Message from our Minister
I know that many of you will be very familiar with the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. In fact, a considerable number of our hymns and songs are drawn from them. Why don’t you have a look through them yourselves and see how many you can find? It might surprise you that so many find their roots and inspiration from them. It must be said, however, that some of the Psalms do not make for easy reading. They are raw and direct in the language used. They express an openness and honesty. They are real. The Psalmist is able to pray with integrity about the circumstances that they find themselves in because of the surety of their relationship with God.
The Psalmist begins with praise, shares the anguish and complaint, reasserts trust in God and concludes with praise. Perhaps you might find this a helpful framework for your own prayers. It is a timely reminder to us all, especially in the midst all that we are going through, that God understands and cares for us. We therefore put our trust in Him.
God’s richest blessing to you all, Rev John Izzard
Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom
At last night’s zoom meeting we shared attributes about God (He is caring, friend, Creator and many others), had a short time of worship based on these thoughts, and then looked at Ephesians 4 v 1 to 16. During discussion we focussed on some ‘gritty issues’ such as unity – sometimes (but not always), it’s right to agree to disagree, and also how we can sensitively ‘speak the truth in love’. We felt it would be good to have a close friend (or friends), who wanted the best for us and whom we allowed to speak ‘encouragements’ to help us in our walk with God. We then finished with prayer.
If you are on line, why not join us. It’s quite easy to download ‘Zoom’. Just google ‘Zoom’ and ‘download Zoom’ and follow the instructions! If you run into problems about this, ask Paul for help.
Ellie’s Points for Prayer
Ellie asks that we pray for the following:
- Young people struggling with lessons on Zoom all day. This means that when we have Zoom youth groups in the evening, we need to be especially innovative and prayerful in the way we approach youth work
- Gunville joining West Wight youth to do a Wellbeing course
- Young people struggling with worldly pressures and stresses which are halting and hindering their spiritual journey
Since we are in lockdown we will have to carry out church council by email and post. Significant decisions need to be made. Information will be sent out by March 1st with the necessary reports and voting slips.
Paul has sorted the ‘Food for Thought’ section on the church website.
All you have to do is click on the title of the talk and it should start straight away. Most of the talks are short (10 minutes) and there are lots of different subjects discussed. The latest are:
Helpful questions for our battle with fear
God brings good out of evil
Hold your nerve and keep trusting
Fruitful in the Land of our Suffering
The answer to last week’s link words (in blue downwards) was Valentine, a Roman martyr (or possibly two) remembered on 14thFebruary.
This week, can you make words from the letters of V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E to answer these clues?
Lesley’s book again
A simple prayer to be of practical use:
“Lord, you are here. Your presence fills this place. In your presence is ……* ”(* strength …. love …… forgiveness …… peace ……)
Would you choose any of these? What other words might you add? The prayer can be tailored to the particular situation you are in.
I was going to leave it as a test for who uses the prayer diary, but I’ll come clean. You may notice that the prayer suggestions for 13th and 20th February include the word “Christmas”, a hang-over from the December diary. You could manage this in three ways:
1. Substitute the word “lockdown”.
2. Use the suggestion from the 6th and 27th.
3. Reflect that no-one is perfect except God!
Naomi wins the small prize offered at last Saturday’s Zoom coffee morning. Martin
It is OK to be wrong so be encouraged
“Brian, I want to book you for am children’s party, but it will be unlike anything you are used to.
First, the venue will be a Chinese restaurant and your meal will of course be “on the house”
Second, and most important I want you to include a Gospel presentation. As you know, we have a large family and over the years I have tried to talk to them about God. It has been hopeless; it always ends up in a bad tempered argument. The number for the party, including relatives and friends is likely to be about forty.”
When planning a children’s show I usually finish with a colourful production or something similar. When preparing for this particular event, I decided upon a Gospel trick to be either side of the grand finale.
On the day, the show was going very well – that is until I reached the first Gospel spot., I noticed a young man leaning against the door. He appeared angry and agitated. I was clearly hitting a raw nerve. As I moved towards the grand finale, I had to decide whether to include the second Gospel spot. I sent up a quick prayer, Yes or No Lord?” I decided the answer was “Yes”. I finished the show, accepted my applause, and sat down for my meal. A few moments later the young man walked over towards me. As he did so, I quietly prayed, “Lord give me grace to deal with him as you would.”
He reached my table and stood over me. “Ok if I sit down?” He asked,
“I have come over to tell you something. You are obviously a Christian, well I used to go to church but I stopped.” He then told me many things about himself. He finished my saying, “What I have come over to tell is that next Sunday I am going back,” (i.e. to church)
So those bad vibes were not bad vibes at all. So it is OK to get it wrong so be BE ENCOURAGED
Jesus appeared to me in a dream
Dee explains how a Christians friend’s prayers and a supernatural encounter with Christ turned her life around.
