My Dear Friends
‘What’s new?’ is the question I often ask when I sit down to write. It would be too easy to be pessimistic. Recently I was reminded of an old hymn we used to sing: Everything changes, but God changes not; the power never changes that lies in his thought. Splendours three, from God proceeding, may we ever love them true; goodness, truth and beauty heeding every day in all we do. We are living in challenging times in which attitudes can change overnight and few of our public people stand out as trustworthy or reliable. Those issues that come to the public debate frequently sink into unpleasant personal diatribe. Some years ago, a ‘Wayside Pulpit’ near Stormont issued the warning: ‘Those who throw mud lose ground!’ This is surely a message we should all take to heart. As Christians we are meant to live in the world but not be of the world. We are to live counter culture. This may be disconcerting, as we must be constantly seeking God’s truth into each situation. However, in our world, which seems to have changed so much, we can hold onto the fact that God never changes. He is truth. He is the absolute, and he has promised to never leave us of forsake us. It is surely a great privilege to be born at such a time as this, with the many opportunities to help those who cannot cope, and witness to God’s continuing and unconditional love.
Last year has been exciting and encouraging in every way: variety, breadth and depth. Returning after the Twelfth holidays we ‘hit the road running’ with many requests for healing prayer. We entertained a bus tour from Strabane for morning coffee and a tour of 162 and the garden. This prompted an invitation for Rosie and I to speak about our work at a Saturday Ladies’ Morning with cookery demonstration and lunch at the Parish of Camus Juxta Mourne, Strabane, prior to the beginning of Advent.
There were four Quiet Days at Echo Sound, which were open to anyone: two at the beginning of October and two in Advent. Precepts International Staff and Movilla Prayer Group attended other Quiet Days. There were four seminars given during the term. Gareth Bell from Precept International led two seminars, one as introduction to 40 minute bible studies; the other on biblical prayer. Rev Desi Maxwell led a seminar of the Book of Job and our counsellor Gary Patterson led a seminar at Belvoir Parish on Safe Talk, a suicide awareness programme. I led a four week Prayer Ministry Course at 162 at which the rector and members of a newly formed prayer group at Fivemiletown participated. This was followed by my attendance at Kiltermon and St John’s Fivemiletown to dedicate a new prayer banner and commission the new prayer team. Other healing services were held at Saintfield Parish, entitled ‘The Healing Church’; St John’s and St James’ Kilwarlin; and St Patrick’s Jordanstown. On 14 October our lunchtime service at St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast was a special service of reconciliation. The following week we had a group of second year medical students and their tutor to our Friday service. This gave an opportunity to speak of the reality of God’s healing today. Rosie gave her testimony of healing, which was followed by a stimulating question time..
On the fundraising scene the Table Quiz at the Lakeside Inn, Ballydugan started the term. The Irish National Flying Club gave us a generous donation for our work from their auction of pigeons. This was the brainchild of Alison Cotter, who works tirelessly in support the ministry. We had two flower workshops: one in September and the other the week before Christmas, both of which were really enjoyed with participants leaving with some excellent displays. The advent Coffee Morning and Plant Sale completed the fundraising scene. All these events were exceptional in their new participants and ultimate outcome, and we thank everyone for their time, effort and generosity to the ministry.
The New Year has already started at a rapid pace. Rev Desi Maxwell gave a seminar on Wednesday 11 January entitled ‘A Friend in High Places’, which led us through the concept of the Redeemer with the help of Job. This gave a new and refreshing perspective with the encouragement to trust God in difficult times.
I have three Quiet Days in the diary; one for Movilla Bible Study Group on Saturday 4 March, and two which are open to anyone on Wednesday 22 March and Saturday 25 March. Please book early with the office for either of these as the places are limited, (phone 90795832).
Out and about I will be preaching at Healing Services at Glenburn Methodist Church on Sunday 22 January; First Presbyterian Church, Lisburn on Thursday 2 February; and Ash Wednesday Holy Communion Service at Donaghadee; while Rosie will preach at the Presbyterian Women’s Service at Grahshaw on Sunday 26 February. Speaking engagements include a visit to Markethill Ladies Group on Thursday 2 March for Rosie and I, and I will be joining Frances at her presentation to St Bartholomew’s on ‘Flowers and Gardens’ on Wednesday 15 March.
Frances’ Flower Workshops are proving to be very popular so we have planned a Spring event on Thursday 23 March at 7.00 pm. The venue still has to be arranged. (Register your interest or watch the website for more details.)
The Coffee Morning and Plant Sale will be on Saturday 6 May from 10.00 am until 12.30 pm. Downshire Brass has agreed to come again for our summer evening’s entertainment at Echo Sound on the shore of Strangford Lough. This is always a beautiful evening and there will be more details in our next letter.
I was asked by Canon Brother David’s Divine Healing Ministries to lead an hour of prayer for our city and our land at St George’s Church, Belfast on Monday 23 January from 10.30 to 11.30 am. There are two hours of prayer each day (Monday to Friday) from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm for Belfast and our land, led by churches and groups of all traditions around the city. This prayer is held in the beautiful little Chapel, above the main door in St George’s. Please put the date and time in your dairy, and come and join me for that period of prayer. If you are unable to come, then join with us in prayer during that time. Our land was never in more need than at this time. You may feel helpless in the situation in which we are placed facing another Assembly election process after the collapse of the power sharing government at Stormont, but the reality is that ‘Your Country Needs You’. How can you be of use? Pray. Pray on your own, and more particularly pray together. Come and join us. It is just 10 days before Election Day. So often I return to the verse in 2 Chronicles 7:14
‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ Words of God in response to Solomon at the dedication of the Temple, which are as relevant today as then, nearly 3000 years ago.
I am very grateful to the widely talented and gifted team team that keeps us running, often unnoticed and un-sung. There is no typical day at 162. Although we keep a diary of appointments, people just arrive; some to look at the garden; others for a listening ear and prayer. We need more volunteers. Everyone has something to offer. Perhaps this is the time and opportunity for you to use your gifts/knowledge/experience. We have a need for more people interested in intercessory prayer or in joining our prayer teams. Maybe you feel drawn to use your gifts in healing prayer for others? Are you a trained counsellor? Is your gifting in catering or hospitality, or are you a musician? Possibly you feel that you are not qualified, but you have been through the ‘University of Life’ and are eminently suitable to come alongside and simply listen to others. There is an opportunity for everyone. Why not come and join us at some of our events. Come to one of our Tuesday mornings, either to the Holy Communion service with the opportunity of prayer and Laying on of Hands for healing, or to the second Tuesday each month when we pray for ‘Israel and the Nations’.
It is not just Northern Ireland, our country, that needs us to pray. Healing of our land starts with individuals being healed. I was in the supermarket at the beginning of the year and remarked to the cashier that it was rather quiet compared to the weeks approaching Christmas. ‘Yes’, she said, ‘Christmas has gone, thank goodness. It’s vastly overrated.’ I was so shocked by her remark that I failed to reply that she had it entirely wrong. – The truth is people are following wrong gods and vastly underrate our God, who has given us new life through the birth of his Son Jesus Christ.
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day
and give God the glory.
Your sister in Christ
TUESDAYS at 162
Holy Communion & Laying on of Hands 10.00 am.
Prayers for Israel and the Nations 11.00 am.
Quiet Day place reserved on receipt of £25; book with office 90795832
Wed 22 Mar Lent Quiet Day at Echo Sound, 10.30 – 4.00 pm
Sat 25 Mar Lent Quiet Day at Echo Sound, 10.30 – 4.00 pm