Newsletter 18th October 2020

Message from our Minister

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word encourage as, ‘give support, confidence, or hope to. Help or stimulate the development of’. I am pleased to see from the responses that were received for last Sunday’s service we are able to share something of personal encouragement. We rejoice together as a church family for these times. The Oxford Dictionary goes on to list the derivatives of that word such as, ‘encouragement, encourager, encouraging and encouragingly’. Perhaps this is a reminder to us all that as those who follow Jesus we should also look for ways to be the one who encourages. God’s richest blessing to you all.         Rev John Izzard

For the next SIX WEEKS we will looking at how God encourages us from His Word, something particularly relevant at this unprecedented time Next Sunday Margaret Steer will be preaching from Romans 8

Food for Thought  (on the Gunville Methodist websiteincludes a 10 minute introduction to John’s gospel entitled ‘Wonderful Jesus’ – well worth a listen.

Quotable Quotes!!     It is not how old you are, but how you are old    Marie Dressier

WORLD NEWS.  Our Health officials in Shasta County, California, have linked a recent spike in Covid-19 cases to popular charismatic church Bethel. 

According to officials, 123 of the Covid-19 cases reported in the county over the past fortnight have been linked with the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) – a theological training college run by Bethel Church which enrols thousands of students every year. An additional 80 coronavirus infections have been traced to a rehab centre in the city of Redding, where both the church and school are based.

In an email to a local news outlet called the Redding Record Searchlight, Bethel Church confirmed the reports of an outbreak and announced emergency measures to minimise the chances of further spreading, including moving teaching online and requesting that staff work from home where possible. “A portion of the new cases in Shasta County have been amongst our students and staff, so we are taking swift action under the guidance of Public Health to minimise additional spread,” the church said.
Bethel communications director Aaron Tesauro told the outlet that students arriving at the school are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and take a Covid-19 test prior to commencing the academic year. He added that when visiting campus, all students and staff will be required to wear face coverings when they are in rooms where six feet of social distancing isn’t possible. 

The church also said it was working alongside public health officials to begin a second round of  testing for students and staff.    (From Premier Christian News, 7th October. Some may remember Matt Reading ,ex Gunville Methodist and now married and living in Australia, who was a student at Bethel a few years back)

I saw Angels above my Daughter’s Body

Nadim Ednan-Laperouse describes the moment his daughter, Natasha, had a severe allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger sandwich and died by his side 
When 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died from a severe allergic reaction to an unlabelled Pret a Manger sandwich in 2016, her young face graced newspapers across the country and her story travelled the world. What failed to be reported at the time was that her father, Nadim, who was with her when she collapsed, had a powerful spiritual experience that ultimately led him to faith. 

For most of his life, Nadim, 55, had no desire to know God and, in fact, found Christians “somewhat annoying…I just wanted to move away from them”. His daughter, however, had begun to explore Christianity at the age of twelve and, with the support of her best friend, Bethany, began attending a youth group at Everyday Church in Wimbledon. Two weeks before she died, Natasha told Bethany that she wanted to be baptised. 
Natasha’s final day on earth was spent with her father and her best friend. They were looking forward to a trip to France. Bethany, who was 14 at the time, had never been abroad and Natasha was keen to show her where their family had spent many happy years holidaying. Natasha, Bethany and Nadim would fly to Nice while Natasha’s mum and brother stayed in London to host friends who were visiting from abroad. 

“Because it was an early flight – the first flight out of Heathrow at 7am – we didn’t eat any breakfast before leaving the house,” explains Nadim. The girls were “buzzing” about going away together, dressed in relaxed clothes and listening to each other’s music. “We said a quick goodbye to Tanya at the drop-off and then we went into the terminal in Heathrow. We all know that when you get up earlier than normal the tummy rumbles and calls out for something, so we grabbed some food at a Pret a Manger. 

