Dear Friends,

Someone sent me the ‘Evangelicals Now’ newspaper from England – it comes monthly (I think) and is often quite depressing with all its bad news and sometimes woolly thinking. But the May 2018 paper has some uplifting moments and I thought I’d pass on some of them to you.

  1. The French policeman (Arnaud Beltrame) who swapped places on March 23 with a hostage (Julie) – being held by a terrorist in a supermarket in Carcassone – had become a Christian eleven years before. Beltrame wanted Julie (with a husband and a little girl) to go free – despite knowing that the Islamic State gunman would kill him in his police uniform. The chaplain of the Gendarme National said that Beltrame “did not hide his faith. In fact he radiated it …to believe is not only to adhere to a doctrine …it is to love God and your neighbour”.
  2. The Hoole Baptist Church started a monthly toddler group of Dads called “Who let the Dads out?” in 2003. Since then it has spread to over 250 churches with 8000 men involved. Its mission is “to men” to build strong family units and to pass on their Christian faith.
  3. A Church of England clergyman who insisted on entering into a same-sex marriage has had his licence revoked. He took his case to the Court of Appeal claiming discrimination but the tribunal rejected his legal arguments saying “if you belong to an institution with known and lawful rules those rules should be applied to you”. The Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham welcomed the court’s ruling.
  4. In June (in Jerusalem) is the GAFCON (Global Anglican Fellowship Conference) meeting. Many Anglican leaders – especially from the African nations – have paid a great price to stick with biblical standards. Many of them have lost funding from American donors as a result – but they prefer to be faithful than financial. So organisers hope GAFCON will remain “true to its biblical roots” and no longer have to accommodate the ever-increasing compromises with secular culture”.
  5. Up to 90,000 people took to the streets in Dublin to urge the country to vote “no” in the May 25 referendum on abortion. At the moment, law requires “to defend and vindicate the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother” – this referendum is to decide whether to change the law.
     Wheaton College has won the right to not provide health insurance which covers abortion-inducing drugs. A district judge ruled that Wheaton’s rights would be violated and the judge permanently banned the government from forcing them to do so (!)
  6. A church leader from Canada was arrested in London for saying that people are “searching for love in the wrong places…and it is only through a right relationship with Christ that this deep need can be fulfilled”. This was taken to be homophobic, he was held in custody for 20 hours then released with “officials admitting mistakes had been made”.
  7. Almost 13,000 pastors and church leaders gathered in April in Kentucky for the “Together for the Gospel” conference. People came from over 50 counties and the theme for the conference was “Distinct from the World”.

Yours in glad fellowship

PS I do want to say – in the passing of my mother in law, Gloria Short at the age of 92 – that she was a beautiful Christian lady. A missionary wife, then pastor’s wife, she was always warm and gracious with wonderful humour and wit. She sang with a beautiful voice, took a keen interest in creation (painting and photography) as well as salvation (mission and continued witness to Christ). It was always a pleasure to see her – she was never moody or difficult – and her Christian example was very powerful. As a young Christian when I wanted to think about what was “lovely, gracious” (Phil 4) I used to think about her!