News letter 21st March 2021

Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom.

This week Kevin led us in an engaging discussion about the meaning of each piece of ‘spiritual armour’ (Ephesians 6 v 13) and how we might apply this teaching. Many were able to share and contribute to the discussion. We finished with our usual time of prayer, this time focussing on those in authority as well as folk in the church.

Update from Ellie

With Gunville Youth Work in this past term we have continued to work online with the occasional in person mentoring sessions. This term we made a few changes – we started meeting with a West Wight youth group to complete a ‘Wellbeing course’. This has been a huge blessing for the youth who have attended as we looked at inviting God into every aspect of our lives including physical, emotional, and relational wellbeing. We have had great feedback from this group and the topics have initiated great conversations between all of the young people. We have been continuing Girl’s Group which has continued to be a great space for the young people to air their frustrations at the world to us, and we can then give them perspective and peace surrounding these issues and fears. Regarding this, I thank you all for all your prayers for the young people and I ask that you continue to pray for them. Prayers surrounding going back to school, deciding on post-16 education and relationships within families would be amazing.

Thank you all for your continued support,      Ellie. 

A Thought for the Week

Hurting?  Down?  Feeling the pressure?  – Could there be a positive use for this experience?

Lord Christ, give me some of your Spirit to comfort the place in my heart where I hurt;

then give me some more of your Spirit so that I can comfort other people. Terry Waite, from Lesley’s Happy Book

The God Colours 

(from 24/7 Prayer’s daily devotional app, Lectio365)
As I finish up this series on the Beatitudes, I’m challenged by Jesus’ postlude…
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.

We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!     

Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 MSG

Have I ever met someone luminous? Who lightens up a room when they walk into it? Who seems to radiate love, warmth, and light?

I wonder if that is what Jesus is talking about in this passage?

Pause and pray

God, I’m aware that I’ve got dark bits in me – parts of me I hide from Your light, and light bits of me that I hide from the world. I’m sorry for hiding. I ask that You would flood me with Your light, and give me the confidence to let it shine for everyone to see. In the quiet, I imagine my soul as a dimly lit room. What happens when You come and turn the light on?

God, I’m so aware that when the world looks at the church, they see our darkness – our failures, our frailties, and our faults. Lord have mercy.

God would You shine Your light on Your church. Would You expose our deeds of darkness. Would You help us to repent, to love the light.

Transform us so that the good news would be enfleshed in our lives as individuals and as communities. In the quiet, I imagine my church as a dimly lit building. What happens when You come and turn the light on?

7 lessons Christians can learn from Meghan and Harry’s interview.    By: Sam Hailes

1. Compassion

Whatever the rights and wrongs, and whatever the finer details, when a person says they are struggling with suicidal thoughts there can only be one response. Compassion. This doesn’t mean you unquestioningly accept or believe everything that person says about their circumstances. It means you believe them when they say they are in deep turmoil and emotional pain, you put them first and you do everything within your power to support them. If you watched those two hours and never felt any level of sympathy or compassion for Meghan, then it’s time to ask Jesus to do a deeper work in your heart.

2. Racism is ugly  

Oprah’s jaw dropped when Meghan suggested there were concerns from some members of the royal family about her future children’s skin colour. Racism is ugly. Like me, you might be tempted to ask questions such as, “What on earth was the context for those remarks?” (not that any context could ever justify them) in an attempt to understand how such things could be said, but a better response is to pause, to feel the weight of those words, and to resist any attempts in ourselves to explain them away. We can’t kid ourselves that racism is confined to the past. We also can’t kid ourselves that other people are racist and we’re completely pure and innocent of any prejudice. 

