Extracts from recent prayer letters and newsletters of people and projects supported by the trust.
Challenged at College
...the term has challenged my thinking on a whole host of issues. These include the importance of transcending ethnic, class and cultural divisions in the local church (see Eph 2:11-22) and the importance of 'one-anothering ministry' (i.e. every church member taking responsibility to fulfil the commands to love, bear with, speak the truth to, rejoice and mourn with one another, etc.).
We have done some super-helpful case studies... on difficult pastoral and church discipline situations, thinking how an eldership might respond wisely and faithfully. I have also felt rather more aware of my own sinfulness than usual, in large part due to a self-counselling project on judgemental attitudes. So the term has been humbling and stretching! But it has also left me very thankful for Jesus' amazing patience, gentleness and graciousness with me.
16 of us went away to a cottage to study the book of Philippians and nurture our friendship. One of our mission partners in France stayed with us and shared about her gospel work in training women in the local churches around Paris area. It was a time for our growth in understanding the Bible, mission work and building relationships.
Gospel work with families in north London
"My understanding is that the Gospel Partners Trust is orientated primarily towards training and new gospel initiatives. I wanted therefore to thank you, and to celebrate the fact that, by God’s grace, your grant to us has enabled exactly that! A church in a turnaround setting, that wasn’t entirely sold on the priority of word ministry or of multiplying gospel workers has been able to recruit and equip a worker, is now receiving that ministry, seeing its fruit, and increasingly buying into the word ministry convictions it teaches and models. Families are hearing the gospel week-by-week, leaders and parents are being equipped."
Reach Out - Building the Church in Lancaster
"As we seek to reach out with the gospel, we continue to host our monthly ‘Lego Builders’ Club. It has been an encouragement to see many families regularly attending and to see the church family building relationships with them. In particular, one family has joined us for the smaller ‘Builders’ Tea’ events, and some from the church have got to know them well. Please join us in prayer that they and others would come to know Jesus as they meet him in Mark’s gospel.
Thank the Lord that we ﬁnally have permission to publish our lego Mark videos online. Please pray that we will use this opportunity wisely as we seek to develop a resource for others to access"
Dialogue Event – Pizza making
"I have been so impressed by the evangelistic culture [at church] recently. Over the last two years, there has been a real drive to host dialogue events where the Bible is shared. It has given a wider range of guys, the opportunity to proclaim God’s Word to those who do not yet believe. A few weeks ago our midweek Bible study group hosted a pizza-making evening for our Dialogue event. Coming back from an intense week at Felsted School and a week away from Lynn and Nina was always going to be tough, but I think the most challenging part was having to give a gospel talk in front of my mum, dad, brother, sister and sister-in-law.
I gave a talk answering the question “Who is Jesus?” I spoke from Mark 14:62 where Jesus is asked “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” and Jesus responds “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
There were lots of fruitful discussions afterwards about what that would mean if Jesus really was the eternal ruler of the universe…I was most impressed by our group’s enthusiasm, and the way that they answered questions from Mark’s gospel. It was a great example of how much confidence they had in God’s Word."
Light in West London
"Praise God for good attendance at Animate - our Friday evening youth club. Praise God that the young people at St Michael's want to bring their friends along to the different theme nights! Pray that the gospel will go deep into the lives of these young people as they finish our series in Daniel over the next two weeks. "
Iranians in East London - and Tehran
"[Mr S] He is an Iranian man who has recently come to faith, and whose son (& wife) in Tehran, join us by phone every Sunday to take part in our Farsi Bible Study. The son wanted to do this because he has heard about his dad’s faith and wants to know more - and may himself be now professing from recent comments."
"The hard bit of the year, is that so many people who were showing interest in the first semester of 2018, have disappeared, despite our prayers and efforts. It seems like the Gospel has gone in one ear, and out the other, for some. So it’s been a year of both encouragement and disappointment."
"There are 17 students in my midweek group and the thought of getting to know each one well, loving them and serving them in prayer is overwhelming to say the least. Then on top of investing in the new people, I want to keep caring for the old and the many friends I feel I haven't been a very good friend to recently. There is simply not the time! I react to overwhelmedness (the state of being overwhelmed) by doing nothing at all. So please pray for a bit of wisdom and a bit of perspective - thank the Lord that he is much better at caring for people than I am, pray that I will remember that! And entrust all of the people I know, across the board, to him. Pray that that will then free me up to just get on with loving and serving whoever is there."
- a new church for Henley-on-Thames.
Sam Brewster, the leader, writes:
"A number of people have been getting in touch asking how our first few services have gone, so I thought I'd send a quick bonus extra update to fill you in.
Our core group have been there in force, helping make everything happen, and excited to see things getting off the ground!
There have been newcomers at both services, including people I've met through parish visiting each time.
Children seem to be really enjoying themselves, and the kids groups have got off to a great start.
