How God Answered Prayers in Leatherhead

How God Answered Prayers in Leatherhead

Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop God working in Leatherhead to grow a congregation and reach a new area.

I’ve read Ephesians 3:20 many times but will usually gloss over exactly what Paul tells us about God in it:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Of course God is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine, but how often do I ask or imagine big - and expect God to do more?

One of the joys of working at FIEC is to hear stories of how God does exactly that. When Jon Herring, pastor of Grace Church Leatherhead, asked us to praise God for doing something “beyond our wildest dreams”, I had to find out more!

Fetcham to Leatherhead

Christ Church Fetcham was without a pastor for two years between 2017 and 2019. During this tough time, Trevor Archer, FIEC’s London Director, Richard Perkins from Co:Mission, retired pastor John Ross, and a group of other local pastors gathered to help the church think and pray through their future plans.

There was a growing sense that Christ Church should consider moving to nearby Leatherhead to start a new gospel work and more effectively reach the surrounding Mole Valley area. Jon Herring was then appointed as the new pastor, formerly assistant pastor at Kennet Valley Free Church in Reading, to lead the new gospel vision.

  • Jon Herring and family

    Jon with wife Ruth, and children Ben, Lillia, Josh, and Toby.

“It was my prayer that the Lord would bring us people with a heart to join us in our gospel vision, willing to serve” Jon said. “The church had also been praying for some time prior to our arrival for the Lord to bring children, as there were only a handful in Sunday school.”

Answered prayer

Those prayers were answered!

Families and young couples began to arrive to join Christ Church – some new to the area, some looking to serve in a more local church to Leatherhead. An encouragement but also a problem: “We were no longer short of children, but instead faced with the much better problem of finding enough Sunday school leaders to provide for them all,” Jon told me.

The tentative move to Leatherhead began to fall into place when Jon met with a local school as a possible location: “They could not have been more accommodating and keen to have us, and actually offered us the use of the school rent free!”

But the following week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an unprecedented national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spanner in the works?

Not for the God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!

Lockdown ministry

Physical gatherings in Fetcham had to cease, but pre-recorded services and Zoom coffee time encouraged the church and gave opportunities for some of the new attendees to get involved.

“The lockdown provided an opportunity for people to step up to contribute to the pre-recorded services in ways they might not have done otherwise” Jon explained.

12 people were welcomed into membership in the first weeks of lockdown, and a new home group was started (on Zoom) as people got to know each other better.

Then, with the relaxation of lockdown in July, Jon again got in touch with the school in Leatherhead who were happy for their hall to be used when the summer holidays started in August.

So, less than a year since the church was in Fetcham with no pastor, Grace Church Leatherhead gathered together for the first time – and all of this during a global pandemic.

Exceeding expectations

Since then, God has continued to work wonderfully in Grace Church.

Jon explained: “After our first in-person service I was called by one of the dads in the church to say that that morning his 14-year-old daughter had given her life to Christ. What an encouragement having prayed that we would see conversions in our move to Leatherhead!

“In our wildest dreams we didn’t think we would be meeting in Leatherhead before September but the Lord exceeded all our expectations, and through means we couldn’t have guessed at.

“We continue to be frustrated by the restrictions which have certainly revealed how little control we have over life, but the way that God has provided for us and guided us as a church through this time has reminded us of his sovereignty and complete control over it all.”

It is so good to see how God is working even through circumstances that we would expect would stifle ministry growth. Please do pray for Jon, his family, and the church in Leatherhead, as they seek to share the good news of Jesus in the town and the whole Mole Valley area.

Header image by sludgeulper on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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