Wednesday, 18 May 2022

KITSUNGI HOPE

 It was my first trip out from my new abode in Pinehurst, a rest home in Porthcawl.

Such a treat for me to make my way independently, apart from the help, of course of  my reliable walker, to the end of our street to the Promenade, only to find not only that the Lord  was with me but had gone before me, for there on the pavement was a china effigy of  Snoopy.

But why was he special?

Why, there was something that immediately caught my attention, for this one seemed to be carefully adorned with numerous cracks, all high lighted in gold.

Photo by ali mousavi on Unsplash
I am told it is a delightful practice of the Japanese, not just to repair broken china so that
the damage is almost impossible to be noticed. It is called Kitsungi, where they enhance the breaks, not just  by repairing them so that they are almost impossible to discern, but by outlining the breakages in gold.

Snoopy here is gracefully covered in delicate gold tracery. I was aware of the story because of a programme on the Bible network where Patrick Regan and his wife are developing a ministry which they call Kitsungi Hope. On the programme I had happened upon he was interviewing a young man who has been greatly used by God in developing the work of Street Pastors, But what connection could this successful young man have with broken pottery?

Why should I have been surprised to hear of the pain that had been involved as he found himself broken and separated from the fellowship in which he had thought he was so secure but had eventually led to his leading a much wider ministry.

Much interest is aroused by this and many other Snoopies placed around Porthcawl, part of a treasure trail to raise money for a safe doggy path for our well- loved pooches, but as I  met a young woman, alone as I was, I felt I had to share the true meaning of Kitsungi and I know it meant more than just Kitsungi but Kitsungi Hope to someone who needed her pain to be turned to a ministry of beauty.

We thank God for Patrick Regan, Les Isaacs and the many others of us who have allowed God to turn the pain and brokenness of our lives into ministries of beauty. And those of us privileged as I am to enjoy the message Snoopy brings us, may we  day by day trust in the God who is able to turn the painful cracks into Kintsungi Hope.

Has God not promised us ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning?’ Kitsungi Hope indeed.


Wednesday, 27 April 2022

A SPECIAL GOOD FRIDAY

Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash
Special? Of course. It is the day we remember the sacrificial death of our Saviour, for the
world, yes, but I am remembering his death for me. I am one of the sheep who has gone astray, and because my sins were laid on him, the spotless lamb, my life has been wonderfully transformed.

Yes, but special for another reason. On this Good Friday I had a bath for the first time for over 25 years. I had showered, of course, because I could get into but not out of a bath. Now in a Care Home they have a special facility where we are put into a seat then hoisted over and lowered into the lovely warm bubbly water. Oh, such a treat, yet rather humiliating to be raised naked, waiting to be covered.

In the wonderful atmosphere of worship before we shared the bread and wine the Lord gave me a beautiful picture. I was in that chair, washed but naked, longing for any old rags to cover my nakedness when down from heaven was lowered a garment made of the fleece of the Passover Lamb , a garment of glory and beauty. I was raised like a queen, my shame dealt with.

How wonderful. Jesus hung naked on the cross. He took my shame that I might be clothed with beauty.

It isn’t easy to give up my independent living, but I am lapping up the love and care and in many ways am being prepared for heaven.

           

            ‘All hail atoning blood, All hail redeeming grace

            All hail the gift of Christ my God, my strength and righteousness.’

 

Thursday, 21 April 2022

A SHINING PATH

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

We were in a Watch-night service, perhaps around mid-night when I clearly saw a picture of a path of light, spreading before me. Then God began to put into words  this picture he was giving me. This was my first experience of the gift of prophecy, which my friend, Esther Knight informed me would become the most precious thing in my life.

It was only later that I  came across this verse in the Bible, and indeed many utterances I had heard through seasoned prophets, were all based on this wonderful Book, the Bible.

Looking back I remember how I began my walk on this shining path. It was through Billy Graham and also my faithful friend Esther that I had learned that Jesus had died, not just for Adam, but if no one else had sinned, that he had needed to die that terrible death for me, but although now I was meeting with God in a wonderful way, I was still going to worship with those who  denied this evangelical teaching.

I was in mental agony, until I cried out, ‘Lord, it was so easy for your disciples. They just had to follow Jesus and I am trying to find out what is right and what is wrong.’

Clearly God spoke into my heart.

‘No,’ he told me. ‘ It is just the same for you. It is just for you to follow Jesus.’

‘Lord, if that is really true, make it so plain for me that it is either to choose you or deny you.’

