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)

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00HAKO7L6

and

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Walk-God-Geoffrey-Keyte-ebook/dp/B00Q1N81FG

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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:-

http://christianwordsearches.net/Ruth.html

Happy word searching

God Bless

Geoffrey

 

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:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00HAKO7L6

and

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Walk-God-Geoffrey-Keyte-ebook/dp/B00Q1N81FG

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Heavenly

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures will, of countless price,
God will provide sacrifice.

Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.

These words, written by John Keble (1792-1866) are as relevant today as they were when he penned them.

How often do we see the positive in all the people we meet and in all the daily challenges we experience in our lives?

We are a world full of gossipers. How often do your pass on rumours without knowing whether what you are saying is true or not?

Think first, and speak second, and then only speak when you are sure of your facts!

And, when in doubt, pray to our Father God for His guidance – He will never let you down.

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

Prove It!

It is related that the famous French artist Gustave Dore was once wandering in the mountains of Switzerland, when some officials met him and demanded his passport. “I do not have it with me,” he replied, “but my name is Gustave Dore.” “Prove it, if you are,” replied the officers, knowing who Dore was–but not believing that this was he. Taking a piece of paper, the artist hastily sketched a group of peasants who were standing near, and did it with such grace and skill that the officials exclaimed, “Enough, you are Dore!”

In the same way, the world cares little for a mere profession. We say we are Christians, and the challenge is, “Prove it!” If we are of Christ, then we must do the works of Christ, live the life of Christ, and show the spirit of Christ. The artist’s skillful drawing proved his identity. Just so, we must prove that we are the followers of our Master by the love, the grace, the beauty, the holiness of our life.

Religion is not merely a matter of creed and profession, or of church-going and public worship; it is far more a matter of daily life. It is not how we behave on Sundays, nor the kind of creed we hold, nor the devoutness of our worship–it is the way we act at home, in school, in business, in society, in our associations with others. It is vitally important that all who profess Christ–shall manifest Christ’s beauty in their life and character. It is not enough to preach the gospel in words alone; others must also read it in our daily life. “So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” 1 Thessalonians 4:12

“Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.” 1 John 2:6

(Roxee Rico)

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

CHIBOK GIRLS MISSING FOR MORE THAN A YEAR

The girls abducted from a school in Chibok have now been missing for one year and three days. For their parents who continue to hope and pray for their return, it feels like an eternity. Of the 252 girls that were taken, 16 jumped off the trucks, four escaped after arriving in the Sambisa forest, but 232 are still missing.

It seems likely that they have been moved to another country, possibly Niger. Muhammadu Buhari, the recently elected President of Nigeria, has said that his government will ‘do everything in its power to bring them home’ but that he ‘cannot promise that we can find them’.

Please Pray:

  • Continue to pray for the protection and safe return of the Chibok girls
  • For comfort for their parents. Twenty of them have died since the girls were taken, many because of stress-related illnesses.
  • For wisdom for those who are working to secure the safe release of the girls.

Hope and rumours

The father of two of the missing Chibok girls spoke to the BBC about the year since they were taken. “We are not able to sleep. My wife [has been having] this problem with her blood pressure, we have been struggling,” says Reverend Enoch Mark.

He has heard rumours that one of his daughters was stoned to death for refusing to deny her faith, but a government envoy that is negotiating for the release of the girls has indicated that they are still alive. “I have hope… Even if my daughter has been stoned to death, I am the happiest man as a man of God who has brought up my daughter with that kind of faith.”

Thank you for saying yes to your persecuted family in Nigeria

We know that many of you have been praying for the Chibok girls and their families, and 1,700 of you wrote messages of support that we were able to deliver to the parents of the girls. Thank you for praying, giving and writing to enable us to show these families that their girls have not been forgotten by their global church family.

If you would like to speak out for your persecuted church family, please consider attending a hustings in your area, where you will be able to meet election candidates and highlight the issue of international freedom of religion or belief. As part of the Religious Liberties Comission, we have produced a specific resource to help you do this. Show Up, speak up and make sure that freedom of religion or belief is firmly on the agenda of all our potential political leaders.

 

With many thanks for your prayers.

Lisa Pearce
CEO Open Doors UK & Ireland

With many peaceful and hopeful blessings

Geoffrey

If We Claim To Love Our Neighbour

These are the words of a new inspirational and thought provoking hymn by Andrew Pratt:-

If we claim to love our neighbour
while the hungry queue for food,
are we prey to self deception?
Is perception quite so crude?
If we sit beside our neighbours,
begging for the things they need,
we might share their own injustice
in a world that thrives on greed.

If we punish those with nothing,
blaming them for where they stand,
is this love of friend or neighbour,
do we still not understand?
Love of neighbour is not easy,
cuts us till we feel the pain,
sharing hurt that they are feeling
till they find new life again.

Love of neighbour sets us squarely
in the place where they now sit,
till the richness God has given
builds a pearl around the grit;
till each person shares the comfort
of the love of which we preach,
till we live as fact the Gospel:
none can be beyond love’s reach.

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These words are oh so very relevant in these days of harsh austerity.

Here in the UK it is only three weeks away from our general election.

Will the newly elected Government – whoever is Prime Minister – make the changes necessary to enable the poorest families to be taken out of poverty?

What the Government need to remember is that man-made laws are not always God-made laws!

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey