Elizabeth and I have just returned from three great weeks ministry in Malaysia. We were invited by OMF to speak at the Malaysian 150th celebration conference which was very well attended. Before the conference we flew across to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah to speak at the large SIB church which is led by our friend (and ex-All Nations) Dr. Philip Lyn. I was asked to speak twice on the Sunday; once with Elizabeth on lessons from our lives and once on the church and mission needs of Britain. This large church is feeling God’s call to get involved in mission in Britain as they have become aware of the struggles of the British church in our pluralist and often anti-Christian society. I also had the privilege of teaching and preaching in a couple of churches in Kuala Lumpur, speaking on John’s Gospel in three sessions at one Evangelical Free Church.
In Malaysia it was wonderful to enjoy warm and generous hospitality in various homes, meet up again with many wonderful old friends, revel in a few days holiday in the cool of the Cameron Highlands with lovely jungle walks, greedily enjoying the wonderful Malaysian Chinese food. It was very good to hear of the different ministries our friends are involved in and to catch up on the overall situations of Malaysia – sadly aggressive Islamization, open bribery to become a Muslim, rampant corruption, ethnic divisions and discrimination, a significant brain drain of Chinese and Indians emigrating particularly to Australia. And yet it has to be said that for many of our Christian friends life is extremely pleasant in Malaysia although very busy and hard-working. And the Chinese and Indian churches flourish with brilliant church leaders – for example, the new Archbishop planted some 70 new churches when he was a vicar before he became a bishop. How many British bishops have such a ministry record?! We gathered also that some Muslims are becoming disillusioned with Islam and its consequences in the life of the nation. As a result it seems that more are coming to faith in the good news of Jesus the Messiah., but this is still very small numbers and highly dangerous as it is totally illegal in a Muslim state with no religious freedom for Muslims to change their religion.
Monthly Archives: December 2015
On our recent visit to Malaysia we were surprised and delighted to hear that a sultan’s wife has issued an appeal for everyone (including Muslims) to share in each other’s religious festivals. In a context of the Malaysian authorities’ determined Islamization policies this has amazed and encouraged Christians. It reminds us to pray that more moderate Islam may somehow prevail over the traditional more violent Qur’anic teaching and that the glorious truths of Christmas may change lives, bringing many in Britain and all over the world to a living faith in the crucified and risen Jesus.
Being now in our 80s, we no longer take good health for granted. Several of our contemporary friends have died or are disabled or suffering from dementia. Thus far God has spared us such trials and we still flourish and are enjoying the great privilege of continued wide ministry both in Britain and overseas. This year we look back on several significant overseas trips. In April we much enjoyed speaking in Switzerland in various Chrischona churches at the invitation of our good friends Armin and Ruth Keller. It was good not only to do some teaching ourselves (particularly related to mission among Muslims), but also to see how their churches are growing under their ministry.
In May I had the joy of speaking at a Jewish mission conference in Hamburg, the city where many of my relatives lived. It was good to be shown round the city by a Jewish professor and to hear how the Goldschmidts were so well known in Hamburg. I learned that one relative became a committed Christian in Theresienstadt concentration camp and then began a messianic fellowship in the camp which at one time attracted some 800 camp prisoners!
It is for me always a special privilege to be invited to preach and teach in German.
August found me back in Israel. I had not been for several years, so it was wonderful to be there again. This was my final Jews for Jesus Board meeting, although I shall continue to have a close relationship with the mission. I shall miss the stimulus and fellowship of these gatherings, as I have been on the Board ever since we first invited Jews for Jesus to start work in Britain. They then widened the ministry to include other European countries. Their new centre in Tel Aviv has an interesting approach through art exhibitions as well as in more usual ways with literature, street witness, personal visits and group Bible studies. On the Sunday I preached again at Christ Church, Jerusalem which is the oldest Protestant church in Israel. It was encouraging to renew friendship with the vicar, David Pileggi, and to see the church packed to the gunnels. Then the whole Jews for Jesus Board joined a larger messianic conference where it was good to meet up with many old friends as well as making many new contacts.
