Updates From Abroad (2)

Part of our support for overseas work is for Fredrick and Reeba in Bangalore. We gave money to help build the baptismal tank in their new church and Fredrick has recently written of their first baptismal services there, celebrating Hindus coming to know Jesus as their Saviour.

Reeba has recently written about the tailoring programme we sponsor. There are now 54 women on the current 6-month programme in two different locations and they hope to graduate in January. Please pray for the financial provision for the sewing machines which are given to each woman at the end of the programme to enable them to use their new skills to earn their own living. Since each machine costs about £100, they will need £5,400 to provide these machines.

In addition, Reeba asks for prayer for two women in particular: Nirmala and Anitha (NIrmala is on the left of the photo).

Nirmala is a 22 year old woman who married at 17 years of age and was widowed just three months after her marriage. She was pregnant when her husband died and she and her daughter lived with her parents until her father’s death in 2019. Both she and her mother have worked hard at menial jobs, but got into debt trying to pay for his medical and funeral costs. They live in a small room just 9 feet by 5 feet in what Reeba describes as ‘very pathetic conditions.’ Please pray for Nirmala to be able to pay off debts of £2500 and educate her child.

Anitha is 24 years old and was abandoned by her husband when she was 5 months pregnant, aged only 18. She lives with her son and widowed mother and is the sole bread winner of her family. She too has many debts (health care and schooling are not free in India) and works as a hotel maid, but her dream is to have a tailoring shop or boutique of her own. “If I learn tailoring skills I can someday be a boss of my own tailoring shop,” she says. Fredrick and Reeba long to help her fulfil this dream (to set up such a shop after her graduation would cost about £1500.)

Such stories remind us of the privileges we often take for granted in the UK and should also stir us to prayer and action.

 

Updates From Abroad

We are privileged at our church to support three children: Innocent in Uganda (through the Watoto programme), Bedline in Haiti (through the Compassion programme) and Amshika in India, a severely disabled young girl we met in 2017 through the tailoring programme. It’s always good to get news from these children and to know that our support makes a difference to their lives.

Innocent in Uganda is a teenager living in a Watoto village. His teacher recently married a beautiful lady named Dorcas and they live in the same village he does. He mentions other teachers who help him a lot and is very pleased to be a prefect in his school this year.

Bedline in Haiti is 9 now and has just written to us about the summer vacation which she really enjoyed.

Amshika in India is growing, but needs our continuing prayers for healing.

 

Sabbath Rest

It’s interesting to note the pattern of life as recorded in Genesis 1 puts trusting sleep before toiling work (‘There was evening and there was morning – the first day.’ (Gen 1:5)) We think of sleep as coming at the end of hard work, but God seems to create the day so that sleep is the launchpad into work. We work from a position of trust and rest. This puts a very different perspective on our daily work.

God has also provided Sabbath rest to supplement and shape the rhythm of the week. Sabbath rest – the principle of ceasing our activities one day a week to rest and worship God – is a fundamental commandment in Scripture (see Ex 16:23-29, Ex 20:8-10, Ex 35:12) and again, it’s interesting that traditionally Sunday – the day Christians reshaped as the Sabbath to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – is regarded as the first day of the week and not the last. This fits in with the Biblical pattern that rest is the springboard to work, not simply God’s ‘solution’ to a ‘crazy busy world’ but the provision for strength to toil for six days.

Do Christians have to keep the Sabbath? We often associate the Sabbath with rules and regulations and affirm that we are too busy to devote a whole day to rest. Yet the principle of weekly rest and the command to set time aside for God and for family, recreation and refreshment, cannot and should not be dismissed. Sabbath rest and worship, including collective gatherings, are still hugely important for all people today. No amount of technology can ever replace the simple, God-given principle of Sabbath rest. God Himself rested from work to set the precedent of Sabbath rest and so we need this weekly rest day if we are to live fruitful spiritual lives.

The Sleep of Faith

A good night’s sleep is a great blessing, something many of us forget or take for granted. Those who struggle to sleep – because of illness, insomnia or the broken sleep parents face with a new baby – know how wearying life seems and how difficult it is to focus and concentrate when we have not slept well. The benefits of sleep are multiple (including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving memory skills) and yet few of us really understand the importance of sleep.

The Bible makes it clear that sleep is a gift from God (Ps 127:2) and that sleep is also an act of faith. Going to bed doesn’t seem to be the most courageous thing we do, but sleep is actually one of the ways we can declare the Lordship of Christ on a daily basis! Every time we go to bed, we are acknowledging God’s sovereignty and expressing trust that He will wake us, refreshed and restored (see Is 50:4).

So often, worry and anxiety keep us awake, filling our minds with thoughts. These usually revolve around the impossible situations in our lives, the things over which we have no control, the difficulties which we cannot overcome. Illnesses, pain, fears and sorrow are our bedfellows, keeping us awake. But David, even in the midst of persecution and battle, declared, ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ (Ps 4:8)

We only have to look at the wailing baby, fighting sleep with all its might, rubbing red eyes and crying hysterically simply to try to stay awake, to realise that sleep is indeed an act of faith. As we sleep, we trust God will protect us, guard us, sustain us and provide for us (as an alternative rendering of Ps 127:2 reads.) We know that sleep brings restoration and refreshment; even Jeremiah spoke of a ‘pleasant night’s sleep’ when God spoke to him through dreams. (Jer 31:25-26)

The Bible gives us examples of trusting sleep: Jesus in the stern of a boat during a raging storm (Mark 4:38); Peter asleep in a prison cell, needing to be woken by an angel so he could be rescued from prison (Acts 12:6-7). Again, we only have to gaze on the wonder of a sleeping baby to realise that trust is by far the best way to live.

It’s no surprise that God even likens death to falling asleep, thereby removing fear and anxiety from the most frightening thing life can throw at us. Because of this, we can determine not only to live by faith, but also to sleep by faith! God’s in control – we can afford to rest and sleep!

 

Further Musings on Toxicity

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be lethal because it is undetectable to the ordinary human. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas which attaches itself to the haemoglobin in the body which usually carry oxygen to cells. Carboxyhaemoglobin is formed as a result and the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen which then causes the body’s cells and tissues to fail and die.

Because the gas is undetectable to human senses, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are not always obvious. Headaches, dizziness, feelings of nausea and tiredness and confusion can all have other causes, and so the problem can remain undetected for a long time. Nowadays, using carbon monoxide alarms in houses helps us to become aware of gas leaks and thus prevents the accidental deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, but there’s no doubt that exposure to this gas can be dangerous to our health.

In the same way that we are unable to detect the presence of carbon monoxide on our own and can often not recognise the symptoms of this poisoning, so we are exposed daily to the toxic influence of the world and the enemy’s fiery darts without always recognising the poisonous effect this has on our lives and on our faith. We ascribe our lack of zeal, prayer and passion for God to the pressures of life, the busyness of the day and the familiarity of relationship, but in truth, anything which pushes God off the throne of our lives is acting as a poison, severing us from the intimate connection required to maintain spiritual health and vigour. We need to be alert to the presence and power of toxic thinking and remove all traces of this from our lives if we are to grow in grace and a knowledge of the Lord.

We need to be ruthless with sin and refuse to settle for justifications for our behaviour which may look plausible but are simply excuses. Anything which nudges you away from God – gradually, inch by inch – needs to be challenged and changed. We fall back from our relationship with God when we allow our hearts to focus on ourselves more than on God and when we allow our eyes to wander onto worthless things. (Ps 119:37) Only by steadfastly committing ourselves to God and to His word can we overcome the toxic effects of the tri-fold poisoning of the flesh, the world and the enemy.