Discovery Bible Study Update

Since early 2015 we have met to have a cuppa, read the Bible aloud and respond to five questions, what do you like about this story or passage, what does the story tell us about people, what does the story tell us about God, what does the story tell us about and finally who needs to hear this story.

Ace took the lead and suggested, because it was a long reading, we could each read a section of the passage of Scripture assigned for the morning, Jesus, the Bread of Life, found in John 6:25-58. The previous week we had read the story of God’s provision of manna found in Exodus 16:1-12.

With two green teas, three cappuccinos and one flat white ordered Ace started, and moving anticlockwise the others followed each reading a section, Arthur next, then Rob, then me, followed by Shane finishing with Mohamed. While it was Mohamed’s first time in attendance he didn’t hesitate, and with some help from Shane’s completed his reading admirably.

It was Ace, who had extended the invitation to Mohamed to attend the group. They had met during English classes conducted by the local University the previous year.

We were an interesting group, two Aussies, two Filipinos, one Kiwi and one Iranian. Our waiter, Richard, who had just  returned after six months away completing a personal trainer course was pleased to see we were still meeting. And today we had come together once again to read the Bible, for Mohamed it was the first time he had read the Bible.

image

Ace prayed for Mohamed and his success at an upcoming karate competion in Sydney. He also prayed for Shane, who was hoping his feet wouldn’t cause him any pain on his long walk home after our meeting.

Advertisements

Crossing the Bridge

Some time ago a young lady, Ella, who had been attending our local church was referred to me by the Coordinator of our Children’s Ministry.  She was very interested in the internship program the church was introducing the following year. I was the project coordinator.

We agreed on a time to discuss her interest. Ella told me her story and expressed her interest in the children’s ministry. I explained how we envisaged the internship program operating and the requirements of the candidates. During the conversation, while Ella proved herself to be a very good candidate, I had this sense of uncertainty in regard to her personal relationship with God.

So before we finished I asked, “Ella, can I run something by you?” After a short pause I then went on to ask, “Ella, let me ask, has anyone ever sat down with you and explained from the Bible how you can know God personally and be sure of your relationship with him?”

From time to time at church I sense the need to move a conversation to matters of eternal importance. It isn’t always easy to bridge the gap. However,  I have learned to respond and not quench the Spirit.

I have found appropriate questions, asked respectfully, are helpful in bridging the gap. The questions need to respect the person, encourage conversation around spiritual matters and yet leave room for either party to pull back if appropriate.

I recall being introduced to David by a mutual friend, Harry, inside the entrance to the auditorium a few minutes before the start of the morning service. Harry had just finished introducing me when another mutual friend, Andrew, arrived. On being introduced Andrew immediately asked David, “Are you a Christian?”

I spoke to Andrew later suggesting his question was rather direct. I might have even suggested blunt, to which he replied, “Where else but in church?” He was right! Where else but church.

My first question to Ella, “Can I run something by you?” seeks  permission from the other party, and suggests that I want to build a more meaningful relationship, and it opens the way for the follow up question that will cast light on what I am sensing.

In response to the follow up question Ella replied, “No.” Her reply wasn’t unexpected. We arranged another time where Ella confirmed her relationship with Jesus and received him as her Saviour and Lord. After studying the Seven Commands of Jesus with her mentor, Ella was baptised, and went on to successfully complete her internship.

David? Well after the morning service I followed up the earlier conversation and asked David similar questions to those I had used with Ella. By the end of the week, accompanied by his friend,  Harry, David too had confirmed his relationship with Jesus receiving him as his Saviour and Lord.

It isn’t by accident that people start attending church! Generally God is at work drawing them to himself. We have a duty to respond. Dare to cross the bridge and address the God-given opportunity regarding someone’s eternity.

2 Peter 3:9 NIV
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

A Tale of a Flowering Gum…

Some time ago I planted a flowering gum. I had purchased two but one died in the pot before I was able to replant it. The onset of hot weather, at the start of the Australian summer, was too much for the replanted tree and the leaves instead of a healthy green turned brown. Seemingly it had died too. I was disappointed. I’m not sure whether it was my disappointment but I delayed pulling it out.