In September Elizabeth and I had our usual annual visit to Norway, teaching in a theological seminary, a Bible School and in the Free Lutheran churches around Porsgrunn. It is always a special delight to be back with our good friends Per and Nora Gimse and her parents. Nora pastors the church in Porsgrunn. We so enjoy being with them and their three sons who are very special to us.
October brought me to China together with Nora Gimse and her father who also translated for me. It is such a privilege to teach at the theological school in Xian and the Bible School in Tian-Shui, Kansu. It is always a joy too to be with the leaders of the central Registered Church in Lanzhou with its congregation of 4,000 adults at weekends, 68 satellite churches (150-450 on Sundays) and at least a hundred Preaching Stations which are groups of less than 150 on Sundays. One smiles as an Englishman at the thought that less than 150 on Sundays means one is not a proper church!
Now we are just back from three weeks in Malaysia. Again it was a real delight and privilege to meet up with so many lovely old friends, speak and preach again in churches we have known for many years and share in the OMF celebratory conference for their 150th anniversary. It is such a lovely country with a lovely life-style – and superb Chinese food! But it is sad to see the determined Islamization policies, open bribery to become a Muslim, rampant corruption even at the highest levels of government, racial divisions and discrimination.
For further reports on our overseas trips, do look us up on our website – I have written a blog on each visit.
Of course our speaking ministry is not just overseas. It has also been good to lead mission weekends in various churches of different denominations and networks. In January I was invited to Coventry to preach at the farewell weekend of a former All Nations couple now in their 50s who have moved to a Muslim context for the last ten years before retirement. In February Chadderton Parish church held an international weekend. Their assistant vicar is a former All Nations friend. 70% of the parish is Muslim with four mosques. They are having a significant ministry among the Muslims there. In May I ventured north to Aberdeen to do a weekend in Gilcomston church which has separated from the Church of Scotland and now flourishes as an independent church. Aberdeen is challenging with its large international student population and its many people from all over the world in the oil industry.
We later had an exciting weekend in the Salt and Light church in Derby which has a special emphasis on reaching Muslims with the good news of Jesus. When I was there about four years ago, they had a largely Iranian group of some fifty Muslims and ex-Muslims. This has now grown to about 95 with 74 of them already baptised believers! It was exciting to see not only Iranians, but also Afghans and a small group of Kurds. Work among Muslims around the world is growing – praise the Lord!
Christ Church, Barnet stands out in our diaries with a great weekend in November and I shall be preaching there too for their Carol Service which is exciting. The vicar, Nigel and Judy Taylor, are good friends and it is a joy to associate with them and their warm-hearted church which has a good-sized congregation and is growing further.
This year has also seen us teaching at a Goldhill Leaders day on Islam, leading a training weekend for Friends International in Manchester, teaching at Amnos church planting school, expounding Matthew for a Lent series in Broxbourne parish church, a wonderful inter-village weekend called Word on the Wash with our excellent friends John and Kathleen Wallis, and other speaking engagements.
At present our diary is quite light for this coming year. Is God saying that at our advanced age we should be doing less or will it fill up with more engagements (as it has done in previous years)? Do pray with us about this.
We continue to appreciate very much our contacts with All Nations Christian College. This year we have again taught one morning each term with their excellent 10-week En Route course, the July Refresher Course and the December Islamics Course. All Nations has just announced the appointment of a new Principal, Andy and Emma Dipper. We trust they will give a dynamic lead. We feel strongly that the college’s cross-cultural biblical training is very much needed for ministry in Britain these days as well as for mission overseas.
We appreciate increasingly the enormous privilege of having a wonderful loving family. Margaret/Maggie and Ruth are quite well known in Christian circles and have very significant ministries. Andrew has changed jobs and is a model family man with his three lovely girls. The seven grandchildren also progress well and are a joy to us.
Elizabeth continues to have the opportunity of speaking in various secular local women’s groups about her childhood in China or “newly married in Indonesia”. She is also quite busy in our little village church here in Stanstead Abbotts.
In all the above we feel deeply grateful to the Lord for his amazing grace and goodness to us. Do join us in thanking and praising him!
With our loving greetings for Christmas and the coming year,
Martin and Elizabeth