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September 2007

Dear Friends,

I just love it when I see you bringing your friends to Sandyford. One of my joys is to notice which of you do it. Quite often that is a nice surprise.

Why do it? Even on the most straightforward level we all recommend things we are enthusiastic about. My sister-in-law gets chapped hands; Liz and I enthused about an ointment we have found brilliant for that and she soon phoned saying it was the best stuff she had found for the problem. Of course she tried our tip: there’s nothing like a satisfied customer when it comes to advocating a thing. So I suppose the first challenge is to ask ourselves, am I a satisfied customer of the Gospel?

Rico Tice of All Souls church in London has another powerful motive for recommending the faith. It’s fascinating to hear how he came by his personal ‘mission statement’, as he calls it: his goal in life.

He was playing tennis at fifteen with an older Christian friend. In a break between games the other person said, ‘can I show you a bit of the Bible?’ - ‘yes, sure’. He read Psalm 103.13-17: ‘as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord ... man’s days are like grass, soon withers, but the Lord’s love is from everlasting to everlasting with those who fear him.’

Then he asked Rico two questions:

  • what does this passage say about man?
  • what does it say about God?

and they explored that for just a few light minutes: the brevity of life, the obvious wisdom of serving God.

So easy! Any of us could do that with a neighbour or colleague.

It led to Rico’s conversion; he’s now the evangelist at All Souls and here is his mission statement:

People without Christ go to hell.

Think of the privilege of offering a Saviour, given that fact.

I have just suggested at least two motives for sharing our faith. Here is a third: godliness. All of us want to be godly people. What is God like in this regard? He is so concerned about the lost that he sent his son to die for us. You can’t be godly and not be concerned for the lost.

I am sure you can think of plenty of other motives: obedience to our Lord’s command; desire for God’s honour; I could continue but I’d like to draw some conclusions from what I have written.

Activity this vital has to have a place in our congregational and personal calendars. It’s impossible to become good at something without spending time on it; and it’s quite impossible then to achieve anything without giving substantial time to actually doing what we’re now good at. Indeed you cannot become good at a thing without practising it.

Clearly it also needs a financial commitment. We are fortunate to have officebearers who are willing to commit resources to making disciples.

But think back to the way in which Rico Tice was brought up short to consider the Faith. I wrote ‘So easy!’ above; but in fact that young friend of his showed significant knowledge and skill. He knew Scripture and he chose a most relevant passage that meant a lot to him; could we? He was ready with excellently designed questions for bringing out the force of his chosen passage; could we be? He found

an acceptable time, place and manner for raising the subject; could we? Do we? He explored the details engagingly (‘think how a father has compassion on his son; he’d do anything to protect him ... it’s saying God is like that towards us, that’s rather moving ...’); how well could you and I do such?

Such considerations led me to run the course ‘Lost for words:’ so we could help one another not be lost for words, obviously. It’s so important! It’s the difference between doing church work and doing the church’s work.

I’m not quite sure why the course flopped fairly considerably, although as those of you who came know, it helped Liz and me. But, Kirk Session willing, we are going to engage in another attempt to equip ourselves in this. It is an exciting thought that we will help one another play a part, under God, in affecting people’s destinies. Assuming the Session decides on the best way of running it, will you follow their lead?

People without Christ go to hell. The privilege of being wiser and more able at offering a Saviour.

Yours sincerely,

C Peter White

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