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Scottish Revival

Joe Gregory, President of The Connexion, recently re-read the powerful story of a revival which took place in the Scottish Outer Hebrides in 1949. He has chosen to share the account here to encourage and inspire our Connexion members.

On the Isle of Lewis, there were two sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, 84 and 82 years of age respectively, and they spoke only Gaelic. They lived in a humble dwelling by the roadside in the village of Barvas. Peggy was blind, and her sister was almost bent double with arthritis. Whilst they were too infirm to attend church services, they were not too ill to pray.

They were greatly burdened because they'd been told no young person attended public worship at their church. They decided to pray twice a week. On Tuesdays and Fridays they got on their knees at 10pm and remained there until 3am or 4am in the morning; two old women in a very humble cottage.

Then Peggy had a vision of the church crowded with young people. They persuaded their minister to call 'a session'. Seven men covenanted 'not to give rest nor peace to the Almighty until He made their Jerusalem a praise in the earth'. Those men also began to meet on Tuesday and Friday nights for some months.

One night in November a young man also began to pray, 'God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?' But he got no further. He fell into a trance and lay on the floor of the barn. Within a matter of minutes three other elders also fell into a trance. As a result, the minister and other intercessors were gripped by the conviction that a God-sent revival must always be related to holiness and godliness.

Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?

An awareness of God seemed to grip the whole community. Little work was done as men and women gave themselves to thinking about eternal things, 'and God seemed to be everywhere.' In the little cottage the two sisters knew God had kept His promise and told their minister to invite a preacher to come and help them.

Duncan Campbell arrives

It was a man named Duncan Campbell who was called to lead a series of meetings. For the first week of evening meetings relatively little happened, though five young people found God.

On 13 December 1949, at the end of the meeting, all had left except Campbell and one other. The Deacon said, 'Don't be discouraged. God is hovering over us, and he'll break through any moment. I can already hear the rumbling of heaven's chariot wheels.'

He began to pray before falling to the ground in a trance. Five minutes later the local blacksmith came back to the church and said, 'Mr Campbell, something wonderful has happened. We were praying that God would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground, and listen, He's done it! He's done it! Will you come to the door, and see the crowd that’s here.

Revival breaks out

Even though it was 11pm at night between six and seven hundred people had gathered around the church. They'd been moved by a power they could not explain. A hunger and thirst gripped them, and the meeting continued until 4am in the morning. Strong men were bowed down and trembled in God's presence. Nearby a dance was in progress but the young people ran from it, 'as though fleeing from a plague', and made for the church.

In a matter of minutes, the dance hall was empty.

Others who had gone to bed were woken by the Holy Spirit, got dressed, and made for the church. There had been no publicity except for an announcement from the pulpit on Sunday that a man would be conducting a series of meetings in the parish for ten days. God became his own publicity agent.

Over the next few nights hundreds gathered in different places, in churches and barns or in fields and homes. There was a prayer meeting every day at noon. All work stopped for two hours and people gathered for prayer. No appeals were made. People made their way to the prayer meeting to praise God for His salvation.

So, it continued for several years, and it spread to many of the islands. People who had never been near a meeting before were suddenly gripped by the Holy Spirit, stopped work, and gave themselves to seeking God. Men were found walking the roads at night in distress of soul, while others were found during the day among the rocks. Social evils were swept away as by a flood, and whole districts were completely changed. A wonderful sense of God seemed to pervade the whole place. Duncan Campbell described the atmosphere around Barvas as 'a community saturated with God'.

Duncan came for two weeks and ended up staying for two years!

Conclusion

When revival came to Lewis in 1949 the churches had no choirs, organs, musical instruments or padded seats. There were no meetings for children, young people or Mums and Tots, no Holiday Bible Clubs, no power points or transport laid on, and very few had cars. But God performed miracles and brought hundreds, if not thousands, to Himself. It seems the catalyst was prayer, prayer and only prayer. That was it. God did the rest.

As I have travelled around The Connexion I have been moved by the faithfulness of the folk in our churches. Be encouraged by the events on Lewis which began 75 years ago. Persevere in prayer, seek holiness, it can and does make a difference. Just one or two people can have an impact, like Peggy and Christine Smith. Looking at their example we can appreciate the fact that age is no barrier when it comes to helping the Kingdom of God to grow.

Joe Gregory

 

 

Easter Family Celebration

At the weekend Bolney Village Chapel (BVC) switched their usual Sunday morning service for an afternoon Easter Family Celebration.

