Music to Lift Up the Heart

When the great explorer, Ernest Shackleton, sailed to Antarctica his plan to walk to the South Pole was thwarted because his ship became trapped in the crushing ice.

Shackleton and his crew were forced to abandon their ship and thus began an epic rescue operation.

Interestingly, amongst the supplies that Shackleton took from his sinking ship was a banjo. Whatever hardships his men were about to face he knew that they would become much stronger with the sound of music to lighten their hearts.

Thankfully, it is very unlikely that we shall ever be trapped in the Antarctic but some some of the challenges and concerns that we face in our daily lives may be very serious and problematic.

And our words, offered by way of love and kindness, can be the music that joyfully lifts up peoples’ hearts and helps to make their journey worth living.

With many peaceful blessings


Prayers for the People of Nepal

Call for Prayers for the People of Nepal

Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake this weekend in Nepal that claimed thousands of lives and thousands more injured, the World Methodist Council Social Justice & International Affairs Committee issuedthis statement on behalf of the World Methodist Council.


A message from Malcolm and Cati Ramsay, Mission Partners in Kathmandu

Dear Everyone,

As all of you will undoubtedly know, Nepal was hit by a violent and prolonged earthquake measuring 7.8 on Saturday 25th April. The epicentre was midway between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Only 24 hours earlier, the entire expatriate staff of UMN had travelled from Kathmandu, Tansen and Okhaldunga to Pokhara for UMN’s annual four day retreat which the two of us were leading.

The earthquake and successive aftershocks, including one measuring 6.7 yesterday, Sunday, have had a devastating effect on the country. As we write (Monday afternoon), the death toll has exceeded 3,000 and is still rising as rescue operations continue. We are profoundly grateful that we ourselves, along with the other UMN staff, are all unharmed physically. However we’re all extremely shaken by what has happened and find the continuing aftershocks both alarming and unsettling. The challenge is balancing our relief at being alive with our heartfelt grief at the catastrophic consequences for so many people here.

UMN has sent two doctors to join a medical camp near the epicentre, while the rest of the Tansen staff returned this morning to the hospital. Even as we write this, UMN is taking part in urgent discussions as to how best to participate in the Aid and Relief work that has now begun. We don’t yet know how many will be able to return to Kathmandu tomorrow, but the two of us have been asked to travel early tomorrow morning (Tuesday), so that we can be in Kathmandu as soon as possible to provide a listening ear to those feeling traumatised by the earthquake.

We are deeply touched by the scores of emails we have already received, expressing people’s concern and prayers. The internet has been unreliable and this, coupled with the fact that we feel physically and emotionally drained, means that we can’t reply to each one individually – for now at least. Every single email has made a tremendous difference. Thank you.

Several texts have also arrived but mysteriously with random UK numbers attached instead of the sender’s name. This has often made it impossible to know who they’re from. If you text us please include your name even if you know you’re already in our Contacts list!

With lots of love and prayers from us both,

Malcolm and Cati


I am sure that you will all be watching the traumatic news about Nepal, in whichever country you live, and such is the severity of this disastrous earthquake I make no apologies for including regular updates/information in my daily blog.

Please pray for everyone who has lost their homes, their possessions and even their lives…….

May our Father God bless them mightily.

With many peaceful blessings


Thomas Coke (1747-1814)

From Brecon to the World

Thomas Coke was one of the founders of Methodism and a major contributor to the globalisation of the movement. Born in Brecon, is travelled widely and initiated the sending of missions to many countries.

Brecon in the 18th Century

When Coke was born, Brecon was one of the most important towns in Wales. It was on the route to Ireland and the final stop for the first regular coach service into Wales from London. It held one of the four Welsh Courts of Great Sessions of a prominent market town and administrative centre. It was also an important social centre for the local gentry and landowners who built many fine houses in the town.

