Editorial – November 2019

by Denise Cryer

This year sees the Church of England celebrate 50 years of women Readers!

In 1961 the Bishop of Southwell had asked, “If a woman can be Queen, why cannot she be a lay Reader in the Church?”

I celebrated 10 years as a Reader last year but my journey started 20 years before that when my vicar said, “You should be preaching!” and then jokingly added “…but not in MY pulpit!” I often think I should preach from St. Lawrence’s pulpit just in memory of him!

In 1725 James Rudge of Trysull left 20 shillings per year “to a poor man to go about the parish church, during sermon, to keep people awake…” We’ve all heard good and bad sermons. But I believe passionately in preaching and believe it can play a crucial part in drawing people to faith in Jesus and to strengthen and encourage them in faith. It can equip God’s people to engage with our living God.

BUT it’s a delicate and fragile business and a HUGE responsibility! It’s easy to fall short of preaching the whole truth. I haven’t always got it right but I listen to what the Spirit’s saying and preach from my heart. If I can’t reflect on how the passage might impact my own life, how can I hope to help others?

As a Reader I also appreciate the privilege of sharing with others. I’ve been humbled and blessed as I’ve drawn alongside folk in prayer, shared in dark moments, and journeyed with them into healing and restoration. My ministry has had highs and lows, some parts have been a huge learning curve, but this is where God’s called me

As we move forward in the Rivers Team, there’s lots of opportunity for growth. I believe we are going to see “new growth” like never before! Is God speaking to YOU? Are you using the gifts He’s given you? Are you prepared to?

I’ve always tried to encourage people to share what God’s doing in their lives because I believe it’s important. I’ve often been encouraged through other people’s testimonies when it seems God’s been silent to me. 1 Thess 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage each other and build one another up, just as you are already doing”. So let’s encourage, listen to and pray for one another as we move forward into a new season of growth.

Denise

PS: Remember where my journey began!

 
.

Dynamic young leader

Bob Lunt—by Robert Lunt

Rezki grew up in a Muslim family, like most Algerians, but things changed when a friend’s family had a book they wanted to get rid of. It was a New Testament and Rezki took it, read the Gospels and most of Acts at one sitting, and gave his life to Christ.

He found a church 20 miles away. 50 people attended then in 2002; now there are 1,500, a sign of how the church is growing in Algeria. Rezki was tempted to emigrate, but he felt God call him to ministry in his homeland, and he joined Bible Society. Now he’s taking over from the ‘legendary’ Ali Khidri who led Bible Society in Algeria for 30 years.

Rezki says things have got worse for Algerian Christians in recent years. Ten churches have been closed by the authorities (there were only around 60 to start with), and the number of Bibles they’re allowed to import has been severely restricted.

Algeria is in crisis. The long-term president has been ousted following mass protests and democratic elections have been promised. But the Church can’t be held back. When churches were closed, Christians put up tents and met there instead. Despite official efforts to choke off the supply of Scripture, Rezki plans to expand the ministry. Bible Society’s office remains the only place where you can be sure to get a Bible.

Rezki is rising to the challenge and one thing drives him on: every week more than 50 new people ask for a Bible or New Testament. Despite huge risks, Algerians long to know Jesus. Rezki says, “There are many seekers. They contact TV and radio channels and ask questions on the internet. They ask for Bibles and we give them whenever we can.”

When you’re not allowed to talk to people about Jesus, when no one will invite you to church, reading Scripture is how people come to faith, like Rezki did. As well as providing Scripture, he wants to disciple and train Christians. And as a new dad, he’s committed to producing Bible material for children too.

When asked how it feels to follow Ali Khidri who’s been at the heart of Algeria’s Christian revival over the last 30 years, Rezki replied, “I can’t replace Ali, he’s a legend! But God gave me this opportunity with Bible Society, and I will put everything into it.”

Source: Bible Society

Spotlight on Mission – Our Mission Partners 2019

spotlightHansi Jain Hansi is our missionary links in Nagpur, India, working with families and children from the slums and running a school.

CPAS are patrons of our churches and are an evangelical organisation working to support local churches in mission.

Tear Fund is an evangelical Christian relief agency working through local churches in the poorest parts of the world.

