Light of the Kingdom
Last week I received a letter from Harry who is in prison. We have kept in touch since I and Ann, one of our Baptist chaplains, baptised him in prison some years ago. Harry wanted to let me know the good news that three men had been baptised in the prison last month. He wrote: ‘The commitment that I made and the family into which I’ve been adopted have shaped my life ever since. It was a privilege to be able to talk to other men here who are thinking of making a similar commitment... Jesus died and, by accepting he died for me, I have hope and live on in hope wherever I may be.’
Praise God for light in unexpected places!
Over the past month, as I have visited meetings in five of our Associations, it has been encouraging to hear the stories of various exciting mission initiatives across the UK. I have met a number of chaplains – ministering in prison, higher education, shopping centres, the armed forces, hospitals. Indeed, I heard one of our Baptist health chaplains being interviewed by Jeremy Vine on Radio 2. Finance for health chaplaincies is being reduced drastically and Jeremy Vine asked his listeners what they thought about this. Everyone – Christians and non-Christians - who phoned or emailed in expressed appreciation for the work of the chaplains. So let’s make sure we show our appreciation for our chaplains whose ministries are not always as recognised and valued by us in our churches as they ought to be.
Of course, there are a whole range of invaluable ministries and this month I also met a Street Angel and a Parish Nurse. The list is endless and I praise God for all these lights of Kingdom of Shalom.
(Ernie has prepared a series of six Bible Studies ‘Like Stars in the Universe’ based on our Assembly 2013 theme: ‘Reclaiming Philippians for Today’s Church’. Copies of this are available from the online store – priced £3 + p&p. Ernie encourages churches to join a conversation based on the themes of the study – see the Like Stars website throughout this year)