Dear Praying Friends,
‘Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7.12)
…and He most certainly has! Since we wrote last, a busy summer has turned into an equally hectic Autumn. God’s grace has been, quite simply, magnificent, and it’s a joy to honour all that He’s doing with the Allens and Hope Church.
Sundays are obviously the focus of our work and worship. Since September we’ve been meeting in Brian Jackson House in the middle of town. This is an excellent venue, with a superb central position, and the large ground floor room we use has excellent facilities for all aspects of our work. Our numbers have crept to approximately fifty in the morning, and forty in the evening, including a couple of new families who we’re all enjoying getting to know.
On Sunday evenings this term we’ve been trialling Taste & See, a ministry which involves a time of praise and preaching, then a simple meal which is followed by Bible study groups and then more fellowship. The reception so far has been excellent, so we’ll press on for the next couple of terms and take stock. We also meet on Wednesdays, where there is a great spirit of serious prayer.
Our real joy is still the folk the Lord is gathering. The majority of our number are committed Christians, though we’re loving having some seekers each week, and we’re slowly making inroads with the students. We have twenty five members (including Maisy and Ezra as Junior Members), and ten or so are exploring membership. The other Sunday we had an open house, which was a fabulous time of friendship and much laughter.
It seems that our Apprentices, Graham and Chris, have been with us for an age now, and they’re both making a huge contribution. They’re godly, wise, and very committed, and are taking forward work with students and evangelism, as well as lending a hand in many other things. Graham is teaching part-time alongside his work with us, and is studying on the Christian Ministry Training Course, on which I’m a tutor. Chris is with us for at least a year (he was working with UCCF in the town last year), and already I can barely imagine the thought of working without either of them.
Meanwhile, the children are going great guns at their schools (3 different ones!). Each is enjoying school in different ways. I think all are missing London friends, and are finding it slow-going developing really good friendships here. Still, they’re full of courage and no little faith as they continue to adjust in this new environment. Sam’s asthma has been troubling him a lot the last few months, and we continue to work with the Consultant on its best treatment. All of the children are predictably active doing different things, and it’s often hard working at home after school with the noise of three different instruments being practiced, or shooing a child away who causally walks into my study with a chicken tucked under one arm!
Sarah’s covering a maternity leave for two terms part-time, at Maisy and Ezra’s High School. She’s enjoying the stretch, but doesn’t plan to try and take it further beyond Easter.
Here are three very specific prayer updates: thankyou for your prayers relating to the Christian Bookshop in town. We’re so hungry to see this venue used as a centre for the best in Christian resources, as well as a base for discipleship and evangelism. We’re exploring a major refit and restock with the manager in order to further these goals. Do please pray on. Secondly, thanks for your prayers for the children’s summer camps. The oldest three who went had heaps of fun, and very spiritually enriching times. Thirdly, there was a wonderful resolution to my bike theft: following a quite reasonable insurance payout, and an uber-generous gift from a friend, I’m now back on the road in style!
I wonder if I could give you a point a day, as perhaps an easy way to add the Allens and Hope to your prayers?
Sunday – Hope. Please remember our worship and meetings, that they would be full of Christ and His Cross, and so, full of joy and rich spiritual life for many.
Monday – Godliness. This term Sarah and I are moving into our 40s, and so are embarking on what is a decade for many of spiritual drift! Please pray that the Lord would fill us daily with His Holy Spirit, that we would grow in zeal and holiness, and in love with the Lord, each other, our children, friends, and the lost.
Tuesday - The Children need our prayers continually. Please pray that they would be kept from the Evil One in their schools, and that they would be encouraged as they look to Jesus. Pray on, too, for good friends, and for Christian ones, too.
Wednesday –Spiritual Growth in Hope. Pray that we would be people of the Word, Prayer and Service, and so, be overflowing with grace. Everything else is secondary.
Thursday – Evangelism. Please remember Graham leading the Evangelism Team, and our work of sharing the Gospel as Christmas approaches. We’ve got a couple of town-centre initiatives planned. We long to see people saved. Remember the Bookshop as a potential base for outreach longer-term.
Friday – Students. We’re delighted that a few students have definitely made their home with us, and are growing spiritually. Please pray that God would give us favour as we reach out to the University.
Saturday - Finance. We’ve had a couple of pledges for several thousand pounds each from two Christian charities. We’re so grateful, but with increased financial commitments in this excitingly expanding work, costs will increase accordingly. Please pray for the resources we need to do the work to God’s glory.
Thankyou all for your terrific loyalty in prayer, and support on so many levels. Please do keep in touch with us.
P.S. Did you know? I send out a weekly Hope Church Flier by email. If you don’t receive this, but would like to, just drop me a line.