Tuesday, 22 April 2008

It started in a tent.
71 years ago Alice Keeling (pictured above when she was in her 60's) and Envoy Terry started a Sunday School outreach for the children in the growing suburb of Bath called Odd Down. They held the meetings in a tent, until it blew down and then transferred their activities to a hut, affectionally known as the milky way because this was where free milk was distributed. A year later the work had grown so much that the foundations for a building were laid and the new work given corps status.

This week we have been leading the 70th Anniversary celebrations of what is now known as Bath Temple Corps. We had a great time meeting up with people connected with the corps who we had not seen for a long time and it was a special privilege to kneel again at the mercy seat where I made my committment to follow Jesus, aged 7.

I know I am biased because Alice Keeling was my Auntie but I think I grew up in one of the best Corps in the Army. I say this not because we had brilliant musical sections or any kind of celebrity status in the army world but because the foundations were right. The corps started as a mission and remained one. God's word was believed and taught well. The Holy Spirit was allowed freedom to move and grace rather than legalism abounded. All of those attributes are still in evidence but the mission field has grown enormously and the labourers are few.

I know that there are hundreds of places and people to pray for but just as you read this, would you pray for Bath Temple, for more workers to bring in the harvest?

God bless

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Praying for the forgotten

I wake every morning to the Today programme on Radio 4 and whilst I read my daily Bible reading before getting up, try to pray for the needs of the world as they are reported.

This morning there was an update about a mother from Eastern Congo, whose story was first told one year ago. I remember her because her story was so appalling. But although I had been shocked and deeply moved by what was and is happening in that part of the world I forgot again as Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Madeleine McCann filled the headlines.

I don't mean to forget but I do. It is impossible to remember everyone every da. That is why it was good to be reminded again this morning and to be inspired by the trust this brave woman has in the ultimate justice of God.

Zawadi in about 30 years old. Last year Hutu Militia came to her village and bayonetted her husband, all her relatives, including two of her children whilst she watched. She was then raped repeatedly the men, who then forced her to hang her own baby. Her only surviving relative is her eldest daughter who was visiting another village that day. When asked what she wants done to the people who did this to her, she says she only wants them stopped. She does not want revenge, judgement is in the hands of God.

A year on and Zawadi is no longer in the hospital and is living in temporary accommodation with her daughter, provided by the church. The funding for this runs out soon and she does not know where she will go or how she will manage. She is too frightened to go back to her village in case the militia come back and rape her daugther. In any case, she has no family there now.

I may forget again tomorrow because there will be other stories and other issues that fill my eyes and ears but for today I remember her and pray with passion and hope for her. And for all those other victims in her part of the world whose stories never make the headlines, Father God, may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

God Bless