Rejoice and Pray (part 1)
It’s always a joy to hear about the ways our churches are reaching out with the gospel. This week we’ll round up some stories from the Easter weekend as churches held mission events and baptism services.
We’ll start with news of new Christians in Southampton and baptisms in London.
11 people professed faith during a mission event in Southampton while 15 nations were represented in Kenton as two new Christians were baptised there on Easter Sunday.
Of course, every one of our churches spent the Easter break rejoicing in our risen Saviour, but we hope these stories encourage you and fuel your prayers. Two more will follow on Thursday!
Above Bar Church, Southampton – Passion Retold
Above Bar joined with several other evangelical churches in Southampton to put on Passion Retold, an outreach event which saw 11 people profess faith in Jesus.
The retelling of the Passion narratives took place in the middle of the City on Good Friday with more than 2,000 people gathering to watch. It ended with a time of sung worship and the churches involved then worked hard to follow-up with those who they had made contact with.
Paul Webber, minister of Above Bar said:
“I had so many comments saying ‘God was in this’. Whether it was the magnificent weather sandwiched in a weekend of rain or the attentiveness during the talk or the hunger in the response tent or the celebratory atmosphere during the sung worship time.
“It is a real privilege to be in a city where churches will adapt their own programs, resources and preferences in order to put on a united event in the heart of our city.”
Paul has asked that we pray for the follow-up and praise God for the fruit from Passion Retold. He has also asked that we pray especially for those who professed faith that they would find their joy in Christ.
Kenton Evangelical Church, London – Easter Baptisms
Kenton was packed on Easter Day as the congregation gathered to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the baptism of two new believers. There were fifteen nationalities represented in the congregation and Pastor Mike Hutton says it was a joyful celebration:
“It was great, not only to see the church full, but to see the diversity of Kenton represented in the congregation. There were about 180 people at the service, most of whom (around 150) stayed for lunch. Running out of plates and cutlery was a good problem to have!”
The first baptism was Zipporah. She is 17 years old and from a Christian family of Tamil speakers from Sri Lanka. Many of her friends and family were at the baptism so Kenton had one of the readings in Tamil from Zipporah’s father – with the English translation on the screen.
Here’s some of the words of her testimony from Easter morning:
“I prayed and read the Bible and went to church every Sunday since I was born, but it was all a routine. It wasn’t from the heart; it didn’t feel like a choice.
“Throughout last year, two occasions really tested my faith in God and, I can’t lie, it took me a while to actually turn to the Lord. I didn’t think I needed Jesus in my life, I felt like I could stand on my own two feet, but I know better now for sure.”
Zipporah went on to speak about the struggles of the last year. Then a school teacher asked her when she last meaningfully prayed and she continued:
“I felt the Lord speak to me through her because that was a turning point for me. I was so lost and consumed by darkness, I didn’t know my way out. It never crossed my mind that there was a way out, and that was it. That was the light I’d been searching for. I got home, and thought: ‘let’s do this’.
“So I sat there for what felt like minutes, but was actually a good hour or two, and just spoke to God. It sounds crazy but I was speaking and speaking and then crying and I remember saying at one point that I couldn’t do it anymore, that I couldn’t carry on the way I was because it was killing me from the inside and I didn’t want to hate myself and feel alone anymore.
“I came to understand that although I had pushed God away and didn’t turn to him for help, he was there. He was showing his love and mercy. I know that because Jesus died on that cross, I have been given salvation, I have been granted forgiveness.”
The second person to be baptised was Philmore. He’s originally from Barbados and is in his 70s. He was married at Kenton in 2000 and over the last eight years has attended the church more regularly. He said:
“Sitting as part of the monthly communion service (though I never took part), has given me pause for thought. Did Jesus really die like that for me and, if so, what should I do about it?
“I cannot identify exactly when and where I received Jesus as my Saviour, but over a period of time in the past two years I began to acknowledge first God as my true Heavenly Father and then his Son as my Lord. As I attended various Christianity Explored courses and attended several fellowship groups and prayer meetings, God’s amazing grace gave me the desire and ability to pray.
“I am now completely convinced that it is Jesus who can give me eternal life and though I am not good enough for God, Jesus has died for my sins and I know that I am forgiven.”
Read part two here.