Message from our Minister
One of the most challenging things to deal with at the moment is that we are unable to physically meet up with family and friends. It becomes especially difficult when we long to reach out to comfort and reassure. I know that for many this will be your experience. At these times of understandable anguish, I am reminded and encouraged that our prayers, phone calls, cards, Zoom times and acts of kindness are really appreciated, as we ‘reach out’ with the love of Jesus. I believe that God honours our intention and will bless in ways beyond our reach. As we are looking at Ephesians at our weekly fellowship on Zoom at the moment, we will be encouraged to read these words in chapter 3:19 that reminds us:
‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.’
He is able. Therefore, put your trust in him, who will reach out to those that are in your hearts and minds.
God’s richest blessings to you all, Rev John Izzard.
Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom
This week, after sharing something positive we had experienced. we looked at Ephesians chapter 2. It reminded us of how great, kind and gracious God is. We were also encouraged to be ready for carrying out those ‘good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do’. Finally a time of prayer for folk at Gunville finished the session.
If you are on line, why not join us. It’s quite easy to download ‘Zoom’. Google ‘Zoom’ and ‘download Zoom’ and follow the instructions!
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
Hold Your Nerve & Keep On Trusting
This 10 minute talk by Andy Croft based on Matthew 14:31 encourages us to hang on during these difficult times. It’s well worth a listen – inspirational and ‘down to earth’.
We did our garden bird watch on Friday and hardly saw any birds. Two days later while we were having breakfast listening to the Radio Solent Sunday Service, we saw 7 Jackdaws, 3 Pigeons, 3 Blackbirds, a Great Tit and a Robin. The Service led by major country singer and song writer Michael Weston King was also very good. Here is a clip of me humming along to Amazing Grace while the Jackdaws are having their breakfast. Seemingly, Martin and Lesley’s garden (just down the road) was birdless for their official birdwatch that same morning ??? https://youtu.be/r_3KqZ1tUzI
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have urged people to take a moment each day to pause and remember the more than 100,000 people across the UK who have died after contracting Covid-19.
In an open letter to the nation, the Most Rev Justin Welby and the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell invited people to “reflect on the enormity of this pandemic” following the reaching of the “terrible milestone”.
They wrote: “One hundred thousand isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. “We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.”
Mr Welby and Mr Cottrell called on people, regardless of whether they have faith or not, to join in a “prayer for the nation” at 6pm every day from 1st February.
The archbishops’ message comes as the Government’s figure for coronavirus deaths passed 100,000 – although separate data published by statistics agencies puts the toll at 115,000. Their letter acknowledges the fear that people may be feeling and that poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those with disabilities have been “disproportionately” affected by the pandemic and “cry out for the healing of these inequalities”.
Urging people to follow government guidelines and advice, the archbishops added: “We show our commitment, care and love for one another by ensuring we do everything we can to stop the virus spreading.”
Their letter continued: “None of this is easy. Very many of us are experiencing isolation, loneliness, anxiety and despondency like never before. Many people have lost their livelihoods. Our economy struggles.
“Also, the necessary restrictions we live with have also prevented us from being alongside loved ones as they died, or even at their graveside. All grief profoundly affects us, but this pandemic grief is so hard.
“Therefore, we need to support each other. We do this by following the guidelines. But we also do it by reaching out to each other with care and kindness.
“One thing we can all do is pray. We hope it is some consolation to know that the church prays for the life of our nation every day. “Whether you’re someone of faith, or not, we invite you to call on God in prayer. Starting on February 1 we invite you to set aside time every evening to pray, particularly at 6pm each day.
“More than ever, this is a time when we need to love each other. Prayer is an expression of love.”
The archbishops described NHS and social care staff as “a blessing and lifeline for our nation”. “We are grateful for the service given in local communities by clergy, other frontline workers and so many good neighbours,” they wrote. “We are grateful for the hope of the vaccine. It is a testimony to the God-given wisdom and gifts of scientists and researchers. We urge everyone to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.”
The archbishops emphasised their “Christian hope”, concluding: “Death doesn’t have the last word. In God’s Kingdom every tear will be wiped away.”
Resources to help the call to prayer for the nation will be made available at: www.churchofengland.org/resources/call-prayer-nation.
Lord, the whole world is reeling from Covid-19’s enormous death-toll and many have lost jobs, businesses, homes and their way of life, as a result of illness and economic crisis. Please raise up Your Church to pray, share the gospel and demonstrate compassion to those in need
On each line, find a word which will both (a) complete the left hand side, and (b) begin the right hand side. (Example: Linda —– Fargo = Wells) References are to the Bible and Songs of Fellowship.
Put these words in the coloured boxes.
Then read down the blue column to find someone celebrated in February.
A Joke you might hear at an Alpha Course!