It was a very few weeks later that God did just that. Explaining my dilemma to Esther’s father, he told me, ‘For me to go where they deny that Jesus is God would be to deny my Lord.’

I knew the decision was made. I would never go back. I found myself embraced in the fellowship of the Apostolic Church and on the shining path. No turning back.

It was a few years along this path that I thought God was calling me to be a missionary. Every time I heard a missionary speaking I felt I was being called there, until I realised that maybe God wanted me to be willing to go anywhere for him. So for several years I continued as a teacher in the needy mission field of London’s East End.

Esther meanwhile had gone to Nigeria. But there was no call for me to work beside her, and yet there had to be somewhere with no mountains or log bridges, for I was not of an adventurous nature.

Then a request came from Australia for teachers or nurses with a missionary calling so I responded, but heard nothing back for two years. Perhaps all God askes is for us to be willing? In the meantime I had become a deputy headmistress and in line for a headship which had helped me to become more confident.

So I was being led along this shining path until I was in a prayer meeting, my flight booked for the following Sunday en route for Australia and eventually Papua New Guinea. It was then I had a panic attack. 

‘Lord, I won’t be able to leave everyone I know and go alone.’

The Lord answered me.

‘I am going. You can come with me, or leave me.’

Whatever decision I have to  take, it is always – to choose Christ or to deny him, as I had asked.

Now in my old age I know some have feared that I have rushed into decision-making, but my Saviour is the Wonderful Counsellor, and  he continues to prove to me that his will is good and acceptable and perfect. He never asks me to step into any situation without coming with me.

Our Saviour does not ask all of us to go to foreign shores or to learn foreign languages, but he has a plan and purpose for each one of us that is good and acceptable and perfect and if we ask him he will make it a shining path for each one of us.  

 

Thursday, 17 March 2022

RETIREMENT

My husband and I were agreed that as Christians we should never retire. Our work abroad was over when we married, and at 65, Joel retired from his pastorate in UK, happy to lay down his duties of administration while we continued to take every opportunity of ministry in whatever sphere. We were still missionaries


When God called me to write, my children’s books had opened doors for me to take assemblies in our local schools.


Joel was eighty one when he was ‘promoted’. He had been studying and preaching up to a fortnight before he died. He didn’t suffer and he hadn’t seen old age. Our diary was full, so  I was left to fulfil our many Sunday preaching opportunities as well as becoming further involved in the schools as I now was able to train to teach Bible Explorer. What a joy.


Nearer ninety now, Lock Down gently closed this door for me into the schools. Was I the only one who enjoyed it? Long undisturbed days for writing? But now, aged 91, my health seems to have hit a low. The two books I have been working on are published. So what now Lord?


I find the Lord reminding me of a visit we were asked to make some years ago.

A son had taken his mother into their home. ‘She is in the waiting room.’ He told us.

Another dear lady my brother used to visit, had gone into care, knowing she also was a ‘lady in waiting.’


So, with health problems increasing, and in spite of a pace maker, experiencing  unexpected and painful falls, is it time for me too to become a lady in waiting?


But I’m sure the Queen does not think of retiring her ladies in waiting. And though I may not be engaged in other ministries God has a purpose for me as I still am able to shed his love abroad.

Many years ago Joel and I  had the privilege of going into a local care home to take a service, never thinking we might one day be one of their residents. What a joy then to find a harvest field happily prepared to welcome me. So no, no retirement, but maybe a new field of service will open up, still with church friends  around making sure that as long as I am able I will be in the prayer meeting and Sunday services.


So let’s take receive each day as a gift from our Father, who promises that our days so shall our strength be.

 

 

Monday, 7 February 2022

SCARECROWS

Photo by Eric Deeran on Unsplash
 I used to love the stories of the scarecrow, Worzel Gummidge. Recently childhood memories have been awakened as Susan and John have been exploring again with the old rascal the glories of the countryside.

But the purpose of the scarecrow was to scare the crows. Abraham once was given the task much scarier than that of scaring the crows. His enemies were vultures  and he dared not forsake this task for a moment. I have never  forgotten the story. You can find it in Genesis 15.

God agreed to make a covenant with Abraham and gave him instructions as to how to prepare the animals ready to be sacrificed. But this was not all he had to do, for the offering was not to be made until evening, and Abraham’s task was to protect the carcasses through the heat of the day, and not just from crows, but from vultures, great birds of prey.


