All posts by Matt

Hospitality and Hospital

Our once-a-year opportunity to take the Gospel of Jesus to the patients and staff of the District General Hospital, Eastbourne, came around on Sunday 12th July this year. In his welcome, Chaplain Geoffrey Cook reminded us that as well as those present in the Chapel, others would be listening on the hospital radio.

Hospital Service“Come Holy Spirit and meet the needs of each one listening tonight,”
prayed Pastor Jim Beveridge before the broadcast began, then we launched into

Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here…the glory of the Lord is shining all around…the power of the Lord is moving in this place, followed, very appropriately for many in that place by, “Father, I place into Your hands the things I cannot do…the things that I’ve been through…the things that trouble me…”with its repetition, “For I know I always can trust You” Amazing Grace followed, the third verse especially poignant:

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

At that point Pastor Jim suggested a pause for each of us to wait on the Lord, before Jim McDonnell read Psalm 121, which begins:
I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
“I lift my eyes to the hills, commented Pastor Jim. “What better place on such a lovely Summer day as this to find the Creator, the One who touched us in our mother’s womb to make each one of us unique, as our distinctive fingerprints testify.”

We sang Come to my heart, O Thou wonderful love, Come and abide,
and How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear, it soothes his sorrow,heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.

Hospital ServiceThen the Message, the Hospitality of the Risen Jesus, set out in the Gospel of John chapter 21, beginning at verse 7. Not knowing what to do after the death of Jesus, the disciples have gone back to doing what they did best – fishing, but had caught nothing. A mystery figure on the shore calls “Friends, have you caught anything ? Throw the net on the right side and you will find some.” They make a large catch.

Peter recognises that this is the Risen Jesus and jumps into the water – impatient to be with Him. Jesus is already preparing a meal of fish and bread on the beach for the disciples. For us this might be the equivalent of fish and chips or even a barbecue. A shared meal produces a warm, human reaction; we feel valued and welcomed.

Jesus then moves to Hospital mode – Peter needs healing after his three denials of Christ; three loads of guilt; three bad memories. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me ?” and each time he replies “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus affirms each reply with the command, “Feed My lambs,” or “Feed My Sheep.” Three denials needed three hospital visits.

“For those in hospital today, be hospitable towards those who are tending you,” recommended Pastor Jim. “Then your hospitable actions will affirm them in their vocations, and energise their efforts for you. What better than to be hospitable in hospital; this is what Jesus did – who needs a better example ?”

Ralph played the piano as Pastor Jim led us in a prayer, calling down a blessing on doctors, nurses, dispensers, administrators, cleaners, workers in the laboratory and finance, finishing with “and all you patients.” We took up the music and sang “Jesus, Jesus, Your Name is like honey on my lips, Your Spirit like water to my soul, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet; Jesus, I love You, I love You.”

By now our half-hour must have finished, but we sang on: There is a Redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son, and “ What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! Then it was time to push the wheelchairs back to the wards. Let us remember to support our local hospitals in prayer regularly, and not wait for another year to pass


June Squeeze

Shadows on a wall

There was a lot of laughter coming from one corner of the Village Hall at the Squeeze Breakfast Club on 6th June. Volunteers were being silhouetted by a projector lamp onto white paper. Each victim then cut round his or her shadow, mounted it on black paper, and wrote five clues to their identity. Silhouettes and clues were then collected for future use, no doubt with more peals of laughter. Banner-making continued from the June Club meeting, with a couple of Mums enjoying a good chat as they stitched. But the handicraft which attracted the most attention was decorating large shells and pebbles.

Melting your heart of stone

Pastor Jim Beveridge seized on the pebbles as an illustration for his three-pronged Topical Talk. First he took a piece of bread in one hand and a rough stone in the other, and reminded us of the Devil tempting Jesus in the wilderness, and Our Lord’s reply that man does not live by bread/food alone “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Luke ch4,v4), underlining the immense love God has for each one of us as individuals.
But before we accept God’s gift of His love, we are like rough stones. If we try to skim a rough stone across the sea, as soon as the uneven surface strikes the water, it will sink; just as we do when we struggle against the trials of life in our own strength, said Jim. But God the Father, who loves us just as we are, will pour the protection of His smoothing love over us when we let Him into our lives. Then we shall be more able to skim across life’s problems, rather then sink under them, and overflow with blessing to others. Better still, God “will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel ch36 v26). Realising that a heart of flesh might frighten the children, Pastor Jim demonstrated this softening by producing a bag of marshmallows, and later handed them round.
When Susan Boyle presented herself before the judges of “Britain’s
Got Talent she did not look like a star. But when she sang “I dreamed a dream…” from the heart, she melted hearts. God wants us to share His dream for us, said Pastor Jim as he led us in a prayer, asking for forgiveness, and for Jesus to come into the heart of each life.

