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November 2015

Church members with a passion for youth needed in Stalybridge
For whoever can HELP,
It is so important to us that you take a few moments to read this. We need your help.
I am Stalybridge Baptist Church Junior Church leader another Church member called Jenny and myself lead the young people to enjoy all the activities involved with this. This is a quite hard task as any other youth leaders will know.
Our Church is the Church is placed in the middle of 4 estates and surrounded by thousands of houses. Three of the estates consist of social housing and the other is private housing. We have had many problems in the past mainly because of where we are. We are situated in have one small building and so lack space as well.
Jenny and I have a passion for young people and a passion to change things and we now have quite a lot of young people from ages 1to almost 18 in our Junior Church.  We may not have a large number of young people but Jenny and myself are pleased we have them, and with your help our numbers could grow.
The problem is we do not have the man power to cope...
Last Wednesday when we went up to run our mid week group for Young People who usually attend  but  others waiting outside and some were hammering on the door and pushing to get in. Jenny and I were on out own that night and those trying to get in were known for their poor behaviour. We knew that one of them had been excluded from school. I had to turn them away and said if they came on Sunday and behaved we would consider it.
We need help. Jenny and I were both upset that these young people were sent away because we knew we couldn’t keep the others safe with just two of us.
If any of your Church members with a passion for youth could just lend yourselves to us if only for a few months we would be grateful.
God wants us to work with these young people but this is almost impossible just now as our congregation is small and elderly and we lack the man power and strong woman power. I have prayed and was lead to write this letter.
Please - at least pray for us and if you can feel moved enough to help, join us on a Sunday morning and talk to me, we really need this help. Please if you feel the Lord is asking you, come and see us or at least email or phone me to make a time we can meet. If you ring please leave a message if I am not in and I will ring back, thank you,
Janette Cowgill

Re: 'Love is stronger than hate'
Thoughts, condolences, and prayers to the families of those whose lives were taken in the incidents in Paris on the 13th November 2015, and in any other atrocity or situation that has occurred where lives have been unnecessarily and/or prematurely taken, and people injured.
There is much anger, frustration, and hatred surrounding such incidents and occurrences, but let us continue to keep Loving. Indeed, Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12) and also “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-45),” Challenging at times like these, but these are among the distinguishing factors of true Christian principles. Jesus said “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34) With all the power and authority Jesus walked with, he killed nobody neither did he instruct us to kill, but came to Save us. Love Wins. With Love.
Gospel Life Daily (via Facebook)

Re: Israel and the returning King
A well-thought out article and a deeply emotional aspect of our Christian life.
I'm sure that the first covenant has not been revoked - God still loves Israel and is patiently waiting for her to be ready for the Messiah's return.
Perhaps the image of Our Lord as a lion , though in keeping with Jewish thought, is not as we hold Him to be. I wonder if we shouldn't portray Him as a Lamb - the Lamb who was sacrificed for us?

Re: In pursuit of happiness
I am a 53 year old male, happily married to Ela and blessed with three lovely and challenging children. So in the eyes of some I am not best qualified to respond to such an article. However, I am not so old as to forget what it was like to be a single male up to the age of 39 when I met and married Ela. So I do have some personal experience of the single life, indeed quite a lot, to draw on.

Lina, apologies if my response seems a little polemical, it certainly is not emanating that way from my heart but often the written word can seem more cold or abrupt than intended. However, I must say that your article does not reflect my experience as a single person, saved by the grace of God at the age of 25 and warmly welcomed into the fellowship and life of the church and invividual families of what was to become my home church- Thomas Street Baptist Church in Portadown Northern Ireland. I must emphasise, that I have no recollection of ever feeling excluded from any events and the married couples, many of whom were around my age at the time, were simply superb in making me feel very much at home, not only welcoming me into the church fellowship but also into their own homes.