3. “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”     

A sentiment like this, which is often plastered across pictures of sunsets and shared on Facebook, can seem a bit trite. But it’s true, and last night proved that. Harry and Meghan spoke of putting on a brave face, smiling for the cameras and pretending everything was ok, when in reality Meghan had just told Harry she wanted to die. Obviously that’s an extremely serious situation, but most of us can relate to the principle of needing to put on a brave face – at work, at home or at church – because it isn’t appropriate to fully open up about matters which are preoccupying us. Remember how trapped and conflicted you felt in those moments, and then understand the person standing in front of you today might be in a place just like that right now. Show them as much grace as you can.

4. The smallest acts of kindness can mean so much
You probably won’t see any headlines today about how the Queen offered Meghan a blanket while they were on a train together. Given everything else we heard last night, it sounds inconsequential. And yet Meghan remembered that moment, that quiet kindness, and took delight in sharing the story.

Who looks up to you? Who are you in a position of power or influence over? How can you show kindness to those people today? It might seem like a tiny gesture to you. But to them, it could mean the world.

5. Admitting you need help is a sign of strength
 
Often it’s our pride that prevents us from asking for help. We want to be self sufficient, but God didn’t create us that way. We are dependent – on him, and on one another. Meghan and Harry were right to point out that admitting you need help is a sign of strength, not weakness. They were right to ask for help and admit to one another they were struggling.

6. Disunity is destructive
 
Some good can, and hopefully will, come from this interview. But it is unlikely to bring any kind of unity or healing to relationships in the royal family. The Bible says “how good and pleasant when brothers live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). The implication being, how awful and unpleasant it is when there is disunity. Whatever we think of the individuals in this situation, we can all pray for healing, restoration and unity. Not just for the royal family, but for ourselves in our own relationships and own churches. As Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” But note the first two words: “If possible”. We must work as hard as we can for unity and reconciliation now, while also understanding that in this broken world, that is not always possible. 

7. Learn from the past
As the interview concluded, this was a message Harry wanted to emphasise. He drew parallels between what had happened to his mother, and to his wife, especially when it came to the media. Whether or not you agree with him that history is repeating itself in this specific example, the broader principle that we should learn from history is rock solid. You could even argue its biblical, as commentating on the Old Testament, Paul said those books were given to us by God, as an “example” and “warning” to us. (1 Corinthians 10:11). He was telling Christians to learn from God’s dealings with others in the past. Why? Perhaps George Santayana’s famous aphorism provides the answer: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

Sam Hailes is editor of Premier Christianity – the UK’s leading Christian magazine. Before joining Premier he worked as a freelance journalist and social media manager. He’s married to Stacey, lives in London and is a keen traveller, reader and tweeter.

What’s life like for Christians in Eritrea? 

Musse (not his real name) was arrested and sent to prison for working as a pastor at an ‘unregistered church’. He spent six terrible years there – and, even before that, had been a victim of the Eritrean government’s surveillance for years. Amazingly, Musse managed to live for Jesus even in prison. 

“In prison, one of my main purposes as a Christian was to evangelise,” he says. “Of course, it is forbidden to do it openly, but we did it at night when everybody was asleep. We even had Bible verses we could study in secret. Sometimes, there were very problematic people who used to inform on us. They would tell the guards, ‘Musse is preaching, teaching and doing other Christian things’. There were people like that, yes. But many are passing through different frustrations and depression. Those people loved what we taught and shared. Some of them even tried to cover for us. We saw many conversions. The gospel can’t be chained!” 

Musse remains under close and constant surveillance, forced to report to his local police station regularly to show that he has not fled the country. Every time he goes there, he risks re-arrest. “Please continue praying for us,” asks his wife, Ruth (name changed). “We need prayers so that we live without worry and keep calm.” 

How can I help Christians in Eritrea? 

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Eritrea. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost. 

PLEASE PRAY

Father God, please protect Your children in Eritrea. Convict the hearts of those who persecute them, particularly those who profess to follow Jesus and yet still persecute His children. We ask that You would free Eritrean Christians from prison, as you did with the apostle Paul and Silas. Amen.

Wordsearch hidden sentence: 

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to andy