This coming Sunday will be our 11th here in South Shields and we are well aware of God’s hand moving in the lives of many including ourselves. Our weeks are packed with activities and invitations and on the afternoons when we don’t have anything planned we try to squeeze in a pastoral visit or two. Needless to say, we have to intentionally set a day off each week or we could be busy every day.
Since the last blog we have placed two women’s Bible Studies on the monthly calendar – one for the Modern Girls and one for the 50-Somethings. Brenda will be teaching the book of Ruth to these 20+ lovely ladies. It’s such a joy to see their interest and hunger to learn to study God’s Word. As you can see by the pictures, both of these groups enjoy their evenings out together, but it is even more fun to see their desire to study Scripture together. Desire for Bible Study has been a consistent message that we have received over this past month. The church is enjoying Dennis’ expository messages each week in the Sunday service as well as in the Colossians study that began the last week of July. This coming Monday will be our last meeting for the Colossians study and they are already asking about the next study. The Colossians study has come at a good time since the children are out of school and have been able to study along with the adults. We have consistently averaged between 18-22 adults and 6-8 children each week.
We had a house guest the first week of August as our dear friend, Keith Fields, from Surrey came to stay with us. We met Keith last year while we were living in Ducklington. He is a good friend of Ray Cole's, one of the deacons in Ducklington, and we enjoyed going to Keith’s home in Surrey for a weekend with Ray last year. Keith was interested in walking Hadrian’s Wall which starts here in South Shields at the Roman Fort Arbeia. Arbeia was built during the 2nd century and you can see in the picture that the foundations of have been well preserved. In 122 A.D. Emperor Hadrian had a wall built from near here all the way across to the western coast, some 83 miles. You might remember our mention of the wall while Wes and Suz were with us back in June. Keith managed to walk about 35 miles of the wall on Monday through Thursday of the week he was here. Dennis joined him on Thursday and it poured down rain all day. Keith is always such an encouragement to both of us as he has many years experience in lay ministry. We hope to see him again while on this side of the pond.
Last week we managed to end the week by making the hour and a half drive to York. What a great little town! Complete with a Roman wall surrounding it, the tiny, curvy streets give you the feeling that you have stepped back in time. We walked all the streets at least twice and had a great time browsing through the open air market in the center of town. York Minster looms over the town. It was built in stages from the early 1100s to the mid-1400s. It is a massive cathedral! From almost anywhere in town you can look up over the rooftops and see the spires of York Minster. It’s an interesting feeling wandering down those tiny little streets and ending up in front of such a huge structure. We had one of the oddest experience in York that we’ve had since coming to England. As the entered the town centre we noticed a group of guys setting up a musical venue. As it turned out, they were American Indians . . . complete with long hair and lots of feathers. Weird!
The highlight of this week was the "Young" Guys Texas Cookout that we had last Thursday evening here at our house. Dennis grilled burgers covered in Perini steak rub and Brenda made a big pot of chili. Counting Dennis there were five men who enjoyed sitting in the garden eating burgers and chips - Left to right are Geoff Aydon, Dan Gilbert, Andy Price, and Dennis. It was lots of fun for all of them and they have already planned a pub night next month. We are so thankful for this core group of guys. Typically, men do not attend church with their families in England, so these fellows are stepping out of their cultural norm and participating in meaningful spiritual activities with their families.
Last Sunday Dennis started teaching a series in Romans that will cover Chapters 1-8. Just since Sunday we have enjoyed 3 very significant conversations with some folks who want more information about the truth of Scripture and the things Dennis said about it. We are so thrilled to be having these conversations and look forward to seeing believers and non-believers come to know Christ in a deeper and more relevant way through the study of His Word and through seeking what is really true. This series of sermons may last until January when we come back to Texas and hopefully more questions will arise that will draw folks into a life-long pursuit of The Truth.
We continue to treasure your prayers.