The Barnabas Fund works to support Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

Rotherham Holiday Aid is a local charity seeking to provide holidays for some of the neediest families around Rotherham.

Rotherham Street Pastors Are a group of trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community. They patrol in teams of men and women, usually from 10pm to 4.00am on a Friday and Saturday night, to care for, listen and help people who are out on the streets. Showing that they are loved by people and by God in practical ways.

Samaritans Offer 24 hours a day Telephone confidential emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts and is a registered charity based in the UK and Republic of Ireland

Discretionary Fund We keep a small discretionary fund so that we can respond to specific needs such as natural disasters.

Don’t forget that we can financially support them especially at our Team Services on the 5th Sundays. Pop your gift in a clearly marked envelope and place it on the offertory plate.

If you would like to make a gift on another occasion, just place it in an envelope and place in the collection plate at your church.
Jesus says “Give and see what is given to you; a full measure, pressed down shaken together and running over! The measure you receive is determined by the measure you use when you give!”
Luke 6: 38

Complacency to Growth, via Persecution

Bob LuntBy Bob Lunt
Pastor Jin is a leader in a network of house churches in China. He remembers two years ago when things were relatively easy, “yet deep down”, he says, “we had grown comfortable, even complacent. The longing to meet together to worship, read the word and pray had been quietly edged out by the attraction of work, money and entertainment. The old passion just wasn’t there any more.”

Then one day police burst in on a church meeting open to folk seeking to know more about Jesus. Pastor Jin was arrested and imprisoned in solitary confinement for ten days. He prayed and sang a lot, but questions plagued his mind. By the end he’d whittled the battle down to one question: “If I’m called by God, am I really willing to sacrifice everything for the Lord Jesus?”

By the last day he’d made peace with himself and God. “No matter what happened I would serve the Lord.

“But back at church we knew we would be watched like hawks. Put one foot wrong and the consequences would be dire.”

In February 2018 the Chinese government granted more powers to local authorities to shut down unregistered churches and forbid landlords from renting properties to Christians for meetings. Children and teenagers were forbidden to go to church. Yet, says Jin, “the whole ordeal recalibrated us all. Our focus moved from ensuring Sunday services were well organised and ‘impressive’, to caring for each other in small groups in people’s homes. We began to experience a richness in fellowship that we hadn’t felt for a long time. We got to know each other and cared for one another and our extended families. We prayed for each other, relationships were restored, and miracles happened again. Though divided geographically, in the Spirit we were more united than ever. Bible truth and relationship with Jesus have become so important that we cherish every moment together.

“The church is growing because of persecution! We are alive again and growing and equipping the saints for the work of the Kingdom. There are dangers and we still have to be very careful, but the sense of peace and hope for the future make all the rest seem like stepping stones to glory.”

Source: Open Doors

Editorial – Sept 2019

by Chris Butler

Who would you consider to be the greatest role model for your Christian life? I’m sure that many of us know of many mighty men and women of God, yet perhaps most of us would list the Apostle Paul as the greatest Christian who ever lived and the one they would most like the emulate. In fact, Paul often held himself up as a pattern for all Christians to follow. “Imitate me,” he urged, “just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). He knew, of course, that he could serve as a godly example only if he faithfully followed the Lord Jesus.

Throughout September our services at the Rivers Team will focus on the life of Paul. We will be looking at the full extent of his life – his conversion, the change in his life, the training he received, his empowerment by the Spirit, his leadership and his preparations for those who would follow after him. No matter what stage we are in our Christian walk, whether a new convert to the faith or a church leader, there will be something from his life that we can apply to our own.

Paul’s life has inspired countless ministers, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists. If you read through the book of Acts it’s easy to see why. The exploits of Paul will take your breath away. He made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians.

The apostle was a spiritual father to many and his inspired letters to the churches he founded formed half of the New Testament, thus becoming the foundation for Christian theology, but despite those achievements he endured enormous physical hardships. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, stranded, and faced dangers in the city and the country. He was also made weak through tiredness, hunger, sleeplessness, and the “thorn in his flesh” which continually tormented him, but he soon realised that it was through these weaknesses he was made strong as he depended more and more upon the Lord for his strength (2 Cor 12:9).

