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.

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.

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.

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.

Capital Gains by Graham Miller: Regular visiting


Regular visiting

Daada Luogon (L), LCM missionary visits ‘Rob’ in the Kings Cross area

We live in a shallow world of internet ‘friendships’.

In contrast to this, the London City Mission perseveres with the long-term commitment and depth of relationships that we find described in the Bible.

Jesus was ready to take the role of a servant, washing the feet of those he ministered to. Paul writes about his relationship as a ‘nursing mother… sharing not only the gospel of God but our own self’. The relationships we see between Jesus and the disciples or Paul and the Thessalonians are a challenge to all Christians. We are called to avoid seeing people as ‘ministry projects’ and instead we should form genuine, loving, friendships.

Building relationships

At the heart of London City Mission is the idea that the same person goes to the same people regularly, to become their friend for Jesus’s sake. Someone once asked a previous training director how we start conversations during our regular door-to-door visits. His response is informative:….(to read more click here)

Graham Miller is the chief executive of London City Mission.

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

The Bible hunter (book review)


ConstantineCONSTANTINE TISCHENDORF:
The Life and Work of a 19th Century
Bible Hunter
By Stanley E. Porter
Bloomsbury. 200 pages. £16.99
ISBN 978 0 567 658 029

The name ‘Constantine Tischendorf’ is unfamiliar to most British evangelicals, and one suspects that a biography about a man whose most famous achievement was the discovery of a fourth-century manuscript would not seem the most exciting story, at least compared to a biography about a Christian MP who freed the slaves (William Wilberforce), or an evangelist who led multitudes to Christ (George Whitefield) or a pioneer missionary (such as William Carey).

Neither was Tischendorf a kind of evangelical ‘Indiana Jones’, battling evil men and ancient trap-doors to recover some priceless ancient artefact. However, his story is important, not least because what he did and later wrote is even more relevant today than at its original publication, as we face attacks upon the integrity of the Bible from atheist and especially Islamic propagandists, the latter at ground level in schools, colleges and on the streets.

Admirably lucid

Porter is Professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College, Canada, and is obviously also an able and popular writer. The book is admirably lucid, accessible and engrossing. The author is doubtless aware of how such a topic, dealing with admittedly technical issues, can be a great turn-off for the average reader and he has managed to present the story in such a way as to grip the layman.

Apart from the bibliography in Part III, the book is divided into two main sections, the first part looking at Tischendorf’s life, then his work, and the second part being a re-publication of Tischendorf’s seminal work When Were Our Gospels Written? Such is the strength of this work in terms of continued usefulness that Porter has only added… (to read more click here)

Dr Anthony McRoy, scholar in the field of Islamic Studies

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