“Natasha was severely allergic to milk, eggs, sesame seeds – had been all her life – and we were very careful about how we negotiated around that, especially Natasha. We had appropriate medicine; antihistamine and a couple of adrenaline auto-injectors, which is what you’d have if you had a snake bite or an allergic reaction.” The family didn’t go anywhere without those vital remedies. “We went in and looked at the sandwiches that were displayed on the shelf in the fridge cabinet. Natasha picked one out and looked at the label saying what was in it. I looked at it; it was fine. So we bought it.” They ate the sandwiches quickly and made their way to the boarding gate. 
“Natasha started to feel a bit unwell with an itchy throat: that’s an allergic person’s speak for: ‘There’s something about this food that’s giving me a mild reaction.’” So she took some Piriton antihistamine and Nadim didn’t think much more about it – after all, the sandwich label didn’t mention any allergens that were a problem for his daughter, and Piriton usually did the trick.  

But once the plane took off, Natasha’s condition quickly deteriorated. “Huge red welts” appeared on her stomach and her breathing became exaggerated and laboured. She was starting to panic. Nadim took her to the toilet and injected her with her EpiPen. “I thought: ‘Cor, thank God for that, it should all be fine now.’” But Natasha was still having trouble breathing. “She said: ‘Daddy, Daddy, I can’t breathe, get the second one.’” Nadim administered the second injection. “We’d somehow come to learn as a family that these are the bullets that are going to save your life, but it was not the case at all and things within minutes got much, much worse.” 
Natasha’s face was swelling and she began to pass out. The flight stewards called for a doctor on board who started CPR. For the next hour and a half Nadim, the stewards and the doctor tried everything to save her life. All the while, Bethany, who was still in her seat, was praying non-stop. 

A supernatural moment  By the time the flight touched down in France, Natasha had gone into multiple cardiac arrests. “I just couldn’t believe what was happening,” says Nadim. “I was saying to her: ‘Tasha, I know you can do it. Be strong. I know you win all your races at school…I knew she had strength in her, I knew she was gutsy.” But still his little girl didn’t respond. 

Five paramedics stormed onto the plane – “massive guys, with big boots. She was rigged up to a defibrillator, which was showing signs of a heartbeat. Her heart came back, so the paramedics went: ‘Oh, look, this is good news’ and we all high-fived each other.” And then her heartbeat fainted again – “it just went”. So they restarted CPR. “And it came back just as a murmur…and then it went again.”  
Nadim was standing over Natasha’s body and had been talking to her loudly for 90 minutes: “I had this sense that I wanted her, through her unconscious state, to know somehow that I was with her and she wasn’t alone. 

 “And then suddenly these five angels appeared. You can imagine that I’m not looking for this. I’m quite a lucid person, actually; I’m not someone who has funny moments as such. These five angels just appeared, and I knew they were angels because they were basically people with wings – and I had never seen that in my life before. From her head to her toes they were hovering over her, not waving their arms and flapping, they were all moving slowly, not in some frantic way; it was otherworldly. 

“I would describe them as human beings, but with wings coming off their backs, more like butterfly wings, no feathers…the whole vista filled up with this very soft yellow light and they were made of yellow light as well.“I was so taken aback, and then it dawned on me what it meant…I just wouldn’t accept that, and I lifted my hand up and whooshed them away as if to say: ‘Get out of here. It’s not her time.’“ 

That’s when I know Natasha died because her heart, the faintness, went, and the paramedics who had been actively doing what they’d been doing for at least half an hour were completely beaten.” 

Walking into the light        Natasha died on a Sunday morning and Nadim and Tanya organised for her body to be flown back to the UK in a coffin in the same plane she had arrived on. “The following Sunday, I was in Everyday Church Wimbledon for the first time in my life,” Nadim says. 

