Dear Minster and Friends,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1: 2,3)
After the excitement of New Year and Christmas Holidays the first working weeks of January can be a bit of a shock to the system. I know I always find this to be the case – money is tight after to long months and lots of present buying and impulse buys over the sales, the days are short, the weather is cold and life picks up again where it left off. Do you dread opening your emails or your post in January? You are not alone. It is times like this when we need our friends and family, when we need our church the most. Please come as you are this Sunday – lets look out for one another and assume that many of us are, in the words of James, ‘facing trials and troubles of many kinds’ and when we do so – let us learn from James – who was keen to reach out to his brothers and sisters for encouragement and support.
Amy and I and the boys have just returned from a few weeks in Africa, some holiday, time as a family and finishing off with a few days with African church-planters and evangelists – many of whom are known well to our Minster family and are dearly loved. Hassan and Justice send their love from Jos – including from the congregation of Trinity Minster, and shared much of the reality of life lived on a dangerous front line. One friend, Gideon, was hidden in a basement for over a day hiding from those who wanted to murder him, and several are having their phones tapped and monitored. Rachael Mutesi shared again about the challenges of living and ministering in one of the most violent and deprived slums in Kalerwe, Kampala, and Raymond and Brenda Bukenya also send love and are rejoicing in the birth of a new baby girl. Paulso had his car stolen from outside work, and many face daily danger of violence and accidents on the roads. And yet – there was such love, and warmth and friendship there, built up over many years. Many spoke warmly of time they spent at the Minster, of the support they have felt from us over June and November as we responded to the attacks by sponsoring repairs for the tent, new sound systems and football kits. The football teams are now up and running, and the sound equipment…can reach 1000 people with battery power alone, and has allowed the church to sing again in the midst of great trials. Justice said ‘I want you to know that we are still encouraged – we have so many stories.’ Our Christmas offering as a church has been warmly received, and we will receive and update soon on exactly how the funds have been used.
The trials we face in Buckinghamshire may well be of a different level – but they are still ‘of various kinds’. My three children have each had a vomiting bug this week – which is nothing compared to life and death decisions in Plateau State, Nigeria – but it is a trial of various kinds. Some of us are finding January difficult – it has its own type of blues – this too, may be a trial of various kinds. Some are afraid of the future, concerned of the past and finding the present difficult – this too – is a trial of various kinds. So whether it is physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, vocational…whatever ‘various kinds’ of trials you are facing today or this month – hold on to God, even through clenched fists and gritted teeth, and hold on to one another. This is no time for feeling alone.
With much love, and looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday!
NEWS & EVENTS
Our new winter guide for 2019 is now available for you to view online! Click here to view it.