Newsletter 20th June 2021

Next week

Marian will be speaking about how Jesus used parables looking at Matthew 13 v 14,15 and  Isaiah 6: 9,10  (Of course, normal covid restrictions, masks, distancing etc continue for now).

Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom

This week we discussed Jane’s talk. (available on the website), about being ‘lights’ for Jesus wherever we are. We also thought about ‘shining like stars’ and ‘not complaining and arguing’ (Philippians 2) A time of prayer followed.

Methodist Conference and the Runaway Train

‘The Runaway Train – A Message to Methodists’ is a detailed (46 pages of small print) analysis of how over the last three decades the Methodist Church has “lost control” as it has travelled along its pilgrimage of faith. It is an “urgent call to think again about the ‘God in Love Unites Us’ proposals which are being voted upon at the Methodist Conference at the end of June. Written by Dr David Hull and produced by the ‘Remaining Faithful ‘Network (a partnership of ‘Methodist Evangelicals Together’ and ‘The Voice of Methodism Association’), a copy has been sent to every Methodist Church in Britain. If you want to read/view it, a copy is available in the foyer; Paul and Andy have also been sent copies which they are ready to lend to anyone who would like to see them. 

Answer Smash No.2  – once again featuring some of your fellow-worshippers

Do you remember “Answer Smash” from TV’s “House of Games”, which we tried 2 weeks ago?  

The last few letters of the first answer are also the first few letters of the second answer.  You have to smash the two together, so that the common letters appear only once: see the two examples.  Some of these may be more difficult than first time round: feel free to cheat.  (Answers at end of newsletter.)

N.B. You will need both names of the people in the church.

The Examen

 The Temple Gate

 An inmate was trying to walk around a caged exercise yard. He did not manage it very well because his leg was severely damaged. I knew from his record that he had been set upon by a number of assailants who broke his leg in several places. Over the years doctors and surgeons had to tried to repair it with no success. It stubbornly remained almost completely useless. As he limped around, he noticed me standing there. 
He exclaimed, “I know you!” 
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, you gave me a booklet on how God has changed men’s lives.”
“Did you believe them?”
“Why not?”
“Would you like Him to do something for you?”
“You mean my leg?”
“Yes. Do you think He could heal it?”
“Maybe.”
“Would like Him to?”
“Yeah”
“Well, you have to do your bit first.”
I have to say that at this point I was a little hesitant asking him to do something that I know a lot of people would have difficulty with. (I include myself here). I also knew he could be violent which is the reason he was exercising in the cage and on his own. I also took some comfort in the fact that we were separated by a steel mesh fence! 
“People think God can do anything. But that’s not quite true. He cannot work through an unforgiving spirit. You have to forgive your attackers. Can you do that?”  
“OK”
“Go on then. Say it out loud. Only you, God and I will hear it.”
“Dear God I forgive my attackers.”
“Good you’ve done your bit now. God can do his. Lord, we ask you to heal his leg.”
“Now you have to say Amen. That shows we are in agreement.”
“Amen.”
No sooner had he said it when he yelled and grabbed his leg!”
“What’s up?”
“I don’t know, I just felt something!”
Exercise finished and he hobbled back to his cell. I was so disappointed. I expected to see a miraculous healing. I finished my shift and went home.
At home I told Ruth what had happened. She said “But that’s wonderful!” 
“What do you mean wonderful? I expected to see his leg healed. I expected to see a miracle.”
“But don’t you see? You did see a miracle. How many criminals would you expect to be able to forgive someone just because you suggested it? Do you know what day it is?”
“I have no idea!”
Well, today is the day the Church of England calendar remembers when Peter and John were walking through the temple gate and a crippled beggar asked them for money. In response, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.”, which of course is what he did.”
The next day I was again detailed to work in the punishment block. As I walked in, I heard people talking about this particular inmate. It would appear that during the night he had felt a burning sensation in his leg.  Apparently, he felt his bones moving, almost like they were knitting together. In the morning his leg was healed!! Officers and inmates could not believe their eyes as they watched him walking around the exercise yard quite normally!! As I watched him, I asked him to jump up and down. He said he was so used to being a cripple he could not get used to the idea that he now had the use of two good legs. I heard later that some of the cons said to him, did that officer do it? 
“No!” he said,” NO! Jesus did it!!”

I finish on a sad note. Some people in the prison saw him walking round normally but simply would not believe it. They insisted he must have been pretending to be a cripple for the past SEVEN years!! Excuse me? Surely it would be far easier to believe in the miracle??!! 

                                                                                                       Bafflin’Brian

Andy adds:  What an amazing true story! If you are still seeking healing for anything it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to forgive someone to enable your healing to happen. Healing can be a mystery as the following story shows.

