Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Love church!


So, so thankful for an amazing summer. Our time in the UK has literally been transformed by the love shown to us from church and Christians that we hardly knew before, who have treated us as family. I feel sheepish about every time I've moaned about church. It gets a pretty bad rep anyway. I can honestly say I have never experienced love like this anywhere else.

We have been put up by Staines Baptist Fellowship, who I like to think of as a small and mighty community church. They work with all other church denominations in the town to serve the community in prayer, mums groups, meals, street angels and so much more. They hardly knew us but have looked after us like parents, brothers and sisters and close friends. They came together to clean up the house before we moved in and even ordered organic veg to be delivered in our first week (a relief as we avoided big English supermarkets for as long as possible!). They have prayed us through every hurdle during our time here, even during the night time when we had Zeb at hospital. We came back to home cooked meals in the fridge and even bins taped together in the road outside to reserve a good parking space! There has been so much love shared through kind words and their open community that it chokes me up, it's really hard to explain in words how much this has meant to us.

Our beloved church in Langley, St.Marys (and the other parish churches there) have continued to love us unconditionally. They have smiled warmly through many a wobbly church talk or fundraising appeal. We came back to a baby shower which was attended by people who we didn't think would remember us, even a couple of the parish vicars looking decidedly unsure as to what to do at such an occasion with so many women nattering about babies. Our friend Dalletta organised that day and handmade the most beautiful baby changing bag I have ever seen. Reverend Robin and his wife Juliet found the time to look at countless second hand cars for us before we came back and bought one without knowing if we could pay them back. Money for this car then miraculously came together from people at the church who pledged amounts to 'buy a bumper', or a wheel, or a mirror or any other part. The power of people coming together, pooling their resources (time, money, skills) is amazing.

We have been blessed in so many ways and by other churches, too. Other congregations and even other missionaries have shown amazing kindness and support. This has come from love more than any kind of business analysis of what we will be able to give back (our productivity or output, for example). When we visited St. James church in Shere, we were welcomed by name, by people we had never met but who had followed our news updates and seen our family photo on their noticeboard. There is no way those people can be sure we are qualified to 'do mission work'. They are supporting us by faith, from love that overspills hearts being continually refilled with God's love. 

That feeling of having so much love that it overspills, is something I only experienced after getting to know about Jesus on the Alpha course a few years back. There's no high like it, it's the best feeling in the world. This is what enables me to freely give, too ('freely you have received; freely give' Matthew 10:8).

This kind of testimony - of church being a loving family - shall remind and inspire us to also love indiscriminately, to love others as ourselves. We have amazing friends and supporters who have never been to church and we value them immensely. But, in a small attempt to undo my previous moaning about imperfections of church, I wanted to dedicate this blog to showing how church is, actually, amazing. It has faults, of course, it is made up of humans. But, I believe something uniquely special is built when a group of people, charged up by God's love, come together.

Freely, Freely hymn:

God forgave my sin in Jesus' name
I've been born again in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share His love as He told me to
He said: 'Freely, freely, you have received
Freely, freely give
Go in My name, and because you believe
Others will know that I live.'

All power is given in Jesus' name
In earth and heaven in Jesus' name
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share His power as He told me to. Refrain

God gives us life in Jesus' name,
He lives in us in Jesus' name,
And in Jesus' name I come to you
To share his peace as he told me to. Refrain







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