One day I had the task of pulling it out on my list of gardening jobs. I collected the fork from the shed, stepped on the garden bed where I had planted the tree and was about to drive the fork into the ground at the root of the tree when, thankfully, I noticed tiny new buds appearing on the branches of the tree. I was pleasantly surprised. The tree had obviously taken root and, although the leaves had turned brown, it was alive. It had survived.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I never cease to be amazed by the resurrection story. Christ seemingly dead was alive!

Similarly, I am thrilled when the new life of God breaks through in a person’s life where seemingly it has been dead after a long season of dormancy.

Seemingly a mystery, but I shouldn’t be surprised when new life bursts forth. This new life is a gift of God and it has an inherent resilience. God nurtures it unceasingly and tenderly through life’s storms and seasons, and addresses any hindrances to its growth. His sole purpose is to bring it to it’s full maturity on the last day.

Charles Spurgeon writes,

“Suppose the believer sins? 1 John 2:1 declares, ‘If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.’

Suppose a believer backslides? Hosea 14:4 declares, ‘I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.’

Suppose the believer falls under temptation! 1 Corinthians 10:13 declares, ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’

Suppose the believer falls into sin as David did! Yes, God will, ‘Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow’, Psalm 57:7, and again in Jeremiah 33:8 God declares, ‘I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me.’

Once in Christ, in Christ forever,
Nothing from his love can sever.”

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

John 6:37

Leicester Mission Update…

From Steve…

Searching for Houses of Peace in Leicester

Early in July around 70 people went out looking for “houses of peace” around our home city of Leicester.

When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem he sent out 72 disciples to prepare the way. They went, taking nothing with them except the offer of prayer and the good news. They went looking for “houses of peace”. Homes that welcomed the messenger and the message (Luke 10:1-11).

This is what happened in Leicester when we put Jesus’ instructions in practice.

On our first night Michelle and I walked up and down a whole street in an Indian area visiting every home. Many people were out. Most people we met thanked us for asking, but didn’t want us to pray for them. It was hard work.

At the last door we met Prema, a young professional woman from India. We asked her if there was anything we could pray for? Please come in she insisted. She was suffering from back pain and wanted us to pray for her. Half an hour later we left promising to visit again.

In another part of town Fred and Charles were visiting a “posh” neighbourhood when a woman answered the door and announced, “What is it? I’m watching the tennis!”

“We’re in the community to bless families. Is there something we can pray for you and your family?”

She stopped. “My husband just had a stroke this week. Would you pray for my husband?”

Charles prayed. The woman was apologetic.

“Thank you, that meant so much to me. I’m so sorry about the tennis stuff. This is way more important. That was a beautiful prayer. I’ll tell my husband.”

Fred and Charles left. Someone will visit that home again.

In the same wealthy area Dave and Hugo didn’t feel like knocking on another door. Most people answered, “Well fine thank you,” to the offer of prayer.

A young professional woman answered the door and to their surprise welcomed their offer of prayer. Soon Dave was drawing the “three circles”, a simple gospel presentation and Julie was ready to turn and put her trust in Jesus. The next day Dave returned with Michelle (Addison) to begin discipleship lessons in Julie’s home. Julie is learning how she can share her story and the gospel story with her friends.

Late at night one of the teams met up in a pub to debrief. At the pub Linda began sharing  the gospel with the waiter. The next day she was visiting homes. A young man answered the door, it was the waiter from the night before. He said, don’t pray for me. But pray for my mother she’s seriously ill. That night, back at the pub, Linda continued to share with the young man.

Many Muslim homes, Hindu homes and typical English homes that were happy to receive prayer and are open to a second visit to discuss stories about Jesus.

A team debriefs

In six days we visited 1,290 homes

In six days we visited 1,290 homes. Around one third of the people who answered the door wanted prayer — 424 homes. We went to be a blessing through prayer. We prayed for money troubles, for up coming weddings, health crises, decisions about careers, newborn babies and sick pets. We drew the line at praying for success in the lottery!

Four people gave their lives to Christ and are ready for discipleship lessons in their homes.

Over the next few weeks we’ll re-visit the most responsive homes and share the story of the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50), and the gospel story wrapped in our story. We’re expecting three responses:

Red light: Thanks for the prayer but I don’t want to take things further.
Amber light: I’m not ready to make a decision, but come back and we’ll look at another story.
Green light: I’m ready to turn and put my faith in Jesus and learn how to follow him.