Early Life

Born close to St Mary’s Church in Brecon, where was baptised, Coke was the son of a well-to-do apothecary (early pharmacist), Bartholomew Coke, and his wife, Anne. He was educated at Christ College in Brecon and at Jesus College, Oxford and he graduated from University in 1768. In 1775 he became a doctor of Civil Law. In Brecon he was deeply involved in town life, serving first as a councillor and then as the Bailiff in 1770.

Early Methodism

The Methodist movement began in the 18th century with the teachings of John Wesley, who believed in bringing faith back into people’s everyday lives and that salvation was available to all. He was a charismatic speaker and often preached in the open air. Methodism became popular amongst the working class, although members of all social classes at the time became involved.

Early Ministry

In 1771 Coke was ordained as a priest and became curated in the parish of South Petherton, in Somerset. He first met John Wesley in 1776 and later became an important assistant to him, beginning his lifelong commitment to the newly developing Methodist Church. On Easter Sunday in 1777, to the sound of church bells, Coke was driven from his parish because the local Rector disapproved of his Methodist ways.

Profile and Personality

At only 5’1”, Coke was a short man but he had a youthful appearance that stayed with him throughout his life. He was described as volatile and impulsive but also quick to admit when he was at fault, warm-hearted and honest. John Wesley said of Coke in 1788: ’I creep like Laos and the ground I get I keep; but the doctor (Coke) leaps like a flea and is sometimes obliged to leap back again.’

In America

In 1784, Coke was ordained Superintendent and sailed for the newly formed United States with orders to organise an independent American Methodist Church. In Baltimore, Coke met with Methodist preachers and ordained their chosen leader, Francis Asbury, as a fellow Superintendent; though they were both later styled ‘Bishop’ by the Americans, much to John Wesley’s displeasure. Coke made nine journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, meeting with the President, George Washington, speaking out against slavery and addressing the US Congress.

Father of the Methodist Missions

In 1786, Coke landed on Antigua in the Caribbean. Impressed by the devotion and quiet endurance of the slaves he found there, he was inspired to organise and encourage Methodist missions throughout the West Indies and elsewhere. The costs were high and Coke often financed them from his own pocket. His marriages, late in life, to Penelope Goulding Smith, from Bradford-on-Avon, in 1805, and Anne Loxdale, of Liverpool, in 1811, she died less than a year later, helped fund his work: both women were strong supporters of their husband’s ideals, before their untimely deaths.

Death and Commemoration

Coke made his final voyage in 1814, at the age of 67, leading a team of missionaries to the Indian sub-continent. On Tuesday May 3rd, he was found dead in his cabin and was buried at sea. His loss was greatly felt by the Methodist Church and many memorials were created to commemorate his life’s achievements. In Brecon, a memorial chapel was built in 1835, to which school was later added. Churches bearing his name can be found in the United States, Jamaica, Sri Lanka and even South Petherton, his first parish.

Methodism in the World Today

Since Coke’s day, Methodism has continued to spread across the globe and today claims over 70 million members. Modern day Methodists, such as the late Nelson Mandela, continue Coke’s legacy of ’a life of faith in God lived in service to others.’ In December 2013, the Methodist Church of South Africa said: ’Mandela’s life demonstrated the finest characteristics of the Methodist faith: integrity tempered with graciousness; a strong ethic of industriousness; and honesty with reconciliation.’


With many peaceful blessings


Pray For The People Of Nepal, Devastated By An Earthquake

Dear Father God,

We pray for all affected by the earthquake in Nepal:
For those grieving the loss of loved ones,
For those living in fear of aftershocks,
For those trapped awaiting rescue,
and for those who are searching.
Comfort, protect, rescue and strengthen.

We pray for all who are responding on the ground:
For partner agencies coordinating the response,
For those in need of shelter, clothing, food and water,
For those in remote rural areas whose plight is yet unknown,
and for those who are travelling to and within Nepal.
Direct, provide, connect and guide.

