Pastoral Letter January 2017

Thus far the Lord has helped us

— 1 Samuel 7:12

Dear Friends,

It is five years since our family came to Morton, but it now seems to me as though we have always been here. It is good to take a moment at the turn of the year to look back, and to look forward also.

Whatever our experience has been, if we love the LORD we can say “thus far the LORD has helped us”. It is good to place on record, as Samuel did when he set up the stone ‘Ebenezer’, that whatever the passing of time has brought, the LORD has helped us to this very place and time in our lives. He has not failed us, nor will He ever do so.

These five years have been hard for various reasons. Several dear friends have been called home to be ‘forever with the Lord’ and while we rejoice for their happiness, we miss them. Many of us have been very sick and suffered in mind and body. Yet, God has not failed us. We did not know if we would reach five years together as a fellowship without our resources being exhausted. Yet, we have, and giving has not fallen, but increased. We did not know what we could do to reach out to people, and yet the Lord has sent in a good number of new friends and has encouraged us with the best response we have seen for a very long time at our recent Christmas services. The baptistry had been dry for many years, but we have had cause to use it, and we have reason to hope we will use it again. We may feel that our meetings are insignificant and unnoticed, yet they are observed by Heaven itself. We may feel that few people are hearing God’s word, and yet each sermon is heard by at least three times the number of our congregation via the internet, and some are downloaded hundreds of times in dozens of countries. We have been able to distribute thousands of gospel invitations and items of literature on the doors, at the market and at the Carnival. We have seen magnificent answers to specific prayers. We have had the privilege of standing with brothers in London who are seeking God at work. There is so much more that we could lay out here!

We have every reason to be positive about the future — because it is the Lord our God who is our helper. We have every reason to pray more fervently for the salvation of souls — because the gospel is glorious and powerful, and Christ’s redemption is sufficient for all His people who have believed, and have yet to believe. We have been given a mission by the King of Kings, and we know that His kingdom cannot fail, and that He is building His church. We give God thanks for His faithfulness to us. We look back with gratitude and thoughtfulness. We look forward with excitement. He will not fail us.

His love in time past, forbids us to think,
He’ll leave us at last, in trouble to sink.
Each sweet ‘Ebenezer’ we have in review,
confirms His good pleasure to help us quite through.
(John Newton).

May the Lord bless us all!

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