The Evangelist

One day an evangelist bragged during a crusade that his God was more able than all the other Gods in the town and the powers of the universe that the villagers worshipped put together.

Just then, rainstorm sounds started sounding overhead, threatening the progress of the crusade. The evangelist lifted up his voice and declared with confidence that if the rains fell, then he wasn’t a man of God; he would stop preaching!

Before he could finish his bluff, the rains began to hit the crusade grounds so vehemently, apparently in disregard to his declarations.

The whole town left the crusade grounds to their houses, shaking their heads in disappointment and dismay.

The evangelist, so distraught and angry, packed his belongings and left the town the next day.

On his way through the next town, he checked into a local drinking spot and drank himself into a stupor.

As he laid on the ground cursing God, an old seedy looking man tapped him gently on the shoulder.

“Man of God”, the old man began. But the evangelist quickly cut in, “don’t mention the name of God to me. He is fake. He is unreliable. I am no longer a believer in this God. A God who chooses to disgrace his servants. Leave me alone!”

But the old man would not let him be.

He continued, “I am the fetish priest in the village you just preached at. During your one week stay in that village, you destroyed all the charms I had made on the people for 45 years.

Your prayers and your words always came with some fearful fire and power. I tried so many times to eliminate you but i couldn’t.

My last chance came yesterday.

I had loaded my gun with gun powder lying wait on the mountaintop where I had a very clear view of you.

My plan was to shoot you from a distance since I couldn’t get close enough to you due to the fire around you.

But just when I lifted the gun, the rains came from nowhere, wetting my gunpowder and covering you in a cloud so that I couldn’t even see you.

All I saw was a bright man holding a sword in front of you. I was so terrified.

I concluded that your God was indeed all powerful and Almighty. That is why I’ve been looking for you since then.

I want to follow your God!”

The ex-evangelist bowed his head in shame!

 

Whether this is a true story or not it does illustrate the wondrous power that God possesses.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that He cannot do. What we may view as impossible, God makes possible.

But we must have faith in Him, total faith and trust.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. To have faith in the Holy Spirit will enable us to accomplish miracles.

When I was a teenager (many more years ago than I care to remember) one of my favourite books was ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

In Peale’s books (and he actually wrote several on much the same subject) he gave anecdote after anecdote showing how people who had thought positively had triumphed against great adversity!

We must never under-estimate the power of our minds. Often it is our negative thinking that causes us the most problems.

To think – is to be.

We are what we perceive ourselves to be. This, in many ways, is typified by one of my favourite poems, ‘if you think you are beaten you are’:-

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost a cinch that you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.
 

If you think you’re outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!

This poem was written by Walter D Wintle, a poet who died in the early part of the twentieth century.

And Wintle certainly knew what he was talking about! Perhaps the most powerful – and influential – line of the whole poem is the last line – “Is the one who thinks he can”.

If you can think you can achieve anything then you are more than half way there. And if you have absolute faith that God will create miracle after miracle for you, then you won’t, of course, be surprised when these miracles become a positive reality.

Again, in my teens, I managed a folk group. One of the songs we sang in churches and in concerts was ‘We shall overcome’.

If my memory serves me correctly the words ran thus:-

We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
Some day,
And it’s deep in our heart,
We do believe,
We shall overcome
Some day.

And another verse ran:-

God is on our side,
God is on our side,
God is on our side,
Today,
And it’s deep in our heart,
We do believe,
God is on our side,
Today.

And when God is on our side, who can be against us?

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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Rev Steve Wild is the new President of the Methodist Conference

The newly elected President of the Methodist Conference  has urged the Church to ‘take God seriously’ and put evangelism back on the agenda.

In his inaugural address at the Conference in Southport, the Revd Steve Wild challenged each Methodist church in Britain to aim to bring just one person to faith in the coming year, saying: “Let’s take God seriously. I want to help us in the task of evangelism, to put mission on the agenda and give our churches an aim to win a person for Christ.”

“We cannot sit back in complacency,” he added. “We have a massive Kingdom of God task.  I’m wanting this year to challenge each church to bring one person to faith – to make one new member this next year, let’s make bringing people to faith the main point, we don’t do it alone. The unconditional love of Jesus is our motivation.”

He told those gathered at the Conference that John Wesley only had ten guineas to his name when he died. Wesley’s will directed that four of these guineas should pay four unemployed men to carry his coffin and the remainder be distributed among his poorest preachers.

“What else did he leave behind?” Steve asked. “Changed lives hundreds of them, Christian communities dotted all over this country and in other parts of the world, fellowships seeking to take God seriously. Oh that we may all draw to the foot of the cross and experience this powerful love and make this our legacy one of transformed lives and communities!

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Steve Wild has been one of my Facebook friends for a long time and I know that he is going to be a very effective evangelistic President of the Methodist Conference during 2015/2016.

May our Father God bless Steve mightily in everything he says and in everything he does.

With many peaceful blessings

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