Today, in the early morning service we prayed to God and thanked Him for those who came from the Muslim faith and found our community to be under the wings of our master Jesus.
You may or may not be aware of the problems with Covid widespread in Folkestone Camp. On the 20th of this month, there were about 120 confirmed positive tests already. Today we heard also that several refugees have become very ill. There is no isolation and the guys are all having to live collectively.
All of our contacts helping those refugees are warned, though of those helpers at the moment about half are also positive, but the others are all fearing the worst. It is a terrible situation. Hamid described it as a disaster!
However, arrangements were made for the Sunday and Wednesday’s Bible Classes to replicate similar arrangements to last Sunday – as this seems to work quite well. This will mean we will start together with a prayer and then Tim and Chris will split into the Breakout room to lead the same subject. (notes are reduced). We will see how the time goes but hopefully reconnect at the end to close in prayer.
We continue with our services online in English with translation to Farsi. We are hoping that if this works we will be able to invite Iranian teachers to be involved in leading the breakout room with our attendance to provide a Newbury connection and engagement.
This seems the best approach to include our new Brothers into Newbury activities and also provide suitable levels of study for all people. Additionally, we suspect a few of the English-speaking Iranians might like to stay in the main class.
We are still feeling our way, and we are open to change if this doesn’t work – the great news is that we have a good number of very keen, energetic and enthusiastic Iranians who want to make this a great success.
Also this morning we managed to get visitors from all over England, Canada (who joined us at 5 in the morning for them – thanks to them to have got up so early to be with us) and Belgium with several Iranians joining us as well.
Today we had five newly baptised members partaking our service.
This morning we talked about New Beginnings, which our Iranians really have in a literal way, and have to cope with the fear. Ben Davis spoke about the difficulties the Iranians have in their country and how they were taken up in our community in Toronto, Germany and Turkey.
Ben talked about the experience those Iranians have to cope with going to a new country where a language is spoken they do not know and cannot speak, also being confronted with a total different culture, without having friends to talk with. Also having no job, having to start from scratch. (A Culture shock!)
For us in the West it is relatively easy to have faith because most of the time things seem to go all right. But we should be aware that there are countries where not everything goes as smoothly as here. When things are going well everything seem okay, but the test of faith is when things do not appear to be going well. In our lives we sometimes have moments where we have to take another course. Sometimes God seems to shut us in a clean sweep, for giving us a different insight and to change our perspective.
Brother Ben from Canada looked at Noah. Imagine his social isolation. He also had to start earth all over again. A monumental change building the ark, but also to rebuild society from scratch.
Another figure was Joseph who was taken to a strange land and having to restart his new life. We see that Joseph was in isolation and imprisoned God was with him. Joseph did not know how long it would last. We today also do not know how long this situation would long.
By Paul, we also find a 180° change in life, first prosecuting followers of Christ and afterwards being one of the greatest defenders of the disciples of Christ and becoming the biggest supporter and promoter.
We can take some lessons from their life. Paul needed that encounter with Jesus to have a transformation for a new life. Just like in our own life Jesus and God give us things to be able to change and grow, some small others monumental.
In the examples the Bible gives we find how God can be with us and how His plans are, to prosper and not to harm.
Ben Davis in the exhortation this morning, talked also about the difficulties he had to counter the last few months when he was in the hospital. He went through the stages about looking for the relationship with God. The potter would start and shape and notice something wrong and have to start again.
Ben then came to look at David who was singing about a new beginning and lets us see that the Word of God says it is okay to think about those things that go wrong, but says we have to give something up. That is what our new members from Iran have to do a lot. Giving up everything and starting up from scratch. We have several members who had to give up everything, not able to have contact with their family.
We might have all new beginnings but are missing opportunities, afraid to take new steps in our life.
Next month Bible Study Series title: To Theophilus Feb 24: In Paul’s Defense Mar 3: Two Perspectives on the Crisis Mar 10: Constructing the Gospel
Brother Steve Robinson from Mons is hoping to organise a Saturday night social on 6 February – starting at 7pm. This will involve presenting two live dramas, based on Old Testament subjects, with a quiz in between. The quiz has the title – “Who wants to be a Legionnaire” and will be loosely based a the television quiz show. For this – he would like to have two teams of five volunteers for the plays and a three volunteers for the quiz. He looks forward to hearing from you so that we can start preparing.
In spite of everything, we can choose to see the goodness of God and make the choice to follow His Guidance and to do away with all the pagan rites and wrong teachings. For the Muslims who decided to come to our brotherhood it was not such an easy step, because to come to Christianity meant that they not only brought themselves in danger but also their family members. Their becoming a Christian has made many to leave all that they knew and loved so very much. Their conversion meant a whole new change and their having to flee by fear trying to find new grounds to live, can only be regarded as a good sign of their courage to take steps of faith.
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