Forrest Gump died and went to heaven. When he got to the pearly gates of heaven St. Peter told him that new rules were in effect due to the advances of education on earth. To get into heaven he had to answer 3 questions:
1) name two days of the week that begin with “T”.
2) How many seconds are in a year?
3) What is God’s first name?
Forrest thought for a moment then answered. The two days of the week that start with “T” are Today and Tomorrow. There are 12 seconds in a year, and God has two names, Andy and Howard.”
St. Peter said, “Ok I’ll buy the today and tomorrow even though that’s what I expected. But how are there 12 seconds in a year?
“Forest answered, “January 2nd, February 2nd……”
St. Peter replied, “Ok, I give, but what about Gods first name?
“Forrest answered St. Peter by saying, “Well, from the song….Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own. Plus the prayer says Our Father, who art in Heaven, Howard be thy name….” Saint Peter let him in without another word.
Another Happy Memory from Lesley
In 2003, around Easter, we were in Wakefield to celebrate Amy’s third birthday. We were in Morrison’s, Amy in a trolley, to save us from having to keep looking for her.
She started singing: God’s not dead, NO, he is alive!
God’s not dead, NO, he is alive!
God’s not dead, NO, he is alive!
Serve him with my hands (clap clap),
Follow with my feet (stamp, stamp),
Love him in my heart (boom, boom),
Know him in my life (whoosh),
He is alive in me.
She had learnt this in church, and she went through it again and again. Good witness from a three-year-old, you would say, but our Jill, her mother, apologising to the other shoppers, said, “She’s not with me.”
“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.
Your name is the first thing they take. Then they take your freedom, health and clothes, companionship, even your hair. And finally, they take away the daylight. Drip by drip, like a tap slowly running dry, you’re left with nothing but your own mind and body – and even these will be crushed eventually.
My name is Prisoner 42 – the name I was given when I entered this prison in North Korea. Every morning at 8am, they call for 42. When I stand, I’m not allowed to look at the guards. I must get up, put my hands behind my back and follow them to the interrogation room. I can see the shadows of the guards, but I’m careful to never appear as though I’m looking at them.
Even though the same thing happens every day, each time I am afraid. Whenever ‘42’ is called, I am beaten and kicked. It hurts most when they hit my ears. They ring for hours, sometimes days.
But for now, at least I’m alive.
I’m in the interrogation room for an hour each morning. Every day, they ask the same questions:
“Why were you in China?” “Who did you meet?”
“Did you go to church? “Did you have a Bible?”
“Did you meet any South Koreans?” “Are you a Christian?”
Afterwards, they return me to my cell. It’s warm during the day and cold at night. In winter and summer, the temperatures can be unbearable. It’s so small, I can barely lie down. But anyway, I’m not allowed to lie down much. I must sit on my knees, with closed fists. I’m not even allowed to open them. The place I live is not fit for any human. But to the guards I’m not a human – I’m less than an animal. I’m in solitary confinement because they suspect the truth. They can see through my denials. Am I a Christian? Yes. But I must pretend. If I admit that I was helped by Chinese Christians, I will be killed, either quickly or slowly.
The first Christian I ever knew was my grandfather – though I had no idea at the time. On Sundays, he often told me to leave the house and play outside. I didn’t understand why. When I fled to China because of the North Korean famine, I met other Christians. I was touched by them. They never really spoke about the gospel, but I joined their worship services. Then, one night, I dreamt of my grandfather. He was sitting in a circle with other men. In the middle was a Bible and all of them were praying. In my dream, I shouted at him, “I am a believer, too!” It was then that I gave my life to Jesus. (TO BE CONTINUED)
More things you might not know about Christianity.
Faith is not a blind leap
While some of the New Atheists like to claim that faith is some kind of wish upon a star, the word ‘faith’ has a lot more to do with (1) being persuaded of the truth of something, and (2) placing trust in those beliefs. You exercise this kind of faith all the time in ordinary life. It’s much more like the experience of being persuaded that a 150,000 ton lump of metal can safely float on water, and exercising trust the moment you step on board. For Christians, the faith you need is faith in Jesus to save you. It’s nothing more, and nothing less, than that.
There’s much more evidence than you think
A lot of people assume that Christianity was debunked at some point by someone. But that has never happened. On the contrary, one of the most unique things about the Christian faith is that it is based on historical events, rather than teaching that can be separated from events. What I mean is this: you could take the teachings of just about any other religious founder and scrub out the historical story, and the teachings still stand. That isn’t the case with Jesus. If the events didn’t happen (especially his death and resurrection) then there’s no Christianity. Thankfully, there are heaps of evidence that attest to it being true.
Andrew Haslam, the leader of Grace London. (Part of an article from Premier Christian News)