Who’s ready?

Testing the calibre of those preparing to enter Christian ministry

Men or boys? | photo: istock

Men or boys? | photo: istock

During the days of the Cold War, Brother Andrew began what has become the work of Open Doors.

He felt the call of God to run Bibles secretly into Communist countries to beleaguered churches and Christian leaders for their encouragement. It is interesting to read in his famous book, God’s Smuggler, about how the ministry expanded and how he tended to select people to join the work.

‘It wasn’t that we couldn’t find volunteers – almost every time one of us spoke someone offered himself for our work. The problem was to know whether or not these were the people God was sending us. In an effort to weed out the novelty-seekers and the merely curious I often said: ‘As soon as your own ministry of encouragement is started behind the Iron Curtain, get in touch with us and let’s see if we can work together.’1

For those offering to join his ministry Brother Andrew’s approach was to set them a working test of initiative and discipleship…(to read more click here)

Dr. John Benton

This article was first published in the February issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

I was sick and you visited me.

Mike Mellor, of Hope Church, Ferndown, encourages us to minister hope in times of need

photo: iStock

photo: iStock

She was frail as a sparrow.

Her legs were like pencils and her ill-fitting teeth barely kept up with her mouth as she spoke. But on asking how she was as she lay in her bed, Gracie’s china blue eyes twinkled mischievously as she beamed and chirped: ‘I’m packed and ready to go, pastor!’ And indeed she was and she did, as a few days later the Lord gathered up another of his jewels. It had been my immense privilege on my visits to seek to make her transition a little more comfortable.

Loving channels

I would frequently receive the same message: ‘Gracie’s fallen again.’ I knew the cause of the fall before I called on her, of course. Those legs were just not built for speed. However, I lost count of the times I returned from visiting her thinking the same thought: ‘Just who ministered to whom there?’ Once more I would be reminded of the eternal dimension to this work of ‘visiting the sick’, and the blessing that God grants to those who go in Jesus’s name.

Bible teacher and author Warren Wiersbe rightly states.…(to read more click here)

Mike Mellor

This article was first published in the January issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Brussels sprouts a new church

Brussels is the centre of the European Union around which the debate about Britain’s membership is raging.

The plant team for Brussels

The plant team for Brussels

God has his people in that city and a new church plant began recently. Naomi Pilgrem takes up the story. ‘Why do we need another church? Our church is small and there aren’t enough of us as it is!’

The person asking that question was genuine and servant-hearted and this was their gut reaction to hearing that we were planning, under God, to leave the church we had been members of for five years in order to plant a new one in a neighbouring borough of Brussels.

In many ways, such a reaction is understandable. The church in Belgium is weak, the ground is hard, trained Bible teachers are few, finances are very limited and evangelicals make up a negligible percentage of the overall population. So the desire to bunker down and try and solidify what is in existence is in many ways legitimate and necessary.

God uses the weak

And yet, over the course of history, we see again and again that our sovereign God chooses to use that which is weak to accomplish his glorious purposes. And when we think that we know the Bread of Life and that two miles down the road, in the next borough, there are 50,000 people dying of spiritual hunger without access to a Francophone church where the gospel is clearly proclaimed…(to read more click here)

Naomi Pilgrem

This article was first published in the April issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

The working class and Christ

David Binder interviews SixtyEightFive founder, Ian Williamson.

Ian Williamson

Ian Williamson

Many have argued that the evangelical church in the UK has been largely dominated by the middle class.

More should be done to reach those in poorer, working-class areas. Christ’s Great Commission demands it.

One example of working-class gospel ministry already taking place is through the charity Sixtyeightfive, founded by married father of two Ian Williamson. Working in some of the most deprived wards in the country, this ministry seeks to evangelise and disciple men and women in the North East England town of Middlesbrough who have been raised in a fatherless environment.

I caught up with Ian to chat more about his own testimony, the work of the charity and how it is reaching the working class for the gospel.

en: Tell us more about your personal connection with the issues the SixtyEightFive ministry engages with.
IW: I was raised in Middlesbrough by my mum, who was a lone parent. I longed to have my dad around and as such I suffered from fear, anger and found it difficult to understand what it means to be a man. I didn’t have anybody to tell me about cars, football, how to fix a puncture or to shave, for example!