People are listening well and engaging with the Bible teaching.
At the first service we had about 65 adults and 45 kids, and at the second about 50ish adults and 30-ish kids. This is a great base to build from."
"We can hardly believe it but, we are approaching our fourth anniversary as a church. We still feel that we are just starting. We are fragile and weak with a small core team, sadly saying goodbye to several of our longterm students this summer but we are still here and looking forward to continuing to reach out with the gospel.
There are benefits in being a small church, one of our short-term students wrote this to us: ‘My favourite part about the church family is that it was just that, a family. It was something I missed so much from Colorado, and it truly became my home-away-from -home’.
Looking back over the last academic year we rejoice that we have had opportunities to share the gospel with a few who knew nothing of Jesus. We had some Chinese students and scholars with us who had no knowledge of Jesus when they arrived. Most Sundays there is someone with us who is exploring Christian things. We are praying for this to continue and increase. "
"When September comes around, I will start to teach Sunday School (a new challenge!) and I will be helping out as an administrator for the women's group that meets monthly. I will help to lead a Bible study on the letter to the Romans, while continuing my training by studying Isaiah and a Bible read-through. However, before taking up these activities, I am pleased to announce that I am in transit, heading to the bilingual InterAction camp and then heading on to spend a bit of time with my family in Canada. I am delighted by the prospect of seeing some of you in Edmonton!"
"Our busy period has been a house move and the exciting news of another baby... due in late September! I have had morning sickness so Matt has had to carry a lot of the house work and 'William looking-after'. Family and friends have been very helpful too so thank you. Please praise God for this wonderful gift of expecting another baby and his provision of a house for us. The house is only a ten minute walk from the college so is easily accessible for Matt. It has a converted garage and conservatory for William to play in so we feel very blessed!"
"We welcomed our other apprentices for their 2nd Ministry Training Course from 10th – 16th December. My highlight was spending time with the apprentices in 1 Thessalonians and considering Paul’s discipleship ministry. Within 3 Sabbaths, Paul had covered 3 important things with the Thessalonians: what to believe (faith), how it affects our view of the future (hope) and what life looks like for the believer (love).
Thank God for this time spent with apprentices in the Word. Pray that there will be great fruit from this."
Leah Githri - iServe Kenya
"Tim’s two years of training at St Helen’s finished in July. We thank you for your prayers during this time. The biggest lesson learnt through this training is that “God is working out his plan of salvation through His Word”.
We have come to see that the Bible isn’t just the foundation of our doctrine, but must be the core of everything the church is. Therefore it is essential to be eager in studying the Bible. At the same time we have come to see how deep the Bible is, and that understanding the Bible rightly requires hard work.
We desire to continue to study the Bible eagerly and to grow through this study. We rejoice in the opportunity we have had to be trained."
Tim & Ai Williams - now at Oak Hill College
Back to Bulgaria...
....after theological studies in the UK
"Sam is currently trying to find a job, he has had more than 12 interviews last week and hopes to start working soon. Pam will start her fulltime language course on the 9th of October. We will take time to settle and see how God will use us the coming months and years to come. During this time, we can be involved in church, (re)connect with people, build their trust, see how the church(leadership) works etcetera.
In a year or two we hope to do more, we both dream of starting projects, but for now our involvement with the church will be mainly on three areas: Sam will preach twice a month, Pam will help out in the kindergarten a few times per week and together we will start reengaging and working with the youth/young families in the church. Next to that we will attend the leadership meetings. We are looking forward to put into practise what we have studied the past years!"
Freed to teach the Bible
"I am writing to thank you for your generous financial support over the last year while I have been serving as a ministry apprentice at The Tron church in Glasgow. Over the last year we have been well supported, and as a result I have been able to give myself fully to the work of teaching the Bible to students and equipping them to teach others. So we are greatly thankful for your kind provision"
Sexualisation and transgender
"Another answer to prayer has been the chance to teach the parents in church about issues to do with the sexualisation of young people. After a lecture on the issue of sexualisation we decided to run a four-part course over about a year. So I did a talk critiquing transgenderism where I sought to help parents understand the issue theologically, answer questions they might face, and make a positive case for the Christian alternative. We then had another talk on bringing up boys as boys and girls as girls. We plan to address homosexuality, sexual immorality and immodesty over the coming months.
Please do pray that I would speak the truth clearly and faithfully and that parents would go away feeling genuinely helped. We are ministering to people for whom many of these issues are acute."
- Robert Brewis, minister for Youth and Children, Christ Church Chadderton
Realistic about pastoral ministry
"[recently] I mentioned two British-born Muslims who professed faith at Easter. One of them has not been to church once since then; the other has not been around very much. The Iranians I’ve baptised have also been noticeably sporadic in their attendance since their baptisms. I don’t report that to be discouraging, but to be realistic about pastoral ministry."