Message from Our Minister
I wonder how many of you have been avidly watching the Olympic Games that are being held in Tokyo. I must confess that we have not been getting up in the early hours to watch live action, but have preferred the catch-up programme in the evening which reviews the events of the day.
All the competitors have sacrificed so much in the preparation and rigorous training regime that is required. Whatever the sport, there can only be one winner for the gold medal in each of the many disciplines. However, given that they have all sacrificed so much in order to train and reach such a high standard, they are all winners and deserve to receive our applause! The dedication to reach this level of competitiveness means that everything else has to give space and time for training. The problem is that – for an athlete – their whole identity can be defined by what they do and what they achieve. Any kind of failure or non-achievement of their personal best can be very hard to take.
I was therefore intrigued with what Simone Biles, the amazingly talented US gymnast, had to say after she had struggled with the ‘twisties’, a kind of mental block, which meant that she bravely decided to withdraw from the team and all-around final. She said that withdrawing from the two Olympic competitions made her realise that she is more than her accomplishments and gymnastics. A courageous move indeed, with the realization that her self-worth is not just in what she does.
1 John 4:19 reminds us that, ‘We love because he first loved us.’ God loves us. Not our achievements or awards or wealth – but us. That really is good news for us all and should always be at the top of the podium!
God’s richest blessing to you all,
Rev John Izzard
Tuesday Zoom Fellowship
This was the final week before the August ‘break’. We reviewed Luke 4 v 18 to 30, discussing Jesus’s mission, and then prayed accordingly for young people, those needing healing and for the containment and ending of the covid pandemic.
The Community Association is hoping to start Nellie’s coffee afternoons again in September.
We have the help of a Community Connector lady in setting it up, but would welcome any people from the church who could help, or just come along sometimes. Nellie’s has in the past answered a need, allowing older people in the area to meet others for a chat. If you might be able to help, or would like to know more, see Lesley or Martin.
Faith in the Fog
I have been reading “Faith in the Fog” by Jeff Lucas (thank you, Ruth!). The following has been copied into my book:
A stunning prayer was prayed amid the horrors of Ravensbrück concentration camp, built by the Nazis in 1939 to house and then exterminate women. Over 90,000 women and children perished there. Corrie ten Boom, who wrote “The Hiding Place”, was incarcerated there. The prayer, found in the clothing of a dead child, says:
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted upon us: Instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering, our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble.
When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”
Could we live by these standards?
WHAT COMES FOURTH?
On each line, spot the sequence and say what comes fourth. If you can do some without looking up the Bible references, well done! Otherwise, the ‘Bible help’ column should provide an answer.
How I Became a Gospel Magician
My monthly magazine arrived. I used to really look forward to receiving the “Magigram”.
For the past fourteen years I had been performing magic at events and children’s parties. It was 1990 and I had been a Christian for two years. I kept my magic and my faith separate. I did some compering and led a group of entertainers into care homes and other places. I was also doing balloon modelling and escapology. People tended to be rather amused at a prison officer being interested in escapes!
Ruth had never shown any interest in my magic magazines. This time however, she was prompted (I believe by the Holy Spirit) to pick it up. As she flicked through the pages, her eyes fell on an article advertising the third world conference of Gospel Magicians. The conference was to be held in June 1991 from Monday to Friday at Hastings. Ruth felt I should go. But I did not want to. It just did not “grab” me. Also, the month of June was very difficult for me to get time off work. Ruth persisted and the only reason I agreed to try to get some leave was that I was absolutely certain there was no chance whatsoever of getting it!
In order to attend the function, I needed time off for a Wednesday morning and a Thursday afternoon. I asked my Line Manager and was not surprised to learn that three other officers had already been turned down for those days. This did not bother me in the least. In fact, to be quite honest I was rather pleased. I was not interested in going anyway and so I could truthfully tell Ruth I had tried my best. As I stood outside the Line Manager’s office, I quietly prayed “Well, Lord I have done my bit. If you want me to go then you will have to arrange it!”
I fondly believed that this was the end of the matter and I returned to my duties. About an hour later, however, an officer from the other end of the prison began looking for me. Having eventually found me he asked me for a “big favour.” He had just been invited to a wedding and wanted to swap shifts. He would repay me on the particular Wednesday morning that I needed. He was very pleased when I agreed to do it. Before he left, I asked him “Why did you come looking for me?”
“Funny that” he said, I was on my way to the Detail Office when your name just popped into my mind!”
When he had gone, I quietly prayed, “OK Lord that’s one but I need the Thursday afternoon as well, and I’m leaving it up to you!” Ten minutes later another officer, this time from my own wing, came up to the top landing looking for me.
Before he could speak, I said, “I know, you want to swap shifts with me, right? And you are going to repay me on a particular Thursday afternoon, right?”
He looked aghast! “How did you know? I have only just this second thought about it. How did you know? I replied that he wouldn’t believe me if I told him.
“Well, an opportunity has just come up to attend a fishing competition. So, will you swap with me?” I agreed. (What else could I do?)
And so, I attended the FCM conference (Fellowship of Christian Magicians) and despite all my previous misgivings I enjoyed every single moment of it. It was so encouraging and uplifting to be with people who not only spoke the same magic jargon but also were fellow believers. I could discuss methods of sleight of hand and similar aspects of magic with other people who understood. After that I attended as many conferences as I could!
I had learnt I could extend my magical skills to present the Gospel to people who may not otherwise have the opportunities to learn about Jesus and His love. And of course, that with God nothing (not even getting leave in the most difficult times of the year!!) is impossible!
British athlete credits faith in God for overcoming injury and qualifying for Olympics
Mon 26 Jul 2021by Press Association
Abigail Irozuru has credited her faith in God for ending her injury woes and wait for an Olympic debut.The 31-year-old is preparing to make her Games bow in the long jump in Tokyo.
Her dream is nine years in the making after being left out in 2012, despite making the standard, before a ruptured Achilles forced her to miss Rio.
Irozuru retired after her injury before making the decision to return in 2019 with her faith helping her to reach Japan.
She said: “I do go to church and believe in God and genuinely had a conversation with God and I felt compelled to come back.
“I didn’t want to look back with regrets. I felt so tugged back into it but in my head, I was like ‘there’s no way I can put myself through this, it’s torture.’
“I said ‘God, please keep me healthy and allow this time round to be better’. I remind myself of that promise God made with me, or I made with God.
“In 2016 when I ruptured my Achilles, that was the second Olympic cycle I’d missed out on. I thought my dream was done but coming back a couple of years later, knowing it would be a fight, I just had to keep the faith.
“There are moments when I’ve had doubts, my capability and, particularly with the extra year, you question your age and ability to recover but I’ve been so thankful for the team I’ve had.”
A jump of 6.69m at the trials in Manchester last month booked her Olympics spot behind Jazmine Sawyers and they will be joined by Lorraine Ugen when the competition starts this Sunday.
“When I first qualified in Manchester it was relief but now, I’m just excited and it does mean so much because it has been such a long, arduous, stressful journey,” the 2019 British champion told the PA news agency.
“Every athlete has a story and a journey, but it does make it that bit more precious.
“I want to enjoy every moment as much as I can, despite the Covid chaos because that is important right now.”
We thank you for the boldness you have given Abigail Irozuru to talk about her faith.
Bless her and protect her as she competes in the Olympics.
Amen (FROM PREMIER CHRISTIANITY)
Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to: andy