When living in Ghana we learned to appreciate the vultures who cleared away the carrion around us, but I have recently had need to remember the lesson the preacher was seeking to impress on us.

Photo by Ingo Doerrie on Unsplash
‘You cannot stop the birds flying round your head but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.’

I felt that I was being attacked by wrong thoughts. I knew that they were wrong, ugly thoughts that were attacking me but try as I could they continued to flap around my head  and I seemed to be unable to be rid of them. But suddenly and unexpectedly all these ugly thoughts, together with the accompanying depression, was gone.

‘Thanks be unto God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

 

Monday, 24 January 2022

SWEETEST INFANT VOICES

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
As teachers we used to laugh at those words, for children’s voices are often far from sweet. I  remember a time when the sound  of  play time coming from our local school still brought a feeling of dread to my stomach. But now, instead, it brings joyful memories as I treasure the privilege I had of going into our local primary schools and
knowing Jesus was coming in with me.

If only I had known Jesus as my Saviour and Friend as a little child, how different my school days might have been. And yet , there can be tough experiences for Christian children too, however well taught and supported.

Challenged as to how to help a family who have been seeing their child coming home in tears, I feel impressed to share a story I heard from a parent of a pastor long since in the ministry. His ‘gang’ had excluded him from playing football with them. This was persecution indeed.

Mother challenged her son to pray with her and see how Jesus would come into the situation to help to make things  right. Doubtless he was still in the Infants for Mum was around as they came out of school. They watched from a distance  to see his mates enjoying  their game without him. But strangely there was  no football. Somehow the ball had been lost.
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

I don’t think his pals thought  to exclude him again, and he certainly had learned the lesson that if he invited  Jesus into his situation that he could change even the most painful one.

I often think how different my childhood would have been if I had been taught that Jesus had died for me, that he forgave all my sins and would give me courage to face every difficulty. But even as an adult I have had to learn to pray and ask Jesus to come with me into a difficult situation whereas I had failed previously.

So let’s pray for our schools, for Christian teachers and workers and especially pray for and with our children as they face their own Goliaths or other form of persecution.
 
 

Thursday, 16 December 2021

HEAVEN'S GATE

 There are two occasions in my life when I have felt that I was at heaven’s gate, but on each occasion - well – I am still here, aren’t I?

Alone in a strange land, as I regained consciousness from a head-on collision, I had a picture in my mind of a young Ghanaian brother, who had died very suddenly just a fortnight ago, now dancing before the Lord. (Ghanaians can dance) ‘Lord’, I whispered, ‘You took William, but you did not take me.’

No, it was not an audible answer, but it was one I have never forgotten.

‘Because of the children.’

 For nearly forty years I have had the privilege of teaching the children that they are special and loved by God. How I thank him that he had not opened the gates of heaven to me at that time.  

Photo by Arto Marttinen on Unsplash
But now I am ninety years old. I have been rejoicing that for over a year I have enjoyed good health and no ‘incidents’, when suddenly and very painfully I found myself once again in hospital where it was swiftly decided that I should be fitted with a pace-maker. However, before this could be done, once again I found myself at heaven’s door. I regained consciousness to look into what seemed like a crowd of anxious, now relieved faces.

But heaven’s gates seemed so very near to me. I was pleading with the Lord to let me in. Like my beloved husband, I would be saved the indignity of old age. But once again I must believe that God still has a purpose for me, though no longer in the schools.

Back in the ward I was crying in pain. I had to accept that the doors of heaven were firmly closed, but our Saviour had left heaven once before to come to save us. ‘Lord,’ I whispered. ‘Would you send Jesus to help me?’

He did. I know that Jesus was present in the loving nurse who came now and sat and held my hand. I found Jesus too in some of the patients whom I had previously found so difficult, and now I am back home I am realising what a privilege it is to be still here to bring Jesus to others, and what a wonderful gift is each day that he gives us.

And I thank God that he is teaching me that the gates of heaven are never closed to us, even though he is asking us to remain here as conduits of his grace and love and power.

HEAVEN’S GATES

I knocked in vain at heaven’s door

‘Lord, open now’ I cried

‘For I am weak and helpless

Oh, leave me not outside.’

‘No, not outside, Beloved –

Nought bars your entering in

Remember that I sent my Son

To conquer death and sin.

The door to heaven is open

Though you’re still here, weak and frail

For I’ve given you life in Jesus

And for you there is no veil.

So rejoice in your life in Jesus.

He has conquered death and hell

And though your strength is failing

In me you will prevail.’