About 40 adults and children came and enjoyed a variety of craft activities, including making Easter gardens and decorating biscuits, before a short all-age service. The family event finished with an Easter egg hunt followed by hot dogs and cup cakes.

BVC were delighted to see so many people there including several families from their parent and toddler group.

Who are you not reaching?

It is the second family celebration BVC has held, prompted by a challenging question from the Connexion Conference speaker, John McGinley. In his bookThe Church of Tomorrow, John asks‘Who are you not reaching?’

For BVC the answer to this question was young families.

John’s suggestion is that if you’re not reaching a particular group with your current activities then maybe you need to do something different...


Simple but true.

The new activities held so far have successfully proved John’s point. BVC is looking forward to the next family event in the summer and reaching more people!.

Let's Start from Here

Simon Allaby has just published a new book of stories ‘Let's Start from Here’ in collaboration with the Daylight Christian Prison Trust.

Daylight is a Christian charity that exists to share the Gospel with prisoners, to support prisoners during their sentences and to provide practical post-release support to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

There are 20 stories in the book and copies will be sent to every prison in the country after Easter.

Copies of the book will also soon be available from Simon’s Turn the Page website.

To find out more about Daylight Christian Prison Trust visit their website

 

Roofbreakers

Annette Stuart is a Roofbreaker at the Countess Free Church, Ely. Below, she provides us with information about this important initiative.

What’s a Roofbreaker?

A Roofbreaker is a church disability champion, who chats to disabled or chronically ill people in the congregation about any barriers to them accessing church life, and feeling wholly part of the church community.

The Roofbreaker scheme is an initiative run by a Christian disability charity, Through the Roof (TTR). The name comes from the account of the paralysed man in Luke 5. Annette first heard about the charity through the Rich Tea Community Group, for adults with learning disabilities, that she helps with at Ely.

TTR wants all churches to catch the vision for disability inclusion. Below is some information about what they do, and why it matters.

 

Breaking down barriers for church disability inclusion

The last recorded survey suggests only 5-10% of disabled people hear the gospel in their lifetime (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation).

In the UK it is estimated there are 16 million disabled people who do not benefit from God’s love through belonging to a church community. (Family Resources Survey, 2021-22). TTR is working with churches to ensure that everyone’s presence and gifts are valued.

One example is Laurie, who uses a wheelchair and an assistive device to communicate. Laurie’s church welcomed and encouraged him to take an active role in church life, which has been hugely beneficial. Laurie said, 'I am writing magazines, helping out with a special needs group, emailing prayers and talks of services and helping with social media'.

Everyone has unique God-given gifts to share.

Who are Through the Roof?

Members of Through the Roof are passionate about disability inclusion in Christian life. Their mission is to transform lives through Jesus with disabled people. For 25 years the charity has been:

Enabling Faith: Equipping churches and Roofbreakers (local disability champions) to empower disabled people to participate and belong in Christian life.

Bringing Freedom: ‘Wheels for the World’ provides wheelchairs and bibles for disabled people in developing nations where 90% of those needing a wheelchair do not have one.

Sharing Fellowship: Christian-focused accessible holidays, retreats and groups bring fun and friendships for everyone. Through the Roof provides free resources, training and support to local churches to fulfil the great commission to – and through – disabled people.

The Roofbreaker project equips volunteers in local churches and ministries to act as disability champions – listening and responding to the challenges disabled people face, enabling them to use their gifts and talents to serve as equal members of Christ’s body: the church.

Are churches fully including disabled people - and disability aware?

In the UK, over 20% of the population are disabled people (Family Resources Survey, 2021-22).

Not all disabilities are visible, but disabled people are still underrepresented in UK churches – especially in positions of responsibility.

Fiona MacMillan, disability advisor in the Church of England and herself a disabled person, says, ‘We are more likely to be known by our needs than celebrated for our gifts’.

Through the roof can help your church or ministry to welcome and value disabled people more fully

They offer:

Free two hour Zoom Disability Awareness workshop for churches who appoint a disability champion or Roofbreaker.

Access to a free downloadable ‘Church Toolkit’ and ‘Removing Barriers' church accessibility audit, available to all Roofbreaker disability champions.

50% discount on Through the Roof resources to all church Roofbreaker champions.

Advice and support from one of three Regional Roofbreaker Co-ordinators covering the whole of the UK, to encourage disability inclusion in all churches.

Support through monthly emails, events, Facebook and Roofbreaker Networks.