No other churchman has had a greater impact on Christianity. And Paul’s attitudes, motivations, and methods are elements that we can reproduce in our own lives to help us impact lives the way he did. And as we copy Paul, who himself was copying Christ, then we in turn will become role models for the next generation of Christians who follow after us.

Doggedly Defending Despite the Dangers

Bob Luntby Bob Lunt

A human rights and religious freedom defender working in South India recently shared his thoughts on the current climate in the country.

My experience has considerably worsened since Modi’s government came to power in 2014. The government relies heavily on the backing of Hindu fundamentalists, which has led to an increase in the threat to religious minorities, particularly Christians. In Tamil Nadu where I work, human rights defenders have faced extreme hostility. Some have been shot, raped and threatened by both government and non-government people. And now Modi has won a landslide victory in the 2019 elections.

I work to defend the rights of people of all faiths. Those who support Hindu supremacy in India argue that human rights defenders work against the country’s interests, but this simply isn’t true. I’m proud that my country has such a great constitution, which protects fundamental freedoms. India was among the first countries to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

This is why I find it so sad that, as human rights defenders, we now face the threat of violence on a daily basis. I hear noises outside my house at night, and banging on my windows. It’s tragic that in India, a country of such diverse cultures, languages, religions and beliefs, these things now happen to those of us who are trying to uphold the basic human right to practise one’s religion or belief of choice.

The government uses the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to target human rights defenders. The law deals with people who are considered to be working against the state, and some human rights defenders have been accused of being members of terrorist organisations. A person can be detained without bail for six months under this law, which can be extended. We constantly live in fear that another of us could be the next person charged.

I’m also constantly harassed and monitored by the authorities. I give a speech somewhere or go to speak with victims of human rights abuses, and before I get home I’m called by the authorities asking how the trip went – a constant reminder that my every move is being watched. The support of the international community is really important. Training for human rights defenders, like CSW’s Defend the Defender project, is vital to our safety and work.

Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)

Spotlight on Mission – Discretionary Fund

spotlightAs part of our Mission Giving there is a fund so that we can respond to specific needs such as natural disasters and families and individuals who over the year have been in need in various ways, and giving from this fund has helped in a small way. Please pray for the many groups that help people in times of crisis that money sent will be used wisely.

Thank you on behalf of our Mission partners to all those you who during August at our Team Services supported them, they really do appreciate our help over the year.

Don’t feel that this is the only time you can give, pop an envelope in to the collection plate clearly marked for our Mission Partners at any service across the Team and it can be added to the fund.

Hansi Jain our missionary link in Nagpur, India, working with families and children from the slums and running a school.

CPAS are patrons of our churches and are an evangelical organisation, working to support local churches in mission.

Tear Fund is an evangelical Christian relief agency working through local churches in the poorest parts of the world.

The Barnabas Fund works to support Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

Rotherham Holiday Aid is a local charity seeking to provide holidays for some of the neediest families around Rotherham.

Samaritans offer 24 hours a day confidential telephone service, giving emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of distress,
despair or suicidal thoughts, and is a registered charity based in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Rotherham Street Pastors are a group of trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community. They patrol the town in teams of men and woman, usually from 10pm to 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, to care for, listen to and help people, showing, in practical ways, that they are loved by people and by God.

Catch up of more recent news/development and specific prayer requests of any of them on their own web sites.

 

Editorial – August 2019

short

A Break From Work, Not Worship

by Eddie Short

August is traditionally a time for family holidays, for taking a break from work, relaxing and recharging our batteries. Which, of course, is a biblical principle. After the creation narrative in Genesis 1, we read at the beginning of Genesis 2 that God took a break on the seventh day, setting it apart and blessing it. It is good and right to balance our work – both secular and serving God – with time off to reflect, recharge and relax.

Time away on holiday is also a great opportunity to experience different expressions of church. We are part of a global fellowship of believers, which means however far we travel, in this country or abroad, there is likely to be a Christian church within easy reach. Visiting other churches, especially those in different parts of the world, gives us the opportunity to broaden our horizons and strengthen our faith. There is something quite spiritually profound in worshipping with a group of complete strangers from another culture who share the same faith in Jesus. Over the past couple of years I have had two very different, but equally positive, experiences of visiting churches while away on holiday.

