Despite writing a great deal, I admit to failing to keep in touch with friends who pray for me and support the ministries in which I am involved. Easter and Christmas are the new occasions when there is an opportunity to catch up. So this post is an attempt to do that - to say a big thank you for the friendship and fellowship I am privileged to enjoy.
Personally, the past twelve months have brought many challenges, not least associated with my wife’s health as she underwent an operation for cancer, and suffered some bad falls because of her peripheral neuropathy condition. However, we have continued in the ministry to which God has called us.
Numbers of people attending our periodic online seminars have grown and the feedback from these is very encouraging. I am grateful for the support and participation of one of our trustees, Captain Gordon Banks (CA). We now offer an interesting range of 45 minute seminars offered free and aimed at anyone concerned for the mission of God in the rural areas of the UK.
When I retired from pastoral ministry at Yelvertoft last Summer it was with the intention of holding a series of one-day consultations on rural mission. One such event, held this year, was hosted by the Diocese of Chelmsford, though open to all. Twenty-seven leaders of rural churches attended on this occasion, including key people in the diocese. These are jointly arranged between Rural Mission Solutions and the Rural Evangelism Network.
Praise & Prayer News
This is our main link with our band of praying friends. Most weeks I manage to find time to write this and send it out as an e-letter. Each issue contains a biblical reflection as well as a summary of recent activity and principal engagements for the coming week or so. While we cannot be entirely sure how many are read each week, we certainly know that the majority are read. It is encouraging how often people respond stating that it was just what they needed at the time. Several national Christian leaders are among the recipients and scores of church leaders. Often the reflections find their way into other sermons, and the blessing is passed on.
Website & Social Media
Our online presence is important as this is a major way through which people contact us. It is my hope to find someone who might assist with this. In addition to the Rural Mission Solutions and Rural Evangelism Network websites, we maintain a set of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. These are valuable in keeping our information going out, both to encourage prayer and to make people aware of our resources for rural mission. The RMS website has a section for our webinars with a video recording of the seminars (also available on our YouTube Channel) and various supporting papers that can be downloaded.
A smaller part of our ministry – but very important – is our ongoing work in safeguarding. The two publications I helped to write, Time for Action and Responding Well continue to be used. Every church should have a copy of Time for Action, which is about pastoral support for people who have experienced sexual abuse. It also has sections on the causes of abuse and other helpful information. The publishers increased the price of this book to £9.95 but I would be happy to send it post free to anyone who is responsible for a rural church.
I continue to provide regular teaching for the Salvation Army specifically on how abuse can happen in a church or Christian organisation, and how to prevent it. I have also done some work in the past twelve months for the Baptist Union of Great Britain and a section of the Congregational Federation. As part of the work for the CF I have a presentation on risks through the Internet and how to manage these.
The task of re-evangelising the rural communities of Britain is far too much for any one organisation. It can also prove daunting to rural church leaders. We therefore remain committed to networking with others. This includes keeping in touch with the leaders of other rural mission organisations, and working through the Churches Rural Group. Country Way is an excellent magazine in this regard, and I am hoping to do more writing for this publication (now also available online). I am especially keen to encourage local networking that is light in management but excellent in value. I have now set up and run three of these. The aim is getting rural church leaders (ordained and lay), sharing their experiences and plans for mutual encouragement and prayer. We have added a section about this to the website at www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk/rural-mission-support-groups
Tailoring Mission and so much more!
With ten million people living in rural Britain’s smaller communities, including two million children, the task of re-evangelising these will only be achieved through local churches. So, the heart of our ministry remains helping churches to develop strategies that are appropriate both to them and the communities in which they are set. We are currently setting out the principles and practise in a Workbook to add to our other resources. I remain available to lead away days and can provide training either through face to face meetings or online. This is one of the greatest challenges and needs in our churches across the UK. If your church has not already engaged with us, please contact us for more details.
Our partnership with you
All our ministries are only possible through the prayers and giving of those who share our vision for the re-evangelisation of the people of rural UK. Because rural churches are almost always small and have limited resources, all we do is offered free of charge. We keep overheads to a minimum and operate with a surprisingly small budget. While we are grateful for donations from churches we serve, we remain dependent upon regular supporters. Some have stayed with us a long time and some of our early supporters have gone to glory.
If you or your church are not currently helping us in this way, but would be willing to do so, please email or write to me for details. Most especially, we need your prayers and those of your church.