 

For more information visit the Through the Roof website or check out @TTRChangesLives on social media.

Conversation Cafe

All of our Connexion churches are community spirited and in light of this Wormley Free Church is running a Conversation Cafe on Fridays between 1pm and 2pm.

Converation Cafe is a free, informal group for those who speak English as a second language and would welcome the opportunity to practice conversation.

The group is open to people of all backgrounds - and of all abilities!

To find out more visit their website page: Conversation Cafe

About Wormley Free Church

Wormley Free Church is a lively, growing, diverse church of all ages, based in Wormley, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. They hold services every Sunday at 10.30am, which are recorded in live stream. As well as Conversation Cafe, they run a number of groups and events which are designed to meet the needs and interests of their community.

 

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

Trevor Jones Induction

Joe Gregory, President of The Connexion was delighted to be invited to preach at the Induction Service for Trevor Jones as the new Pastor at Sheppey Evangelical Church, following his retirement from Sheppey last year. 

The service was led by Andrew Higgins, who was joined by David Lockett, Chair of The Connexion Trustees and Bethany Burrage, Trustee and Pastor at Rosedale Community Church. 

Trevor spoke powerfully about his call to lead the church and his journey as Pastor so far. Like many of the great people in the Bible who were chosen by God, he wrestled with the Lord before agreeing to be the next Pastor of SEC. The key thing that the Lord made clear to him is that He would be with him, he would not be alone in his ministry. Trevor shared how all the practical details have been sorted out by God even though he still has to work for 4 days a week as a carpenter. 'The Lord has been changing me and my heart is for you', proclaimed Trevor in his moving address.

Trevor's wife, Julie, who is a prison officer and mother, also spoke with great honesty and humour about the challenges of now being the Pastor’s wife. Julie encouraged the church by saying that she recognised that there were people with gifts in the church and God was getting people ready to move out. She concluded with 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 'Encourage one another and build each other up'.

As Chair of the Trustees, David Lockett carried out the formal Induction part of the service, asking Trevor to acknowledge his call to ministry before God and before the congregation. In turn the congregation promised to pray for and support Trevor as Pastor. Duly inducted, spontaneous applause broke out in the crowded church!

Trustee, Bethany Burrage, who had travelled down from Hertfordshire, led the congregation in an impressive Spirit-filled prayer over Trevor and Julie, and greetings from other Connexion churches were heard before singing 'The Goodness of God'.

Joe Gregory, who has been a friend of Trevor for many years, preached on Jeremiah 1:4-10, which outlines the account of the Lord calling Jeremiah into His service, focusing particularly on verse 5, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart'.

Joe emphasised how crucial it is that the local church members affirm and encourage Trevor and Julie. Adding that it’s worth remembering that all of our Pastors and Ministers in The Connexion need prayer and practical support with additional prayer for their families, concluding, 'It’s incredible how one or two encouraging words make such a difference. Say nice things, don’t just think them!'

Tattoos - Yes or No?

Our lovely Voice editor, Esther Burrage, was inspired to research and write about tattoos after listening to a talk at The Connexion Conference, where they were named under the heading of ‘A Crisis of Culture’. As a young person who gained her first tattoos over the past couple of years, Esther decided to ponder on her reasons for engraving her skin.

Tattoo History

Tattoos have a long and detailed history, with evidence of them being used from over three thousand years ago. That history has included pagan rituals, cultural status symbols, labels of deviance, memories of events, and so much more. In modern times, the tattoo has been used in so many different contexts that some might argue that their significance has been forgotten and anyone can get one for any reason – or even for no reason at all.

What does the Bible say about tattoos?

The only real mention of tattoos in the Bible comes from Leviticus 19:28: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Now this is pretty condemning for tattoos, but let’s break it down. The command God gives to not wear a tattoo comes in the same command as not participating in another ritual ‘for the dead’. As we have already mentioned, tattoos have been used in these pagan or occult rituals over time, but this is not the sole way in which tattoos have been used, and it certainly didn’t inspire any of the other ways, since travelling across the land of different cultures and religions was no easy feat in those days. The Vikings didn’t learn the practice from the Amazonian tribes, nineteenth century urban gangs weren’t inspired by seventeenth century pilgrims to the Holy Land.

The art of tattooing has popped up all over the world, for the most part with little connection to each other. I was speaking to my tattoo artist and she told me that the most popular reasons her clients get tattoos is either because it means something personal to them, such as a memory of a loved one or symbol of a journey they have made, or simply for no other reason except that they found a design they liked and wanted it to turn their skin into a work of art. In this case, it’s the motivation of getting a tattoo that gives it meaning, not the action – because the action simply can’t be claimed by anyone.

