Both Garry and Julie gave testimonies of how God has led them to this new area of responsibility. One of the great privileges of this service was having so many friends attend who have been instrumental in shaping their ministries over the years. Garry thanked Brian Watson for his faithful witness as a work colleague which led to his accepting Christ:
He spoke of how (many years ago) Brian and an unknown lady in a church in Ripon had both spoken of their belief that God would lead Garry into the pastorate and that although this had seemed an utterly impossible task in those early days of faith, God has worked consistently in his life over many years so that at this point, this no longer seemed an impossible task! He thanked Mark and Diane for their support and friendship and the congregation for their love and encouragement and spoke of the irony of having little formal theological training when he was so used to pursuing training in every aspect of his life, yet how he remained assured that God had given him the training and teaching required to do this work.
Julie was also thrilled to be able to share this evening with people who had been instrumental in bringing her to faith and nurturing her faith through university years and throughout her working life:
Raymond & Jane Obin
Philip & Sharon Pye (leaders at the church in Oxford which Julie attended as a student, Phil preached at Garry and Julie’s wedding and now works in Ilkeston, being a senior leader in Assemblies of God)
She too gave thanks to Mark and Diane, not only for their leadership of the church but for their encouragement and friendship which has helped to develop her ministries, saying that Mark and Diane are shining examples of what God’s light looks like in human form. She then shared how God had led her in 2013 to leave her job as a French teacher, calling her to what was then an unknown destination, a decision that was both difficult for one whose temperament liked familiarity and back-up plans and challenging. She also shared how there is often a time of testing and waiting between hearing God’s call and seeing the fulfilment of His promises. In her case, this meant waiting beyond her expected period of notice at school for God to supply a replacement teacher:
Julie with Florentine:
During those long days of waiting for God to move, the song ‘Mighty Fortress’ by Aaron Shust became very real and whilst unable to sing this herself because of having virtually lost her voice this past week, Stephen sang this song to encourage all who may still be in this waiting ‘in-between’ phrase that there are things God will simply never do because of His character and so we can be confident that He will never forsake us, deceive us, abandon us or reject us but will indeed be a mighty fortress and tower of strength to His people at all times: