So why stay?

So having said all that I said in the last post about things that can make me want to give up and move away, why stay?

In part it’s gospel need. Doncaster has achieved a dubious privilege this last year. It not only made the top 10 worst places to live in the UK, but for the first time ever featured on the top 10 most dangerous places to live in the UK in terms of crime, murder, drugs etc… That fuels a conviction in me that not many people will come to Doncaster, that’s especially true in Hayfield. The Christian cavalry is not coming over the hill. And so we need to stay because the people around about us need the gospel.

And in our area long term relationships matter. 45% of 18 year olds don’t head off to Uni, and those that don’t live in areas like ours and because I’ve been here 15 years now there are those who remember me from assemblies in Primary School 15 years ago who are now parents of kids in nursery, or who I chat to in the community as I’m out and about. Those long term relationships are key in an area like ours. That is a mission field for us, there is no CU or UCCF working with those young adults our their families and many will not move out not this area but we have long term relationships with them and there are gospel opportunities that leads to. The images of farming in the gospels are so true, it takes many years to plough, till, sow and reap. This area needs long term commitment and relationships..

One of the other things that keeps us going is the God given partnerships and friendships. We have friends who have taken our ministry to heart, who pray regularly for us, who give to Grace Church to help support us. One friend very practically helps us by popping up every so often to help us with our PA equipment, installing things, advising us, listening and tweaking things and occasionally watching our livestream and giving advice and feedback on how we improve it. For a small church with limited technical expertise that is a real God send.

We have church partnerships. BEC pays a large chunk of my salary and have done for years. Other churches have supported us more sporadically financially but regularly in prayer partnerships. And there are organisations like Medhurst Ministries who facilitate training and a supportive network of workers in similar areas to our own. All of those things help to avoid any feelings of isolation in serving here. Partnerships in the gospel are key.

Internally what makes us stay? It is seeing people come to faith. It is seeing people who have come to faith grow in their love for Jesus as they grasp the height, depth, width and breadth of Jesus love for them. It is seeing people wrestling to fight sin, sin to self and carry their cross as they follow Jesus. It is a church that genuinely loves one another and serves one another even in the chaos of life and across the divides. It is remembering that image from Paul of the race being run, of people reaching the finishing line and being welcomed by their Saviour into their Father’s presence. It is the conviction that the only power that can change the world one life at a time as it wipes away sin and shame and reconciles people to God and one another is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he has given that power to us – weak clay pots that we are – and those around us need Jesus more than they need anything else.

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