In your opening paragraph you talk of ‘our reaction to single people…  an asumption that being single is… less happy than being in a relationship.’ I can honestly say that this was not the major assumption with which I was met as a single in the church. Now of course there were the well meaning individuals who tried to pair me off with one of the single girls in the Christian community, and the occasional anonymous invitation to some singles event. And if I’m honest I was occasionally irked a little by that. But, I saw it for what it was. Not some attack on my contented single life (and I was content) but rather a well intentioned if slightly misguided gesture.

There are so many expressions in your article, that were we to sit down face to face I would dearly love to know what is behind such seeminly abrasive language. I would dearly love to respond to each and every comment but that would simply take too long, so I will respond to just a few. For example, you assume that we have ‘adopted a powerful myth… so much for being happy in Jesus.’ I’m not convinced that we have adopted any such myth, and I see no tension between the married state and the true happiness of knowing our Saviour. Again you say, ‘If we want to follow Jesus for real, we must be serious about considering our gathering of believers as our primary community.’ Most Christians I know, and I have served God in Northern Ireland, Albania, Germany, and currently England, have a fairly reasonable understanding of the importance of the local church and wider Christian community as part of their spirtual inheritance, but I fear that your comments detract from what ought to be the primary human relationship for married couples- viz.the husband or wife with whom they enjoy a unique one flesh relationship. Of course, God should come first in all of our lives, but I fear that you are somewhat overstating your case, and more significantly going beyond the biblical evidence, when you suggest that the community of belivers should take precedence over our immediate families, especially when you consider the depth of meaning involved in the covenant promise of marriage, and how that in itself is a pale image of our covenant relationship with God. Please understand, I am not saying it is better to be married, simply that I do not see the tension that your article implies.

I agree whole-heartedly with you when you suggest that we ought always to be revewing our church practices to ensure that all do feel genuinely welcome, but that is not the same as implying that we are all getting it horribly wrong. I am curious as to what rites of passage you have in mind for single people? And I feel ever so slightly offended when you suggest that married couples see single women as a threat (and I assume you mean to include single men?). All of this is simply beyond anything I experienced as a single Christian throughout my twenties and thirties so I am left pondering what motivates such an abrasive article.
Our happiness as Christians should be intricately tied up with our relationship with God through Christ- the knowledge of sins forgiven, the knowledge of joint heirship with Jesus- coheirs and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, the promise of eternal security- nothing can snatch us from His hand, and all the other glorious promises we have as children of the living God, including the immense blessing we have of immediately feeling at home in any Christian fellowship no matter where we travel (and I have experienced that unique oneness in places such as Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Ukraine , to mention a few). However, I would question the very premise of the article’s title- In pursuit of happiness. Is this really what a Christian’s pursuit ought to be, or is it the underlying result of our pursuit of God himself?
Andy Oliver

Children in lethal journeys
It is inconceivable to hear that children who are virtually innocent and vulnerable are being swallowed by the unsympathetic sea-waters. The startling news of migrants drowning that continue making ripples in media have left EU leaders flapping around as they struggled to establish a solution to growing migration crisis. 
I fervently condemn people- smuggling gangs who are offering discounts to lure migrants into risking the dangerous crossings, including free travel for children. What a nightmare for children to be used as an incentive to cross dangerous waters? Europe is a continent with more than enough people who have ideas and solutions to the crisis that appears to have no solution in sight.
If medical research have advanced to greater heights and technology have advanced at an unexpected level, therefore this problem of mass exodus of people from their home countries can surely be resolved once for all so that children will not die again in such terrible conditions. EU leaders and other influential politicians should make use of advice from people who understand migration better and resolve this crisis now rather than later.
Handsen Chikowore

Israel tour

I am hoping to lead a tour to Israel from 29 March to 5 April 2016, the week after Easter next year.  The tour would be organised under the auspices of Travelink, an agency that handles many trips to the Holy Land. If you would be interested in possibly coming on the tour or would like information please contact me  either by  briantalbot@hotmail.co.uk or 01382 779364
The Revd Dr Brian Talbot

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