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May 2018

James HendersonI don’t know about you, but I find the news disturbing.

Not just the local and national news, which is bad enough, but I’m referring to the tension of international politics, the talk of war and what’s happening in Syria.

We could say it’s all predictable. After all, Jesus Christ said that there’d always be wars and rumours of wars. So why should we be surprised? It’s a fact of life.

Jesus’ exact words were, “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:6 NIVUK). Did you notice the wording? “The end is still to come”? It’s hard not to be alarmed, especially when we see how horrific man’s arsenal of weapons has become, and when we listen to the angry threats of world leaders against countries they view as hostile.

But, as Jesus said, “the end is still to come”!

So, what should we be thinking and doing in the meantime? Surely, it’s a time for us to be on our knees to the Father, to pray to him for the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only hope for humanity. Of course, we also pray for kings, presidents and prime ministers that somehow war can be averted. And to pray for comfort and hope for those who suffer in Syria and in other conflicts around the globe. The impact and use of chemical weapons, indeed of any and all weapons with which we kill and maim one another, is abhorrent. I’m reminded of Ezekiel 18:31-32, Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (NKJV) How much we need that new spirit and new heart.

As we pray for peace, let’s bear in mind that we are part of the answer to our own prayers as we participate in the Work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. At times we can find ourselves confused, even dispirited, about prayer, but let’s remember that we can be deeply involved in its outcome.

My friend, Tony Goudie, recently sent me this interesting quote from CS Lewis on the subject of prayer:

"When we are praying about the result, say, of a battle or a medical consultation the thought will often cross our minds that (if only we knew it) the event is already decided one way or the other. I believe this to be no good reason for ceasing our prayers. The event certainly has been decided – in a sense it was decided ‘before all worlds’. But one of the things taken into account in deciding it, and therefore one of the things that really cause it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering.

Thus, shocking as it may sound, I conclude that we can at noon become part causes of an event occurring at ten a.m. (Some scientists would find this easier than popular thought does.) The imagination will, no doubt, try to play all sorts of tricks on us at this point. It will ask, ‘Then if I stop praying can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes has been the fact that you are asking such questions instead of praying. It will ask, ‘Then if I begin to pray can God go back and alter what has already happened?’ No. The event has already happened and one of its causes is your present prayer.

Thus something does really depend on my choice. My free act contributes to the cosmic shape. That contribution is made in eternity or ‘before all worlds’; but my consciousness of contributing reaches me at a particular point in the time-series"
(From Miracles: A Preliminary Study by CS Lewis, page 182-184 Appendix B, published in 1964 by Fontana Books).

What CS Lewis is telling us is that our prayers really do make a difference, even when we’re praying for what’s happening in the world.

Also, of course, let’s be peace-bringers whenever and wherever we have the chance. Let’s live peaceably with one another and with those whom we meet. Be peacemakers in a belligerent world. Be doers of Christ’s work. God comforts us, and let’s comfort others with the comfort he has given to us.

Let’s spread the good news of Christ’s Gospel, and don’t let wars and rumours of wars distract us from doing so.

At the end of the book of Revelation, after having described in terrifying detail his visions of war and persecution, the Apostle John points to the only ultimate way out, which is in effect our hope and our prayer as we continue Christ’s work here and now.

Note his final words in
Revelation 22:20-21 “Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen”.

Warmest regards from Shirley and me,

James Henderson



Freke FamilySouthampton Baptisms
by James Henderson

On a recent trip to our Southampton congregation Shirley and I were delighted to congratulate a family of three on their baptisms on the 11th March by Mr Peter Noon.

They are pictured in the photo, and their names are Andrew and Sumalee Freke, and Sumalee’s daughter, Suchittra.

I asked them why they had decided to commit their lives to Jesus in baptism.

Andrew said, “Because I’ve travelled the world, and there’s no mystery or big questions in my life. The Word of God explains it all. And I couldn’t wait any longer to commit myself to Jesus Christ”.

Sumalee replied, “I come from Thailand where most people are Buddhist, and, for me, their scriptures don’t provide the answer. But Christ has the answer”.

Suchittra commented, “I find the Bible very encouraging, and know that, whatever we’re going through, Jesus comforts us”.

I’m sure you’ll join with me in welcoming Andrew, Sumalee, and Suchittra into our fellowship.



GCI Home officeNew home for GCI headquarters

GCI Home Office employees are busy with the final touches in completing the move from California to Charlotte, North Carolina. The move is expected to be fully completed by the end of this month.

Relocation had been discussed for several years, and the financial reasons for doing so have become more and more compelling. After being in California for more than 70 years, it was felt that the Home Office mission in Glendora was complete and it was the right time to make the move.

  

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