My mum became a Christian when I was 14 and the family went to church with her.

The youth group at the church had an invisible but very noticeable divide between the estate kids and the church kids and I soon became dissatisfied and started knocking around with friends from school rather than the kids from the church.

Before I left the church at 16 I spent some time with a young man living on the estate who was also raised in a fatherless environment.… (to read more click here)

David Binder blogs at http://thoughtsofbinder.wordpress.com/

This article was first published in the December issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Amazing Acts (book review)

Enjoying the real life drama of Acts 1:1-9:31
By Gerard Chrispin
Evangelical Press / Christian Prison
Resourcing. 187 pages. £8.99
ISBN 978 1 783 970 803

We evangelicals love complexity. Commentaries become longer, training resources become more like degrees, and some sermons almost have footnotes.

What Gerard Chrispin has done is therefore extremely useful. He produces full Bible notes for individuals, or groups, or as part of a correspondence course (itself available at two levels), at an accessible level. This book is the first of three covering Acts, matching some prior studies on Mark.

Publishing for prisoners

The co-publishers are Christian Prison Resourcing, which explains everything. This series is designed to work within prisons or immigration centres. So the level has to be accessible, because it is for people who have… (to read more click here)

Chris Green,
vicar of St James,  Muswell Hill
Author of The Word of his Grace: Teaching and Preaching from the Book of Acts

This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit our website or subscribe to en for regular updates.

When is failure faithful

Dr. Mike Ovey asks if current evangelicals are in denial about some important matters

image: iStock

image: iStock

A week ago I was at a major Church of England jamboree as a friend was installed in a new and more senior post.

The cathedral was packed, hats and dog collars were on view and just for a moment it was easy to pretend. Easy to pretend that the Church of England was central rather than peripheral in the life of our country and its citizens. Easy to pretend that we are a success story rather than a tale of failure. So too, frankly, with evangelicals. We meet at our conferences, theatres are packed, cafés overflow and for a moment we forget.

Some encouragements but…

I quite appreciate that it is emotive and depressing to talk of ‘failure’, and that most of us prefer something more upbeat. On the other hand, isn’t there a risk of denial? Again, I am not saying there are no encouragements. It is great to hear of church plants, of sinners turning by God’s grace to the Lord Jesus through our outreach. And there certainly is a contrast between an evangelical movement that clings on and just holds its own numerically and the catastrophic downturn in churches that thought theological liberalism was some kind of answer. Obviously, by almost any measure, liberalism has failed in our country, failed numerically, failed in the popularity stakes and failed in faithfulness. If anything, I think those obvious points need to be made even more forcefully now.

Who are we not reaching?

But I wonder whether this doesn’t lead us to gloss over some of our own realities. We rightly admit that there are unreached people groups in the UK, thinking largely of race. We are far less comfortable admitting there are also increasingly unreached classes, and not just the various underclasses in our cities, but classes of entrenched interest and power in the creative and media sectors.

These classes have enormous influence, not wrong in itself, but that influence has been used to reframe what counts publicly as right and wrong. Notable examples have been the support for…(to read more click here)

Dr Mike Ovey

This article was first published in the November issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Capital Gains by Graham Miller: The invisible mission field

London City Missionary Paul Chierico visits a friend at a Peckham nursing home

London City Missionary Paul Chierico visits a friend at a Peckham nursing home

Reading through Scripture I am struck by Christ’s commitment to those on the margins of society.

I feel challenged that he didn’t use clever strategies to aim first to reach the best and brightest from the Jerusalem temple school so that they could be useful for his efforts. Instead, Jesus spent time with lepers, tax collectors, fishermen, women and Samaritans. In recent years the movement to revitalise the church with new plants and initiatives has sometimes focused on the young, the bright and the mobile. If we are to be faithful to the Great Commission we must be careful that our outreach doesn’t leave out large segments of society.

Ten million pensioners

One growing group who urgently need reaching with the good news of Jesus Christ is the elderly. One in six of us is over the age of 65; that’s a staggering ten million people of pensionable age. Three million of us are over 80 and that figure is set to rise. We are an ‘ageing population’.