A Quick Question

Let me ask you a question… Men, raise your hand if you’ve ever trimmed your beard. Okay, you can put your hand down, but if you ever “clip off the edges of your beard” then you have disobeyed the command the Lord makes just one verse before tattoos are mentioned. These are laws which time has allowed to be interpreted differently across the denominations of Christianity – they even have different interpretations within the Bible itself. Take Isaiah 44:5, for example: “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’, others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” This verse might be referencing getting a tattoo as a symbol of worshipping God, and it says that this is okay. So, in the same way that we couldn’t bow to a false god and would only bow to the one God, we shouldn’t get a tattoo for a false god but can get one for the one God.

Every view is different

I’m sure that as you read this article you’re wondering when I’ll bring up the big verse: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. I titled this article as ‘A view of tattoos´ because there are simply so many views and opinions that none can truly be condemned and none can truly be called correct. There is no one answer to whether as Christians we should all love tattoos or hate them. It has always been the interpretation of tattoos that has given them their significance throughout history – from them being seen as labels of deviancy, to power, to devotion. If your personal view is that getting a tattoo would not be honouring God with your body, then obviously there is no need to feel you have to get one.

If, however, you believe that getting a tattoo reflects the artistic beauty of the world and does honour God, then go for it! That’s what I did when I started getting my own, and the cross on my arm reminds me every day of how close God is to my heart; just as wearing my cross necklace does. This verse in 1 Corinthians reminds us that we should live for our maker and use our bodies to honour him, and as long as you do that and keep God at the centre, you will not be letting him down.

Esther's Conclusion

Throughout my research I found many contrasting views about how tattoos can be seen as a part of a ‘crisis’, but the main issue seemed to be how some people believe that tattoo shouldn’t have to have to any meaning at all, whereas others believe they are losing their meaning through an increase in accessibility and destigmatisation. I questioned myself after learning about these views, wondering whether I had been drawn into the trap of wanting a tattoo for no reason and thus dishonoured God in doing so, but my conclusion has been that my motive was not contrary to Christianity. Though I’ve always known that some people don’t approve or agree with tattoos, I’ve found that my decision reflects who I am as a young person, finding my own ideas and still following God with all my heart. But I am interested in what you think – do you have tattoos? What meaning do you give to them, if any? Do you believe tattoos can honour God, or should we strictly follow the rules in Leviticus...?


Week of Seeking God

Mortimer West End Chapel are holding a special Week of Seeking God from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 January. During the week, church members will come together to pray for guidance for the New Year and how the church can best fulfil His work.

Schedule for the week

MORNINGS - Prayer & Reading on Zoom, 6-7am, Monday to Friday. (Zoom: 732 7350 3336, MWEC).

NOON - Worship in the Chapel from Noon-1pm, Monday to Friday.

EVENINGS - Prayer & Reading in the Chapel, 7-9pm, Monday to Friday. The evening sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be Zoomed. (Zoom: 732 7350 3336, MWEC).

24 HOURS - Prayer in the Chapel from Friday 12 January. 7pm The kick-off will be on Friday from 7-9pm, followed by 11 two-hour sessions, ending at 7pm Saturday 13 January.

 


Purpose

To draw near to God individually and as a Chapel Family.

To give space to listen to God and room for Him to work in our hearts.

To receive wisdom, revelation and direction regarding how to best carry out His mission this year, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

To find out more about Mortimer West End Chapel visit their website

Today with J.John

Simon Allaby, Connexion Trustee and Minister at Bolney Village Chapel, will be appearing on 'Today with J.John' Premieres on 31 December at 7pm.

They will be talking about Simon's evangelistic passion for sharing his faith through the art of storytelling.

Simon writes stories on a regular basis, which appear on his Turn-the-Page website, and he also creates a 60 second message for our Short Thought link each week.

Click on the YouTube link below to see the interview:

Today with J.John

To access some of Simon's stories go to his website:

Turn-the-Page Stories

What are You Waiting For?

Simon Allaby’s Advent book What are You Waiting For? is now available to order. 

The book contains 25 stories exploring the meaning of Advent and Christmas.

It is a great stocking filler, a perfect giveaway for friends and family - and to have available at Christmas services.

To Order

The book is priced at £1.50 per copy.

For more information and to order visit Simon's Turn the Page Online Shop

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