We’ll be discipling people in their homes. Teaching them to follow and obey Jesus. Those new believers will become ambassadors who share their story and the gospel story with family and friends.

What have we learnt? No matter how resistant Britain is to the gospel, there are always houses of peace waiting for us to visit offering prayer and the good news.

You can hear the story of the Leicester Week on the Movements podcast.

Thanks for sharing the vision.

Take the Time…

From my friend Paul…

Good morning friends! I had an interesting drive to Camperdown yesterday, in and out of squally storm patches with rain and sleet and wind. But at one point there was a clear patch, with a big, clear rainbow right in front of me, painted against an immense dark storm front up ahead. All the colours were so sharp and bright and clearly distinguishable in a broad band across the road ahead. And I was thinking to myself, “Should I stop and get a picture? That’s the sort of thing people like to see on Facebook.” And so I deliberated for maybe a kilometer and by the time I had made up my mind the colours had faded, started to go fuzzy, and then within seconds it was gone. And I was back in the storm front, with windscreen wipers going like the clappers.

And it occurred to me that God’s will for our lives can be very much like that. Every so often we gain a clear view of it. God wants us to see all the glorious promises he has for us, just like when He originally gave the rainbow. But it’s up to us to stop for long enough to reflect on His will for our lives, to really take it in. Too often I think we catch a glimpse and keep speeding on to the next storm front without being encouraged enough, changed, matured, strengthened by a clear understanding of His will for our future ahead.

Let’s take the time to see, to listen, to take in His will for us, because He is kind and loving, and wants to equip us for the long road ahead.

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”

Hebrews 13:20-21

Leicester Mission

From Steve..

Pray for the Leicester Mission week

Last weekend we trained seventy people in our home city of Leicester. We taught them how to connect with people, share the gospel and train new disciples. On Saturday afternoon everyone went out in pairs praying for people on the streets and asking, “Are you near or far from God?” and “Would you like to be near?”

I met a Nigerian couple with a Muslim background. We had a great conversation and plan to get together and talk again. So many others had similar experiences.

From July 6-11 Christians from around Leicester and Britain will gather for a week of Mission. Each morning there will training. In the afternoons and evenings we will go out into the community searching for “houses of peace.”

When Jesus sent out his disciples he told them to look for God-prepared people who would open their homes to the messengers and their message (Luke 10).

We’ll be going out with a small gift of cookies and an offer to pray for any needs in the homes we visit. We’re looking for people in whom God has been working with the intention of starting neighbourhood Discovery Bible Study groups in homes.

We are planning for 40-50 workers to join us on this mission.

Background on Leicester

In AD 47 Paul and Barnabas were based in Antioch and had not yet set off on their first missionary journey. In that same year, the city of Leicester was founded as a Roman garrison town on the River Soar. You can still see the remains of that settlement.

Leicester lies close to the geographic centre of England, and the demographic centre of Great Britain.

Modern Leicester is home to two large universities, the Leicester City Football Club and the Leicester Tigers Rugby Union Club. Recently it has become the final resting place of Richard III.

Over the last half-century Leicester has been transformed through immigration of people from the far corners of the former British Empire. Leicester was the first city in England in which ethnic minorities have become more than 50% of the population of 330,000. In 2011 white Britons accounted for 45% of Leicester’s population (down from 61% in 2001), while Asian Indians (including British-born Indians) accounted for 28% of the population – up from about 26% in 2001. Most of the South Asians are Gujarati Indians who were expelled from Uganda and Kenya in the late 60s and early 70s.

Christianity has been declining in Leicester. Islam, and “no religion” are on the increase. Hinduism has remained constant.

Leicester is home to the largest Hindu Diwali festival (Festival of Lights) outside of India (photo above).

What to pray for ….

the 40-50 workers from Leicester and around the UKGod-prepared peopleopen doors to return and begin Discovery Groups in homespray that the fruit of this Mission would be new disciples who are learning to follow Jesus and share the good news with their family and friends

You can sign up to receive prayer updates.

Thanks for sharing the vision.