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March 22, 2011:

At church this past Sunday I spoke about my time in England and Wales. I said that I feel very awkward sharing about a mission that was, in the end, a lot of fun. It doesn't seem very "missionary" at all!

I went to England and Wales to present my seminar, "The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ." Both presentations went better than I was hoping for – and I was hoping for a lot! All glory to the Lord Jesus who makes such things possible.

1 Corinthians 15:57:
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first class was held on March 5 and 6 in Harrow, England, at the Tudor Lodge Hotel. This was my first presentation in Harrow since 2006 (although I taught in Oxfordshire in 2007, and in Avon Terrell in 2008), and my first presentation of “The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ” since the completion of my book. In 2004, I taught an early version of this class that I called "The Fundamentals of our Faith." To be honest, it wasn't a very good presentation. I was familiar with the biblical concepts but they had not yet resonated in my heart. As a result the presentation lacked any real substance.

Seven years later, I believe that "The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ" is a complete work and perhaps the signature piece of my teaching ministry. The reason is self-evident: this is a presentation on the foundational truths of the Christian faith. Christian education must begin with a strong foundation upon which all subsequent teachings can be added. Otherwise, we end up with a cornucopia of teachings that have no apparent relationship to each other. The Word of God is built in our lives “precept upon precept, line upon line” (Isa. 28:10).

The class in Harrow was organized by Rev. Jerome Lucas, chairman of WTWH-UK. There were 32 participants coming in from England, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Holland and Wales. In WTWH events, the Lord does most of the work. He makes the plans and calls out those he would have attend. All that he requires are willing servants to follow his lead. Jerome is such a servant of the Lord, and in many ways, the success of this seminar was guaranteed before my plane ever touched down.

Of course, I had my work to do as well. But the most important work I do is not when I'm speaking to a congregation. It is the work of preparation I do at my desk at home. That is why this verse means so much to me:

Ezra 7:10:
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

If preparation was key to the success of a man of God like Ezra, how much more necessary is it required in a man like me? I know that there are people who take the following words of Jesus as a mandate for a "lively" presentation of the scriptures:

Mark 13:11:
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

But having suffered through too many disjointed and confusing presentations from people who hold that position, I am convinced that these words are best kept in their context – when a Christian is persecuted for his faith. Otherwise, premeditation is a good thing.

1 Timothy 4:15-16:
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

The pulpit is no place to craft a sermon. As my old friend Rev. Ned Adams, a minister in the Methodist Church, once told me, the same Lord who works in you "both to will and do of his good pleasure" during your Sunday presentation will also work in you on Thursday as you prepare.

The seminar ended Sunday morning. Through Jerome I was invited to speak Sunday night at a English and Portuguese-speaking church, the Igreja Batista do Povo, located in a part of London very close to where Jerome grew up. My hosts were a young married couple, Daniello and Ester, who serve as assistants to the pastor. They are both very involved with the music ministry and worked with Jerome in the song service during our seminar. Ester also provided the interpretation for my message. The congregation was very welcoming to me. The pastor himself was on vacation in Brazil but through the wonders of the internet, the entire service was streamed to him. Whether this was a one-time opportunity for me or a door to future ministry remains to be seen, but such matters are safely in the Lord’s hands.

On Tuesday I took a train to Swansea, Wales, a trip that takes about four hours. With lovely scenery all the way, I was one happy passenger. Rev. Carl Roberts met me at the station and the second part of my mission began.

Carl does not pastor a church in Pontardulais, so inviting me to teach my seminar in Wales was quite a step of faith for him. The main focus of Carl’s ministry has been in association with the Swansea Prison Fellowship. I was very glad to go with Carl to their weekly meeting. It so happened that the Regions Manager of the fellowship, Mr. Terry Brown, was in town to speak to the volunteers of certain political changes within the prison system that threatened to curtail their work. I was very moved by Mr. Brown's passion for his work. He must exercise great wisdom to keep this ministry vibrant. Western society would eradicate the name of Jesus for the sake of political correctness. I was very honored to be invited to pray for Mr. Brown at the end of the meeting. Thanks also to Dave Hale, the local Group Leader. May God continue to bless you and your work.

Another acquaintance of Carl, a man named Paul Johnson, has a radio program on Radio Tircoed. (You can tune into this station via the internet here). One of the features of Paul’s program is the "Thought of the Day," a six-minute presentation of the gospel. Through Carl I was invited to give that presentation. We used the opportunity to invite people to the upcoming seminar. (I was glad to leave that portion to Carl since I am still not sure how to pronounce "Pontardulais"!) Paul was very gracious and kind. He is a devout Christian and I received his blessing to print his story in the next V&B about his experience and challenges growing up as a blind person.

When our seminar began on Friday night, not one of the local people who had told Carl that they would attend was present. But Rudi Illavský had flown in from Austria, and with the Roberts family present, my cup of joy was full. Shortly after we resigned ourselves that it would be a rather intimate time of fellowship, four people and then a fifth joined the class. I think we all had a great time. I am very grateful to Mike and Rhian who led the song service. To hear Rhian's sing the Welsh hymn, "Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean" in the original tongue was a great pleasure indeed.

By Saturday night the seminar was over. Rudi and I joined the Roberts family at a local Indian restaurant to celebrate Tim Robert's 15th birthday. I had a great time with the Roberts boys. Of course, they had all grown a great deal since the last time I saw them was at my children's class in Devon in 2004.

Finally it was time to leave Wales. Rudi had rented a car and together we made our way back towards London. Of course we had a great time along the way. Rudi is like a brother to me and I thank God we didn't drive off the road we were laughing so hard at times. But we also had time to talk about things of God and of the ministry. We visited Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire, Wales, and stopped at the home of my dear friend, Mr. John Mizen, in Lydney, England. His son Richard led us on a tour of the local sites and afterwards we gathered at John’s house for a delicious meal. The next morning, Rudi and I said our farewells at the airport, me off to my family in Baton Rouge, and him to rendezvous with his wife Olesya where she was performing in Sweden.

Just a few more days and I am off to Tanzania, again traveling with Evan Pyle. My time in England and Wales will be, as they say, "a hard act to follow." Profound thanks to Jerome and Carl and to all the others who labored behind the scenes in contribution to these events.

Hebrews 6:10-11:
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

Amen! I hope you enjoy the photos from England and Wales.

In the service of His Majesty, the King of kings,
Tim

 

 

 


 

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