Reflecting on the year past I’ve been struck by the impact a couple of experiences had on me.
1. Middleburg Baptist Church / Baptisten Gemeente de Fontein te Middelburg website. It’s not often I get to be an anonymous visitor to another church., but spending our summer holiday in the Netherlands provided the opportunity to visit a Baptist Church in the Netherlands for the first time. It had a familiar feel and top marks to the visiting preacher (Ds. A. de Vries) from Groningham (website) whose sermon on John 13 was intelligible to me even though I speak no dutch. Given the opportunity I’d love to visit some more Netherlands Baptist Churches (and if there was a way of serving them I’d be up for it).
2. Leading part of an Awayday for Wakefield Baptist Church was another first for me: a church inviting me to spend a day giving input into their lives. I’m not sure I did it all that well, though they were gracious about it; certainly I would do some things differently next time. What I took away from it was how local churches can be very different in character and yet both engaged in kingdom activity. I also liked the way they offered a practical alternative to listening to me- building a boat!
3. Iquitos and teaching at the Nauta Training Centre. In November I returned to Iquitos to teach another week at the newly established training centre. This time Lori (my wife) came as well. In many ways flying someone (who speaks almost no Spanish) to the Amazon jungle to teach pastors makes little sense but it seems to work. More importantly it means that we are responding to current needs as well as building a longer term strategy which will see others take the work forward.
Three years ago I would have said my calling is to be a UK Baptist church pastor. So I am more than a little surprised to find myself doing things outside the local church. My natural desire is to want to do something, fix something, provide something. But the important thing in God's economy isn't what I can (or can't do) it is partnership in the gospel; sharing what I have and who I am with others and learning from who they are and receiving from what they have. Maybe that’s a lesson for ministry and the year ahead which is worth pondering.