Pat’s Prayer Letter Autumn 2015
My Dear Friends
Reading is one of my favourite pursuits, but there are times when the words may be read but not absorbed. However I noticed a UCB Word for Today reading in April 2014, which said: “….sometimes you need to change your location in order to succeed in what God’s called you to do. God not only has a plan for your life, He has a place for it.” This daily thought also went on to say: “He will go ahead of you and rearrange circumstances to your advantage.” I believe that this is what has been happening in the acquisition and renovation of our house of prayer at 162 Upper Knockbreda Road. The ministry has begun to blossom in a manner in which we could never have expected.
As I write, this week alone we have had five visitors to see round ‘that place on the hill where God does healing’, and opportunities are opened up to listen and to share the gospel. One recent contact through our website progressed to a woman coming for prayer for the pain of the past. Three days later an email asked if she and her husband could return as they had so many unanswered questions. Over coffee and a chat they expressed their gratitude for the healing which she had received from the prayer, after thirteen years of psychotherapy, and he tentatively asked if we ‘could do something’ for him. ‘Would you like to have prayer too?’ was what we asked, and his response was: ‘I want what she has!’ An appointment was arranged; prayer and recommitment followed, and there was great joy all round. It is such a privilege to walk alongside people through difficulties to resolution and freedom. It is not always that immediate, and sometimes we work for a considerable time to establish a firm footing of faith.
It was therefore a God given opportunity to meet with representatives of Precept Ministries Northern Ireland in June and discuss the possibilities of ways we could work together to each other’s benefit and to God’s glory. Precepts have experienced increasing numbers of requests for prayer from people who had come to study with them. CMH has prayed with people and have often felt that we would like to establish them in Bible Study, but haven’t the teams available for continuation and follow up. We have undertaken to pray the requests received by Precepts Ministries, and in return will direct our clients wanting to be equipped to study the Bible to Precepts Ministries. Check out their website www.preceptni.co.uk to see the potential advantages for working alongside one another. In all this I am prompted by something Dag Hammarskjold said: ‘Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.’ Our horizon is bringing Jesus’ healing to people in need in whatever way possible. None of us have all the gifts necessary, but when we work together we achieve more and understand more of God’s grace.
The services of Holy Communion with Laying on of Hands on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday each month at 162, have grown, and I am very grateful to Canon Walter Laverty and Rev Alan Parkhill for leading these each month and to Miss Anna Quigley and Mrs Eve Parkhill for playing the organ. The Prayers for Israel and the Nations on the 2nd Tuesday each month, led by Orleen Clements is now well established and gives great insight into difficult situations, not just in relation to Israel, but in the wider world and challenges each who attend to pray wider than these shores.
We held a Thursday morning Prayer Ministry Course which gave us new team members for one-to-one prayer, intercession and the Emergency Prayer Line, all of whom are very necessary to sustain the growth in ministry.
Since the last prayer letter we have had two Mothers’ Union visits to 162 from St Jude’s, Belfast and St Paul’s, Lisburn. Both events produced stimulating discussion. The follow-up encouragement came when a lady arrived from St Jude’s to purchase sixteen copies of ‘In the Pink’ for distribution to hospital chaplains. We have also held Quiet Days at Echo Sound for Seagoe Women’s Mission Group, Newtownbreda Baptist Church, Strean Presbyterian Session members, and one which was open to anyone. Although diverse, each retreat brought its own tranquillity and harmony of spirit into various situations, with an articulated desire to move forward into God’s will. It is such a privilege to be practical part in people’s journey of faith. Healing services held at Christ Church Lisburn, Fivemiletown, and Acton Parish were well attended and people newly trained in prayer ministry were able to exercise their roles. I spent a lovely time with the afternoon group of McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church, and an evening with the Prayer Group of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church sharing experiences of answered prayer.
We held two ‘in-house’ seminars, which were well attended. One on Anxiety and Fear, led by myself; the other on Helping Someone Find Jesus was led by Rosie.
A very special invitation came from the Christian Medical Fellowship to participate in their retreat weekend in May at Moyallon near Portadown. I had chosen to speak on ‘Healing through Forgiveness’, a challenging and thorny topic for many people. With permission of those involved I used a situation I had encountered as illustration of the healing achieved through forgiveness. At lunch I sat down beside a lovely young doctor. He said, ‘I was very interested in what you said.’ I responded, ‘What part in particular caught your attention?’ He drew breath to steady himself and replied, ‘Years ago during the Troubles, the man you talked about burst into our shop and shot my father dead.’ I was stunned and replied that I would not have used that illustration if I had known. His reply was striking: ‘I needed to hear it.’ Often we think that we do things unwittingly, but I knew very clearly that God had guided the whole situation, from the invitation to speak, the young doctor’s presence and my very choosing to sit beside him to converse. It lets us understand just how caring our God is and how he desires us to be free from anything that will hinder us on our journey in life.