Questions with no answer

David’s contribution included a collection of unanswerable questions:

  • Why does the sun lighten our hair but darken our skin?
  • Why can’t women put on mascara with their mouths closed?
  • Why do you never see the headline “Psychic wins lottery.”?
  • Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?
  • Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavour, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
  • Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Squeeze Breakfast Club is held in the Village Hall on the first Sunday in each month from 10am. until 12.00. All ages are welcome, whole families from grand- parents to babes in arms, and those who are on their own. Breakfast is provided from 10am. The next dates are: July 5th, August.2nd and September 6th. The morning closes at 12 noon.

May Squeeze – The Invisible Barrier

It’s Spring, and time to sort out all the items stored over winter in the greenhouse. Throw this, scrub that, wait – five robin chicks in a moss-lined flowerpot. Stand back and let the parents get on with it. The babies get bigger, their mouths get wider, and soon it is time to leave the nest. Mum and Dad get through the break in the glass, with four of the young ones. But the biggest cannot make it and in the struggle falls, wedged between bits and pieces with its open mouth against the glass.

Seeing Mother trying to feed it through the glass, Free Church Pastor Jim Beveridge, whose greenhouse it is, throws a towel over the trapped chick and carries it to the middle of the lawn where frantic Mother quickly catches up on missed feeds and, more importantly, takes it to a similarly coloured log where it blends in nicely.

There are many people with an invisible barrier between their needs and the provision of those needs, said Pastor Jim at the Squeeze Breakfast Club on 3rd May But Jesus broke all barriers between us and God through His sinless life, His undeserved death, and his miraculous rising to life again. Ask Jesus to smash your wall that prevents you reaching out to God, Pastor Jim advised. To emphasise this, he took a hammer and noisily smashed a pane of glass, (safely wrapped in a plastic bag).

David’s round-up of the strange things that people do, included the man who ran out of petrol on a cold night and lit a fire inside the car. He later told firemen that he put the fire out when the smoke made him dizzy!

It must have been the sight of all those colourful scraps of fabric that drew the Mums to the banner-making table, where they cut and snippd, sewed and glued to make a collage representing the declaration of Jesus “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verse 6). This is an ongoing project, certainly for next month’s Squeeze.. The less ambitious were delighted with the ease of producing patterns with stencils, or decorating ready-made biscuits and making lemon-flavoured sweets.

More than three-quarters of the world’s hungry live in rural Africa, according to the UK Food Group. A picture presentation on their behalf during the Breakfast Club focused on two examples; smallholders in Ghana, growing and processing tomatoes, and small milk producers in Zambia, who sell their produce locally. Their livelihoods are under threat from the increase in Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, opening 80% of their markets to subsidised imports. Question your Euro MP’s attitude when he or she calls for your vote, advises Laurence.

Herstmonceux Free Church 200th Anniversary

We are looking for old photographs, postcards and your memories of the chapel in the past. Perhaps you attended the Sunday School, were christened or baptised, married or your family buried in the grave yard.

For the 200th Anniversary we are producing a souvenir book with the history of the chapel, old photographs and your reminiscences. (All the pictures, photographs and postcards will be copied and returned to the owner.)

On Wednesday the 29th of April at 7:30pm we are holding a meeting at Rose Cottage (opposite the chapel) to discuss the anniversary year and would welcome suggestions for that event in 2011.

