May 2017 Alive Mission
Richard Scott reports…
The Uppingham mission had a somewhat staggered start. Local involvement began by advertising the mission in the marketplace on Friday and then via that evening’s pantomime. An unusual way to begin a week’s mission; but after 5 years of prayer and with newspaper and radio coverage adding to prayer walking every street and leafletting every door, the Alive Mission was at least known to some before we hit town! Our team of twenty arrived on Saturday and set to work that afternoon on the doors. The three Churches involved (Anglican, Methodist and Congregational) worked so closely together that they eschewed our usual team structure, preferring instead to see us as one combined Away team – which linked very closely with the excellent Home team, some of whom joined us door to door. A joint Commissioning service was held on the Sunday morning where team member Sam Buchanan gave an excellent testimony, with the congregation literally open-mouthed as he described having actually witnessed three people being crucified during his time working with the British Army in Ethiopia. An evening event where Christian magician Steve Price entertained completed an excellent day.
The week continued with door to door work, which had been wonderfully organised, with doors in every street counted and parcelled up into manageable segments for pairs to visit each day. Highlights from the door to door work included: After chatting with and extensively praying for a distressed Hungarian young lady the rain encouraged Val Jacobs and myself to seek shelter – and joining three idling builders in the next door garage seemed ideal. They heard the Gospel having understood very little initially – a situation sadly not uncommon in Uppingham. The previous day, Brian Hart and I noticed a man wink at us before driving to the allotment. Following him, we learnt that he wasn’t sure about faith, but in answer to our new Q4, told how he’d prayed for his terminally ill friend – who then survived another 20 years! A builder told of praying for his new born daughter – who survived. Our job is to get them to see that the God they’d prayed to is real, hasn’t gone away and loves them and that they’ll meet Him one day, with faith the only element ultimately that stands the test of time.
Not all the conversations on the doors were easy, we came across theologians and scientists/philosophers, and in truth, some of these discussions were quite tricky! One woman was angry at God for taking her husband 10 years previously. Another man who’s young son had leukaemia sadly refused prayer. But a lady, who’d lost her husband 5 years ago to a motorbike accident, not only remained faithful but was very happy for us to chat with her grandson who sprawled over the roof of her car. As ever, it’s not what happens but how people respond that matters.
An evening at the Falcon Hotel entitled God and Cancer was also a success with a brilliant local testimony from Anna Wilkinson concerning her brain tumour and a panel of four taking audience questions, either side of my talk. Four people responded, using the “Tell me More” cards, with some attending for healing prayers.
On Saturday morning, 35 men listened to bishop Donald (of Peterborough) at a Men’s Breakfast. Having quipped that when working previously in Cheadle, the women wanted their own event, but naturally nothing as unhealthy as a full English, a Keep Fit Class emerged instead. Our ladies, I might add, went for a compromise position, enjoying a café breakfast! The bishop spoke of harrowing Christian persecution in N. Korea and of a pastor from Zimbabwe. His family were beaten by Mugabe. Since then, God has used him in rural Cheshire. Banging on doors, he tells his parishioners that he comes from Africa and God loves them. Unsurprisingly, the church has grown! The bishop, himself, had also experienced opposition. His mother was so disgusted at his switch to study theology that she cut him out of her will. Christianity is literally costly. He finished by reiterating that a clerics’ job is to equip the lay to do evangelism.
The last Sunday morning saw the churches join together in a wonderful Celebration Service in a marquee, bathed in sunshine on Tod’s Piece. Supported by a visiting Methodist Leader from Northants and with prayers from both Home and Away mission teams, Geoff (Task Force Leader) and myself were able to reflect, under interview, what the week had achieved. George Martin then spoke on the decisions that farmers and others make. His text, taken from Jesus & Peter walking on the water, was exactly the one acted out by the youth drama earlier in the service! Unplanned - except by the Lord. At least eight responded to his message.
It was encouraging that that 71 people who were spoken to wanted follow up and five follow up groups using a variety of courses were planned. Uppingham is a tiny town in the smallest county but a picture received by one of the team showed a pebble being dropped into pool and a large wave sweeping out over the edge of the pool into surrounding parts.