We pray for the world as it watches on:
For the media as it tells the full story,
For compassion to overcome despair,
For unity to overcome distance,
and for kindness to prevail.
Inspire, move, unite and reveal.

In your resurrection hope we pray

Please join us in our prayers for the people of Nepal

With many peaceful blessings


Lord, who is our shepherd,
We pray for the people of Nepal in this time of want.
Guide those who grieve to still waters; restore their soul.
Lead those who are searching to the right places.
Comfort those who are trapped in the darkest valley of fear.
May generosity and compassion overflow in response
so that goodness and mercy may follow all
who will live in the shadow of this earthquake.
May they dwell in secure houses and
know healing and protection all their life long.



Islamic State has released a video showing the militants executing 30 ‘people of the cross’ in Libya. The video claims that those who were killed were Ethiopian Christians; the Ethiopian government has confirmed that they were Ethiopian migrant workers, but the Jerusalem Post has reported that three of those killed were from Eritrea.

One contact in Libya has asked us: “Please support us in Libya with your prayers. Especially the Arabic-speaking congregations of migrants need prayer; these churches are mainly attended by Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians… Many of them are becoming frightened, weak, discouraged and disappointed. Pray that the Lord might strengthen us in our faith in this time of trial.”

Please Join Me in Praying:

  • For comfort for the families of those who have been killed
  • For strength for the church in Libya, particularly Arabic congregations
  • For an end to violence in Libya
  • For God to change the hearts of members of Islamic State and turn them to Him.

With many peaceful blessings


Attacks on Foreigners in South Africa – Statement from the World Methodist Council

I have a special interest in this issue as my wife, Marlene, was born in South Africa and we both have many family and friends living in Durban and Johannesburg..

The Statement from the World Methodist Council reads:-

In the wake of escalating violence against foreign nationals, refugees and asylum seekers in the Republic of South Africa, World Methodist Council representatives express concern and disappointment at these clear violations of human rights. General Secretary Ivan Abrahams and the Social Justice Committee of the World Methodist Council issued this joint statement today condemning the violence and attacks:

The World Methodist Council condemns these attacks which so clearly undermine human rights and dignity. We applaud the actions of Methodist family members within the Republic of South Africa who have stood up against these human rights violations.  We also welcome the recent statements of President Zuma and senior government officials.

We further support the marches and events held to bring awareness to take a stance against such atrocities. We pray that they are successful in continuing to promote initiatives toward peaceful coexistence.

We implore the South African government to protect the rights of all people as enshrined in its Constitution.  We further call on Methodists and Wesleyans within the neighboring countries of South Africa to stand in solidarity with and aid all those affected by these attacks. We are one human race. Let us all continue to pray and speak out against the injustices throughout our world.

Please join with me in praying against the injustices which are being perpetrated throughout the world.

Let us humbly remember that we are ALL children of our Father God.

With many peaceful blessings


My Walk With God – With Rev John Garfoot

I am a 97 year old cradle Methodist.

Many years afterwards my father told me that at my christening he dedicated me to God and I haven`t been able to get away from that.

As a boy I was taken to a village Wesleyan Chapel, long since closed.  There was nothing in it for children, I was the only one but I was never bored.

I could always count the artificial pipes on the American organ, squint through the coloured glass in the windows, watch the butterflies woken up by the singing and the warmth of the tortoise stove.

One preacher though did grip my attention.  Perhaps it was his funny walrus moustache, but he told the story of Jacob and his dream of a ladder reaching up to heaven with angels going up and down it.

Even at that tender age I must have wondered why angels needed a ladder, I thought they had wings.  Jacob called that spot Bethel, the House of God and often came back to it.  “Everyone needs a Bethel” the preacher concluded.

I discovered the truth of that for myself as a student when I went to the Albert Hall, Nottingham.  They were great services with a congregation of over a thousand.

