'A salve to my weary soul'
Chaplain Anna Spiegel was among those to share her reflections on the recent Yorkshire Baptist Association Assembly.
I moved to Leeds four years ago from the Bible Belt in the US: Dallas, Texas, where small churches have 5,000 members and there isn't a person around who isn't familiar with most Bible stories. The state of the church in Britain has continued to surprise me and there are definitely days when I wonder what kind of impact I'm making here, what kind of impact any of us are making as we share Jesus with our neighbours, our colleagues, our friends. So I arrived at Saturday's assembly half expecting to be reminded of a church in decline, but I left encouraged and renewed.
We heard stories all day of the exciting ways God is moving in our region. We were reminded by Roy Searle to cling to our Baptist DNA; to love God, to love His Word, and to serve His Kingdom. He challenged us to move beyond our preconceived notions and our tightly-held traditions into practical, real, and authentic discipleship in a world that is hungry and desperate for the hope of Christ, whether or not they're aware of it. We listened to fantastic reports of answered prayer and God blowing away our measly expectations. There is clearly more to be done, but God is doing "immeasurably more" among us and it's beautiful to hear.
As perhaps the youngest person at the Assembly, I could have been discouraged that more of my peers weren't in attendance. But in truth, I felt nothing but grateful for the "committed faithful," for those whose legacy of faith has led us for so many years. Watching the older generations continue forward in their commitment to God's Kingdom encourages me to press on. As we stood shoulder to shoulder and sang one of my favourite hymns, I was overcome by emotion as the Lord reminded me to "ponder anew what the Almighty can do." The Almighty is desperate for every single person to know Him and He invites those of us who believe to daily join Him, to come and see that He is good. The day was full of "pondering anew" and I'm certain that everyone walked away with a desire within their own ministry to climb on board what God is doing right here and right now in this part of the country.
As we drove back to Leeds, we talked nonstop about the day, about what we'd been struck by and who we'd been impressed by or excited to meet. For me, a day to worship together and hear reports of God's overwhelming faithfulness was a salve to my weary soul. To be reminded of the importance of pressing on toward the goal and to consider how we might better share the incredible power of the Gospel with those we love and care about came at the perfect time because God is good. All the time. What a privilege to be a part of God's ministry in Yorkshire! #thankful
Anna Spiegel is a chaplain at Leeds & Leeds Beckett University, and church worker at Blenheim Baptist Church in Leeds. Anna is pictured left with Ruth Mark, who also shared her reflections of the day