• Martin Hodson (our incoming Ministry Development Coordinator)
    It has been a real joy to begin serving the churches and ministers in these first couple of weeks. Please pray for fruitful relationships to be built, characterised by a shared love for Christ and enthusiasm for the work of ministry. Pray that I have the wisdom to listen and learn from our churches and their leaders, and to recognise how my gifts and experience can best contribute to equipping the church for the mission the Lord has entrusted to us all.
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  • On the move
    As a child in school I learned all about migration. It was described then as the annual movement of Wildebeests to new feeding grounds following the well-worn tracks of earlier generations. No one talked about migrating people, the draw of urbanisation or the need for places of refuge, not even in Modern Studies. In the last few weeks our news has explored, in some detail, the issues surrounding people in our world who are, in a variety ways, on the move. Our Council, concerned for those fleeing persecution and war, asked our National Team to explore how we might help churches who are currently engaging with refugees. This week, churches currently engaged in ministries to refugees gathered in Easterhouse Baptist to share their experiences, learn from one another and begin to support one another. It is clear that refugees and asylum seekers are mostly being placed in the poorer areas of Scotland. In these areas, our churches are smaller and have less financial resources. This is where it is vital that we behave as an intentionally relational community, allowing churches who have no frontline engagement with refugees the opportunity to share in the ministry of other congregations. Last week I attended the European Baptist Federation Council (EBF) which again spent time considering issues relating to the huge movement of people across Europe and the Middle East. I listened to Hungarian, Austrian, German, Italian, Swedish, Croatian and Lebanese Baptist leaders speak of new ministries growing by the day in their communities as they respond to the needs they see. A report is currently being compiled of all the work Baptists are doing in Europe in support of migrating people, and a new fund has been established to offer immediate support to the smaller Unions. Our Council has decided that our Assembly offerings should be used in this area of need and will be split three ways this year. One third will be given to BMS World Mission to support existing work among refugees. A further third will be sent to EBF to support the new work all over Europe and the final third will be distributed among our own churches who are engaging with this growing issue. I am encouraging local churches to have a special offering over the next month which delegates can bring with them to the Assembly in order that we might share in the resourcing of those on this new ministry frontline. I also include links to a selection of resources you may find helpful in exploring these issue in your congregation. http://www.eauk.org/church/pray-with-us/lord-have-mercy-a-prayer-for-the-refugee-crisis.cfm http://www.ebf.org/council-resolutions http://www.bmsworldmission.org/news-blogs/archive/european-refugee-crisis-lessons-lebanon http://engageworship.org/ideas/You_are_a_refuge_Video
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  • Gazing on the goodness of God
    None of us find it easy, seeing the pictures of refugees flooding into Europe.  We’re meeting them on the streets of Scottish towns and cities. John B Hayes, in his profound and easily read book, sub-merge: service, justice and contemplation among the world’s poor, reflects on crises that recently have affected western culture. Hayes comments on John 9 and Jesus dealing with a man blind from birth. On the culture of blame that can arise in the face of huge, social problems, Hayes remarks, “Jesus confronted the same inclination to find blame among his own followers .... Jesus sidestepped the counterfeit debate and recast the negative scenario as one of hopeful opportunity..... He simply reached out and touched the man. It was embarrassingly simple: Jesus acted. Christ committed himself to a ministry of compassionate presence, not dispassionate distance. He showed that the tragedies of the world are not first to be reasoned, but treated” (pp 56-57). It is now over 40 years since the birth of Lausanne movement, initiated under evangelical leadership of both John Stott and Billy Graham, seeking to put to death an unbiblical and unhelpful contrast between Gospel proclamation and Gospel action. Today we see, partly the fruit of this and other Biblical initiatives, fine witness at the level of local church, where a commitment to biblical revelation and proclamation is accompanied by focused care, concern and action for the needs of the local community and the wider society beyond the compass of the local congregation. There is much effective work being undertaken both by Baptist and other Christian congregations. A bigger challenge lies in combatting a cultural pessimism of Scottish society and it's affect on the church. There is a need to reaffirm and to declare, because of Jesus Christ, the integral relationship between hope and faith and love. Our Lord calls us to live with confidence in the covenant commitments of God towards his people and into the world. We are bearers of hope who, out of hope, act in faith. Pessimism has to be renounced and repented of, as we prayerfully look for and observe the wonderful advance of God's kingdom upon the face of the earth. People often ask me to give account of the state of the church in Scotland, as I have the privilege of travelling the length and breadth of our nation, witnessing the real life and witness of local congregations. I can see so many signs of hope and encouragement. I also see the potential of so many more, as people lift their eyes from the fear and the failure of godlessness and look afresh to the power and purposefulness of God's intervention, in response to the cries of his people. For faith to be effective there has to be hope. For hope to be alive, we need to lift our eyes to gaze upon the goodness of God. Jim Purves
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