Judith Kinnison Bourke

Five Weeks With The Mara People (Part 3)

By Nigel Lindsay

I know I said there would be a part one and two and did not mention part three, but there is a bit more to tell. I was honoured to be treated to some traditional Mara dancing, by a local group that carried on this tradition, Lachhura gave a running commentary of a dance that they would do when they came back from head hunting, other tribes. They now call themselves heart hunters for Jesus rather than head hunters from the past when they worshiped trees and objects. They showed a dance for young men when they were too embarrassed to ask out the girl of their dreams and even got me to take part in it, (I was not too sure if this was hinting at their desire to got me matched up with someone).I took part in the stick dancing dance and was looking forward to the fly dance, but was not asked. (All of these I can show on DVD)I do look a bit out of places towering above my Mara fellow dancers and was pleased as you would be not to be dresses in their traditional costume

Water was an issue in all the places I stayed, even in the city sometimes they would have no running water and many of the poorer families would have to go to a local stand pipe all the time. Some would make a business of going round selling water delivered to the door to save people getting it themselves. In Bymari village they had to go down a long way to the river to get water and had some amazingly inventive ways of getting rainwater into a tank, with gutters leading to bamboo trunks reaching across the road in to a tank, good there were o high vehicles to knock them out of place. In Srkohur (this is not spelt right sorry) they had piped water but when the local government did some work on the roads about a year ago they cut the water supply and now they have to travel by truck to pick quantities for washing, toilet flushing and cleaning and have to walk up and down a hill 2- 3 time a day to get drinking water. I went twice to get the cleaning water and once to get drinking water with the woman and children and it was a long way. The concern is that in late January the water source was beginning to dry up and with the weather getting hotter for this time of year, will the water last out till the rains come again between June and October?

Food was good and Lachhua was good to me with a lot of choice at each meal so I did not feel I had to eat some things I would not normally. They tend to eat every part of the animal and see the bits we tend not to eat as special reserved for special guest like me. Two meals a day one about 9.30- 10am and then again about 5-6pm and always includes rice even when they have fried potatoes. They called it curry, but not curry as I know it and was quite bland mostly, but maybe that was to keep me well. Many times they served the boiled vegetable water with it. I had bananas, oranges, pomali (a big grapefruit thing) and many vegetable. I kept well until 20th January when I moved between diarrhoea and constipation and think it rice twice a day for 4 weeks did not help. I used bottled water for drinking, was careful not to eat washed cold foods and had what seemed like thousands of cups of tea, small cups, with a lot of sugar. Sometimes I got black sugarless tea, which was felt to be strange and for poor people who could not afford Milk and sugar.

If any group would like to support any of the youth programme or projects in Maraland do speak to me, I said I would pass on their requests, but promised nothing. Development of music for the churches is important to them and they have a number of ongoing projects which they need to prioritise before deciding how to go ahead.

I was disappointed I did not get to stay the whole time at the youth Conference or do any training, but was privileged to preach at so many services and have chance for informal conversations with many about different ways of doing things. Staying in Aizawl for two nights on our way back was good, but I was not permitted to go to church as it would be Presbyterian or at one stage could have been a combined Congregational Church and Evangelical Church of Maraland? I moved on to stay with a friend I had shared a room with who is not a minister in the Church of North India in Nagpur right in the centre of India. He we good to me and took me to see lots including a Buddhist temple and a Hindu temple. He was concerned as a political party was in town who were opposed to Christians and where campaigning for the next national elections. There has been a lot of persecution of Christians in Orissa and a peace organisation suggested it was because of the increase in status for the lowest cast as they become Christian and now numbers are becoming a threat.

I had the chance to reach at the Hospital Chapel once and lead a bible study with a youth group at the church. The weather here was a lot hotter and the curries were too. Sunil has connections with a hospital which is trying to provide extra support to those marginalised in society and they try to provide an after care service and some community clinics. At the back of where he stays there is a project working with street children and those in trouble by providing a work training programme and getting them set up on completion. They have a night shelter and do lots of work with those who pick litter from the streets and use what they can find , helping them with more hygienic ways of benefiting from this project. They are keen to have a social impact on their community and had a large fund raising event whilst I was there. (I have more details if you would like to know.)

If would like me to come and tell your group about me experience let me know. I can make it as interactive as you would like and tailor it for your needs. I do have a few items to show. I can also talk about my time in Nigeria and Fiji. Thanks again for all your prayers as I complete my final term at college on 4th July 2009