I don’t believe God gave me fibromyalgia. I do believe he can use it for good’

When Jo Cordell’s health failed, she felt like her body had become her enemy. Here she shares how God met her in the midst of her pain

In 2012, Jo Cordell, a 41-year-old mother of two, was in a car accident. The accident was a minor one, but the pain from whiplash was severe and ongoing. Jo had not made a full recovery when she tripped and broke her foot on holiday, resulting in further complications. Pain and fatigue became a struggle and other nerve-related symptoms began to manifest. In 2015, after months of investigations, she was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is an illness of the central nervous system. A chronic condition, it is characterised by widespread pain and severe fatigue. It affects every system in the body and there are more than 200 known symptoms. Medical and anecdotal evidence suggests that fibromyalgia is often triggered by a combination of physical and emotional trauma and could even be genetic.

While receiving a formal diagnosis was a relief, knowing that she had a long-term health condition was devastating. Doctors informed Jo, who has been a Christian since childhood, that there was no treatment pathway for fibromyalgia and no cure.

Jo was determined to continue with her life as usual, which included running a youth club for teenagers with disabilities in her hometown of Eastbourne, East Sussex. But gradually the pain and fatigue became too much. She was forced to stop working. It was a huge blow, and Jo felt that she had lost a part of her identity along with her job.

“I had always seen myself as a ‘helper’,” she says. “I found it very difficult to ask for help. It hurt my pride.” But she knew that this was not the right attitude to take. “I would never judge anyone else for asking me for help,” she continues, “so why do I judge myself? Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage.”

As her illness progressed, Jo found herself spending long amounts of time in bed. She felt isolated and alone, largely dependent on her teenage son and daughter. Pain medications were ineffective or caused awful side effects. Sensory overload – one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia – made it almost impossible to hold a conversation alongside any other background noise. Talking with her children while the TV was on could cause an immediate surge of pain.

“You worry that you ask too much of other people,” says Jo. “One of the worst things is the guilt that you’ve become a burden to people you love. You feel like you’re disappointing [them] when, after months and months, you’re not getting any better.”

But her enforced time alone did have some positives, as Jo spent hours talking with God. Throughout her illness, Jo hung on to her faith, often reminding herself of the truths she held in her heart. A diary entry from that time read: “My chronic illness has progressed to a stage where I can no longer work. I am using a wheelchair if I manage to go out, but I am in bed a lot of my days. Also, my finances are very restricted. I don’t believe God gave me fibromyalgia. I do believe he can and does use any situation for good. I find he is using it to teach me in a deeper way that my identity is in him. I am learning a lot about patience. I am learning a lot about compassion for others who suffer – something I thought I already knew about – now in a deeper way. Yes, I have a lot of physical pain and I have terrible fatigue. But I also have time to reflect on what is important. I have time to spend with God. And yes, I want my health back, but I see more clearly than ever that a healthy spirit is more valuable to me than a healthy body.”

While she never would have chosen the illness, Jo was nevertheless learning profound lessons through it: “I felt like my body had become my enemy, but what did Jesus say about enemies? Love them. I had to learn to treat my body with love.

“It can feel as if your body has become your prison. Someone trying to hold you back, and you need to battle them.”

Handing that battle to God was not an easy process. 

Jo’s friends worried about her mental health and ability to cope. Having given up hope for healing, Jo researched ways of making her condition more manageable. During her research she came across a clinic in the US that offered treatments for patients with chronic pain conditions.

Friends, trusting her judgement, began fundraising to send Jo for a round of treatment, accompanied by her daughter. What followed was a whirlwind of activity with band nights, promise auctions, garden parties, donations and gifts. Eighteen months and thousands of pounds later, the Spero Clinic in Arkansas was booked, accommodation and flights were paid for and, in the summer of 2019, Jo and her daughter were off for what felt like a last-ditch attempt towards recovery.

At the end of the twelve-week treatment and for the first time in seven years, Jo was able to leave her wheelchair and run around the block. It was a phenomenal turnaround. But despite the huge improvements in her condition, Jo knows that recovering from a chronic illness is an ongoing process. She makes sure to check in with her body regularly. Nevertheless, she is now applying for university, something which would have been unthinkable before the visit to the clinic.

“I am very hopeful for the future and excited to be able to make plans. My pain levels are under control and I am mobile again! I have learned a huge amount about my body, my identity and the unfailing love of God. I really want to spread a message of hope and let people know that remission from fibromyalgia is possible. I am incredibly grateful to God and the clinic staff and my faithful friends who fundraised and supported me.”             From Premier Christianity, by Caroline Pattenden 

For more information about Jo’s journey see her Facebook page ‘Freedom from Fibro

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