The Twelfth Holidays are big in the Ulster context, with many people looking forward eagerly to them while others are longing for them to pass quickly, each group seriously desiring a peaceful outcome. It was therefore a great privilege to be asked to share in Canon Brother David Jardine’s ‘Prayer for Our Land’ on 11th July at St Finnian’s Parish Church, Cregagh – just across the road from 162. I had been tasked with leading the final hour from three o’clock until four o’clock. I have no doubt that this special undertaking by David’s Divine Healing Ministries group has made such a difference in the achievement of a peaceful ‘twelfth’, not just this year, but over the years, but also in moving many people from thinking ‘victim’ to living victoriously in Christ Jesus. I am so grateful to him for permitting me to be part of that journey.
The garden at 162 has been developing beautifully, with increasing colour and variety. It was a lovely setting for our last Coffee Morning and Plant Sale on 30 May, which raised about £1200. Here I must mention the Monday craft group, ‘Stitch, Glue, Sip and Chew’, who have worked tirelessly to provide quality craft work for our sales, and who have catered and served the teas and coffees at these events. The other fundraising event, also held in a garden, was an evening with Downshire Brass at Echo Sound, which raised a similar amount on money. It was the first completely dry band night that we have had. The evening was truly beautiful summer’s evening beside the Lough, and the music was the very best. If you didn’t make it this year, then come next year when we secure the date. It is an evening to remember.
As I write this we are preparing for a visit to RTE TV Studios at Donnybrook, Dublin on 30 August to record the ‘Service on Sunday’ which will be transmitted on Sunday 13 September 2015 at 11.10 am on RTE TV1 or may be listened to on radio LW 252. It may also be viewed on www.rte.ie on or after 13 September. The music is under the direction of Tim Wilson and Stephen Shaw, with a gathered choir from St Patrick’s Jordanstown, St John’s Orangefield, St Mark’s Dundela, St Mark’s Newtownards and St Anne’s Cathedral.
Following on from one Quiet Day there is a four week Prayer Ministry Course at Strean Presbyterian Church, Newtownards, starting on Wednesday 2nd September. This term we already have Quiet Days booked by Holywood Parish Mission Group going to Asha, Dehli, by a group from St Anne’s Cathedral who visited the Holy Land, and an Alpha Away Day booked by Kilmore and Inch Parishes. There will be two Advent Quiet Days on Saturday 28 November and Wednesday 2 December which anyone may attend, simply by booking with the office (phone 90795832 and sending £25 subscription)
Tuesday services resume on 1 September at 10.00 am and the craft group, Stitch, Glue, Sip and Chew, return on Monday 7th September at 10.00 am.
We are delighted that Rev Desi Maxwell will be holding morning seminars for all our volunteers on Wednesday 25 November, starting at 10.00 am, entitled, ‘Revelation – For Comfort or Confusion?’. This will be followed by a sandwich lunch. Booking for this event is essential.
Our fundraising events get off to a good start with a Table Quiz at the Lakeside Inn, Ballydugan on Saturday 5 September at 8.00 pm. On 31 October we are holding our BBQ and viewing Belfast Fireworks at 7.30 pm. (Both events booking through the office.) 162 is in a commanding position to see the fireworks over Belfast without the discomfort of October weather. On 5 November there is a Coffee and Sale morning at St Margaret’s Parish, Downpatrick from 10.00 am – 1.00 pm. On 21 November there will be a Coffee Morning and Sale at 162 from 10.00 am – 12.30 pm. Please support us at these events and help us pay off the loan. The good news is that with our supporters’ generosity and all the fundraising last year we have already paid off about 30% of the loan.
During the year since the opening and dedication of the house of prayer by the Primate The Most Rev Richard Clarke the ministry has grown markedly. Our volunteer hours have increased dramatically in all areas of activity. We are very grateful to all our teams. The counselling team has benefitted by Dr Heather Ferguson Brown sharing her expertise at our Peer Support Group meetings, and by the oversight of our supervisor Mrs Polly Graham. We are very grateful to Pat Rice for manning the counselling phone and connecting counsellor and client. The Inner Healing team have profited from the monthly meeting where we have learned from one another’s ever widening experience. The administrative team have organised and kept us afloat with all the necessary paper work, filing and record keeping. The Emergency Prayer Line have quietly and efficiently dealt with requests from the Province and beyond, and the Intercessors have faithfully prayed daily for all who have asked requested prayer. The Cathedral teams are available every week to intercede at the services; our organist Rosemary Hughes has chosen and played fitting music; and Eveline Hamilton has welcomed and guided new attendees. None of this would happen smoothly without the guiding hand of Rosie McCorkell in the office, whose good humour makes even days with difficult cases pleasant.
I have named many people, but there are many more who work alongside us because it is a ministry which is all about Jesus. None of this would be possible without a large team who have committed their life to him. It is Jesus who has brought us together and it is to him that we give all the glory.
May you be greatly blessed as you travel with him.
Your friend in Christ