From the pastor’s pen: HEALING THE LAND
Lately, in our weekly intercession for our beloved town on Sunday nights, God began to speak prophetically to us calling our attention to the state of our waters and revealing to us how the resurrection of our town will be tied to their release and overflow of our rivers.
I found that revelation particularly interesting, since the development, growth and prosperity of our town has depended on “bridling” our rivers. Particularly in the last couple of centuries, the power of our rivers has been harnessed and “manipulated” by means of canals, weirs and culverts to power our mills and allow barges to import and export cotton. However, this practice came at a great environmental cost as it not only brought great contamination to our waters but great disruption to our local eco-system. Waters which once teemed with life were laid to waste and the surrounding wild-life abandoned to extinction.
The fact that God was telling us that the future prosperity and resurrection of the land was tied to the release and overflow of our rivers is in itself the exact opposite of the direction our town has been moving in for its entire modern history.
Prompted by this revelation, I began to research the current state of our rivers and was surprised to see that our God is already at work to bring about release and overflow to our rivers. But what was even more remarkable was to discover how this is another step pointing towards a divine work of restoration that involves both man and its land, a natural resurrection that mirrors a spiritual resurrection.
In my research I discovered that the Ribble River Trust (founded in 1997) has recently been at work to dismantle a number of culverts and weirs (particularly in the area of Darwen). The results have been quite remarkable as, in a very short period of time, wildlife started to make its way back. Not only a variety of fish (including Brown Trout, Bull Heads and eels) but even a very rare plant that only grows in 4 places throughout the UK, namely the Narrow Small Reed, started to reappear. The trust foresees that, if kept up, this restoration of our rivers will see a return of more wildlife, including the Atlantic Salmon, Otters and King-fishers. Already we are beginning to see life coming back to our rivers as they see the light for the first time in centuries, as their shackles are broken.
As I considered these things, I asked myself why the Lord would direct us to this kind of things. Aren’t people more important than fish? Aren’t communities more important than rivers? As I asked these questions to the Lord, he reminded me that the resurrection power of Christ transcends the human soul, that his life seeks to invade not only man but land as well and that the natural resurrection of land goes hand in hand with the spiritual resurrection of individual lives and communities.
Throughout Scripture, God is seen to value his creation very much. Deuteronomy warns God’s people against a violation of vegetation (Deut. 20:19-20) while the book of Leviticus warns us against polluting the land (Lev. 18:24-25). In Chronicles 36:20-21 we read that Israel’s exile to Babylon was caused by their abuse of the land God had given them. We also see how often a fresh move of God is expressed through great shifts in waters (like the parting of the River Jordan or the Red Sea, or water flowing from rocks, or bitter water turned sweet). All this, then, finds its consolidation in one of our favourite verses – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2Chron. 7:14)
What the Holy Spirit pointed out to me is that the progressive healing of our local waters is an indication that our God is already at work to bring life back to our communities – both at a spiritual and natural level. As 2Chron 7:14 reveals, when God’s people stand in the gap for their communities, humbling themselves and repenting of the land’s sin, he will not only forgive their sin but heal their land as well. His resurrection power will pour out over everything touched by the enemy and thwarted by our sin to bring complete restoration. What we are seeing in the natural, is therefore an indication of movement in the spiritual, the sign of an incoming spiritual transformation.
Although these signs are only a mere scratching of the surface, they encourage us to keep on pressing on with our intercession and ministry to our community. Our God is already at work and our mission is to simply get alongside him in what he is already doing! As we do that, we will see our town completely turned around – souls saved, prosperity restored, and our land healed.
As announced recently, we will be going to the Elim “Ignite” Family Camp at the Cefn Lea holiday resort in beautiful Wales from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd of August. This will be another great opportunity to rest, get refreshed (both spiritually and physically) and enjoy great fellowship as one big family! The program is organised by the Elim Region and includes activities for all ages and a great line up of speakers for the morning and evening services.
The program is very relaxed, with plenty of time for people to do whatever they fancy throughout the afternoon. As in previous years, we booked 2 chalets – alongside options for camping and caravanning.
Prices are very affordable through our Church’s contribution, bringing them down to £35 per adults and £25 per child for the whole duration. If you would like to come, please make sure to book by paying a non-refundable deposit of £20 per adult and £10 per child by no later than the 31st of May.
For more info on location, facilities, prices etc. please pick up the information sheet in the foyer or, additionally, talk to Valentina. Places are limited, so make sure to book as quickly as possible!
Speaking of camps, this year our young people will attend the “Undaunted” youth-camp at Hollybush (North Yorkshire) from Friday 24th to Monday 27th of May – for only £40! There will be plenty of time for fun activities and comradery with other Christian young people from across the North of England, as well time to encounter God.
I cannot stress enough how vital these opportunities are for the salvation and discipleship of our young people. So many of us found Jesus at such camps – including myself! Parents, please do your best to send your teens along – they will come back buzzing!
We have also set-up a sponsorship program for kids coming from disadvantaged families. If you would like to sponsor a child who would otherwise be unable to afford this trip, please donate £30 (alongside your regular giving) and marking “Hollybush” on the offering envelope.
Youth Takeover Sunday
We are so excited to announce that, on Sunday the 31st of March, our young people will take over and run the service all by themselves, from welcoming people to preaching, from taking the offering to leading worship – and so much more!
Caroline would like to remind parents to make sure their kids attend the rehearsal evenings every Thursday night from 7pm to 8.30pm.
Revelation series (Break) – Wednesday 20th
Shadsworth outreach – Saturday 23rd from 10am to 12
Fruits of Calvary – Sunday 24th from 12 till 3pm
Leadership Academy – Monday 25th at 7pm