I grew up in a Muslim home, but throughout my life, I always felt like there was something missing. Losing my dad while in my 20s, I prayed to what I had known as Allah. But there was no communication back and no comfort. Prayer just felt empty because god didn’t respond. I was the lowest and most depressed that I’d ever been. I was starting to doubt whether God was even real.
One day I was mindlessly scrolling through social media and I came across a friend I hadn’t spoken to for 15 years. I didn’t know she had become a Christian. I also noticed she was a single parent, so I messaged her saying, ”How do you manage day-to day?” She said “Oh, by the grace of God.” I thought that was a strange thing to say. She had a peace about her that I’d never seen before. She offered to pray for me and I accepted. When she prayed, I felt strangely calm. We kept in touch and she sent me sermons to watch online. At the end of every sermon, there would be an invitation for people to accept Jesus and say a prayer of salvation. I enjoyed watching the sermons, but I always refused to say the prayer because, having grown up as a Muslim, saying that Jesus is the Son of God was the ultimate blasphemy. As time went on, I would search for different preachers to find things that resonated with me. I wasn’t able to listen to sermons with a lot of scripture because it felt too daunting. I preferred to hear real-life stories because, in my mind, the Bible was just made up and full of myths. Gradually I began to delve a little bit deeper into listening to sermons that contained more of the Bible.
During this time I began to have supernatural dreams. In one dream a piece of scripture was following me around. Later, Jesus appeared to me twice. On one occasion he was wearing bright blue royal robes. His presence was overwhelming, but not in a negative way. I could never see his face because it was so bright, but I knew it was Jesus. And I felt light, comforted and peaceful.
When I first encountered Jesus in a dream I was really freaked out and confused. I think God encounters people from the Arab world, and especially Muslims, in their dreams because I’m not sure they would believe any other way. Muslims are taught that Jesus is a prophet; they don’t believe in his deity. But if he’s coming to you in your dreams and telling you: “I am the Son of God” and “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), it’s hard to deny that. God knows how to reach people and he encounters them exactly where they are in their brokenness.
After those encounters, I watched more and more sermons, then one day I got down on my knees and said: ”All right, if you really are God, and I’ve been following the wrong god, then show me. “I was a bit apprehensive, but I did it. I said the salvation prayer.
Not long after I started listening to Premier Christian Radio in the car. I’d hear Michael Youssef preaching. Where is this guy from? I used to think, as his accent sounded familiar. As an Arab, I could tell he had an Arabic accent. He speaks so much truth but not in a condemning way. The god I was taught about growing up was all about condemnation. I would think: This guy is so passionate, what is it? Now I know – it’s because he has the Holy Spirit in him!
I’m not sure I have figured my faith out completely, but praise God, I’m putting all my trust in him. My heart is to reach the lost and broken and the underdogs of society-the people who have been cast aside- because they need the love of Jesus.
You can hear Michael Youssef’s sermons on Premier Christian Radio everyday at 9 a.m. Dee’s complete testimony can be found in Premier Christianity magazine.
“Every day is one long nightmare” – the story of Prisoner 42 in North Korea
This story is based on a real-life account of a North Korean Christian sent to prison and then to a re-education camp. Other details have been added from other prison accounts. Open Doors has heard stories like this from numerous North Korean believers – and, disturbingly, the details are all eerily similar.
One day whilst walking down a street, a black car pulled up alongside me. I thought the driver wanted directions, but he and other men stepped out of the vehicle and grabbed me. I resisted but couldn’t escape. I was pushed into the car and, when the door closed and the car drove away, I realised that my life was over
After a few weeks in a Chinese prison cell, I was handed over to the North Korean authorities. They brought me to this detention centre. I was stripped and searched, and they shaved off my hair. I was ordered to put on clothes that didn’t fit nor match, probably from a previous prisoner. That’s where my name came from – number 42 was printed on the jumpsuit. I was just another in a line of Prisoner 42s.
I’m so alone here. I know there are other prisoners, I can hear their voices, but I never see them. The only thing I see are the shadows of the guards, and the light from the sun and moon as they pass over the small window of my cell. All I can do is pray and sing in my heart – never audibly, only in my heart.
It’s been a year now. I don’t know how long I will survive. One day, they will call me and I won’t move. I will have died in here, in the dark. They will dispose of my body and another prisoner will take my clothes and become the next Prisoner 42. Will they survive this hell? What will their story be?
But Prisoner 42 didn’t die. Her life was painful and terrifying, but she survived. And eventually, she was called out of her prison cell and taken to court. (TO BE CONTINUED)
Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to: Andy