“I’ve probably only missed a handful of weekends since then – that’s three and half years’ worth…In that time I have learned quite a lot about the Bible, God and Jesus through the verbal teachings of our pastor, Phil Moore, and the visiting preachers who come to talk.” 
Nadim describes his fledgling faith as “wonky”. He hasn’t had a formal theological education and finds reading the Bible tough. But his belief in Jesus is unwavering: “I saw those angels. I know it was for a reason. Therefore, everything in the Bible is true. I don’t need to read it to know it’s true.” 

Nevertheless, Nadim has begun to tentatively open his copy of the New Testament to learn more about the faith that now means everything to him and his family (his wife and son have since become Christians). He also tells me that God has been confirming his presence through prophetic words from others. “Things have happened in my life since Natasha has died that I would actually say are so unbelievable…God has definitely confirmed: ‘I’m here, I’m watching you, I’m hearing you and I’m with you.’”
Natasha never lived long enough to get baptised as she had hoped, but when Nadim went under the water at Everyday Church on 15 July 2018, he wore a T-shirt with her picture and name printed on it. “We went under the water together, symbolically, if you like,” he tells me. 

Reflecting back on why he saw the angels that day on the plane and no one else did, Nadim says: “My view is that it was given by God for me to see for a reason. I can literally call it a lynchpin moment. Everything has changed for me.” 

In June 2019 Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, in order to save other children from fatal food allergies. The charity has successfully worked with the government to change the food labelling laws (known as Natasha’s Law, which passed through parliament in 2019 so that full ingredient labelling will become mandatory). It has started funding vital scientific medical research into understanding why the UK is becoming more food allergic, and it also campaigns for greater awareness in schools. It is a charity with a strong Christian ethos and brings God into conversation with government, company CEOs and the public. “We want to save people,” says Nadim, “both physically and spiritually, and we truly believe that God has made this our calling now until we die and rejoin our daughter, Natasha, in heaven.’’
(By Megan Cornwell for Premier Christianity magazine)

Think of a world…

Doreen Newport was a children’s leader in a Cambridge church.  She asked the children for ideas for a hymn; she said, “How should we thank God?  How about thinking what the world would be like without – what?”

From this came the hymn “Think of a world without any flowers”.  In the version in Singing the Faith (no.92), there are about 23 ideas, and the chorus each time goes “We thank you, Lord, for…”  What would be your ideas for things to add into the hymn?
(Based on yet another entry in Lesley’s “Happy Book”)


Encouragements during lockdown. 

  Last Sunday Marian included a series of statement to show how encouragements have come throughout lockdown. Here they are again

  • During lockdown I have been encouraged by the community spirit and people going the extra mile for their neighbours.
  • During lockdown we have been encouraged by the friendliness of neighbours, sharing fruit, vegetables, cakes and crumbles.
  • During lockdown we have been encouraged by more contact with distant family members by phone and Skype.
  • During lockdown we have been encouraged by children asking politely if they can play in our garage space (safer than the road).
  • During lockdown we have been encouraged by Christian worship on radio, TV and on line.
  • I have been encouraged by developing an exercise regime which I have been able to keep up (except when its raining!) with measurable benefits.
  • During lockdown I have been encouraged by listening to great Christian worship courtesy of youtube, sorting out family sleeping arrangements and creating a “mancave” for a certain Gospel magician, not necessarily all at the same time!
  • I have been encouraged by the way in which most of our politicians are steering us through a very difficult time. They may not be perfect, but no doubt they are doing their best!
  • During the early weeks of Coronavirus there was an urgent appeal for ‘scrubs’ to be made for Island Care Homes and Hospice staff.  ‘Signing up’ I found it very moving and encouraging that this involved a large team of people who willingly gave of their time week after week.
  • Listening to worship music at home and discovering that I don’t need to be amongst other people to REALLY worship our awesome God.”
  • I have been encouraged by realising afresh that to treat God with respect means I have to treat myself with the SAME respect. Self care is not selfish but essential. (2 Tim 2 v22)
  • During the lockdown I have been encouraged by the online services from Soul Survivor Watford. 
  • During the lockdown I have been encouraged by the beauty of nature. 

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