One Sunday evening I found myself walking right down from the gallery to stand at the front in response to an appeal and to the strains of “Who is on the Lord`s side.”   Nothing much came of it for three or four years but then it caught up with me.

It was at the outbreak of war.  I knew what my immediate future had to be, I would have to join up, but what could I do when it was all over?

My uncle was a missionary in Dahomey, now Benin, and he said that there was need for teachers out there so he arranged for me to have an interview at the Mission House.

I had applied for jobs before and knew what to expect.  Don’t call us, we will call you, but this was so different.

The Rev Walter Noble (one day to be President of Conference), actually came out of his office and walked along the corridor with welcoming smile and warm handshake that completely won me over.

He talked to me like a father; they could not make any promises as things were so difficult on the mission field, perhaps I could try again when the war was over.

Then he shot his bolt.  “You know you could do your best work if you were ordained.”  What me?  I wasn’t a member let alone a Local Preacher.

Never been to communion.  Out in the streets of London, in the crowds of people hurrying past I glimpsed the anxious looks in their eyes in those days of what we called the phoney war.

Then the words seemed to come clearly to me: “And seeing the multitudes he was moved with compassion for they were as sheep not having a shepherd.”

I knew what I had to do.  I went to the nearest telephone box and said that I wanted to be a Methodist minister.

I was immediately put on the Plan and rushed through all the candidating procedures, took various exams and at the 1940 Conference managed to be put on a list of approved candidates.

By now I was in the British Army which was to be my lot for five years, eight months and twenty-three days, stationed in London during the blitz, and then for 4½ years in the Middle East and Italy.

All the while I carried with me a cutting from the Methodist Recorder “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” and that was how it was.

Looking back, although I was denied the normal years of study and probation, it was a real preparation for my subsequent ministry, getting alongside all sorts of people, seeing the best in them.

The chaplains were so helpful and sometimes I was able to take services.  It was an experience I have never regretted.

Eventually S/166386 Sjt Garfoot J was demobbed and I had an all too short course at the war-damaged Richmond College.

It didn’t seem to matter that there was no central heating and rain dripped through the roof.  So then to my first Circuit, Weardale.  I had to look it up on a map to see where it was.

Then after four years to East Anglia, where I have been ever since, serving at Wisbech, King`s Lynn, Wymondam, Ely and Swaffham.  I had seventeen years as a Superintendent Minister, eight years as Synod Secretary and was privileged to go on preaching for seventy-three years.

I cannot begin to express my debt to all the wonderful people who have been my companions on this long journey as together we have  walked with God.

(Rev John Garfoot)


My Walk With God – Volume 1 – costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-


My Walk With God – Volume 2 – also costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-

With many peaceful blessings


The Book Of Ruth – new Biblical Word Search

And today’s Biblical Word Search comes from the Book of Ruth, created, as usual, by my wife, Marlene.

The Book of Ruth is one of my favourite books of the Bible.

To freely download this word search please go to:-

Happy word searching

God Bless



My Walk With God – David Cowling

Two young men met in a fog bound cobbled northern English street. It was evening, perhaps going up to ten; the light of gas street lamps seemed to heighten what was a moment of decision for both of them.

The date was November 1958, the place, Oldham in Lancashire. They were both new Christians, experiencing their conversions the previous year. Friends from their school days and both now studying architecture alongside working in local architectural practices, they had been to a Thursday evening fellowship in the Edward Street Methodist Church.

There they had listened to a silver haired Cliff College evangelist, and the challenge had been quite simple: ‘What is God calling you to do?’

And we both knew; Alan and I knew, that God wanted there to be a ‘Mission Band’ in the Town Centre in Oldham. And so it was that somehow or other there was a ‘Mission Band’ in the Methodist Church on Union Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the Town Centre.

It began life in January 1959. It met at 8.00 pm on every Sunday Evening, and its object was to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the young people going about the town on a Sunday evening.

