It’s been a full week of ministry. One of the most needed things for this sweet body of believers has been the care of a pastor. Having been without a pastor for over a year, most of these sweet people have not had a pastoral visit for a long time and it was our delight to begin to visit in their homes this week. We discovered that we have a master woodworker among us and Dennis was privileged to go into his workshop to see his amazing creations. We’re hoping to bring one home with us in January. Dennis used two of his pieces in the service yesterday as a word picture for Ephesians 2:10 and to visually express how we are God’s workmanship created for good works. We sat and listened as we were told stories of how this area was bombed by the German’s in 1938 because of the ship building industry. You can still sense deep emotion as they tell stories of hearing the sirens and running for cover. They have a deep appreciation for life having lived through those times during World War II.
We began the week at Westoe Crown Primary school on Monday and Tuesday. We were warmly welcomed by a very friendly staff of teachers and about 250 kids ages 6-9. There were many, many questions about cowboys and Indians in Texas and they seemed quite disappointed to find out that the Indians no longer went on the warpath and shot bows and arrows. We did, however, tell them about our friends Joe and Louise Leathers and how Joe was a real cowboy on the 6666 Ranch. They were quite impressed with the fact that cowboys in West Texas are the real deal and that we even knew a few. On the Sunday prior to our visit to Westoe Crown we had asked the childrens ministers, Carolyn and Kristi, at South Side Baptist in Abilene to ask our Abilene kids about their favorite things. Then on Monday and Tuesday we asked the Westoe Crown kids that same question. Reading the list from Abilene to them we were able to demonstrate the fact that kids are basically the same regardless of where in the world they are. It was a fun exercise for all of us. This gave Dennis a great springboard into Acts 17:24-27. Since we all came from Adam (Yes, we were actually allowed to say that in a public school!), it is no wonder that people are the same all over the world. God reaches out to all of us and desires for us to seek Him even though He is not far from any of us. It was amazing how they listened! The teachers were quite complimentary of our time with them and we are hoping to be invited back. Many of the kids recognized us from the times we have stopped by the 2nd floor of the church to visit Whizz Kids, as well as our visits to Brownies and Boys Brigade. Little by little we are gaining some face recognition which makes it much easier to interact with kids and parents. This coming Sunday is a Family Service which means that many of the families that do not regularly attend will be there. Please pray that they will hear and understand as the Gospel of Christ will be presented through the story of Zaccheus .
The highlight of the week for Brenda was an invitation to the Modern Girls Bible Study at the home of, Amy Clarke, one of the young mums. She sat in the living room of a beautiful 100 year old home and listened to 4 adorable young women talk about Scripture. What a blessing! These young ladies are passionate about living for Christ and studying His Word. It was a total blessing to be there!
We were invited to travel to Durham on Friday to spend some time with John Claydon, another regional minister for northeastern England. John took us on a personal and informative tour of Durham Cathedral (quite impressive) where N.T. Wright, noted theologian and author, was the longtime bishop. It was great fun to spend that time with John and hear his heart for the churches of northeastern England. Durham Cathedral was built in the mid 1100s and is the burial site of the Venerable Bede who lived from 673-735 and is known as the "Father of English History." He wrote a history of the English people in 731.
On Saturday we attended our first ever Garden Party. It rained in intervals of 15 minutes most of the day Saturday, but that doesn’t stop the English!
They just set up their Gazebos (tents) and go right ahead with their party. It was at the home of Liz and Geoff Aydon and I think the pictures say it all. The sun finally did come out and it turned into a beautiful day. Our observation is that Garden Parties are for the purpose of consuming as much sugar and tea in one sitting as possible. It was a blast and a great time to enjoy the company of our new friends. This party was also for the purpose of raising funds for the Baptist Missionary Society so there was a great selection of goodies available for purchase. Kathryn, Dorothy and Angela all look as though they've found some bargains, don't they? The total raised was around ₤250.
We ended Saturday by attending a concert by Graham Kendrick at Stockton Baptist Tabernacle about 45 minutes south of here. If you don’t recognize the name, you might recognize songs like Shine, Jesus, Shine and Knowing You. He also wrote Meekness and Majesty and many others. Six of us traveled to hear him and it was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship. The Tabernacle seats about 500 and it was sold out.
It’s hard to describe the way we are feeling right now. There is an energy and excitement in this church that is contagious. Several years ago we came to realize that God seems to use us most often to equip others for service in His Church and we are experiencing that calling in full force here in South Shields. The people at Westoe Road are ready and anticipating a work of the Holy Spirit. There have continued to be new people in the Sunday services. This week we will begin the study Jesus On Leadership with the deacons. On July 25 we will begin a study in the book of Colossians. These folks are running as fast as they can to keep up with what they feel the Lord is asking of them. We are overwhelmed and humbled that the Lord would choose us to partner with them in this work. Their hearts are tendered to the lost and the lonely and they have opened wide the doors of this beautiful old church to invite in all who will come. We stand in awe of the Presence of the Lord in this place and we are confident that He is doing a grand, eternal work here.
Thank you for your continued prayers.