Bedworth is a market town in Warwickshire, and Roger Morgan and a team from the Mathetes Trust have just returned home from a ten day local mission hosted by the Baptist Church there. Pastor Mark Turner had been working with Roger for months to prepare for the mission, and a team of ten visitors joined with members of the church to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of the town. Over 50 of the 80 strong congregation were actively involved, and great camaraderie between the teams and the church developed, with teenagers encouraged and adults seeing their inner fire fanned into flame.
What did we do?
The mission opened on the first Sunday, with Roger preaching on the Holy Spirit; people were able to come forward to receive the filling of the Spirit, and this was offered throughout the week. Every day team members set out to visit people door to door, and a questionnaire was used to open up faith-ful conversations. Church members opened up their homes to their friends, and there was a flow of invitation events of different kinds, with Roger tackling the topic of suffering and stress, Richard Scott focussing on hard times, Andrew Evans on miracles and Terry Street on change. Matt Sheffield joined us for a Messy Church event on the theme of David and Goliath, and it all involved tea, stories, curry, dance, a quiz and prayer for the local football club (which was answered!).
What did God do?
Do you believe in miracles? GP Richard Scott reports:
“Amongst the many healings were those in team and other church members. The most spectacular took place in Finlay. On benefits, he welcomed Andrew and Sheena at his door, prayed a prayer of commitment and after receiving the Holy Spirit told his story. A driver, he’d been crushed at work when a large steel ring held by a crane hit him, injuring his shoulders, knees and left femur. His main problem was that his 3 femoral fractures had resulted in his right leg shortening by 2 inches. Prayer led to his shoulders and knees moving normally, pain-free. Then his right leg fracture calluses disappeared as his leg telescopically lengthened by 1½ inches! The next day, gutted that I’d missed this sign, I returned with Andrew to pray for the last half inch. The leg grew in front of my eyes. Finlay then easily demonstrated symmetrical non-limping, walking without needing his specially raised shoe. Not bad! He remained on Cloud Nine, giving his testimony in church on Sunday and asking if anyone needed a shoe! Filled with the Spirit and well-encouraged, we began to pray for more miracles, with God answering daily.”
Well that was unusual; but what about miracles in people’s hearts? The team saw those too. During the week twenty seven people prayed a prayer of commitment to Jesus for the very first time, including seven residents of a single street, as well as friends and family of church members. Twenty seven new people for a church of 80 is quite a lot!
And what about blessings for the faithful? Those church members who had taken the risk of reaching out to others were themselves touched by God. Rachel Cleaton writes:
“The mission for me has been life changing. I felt a little anxious leading up to the mission week, but I also felt full of anticipation as I knew something very special was happening in Bedworth. I found the training sessions very interesting and supportive in developing my confidence in sharing the gospel in a simple way. The mission gave me my first experience of door to door evangelism. Daunting at first but surprising that we were well received by the majority, who quickly shared very deep personal information. This demonstrated to me the vast numbers who need Jesus in their lives. We met one lady who we invited to come to the ladies’ evening; she came and committed her life to Jesus that night. I felt overwhelmed at the thought that God had used me to speak to this lady!! This is the life changing part: God has shown me through the mission week that if I decide to ignore all my doubts and worries and just trust in him he can make the impossible happen.”
And Denise Morrison confesses:
“In January this year I was frantically wondering how to get out of being actively involved in this Mission! The Holy Spirit thought otherwise and led me to volunteer in almost every area. Filling me with excitement and anticipation, I was not disappointed – from the number of people who have prayed for Jesus to come into their life, to Finley who God has totally healed from a physical disability. I thank God that we have gone out in faith and for that he has rewarded us.”
What happens next?
Those who decided to commit their lives to Jesus have been invited to go deeper by joining a small group to tackle our Beyond Ourselves course, and church members have committed themselves to visiting and caring for them as they take their first steps in faith. People are expressing their determination to keep going, saying things like: “the door knocking has enabled me to talk to people in the town, where before I would just smile”; “I was blown away by the number of people who wanted to pray, and by the openness in the community”; “we were so complacent before the mission but are now stirred up into action”; “I felt an instant connection to the members of the team as soon as I met them”; “the Holy Spirit felt ever present as many people in the community accepted Jesus into their life for the first time”; “you are leaving a legacy not a memory in Bedworth.” And finally, “things will never be the same again.”
The big picture
Two reports have been published recently which taken together give an intriguing snapshot into the spiritual life of our country. In Bedworth we saw miracles in the spiritual, emotional and physical lives of ordinary people. Often we don’t expect our friends and neighbours to be open to this kind of thing; and yet just a few weeks ago the BBC reported not only that 62% of UK adults do believe that miracles can happen, but that 43% say they’ve actually prayed for one! At the same time the Church Times reveals that 62% of churches now have no children (and presumably therefore parents of children) attending their services. There’s an obvious mismatch here – are we perhaps missing something?
At the Mathetes Trust we are more and more convinced that real change is possible in the most ordinary of places, and we are committed to supporting local churches like Bedworth as they seek to reach out to others. We are already engaged in long term planning with the churches of Thanet in Kent for a mission there, to be led by Richard Scott, and we hope to work with others in the coming months.
If you would like to find out more about a Mathetes Trust mission please do get in touch.
Finally, we want to thank the team of people who volunteered to pray for the mission in Bedworth. We know that our calling as Christians is to join in with what God is doing, and that this is made possible only when we are in active communication with him. It meant a lot to know that people were praying even as we were working.
Posted by Alison Morgan