When Nic and I were visiting Nashville a couple of years ago to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, we visited a ‘mega church’ on the outskirts of the city. The worship was more like a concert than a church service; not something we’d want to be a part of on a regular basis, but great as a one-off. However, it was the sermon from a visiting preacher that I really connected with. It spoke directly to my situation at the time and afterwards I looked him up online. Since then I have found the podcasts from the church he was in the process of planting to be a huge blessing.

Then, earlier this year, we visited Norway over Easter. While we were there we attended, as a family, the Easter Sunday service at the Anglican Church in Bergen, which is also incidentally called St. Mary’s. This turned out to be a joint service between the English-speaking Anglican congregation and the Norwegian-speaking Church of Norway congregation. While the sermon was (thankfully) in English, the liturgy and hymns were in a mixture of the two languages. Being part of this multilingual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was both poignant and affirming: Jesus defeated death for all people, of all nationalities, from all over the world!

At both of these churches, and the many others we have visited while traveling, we were made to feel very welcome and included. So, the next time you are away on holiday, I’d encourage you to seek out a local church service and expand your ecclesiastical horizons! And, even if you aren’t going away, there is an opportunity to worship at three different churches throughout August without leaving the team! There will be just one joint service in each of our four churches on the four Sundays of this month. This isn’t an excuse to have three weeks off, but rather a great opportunity to experience all four of the congregations that make up our team and also to get to know the wider church family a little better.

I won’t be there, as our family is spending the summer in America. But I will be joining you in worship, visiting yet another new church…

Editorial – July 2019

Ilsa Aug 2014 1 - CopyWhat am I doing here?

by Monica Walker

It is just 44 years this month since I arrived in Rotherham to face a new job, new home, new friends and new church and after a few months I began to ask myself “what am I doing here”? But God had a plan!

I feel a bit the same as I begin to write my first editorial for the magazine, “what am I doing here!” I am however, reminded of so many bible characters who must have said or thought the same thing. What am I doing here!

We have recently finished a sermon/study series on the book of Exodus and in it we’re told Moses had to contend with grumpy complaining Israelites, so he probably had similar thoughts as the they objected to everything he had to say, even though they were promises from God. There must have been times when he thought, what am I doing here!

God has His plans and we are told they are…just and upright.

Sometimes God’s plans are disturbing, we get uncomfortable with change but change can also be exciting. We are facing many changes in the way church happens in our Diocese and Team very different from what we have known and our comfort zone will be shaken.

We don’t always understand or see the sense in the challenges of God’s plans but it is at these times we need to hang on in there and trust our faith in the Lord Jesus.

As this magazine goes to print, I will be with friends in Scotland, friends I would never have known if I hadn’t moved to Rotherham all those years ago.

I’m glad God has a plan and pray that we can all be obedient to listening and following His plan as we face the future for the Rivers Team with all its challenges and blessings.

So, we say “what am I doing here” in the Rivers Team in 2019? We are in this together, waiting to be part of God’s plan as we see it unfold for His people here in our communities.

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord Jer. 29

Spotlight on Mission – Our Mission Partners

spotlightLast month we were remind who our Mission Partners are and the work that they do -

Hansi Jain – CPAS - Tear FundThe Barnabas Fund
Rotherham Holiday Aid – Samaritans - Rotherham Street Pastors

They all do amazing work sharing Gods love in word and action. Really appreciating the support that we give them through our prayers but they also need our financial support too.

Over the last year we have got out of the habit of reminding folk that each Team Service there will be a specific Mission Partners collection plate and for some that’s just something that has been forgotten.

With Four Team services during August:

4th St Helen’s
11th St Lawrence’s
18th St Mary’s
25th St Andrew’s

this might help us to get back into the habit of regularly giving to them.

We will make sure that there is a collection plate or our Mission Partners at all of them. Please try and give generously so that we can encourage and bless these groups.

On other occasions you might like to make a gift please just pop it in an envelope and clearly mark for our Mission Partners and place it in the Sunday collection

Thank you

For more information about any of our Mission Partners please see their individual web sites

Pages: 1 2 3 4 30