This week I am in Derbyshire for three days at the “Refreshing your Ministry” conference organised for the URC’s Group for Evangelism and Renewal. Staying at the Swanwick in The Hayes conference centre we have had a good mix of Bible study, worship, and input including from our own Sheila Coop – on the journey of faith of God’s people in Macedonia Oldham, Failsworth, resulting in a new building – and Stephen Newell on the development of the URC’s focus on Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus to Day. This afternoon the Revd Dr Martin Robinson, who for a decade worked for the Bible Society, spoke on planting missional communities. This evening the worship and the Lord’s Supper was led by Louise Franklin. Louise spoke about the way in which fear can paralyse us so that we forget God’s promises to us. It is no wonder that over 20 times in the Gospels Jesus is recorded as saying “Don’t be afraid”!
The snapshot is of a slide Louise put on the screen. Connected is the story of Jim Elliott, a 28 year old American missionary who was called by God to the Huaorani – also called the "Auca", the Quichua word for "savage" – a group of Ecuadorian indigenous people considered violent and dangerous to outsiders. Having made contact with the Huaorani people over a period of time they were to establish a base close by. Tragically one tribe member misrepresented the intentions of the missionaries – and Jim together with 4 other missionaries were killed and their bodies were found washed downstream. They died on the 8th January 1956. It is remarkable that following their death’s the wife of Jim, Elisabeth, and their daughter along with the sister of another missionary returned to continue reaching out to the Huaorani people.
In his journal entry for October 28, 1949, Jim expressed his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."). The snapshot contains the words of Elisabeth, who had to overcome much to return, “sometimes one must do it afraid.”
Please pray for
- every congregation in the United Reformed Church - that we will be renewed and refreshed by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus’ call to be disciples today who are “Living the life of Jesus today”
- our Synod as we continue to work out what it means to share a “partnership in the gospel” (Paul’s letter to the Philippians ch 1 verses 3 – 6) and support one another in prayer in these days which affect the whole denomination
- our sister denominations and independent churches (our conference is sharing the space with a gathering of Baptist leaders from “Big Churches”) as they too wrestle with bearing faithful witness to Christ where cultural, societal and scientific changes have transformed the world we share at a pace we struggle to keep up with; and for the way in which locally we can partner with one another in new ways to reach our community.