Message from our Minister
One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11
‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’
We are all facing a time of anxiety and uncertainty and many are facing tough situations, with circumstances that can be almost overwhelming.
This verse in Jeremiah gives us the assurance that God is with us and has a plan and a purpose to see us through these difficult times. It gives us all a sure and certain hope as we confidently place our trust in him.
May you know God’s continued blessing. Rev John Izzard
Tuesday Fellowship on Zoom.
At the moment around 15 or so are meeting together on Zoom for about an hour in order to enjoy time together, praying and reading the Word. We are sad that we can’t all meet in this way and look forward to when we can actually meet physically again. Meanwhile to give you a flavour of what happened this week, we shared which miracle in the Bible, we would like to have been present at, prayed together using Psalm 85 and then discussed Ephesians 1 v 3 to 14. It was pointed out that v3 is a summary statement of all the fantastic blessings that are listed in the rest of the chapter. (Well worth reading). Finally, we prayed together for the country and needs known to us. We intend to look at various aspects of Ephesians over the coming weeks. There’s always time for a good old natter as well! Should you be able to ‘zoom’, you are very welcome to join us.
Ellie’s message from the Recent Catalyst Meeting
Feeling overwhelmed and out of control with all that’s going on? Listen to Ellie’s talk about how God can help us to overcome with life’s challenges.
Open Doors January 2021
On Wednesday 13th January Open Doors launched the World Watch List for the Persecuted Church via YouTube so the good news is that it is still very much available for all those who have the technology to do so! And I would very much recommend that you do this.
Last Tuesday evening during our fellowship time we were discussing the way forward for Gunville Church and I believe it was agreed that one of the characteristics should continue to be “We are family” and what that means. Our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church are also then by definition part of our worldwide family so we should try to make ourselves more aware of their situations in the various countries around the world. An excellent way to start, in my opinion, is to join this “meeting”. The launch of the watchlist usually takes place in the House of Commons and MP’s are invited to attend. However, this was not possible because of Covid but it meant a virtual launch was open to many more people!
According to the website, “This launch is a unique opportunity to ensure those in power hear about the human rights abuses facing our persecuted family”. But WE should also be informed so that we can hold those in power to account if they fail to uphold justice for these people. The purpose therefore is to inform MP’s of the 50 hardest countries to be Christian AND what they can do to advocate on their behalf.
After the introductions of key people, we moved onto testimonies of those (one from Nigeria and one from Iraq) who have experienced awful persecution for themselves and witnessed it first hand in their communities, and an Open Doors researcher commenting on the current situation in China. The last speaker, Fiona Bruce has just been appointed the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on freedom of Religion or Belief and it was interesting and encouraging to hear what she had to say, especially with regard to her fellow MP’s. She seems to be passionate and committed to her new role.
The Watchlist forms part of the report which has 3 recommendations for MP’s which will have possible implications for us, so I would again urge you to join this viewing and find out what they are!
I personally found the whole session disturbing, challenging but also encouraging. Ruth Colling
PRAISE THE LORD, ALL NATIONS!
This is an illustration for Psalm 117:1. Can you find ten differences?
Did you see the poem read out at Joe Biden’s inauguration by Amanda Gorman, America’s National Youth Poet Laureate? Its last three lines are:
“For there is always light
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
It was written for her nation, but could it also be for the Church?
Think about it: seeing the light, and being the light.
WHERE WAS GOD?
Following up last week’s question about where God was during the Holocaust, marking Holocaust Memorial Day, you might like to listen to the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn, who was in Auschwitz and other camps. He tells of the day he was invited to write a postcard from the camp, and then asks, “Where was God?”
You will find this on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX0DEQbRykE
– Five minutes which will stay in your memory for a long time. Martin
From Lesley’s Happy Book:
Good Temper Salve
1 oz self-sacrifice Mix with oil of love to a proper consistency.
1 oz forbearance
1 oz patience This ointment is highly recommended
2 oz cheerfulness for business, matrimonial and domestic sores.
2 oz charity
From All Saints Church, Burbage (Wilts) Ladies’ Group Cook Book
( This is part of an article by Roz Addington, Prayer Secretary of Methodist Evangelicals Together, which is featured in the latest ‘metconnexion’ magazine)
As I write this, we are going into a second lockdown owing to COVID-19. It is crucial at this time that we seek God as we search for ways of coping and dealing with the current pandemic. I don’t for one moment believe that God sent this disease, but he is using it to bring people to an awareness of their need for God.
There is hope in all this. Back in August as I was praying, God gave me the following message which sprang out of Isaiah 43:14-21:
‘I will do a new thing. Watch and wait. Be vigilant, be alert; pray and see what I will do. I will set my church on a new path. I will guide you and show you the way you should go. I will take you by the hand. I will lead you and be with you. You must stand firm, but you do not stand alone. You cannot imagine what I am about to do. Everything will be as new. I will purge the land of all the dross, the things that are hindering my work. Then my Spirit will sweep through the land, cleansing and healing whatever it touches.
This was accompanied by the picture:
I saw a fire spreading through the country – not a furious raging fire, but gentle, though persistent. It was like controlled burning, so it was not out of control, rather like heather being burnt to encourage new shoots to grow. It was burning away the rubbish, leaving the ground fertile for the new shoots that are there to grow. After the fire there was a fresh green spreading across the land as the new shoots began to grow and flourish.
For this to happen, we must do our part and pray, listening to what God might be wanting to say, letting the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and prayers. As is the way with such messages, we do not know the time scale for this, but whether it is imminent or whether it is years, the important thing is to pray.
Was Jesus a just a great human teacher?
CS Lewis discusses this question:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Baffling Brian’s Story Continues
After the incident in which the mysterious helper came to my rescue (see last week’s news sheet) I wanted to submit this helper’s name to the Governor, so that when his parole came up, this would be of help to him.
I went to the office of each of the 5 wings. I checked the labour board on each wing. I looked for a name I did not recognise but all the names were those I knew and could account for. “This is madness. There must be a record of him. As far as the wings are concerned, he appears not to exist!” I thought.
I next tried my fellow officer and friend Terry. He had access to the prison computer. I explained what I wanted and why. He understandably looked at me rather strangely, but he did do what I asked. I asked him about any convict movements in or out of the prison in the last 48 hours. He checked. There had been no movements in or out of the prison in the previous 10 days!
I made another attempt, thinking that one of the inmates I had been taking to the hospital before the start of the incident, would know him. I traced one of them to a workshop and questioned him about the identity of my helper. He was confused. He remembered the incident but according to him, he didn’t see anyone. I contacted 4 more in various places and questioned them. They all gave the same reply; not one of them had seen anyone helping me. In desperation I located the last inmate and changed my question.
“Do you remember Monday morning when I was escorting you and the others to the hospital?”
“At last!” I thought. “I’m getting somewhere at last!” “Tell me what you remember.”
This is what he told me.
“I saw (convict’s name) go for you.”
I then asked what happened next.
“You cut up rough, got him in a wristlock and dragged him down the block.”
I answered,” So you didn’t see anyone else?”
He replied that there was no one else, implying I dealt with the incident on my own.
At this point, I gave up.
By now you may be wondering why I didn’t ask the attacker. My answer is he was a bad-tempered psychopath with a record of many assaults on staff. Any attempt to discuss the incident would have been seen as extremely provocative.
There is no way I would have managed to take this highly volatile inmate to the block on my own!
Please send any contributions that might be published by next Tuesday morning to: andy