It’s Friday afternoon after a mixed week of hospital appointments and Gospel opportunities to be followed in the next couple of days by a Gideon’s meeting in Elworth, a Sunday morning service in Atherton and a ‘cafe church’ in the evening. All are part of a varied programme for presenting the Gospel to many different types of people. It never ceases to amaze me that the Lord would give such opportunities to a rapidly ageing Gospel singer/preacher. I really do feel humbled but very thankful that these things are laid before me and that I’m enabled by His grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to so many.
Let me take you to a couple of prisons I’ve visited recently. The first is a high security dispersal unit. It’s a long walk from the car park to the Chapel so I’ve had to arrange for someone to meet me and help bring the equipment in (my consultant says I mustn’t carry heavy weights due to a rapidly crumbling backbone). A quick set up, a cup of coffee and the men arrive, slightly fewer that usual. But in God’s economy it creates an intimate atmosphere where questions come thick and fast between the songs. The first is, ‘What does it mean to be born again’ and the second is, ‘Are you born again and how did it happen?’ When we stop for a coffee in the middle of the afternoon Simon comes to ask further questions and also asks for prayer. A couple of other guys, one whom I’ve known for several years also come with serious questions. In part two I present the Gospel as clearly as I can with a challenge to respond and a closing prayer. Most of the leaflets I’ve brought disappear and hopefully will be read back in their ‘pads’. No great breakthrough but a real sense that the Lord has been working in individual hearts. I spend the two hour drive home, singing and praying, oh yes, and a quick listen to the news!!
The second prison is an ‘low security unit’ where we did an open air concert back in May to which over 70 men came including some muslim lads who sat to one side and listened carefully. This time it’s a more low key affair in the chapel with about 25 guys turning up. Some have been converted in recent months and are keen to listen and learn whilst for others it is almost a first time opportunity.. They listen attentively for well over and hour, something which never ceases to amaze me! There is a real ‘hush’ as we pray together. A couple of the lads are near the end of their sentences and come to say goodbye and thanks. The quote that will stick in my heart for a long time is, ‘Thanks for bringing light into our darkness’…. In the Bible it says 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'. Praise the Lord for his grace and tender mercy.
I gave a concert in ‘Costa Coffee’ in Runcorn one Sunday evening earlier in the year. Derek Guest a local vicar and one of the new AofE trustees has an arrangement with them to take the coffee bar over for a couple of hours each month. What an excellent venue. I’ve done a few similar things before and can see their value in bringing ‘non church’ people under the sound of the Gospel for perhaps the first time in a very non threatening atmosphere. Food for thought, eh!
The rest of my ministry continues in a steady fashion as always in churches, prisons, soup kitchens plus the regular opportunities in our local fellowship. This along with family commitments keeps both Wendy and me pretty busy most of the time and we pray that given reasonable health this will continue.
One item of special interest is the visit of Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) to Blackpool 21st/23rd September for a ‘Festival of Hope’. It is supported by churches throughout the North West. We pray it will be a good opportunity to bring friends and neighbours to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The Family continue to thrive (and grow!) and we are truly blessed by all of them. We pray very much for the grand children that they will all hold fast to the things they have been, and are still being taught of the Lord Jesus in these often difficult times.
The Association of Evangelists is always a source of encouragement to us and the Prayer Partners Conference in November at Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire will again be an opportunity for Roger, Andy, Martin, Tony, Vinny and me to tell of all that the Lord has been doing in and through us. We’d love to see you there! Our speaker is Craig Dyer and details are on the AofE website.
On a personal note I’d value your prayers for continuing mobility. I’ve been diagnosed with spinal stenosis (wear and tear of some vertebrae, probably due to carrying too much heavy equipment over too many years!) It’s rapidly affecting my walking and standing, in fact I need to sit down when speaking and singing nowadays. However the most comfortable place to be is in the driver’s seat of my car so no problem there.. A chair, a stool, an amplifier, mike and a stand and I’m good to go. Big Bill Broonzie sat down to play so I’m in very exalted company!!
As ever, thanks for taking time to read this stuff and I’ll maybe see you down the road sometime……