Its leadership was the ad hoc group of young people who emerged around us, aged from their mid-teens to early twenties. Alan and I were both twenty one, the oldest amongst us, 26. I did not know it then, but we were embarking upon a roller coaster adventure, which would mark us for all of the future years of our ‘Walk with God’.

The Minister of the Church was the East Oldham Circuit Superintendent, the Rev. G. Dean Sherriff. He was in a very real sense our guardian against those who would have ejected us.

A man of great compassion and wisdom, he only came amongst us when we asked him to, but we always knew that he was there for us.

Our distant spiritual guru was the Rev. Roy Dew, who had left the town four years earlier, but whose legacy had been the ‘South Chadderton Mission Band’, within which both Alan and I had come into Christian faith. He was from ‘outwith’ the Church, and I was a ‘cradle Methodist’.

The new ‘Mission Band’ was based upon a twin track approach to those who came and joined us. There was the charismatic Worship of the Sunday Evening Meeting; and, the Fellowship activities we tried to put in place.

In the first, we developed our own worship leaders, several of us already being ‘on Trial’ local preachers in our own circuits. Worship was enabled in so many ways, because our God really was for us a ‘God of Surprises’; wonderful gifts emerged, such as our talented Anglican pianist who couldn’t even read music!

We met indoors in wintertime, and on occasion tried ourselves at open air witness and worship in the summertime. We also, as and when asked, took our worship on the road, conducting ‘missions’ in the neighbourhoods of such Churches as would invite us.

Sometimes at a distance. The door knocker became an invaluable contact with new people. Some who remained friends for a life time.

The Fellowship activities began with meeting to go for hill walks; but then went up a major step when the local Hospital invited us to put on Saturday evening entertainment and fellowship for long term residential psychiatric patients who never ever left the hospital.

Again, new friends, new revelations, new challenges, new opportunities. Yet wonderfully in God’s resourcing, we did it; every other week for a time, and we did it!

And somehow or other in God’s grace, young people whom we would never otherwise have met, were coming forward and committing their lives to Christ. Our normal weekly attendance soared beyond sixty, and the age range with it to also embrace some older folks who found there that which was missing elsewhere in their lives.

Eventually there were those from many denominations, and those from none. Leaders from other local churches turned up to see what God was doing [or what it was all about!]. Of course, that is but a clue to the burden which eventually some of us were bearing.

Essentially we were running a new and charismatic young Church, and with all the pastoral responsibilities which inevitably emerged. I was working full time, and also studying.

But we were all changing; people were maturing, marrying and moving on. Alan had already given up part-time study and gone to university.

I was courting Beryl, and in due course we were married and set up home.

We became parents, and our lives were inevitably moving to their next stage. I was approaching final qualification as an architect, and the need to secure future employment as such loomed large.

In August 1962 I started a new job in Boston in Lincolnshire, leaving Oldham in a black Ford Popular. For a time, and until Beryl could join me, I was travelling back to Oldham every week-end, leaving for the 125 mile journey back to Boston after Mission Band concluded. Mission Band was anyway developing into the hands of others, and also moving premises.

By the end of that year Beryl and I were domiciled in Boston, and I was learning to be a Local Preacher in a 36 church Methodist rural circuit. When I was eventually recognised as a Methodist Local Preacher, it was in the Centenary Methodist Church in Boston – and we were committed to the next stage of our own ‘Walk with God’.
The ‘East Oldham Mission Band’ had been a four year adventure in our lives.

Who we were to be, what things we would do, the lifelong friends we would have, even the life of today, were all shaped in those ‘Mission Band’ years.

I pray for all of those out there the world, now in more mature years, who shared those four years with us.

(David Cowling is the Author of Methodism in Scotland and in Perth)

My Walk With God is published in Kindle Format.

My Walk With God – Volume 1 – costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-


My Walk With God – Volume 2 – also costs only £1.99 and may be downloaded by going to:-


With many peaceful blessings