Our missionary in Dagenham, Brandon, tells me that he often meets older people while visiting door to door on the Becontree Estate. Many are lonely and isolated and very happy to have someone to talk to. Brandon is shocked by the lack of basic Bible knowledge or awareness of Jesus among these people. ‘The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). He visits a widow who has prepared every element of her funeral but has not considered how she will face her maker. Too often there is an assumption that….(to read more click here)

Graham Miller is the chief executive of London City Mission.

This article was first published in the November 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Why society is on the slide

Edward Vines exposes the historical roots of the cultural shift in the Western world

Presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt & Lincoln at Mount Rushmore |photo: iStock

Presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt & Lincoln at Mount Rushmore | photo: iStock

In 1776 the group of men who would become known as America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.

Thereby they informed King George that the American colonies would no longer subject themselves to the rule of the British Crown. At the close of the American Revolution, many of these same statesmen set about to design a government which was so unique in history that it has been called the Great American Experiment.

Overwhelmingly Christian

In order to fully understand the principles that underpin our founding documents and the philosophies that have led our nation to such incredible success, you must understand a few things about the authors. First, they were overwhelmingly Christian. Nearly all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of a recognised Christian denomination. Even such figures as Jefferson, Franklin and Madison, whose religious beliefs were rather unorthodox, had all attended the Episcopal Church at various times in their lives and all spoke favourably of the moral teachings of Jesus.

While today’s landscape abounds with historical revisionists who claim that the founders were indifferent to religion and were committed to creating a purely secular society, it is hard to explain away quotes from early American statesmen such as:.…(to read more click here)

The Honourable Edward B. Vines is a district judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, who hears domestic relations cases. He is a practicing Christian and an active member of Shades Crest Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Hoover, Alabama.

This article was first published in the October issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Home service by Tim Thornborough: Sweating the hard stuff

photo: iStock

photo: iStock

We got around to 1 Timothy 2.8–15 at home group recently.

It was an educating experience for me as a leader. The passage has been a heated battleground for alternative interpretations over the last 30 years, so I was interested to discover how influenced my group members have been by these views, when our church’s preaching and practice has been uncompromisingly complementarian – women and men are equal, but have different roles.

Paul’s text says: ‘I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.’

Confusing discussion

We had a great time talking about how men should pray, not fight. We had a good discussion about the particular issues the women in the group faced on the clothing v godliness issue. I spent a long time on these two questions, secretly hoping that the discussion over verses 11–15 would be squeezed a little shorter….(to read more click here)

Tim Thornborough is the Creative Director at the Good Book Company.

This article was first published in the October 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.

Doors into all the world

Prayer at the International Conference Centre Birmingham | photo: Open Doors

Prayer at the International Conference Centre Birmingham | photo: Open Doors

Open Doors celebrated 60 years of missionary work on 14 November.

An event was held at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Birmingham.

In 1955, Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, followed a prompt from God to visit Communist Poland to bring ‘greetings’ to the church there. Now 2,300 friends from all over the world flocked to the ICC – an incredible thing to witness having begun with just one man on an adventure.

Brother Andrew began smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe in 1957. Today Open Doors missionaries are supporting the persecuted church in over 50 countries.

God’s Smuggler

The 60th anniversary edition of God’s Smuggler includes photographs from Brother Andrew’s travels and an exclusive interview with him about his more recent adventures in Gaza and the Middle East, China and Africa, as well as his thoughts on the challenges facing the church today.

Brother Andrew had always sought after some great adventure. His boyhood was mischievous and his years in the Dutch Army were wild, though none of it would match the things the Lord had planned for him. He had searched for an adventure and all he found was vanity – until he found Christ.

He made a decision to be a soldier for the Lord on the frontlines of the growing struggles of the persecuted church, starting in Eastern Europe. Prayer was his shield and faith his sword.

We read over and again of God’s faithfulness to Brother Andrew and the church, and we bare witness to this 60 years on – generations later. By grace the Open Doors ministry is able to... (to read more click here)

Victoria Vinet

This article was first published in the January issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, articles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.