resulted in a lady and her family coming to our church for the first time last Sunday morning, and another of a young man who was healed whilst hearing a recent sermon in our church which played a part in him giving his life to Christ at the end of the service.
These stories are thrilling and humbling. Thrilling, because the Lord is at work, transforming lives. Humbling, because he is using ordinary people like us who are willing to pray and take up the opportunities he is bringing to us. We are doing our best to record these stories that we're hearing, as they're important testimonies of God's power and goodness. I'm sure there are many others too, so do pass on good news stories.
We seem to be hearing a lot of stories of people encountering the Lord at the moment. That's what we've been praying for (especially this year), so in some ways this should not surprise us! Of course this could be just for a season. But what if God doesn't want these things to stop? What if he wants more? That seems to be what he says in Isaiah 9:7 - 'Of the increase of his government (kingdom) there shall be no end'. And Ephesians 3:20 speaks of the God who is able 'to do immeasurably more'. So as we pray for good follow-up for all these people, let's be asking for more. Let's be expectant. And let's be ever thankful to our good Father for all that Jesus is doing in the power of the Spirit.