Global Churches prayer for the U.K. needed, more than ever before

A week to go, before voters elect 650 MP’s – members of parliament. Because of our ‘first past the post’ voting system, it is unlikely that (again) one party will have an overall majority. The Tory party treasurer keeps back funds for a likely second election in the autumn. Another coalition government, bound together (for five years, as has just been the case) seems highly unlikely again. Wilder and wilder election promises are being cheerfully offered, as no single party is likely to be called to account.

Self-interest rules in the U.K. After two wartime generations were called to self-sacrifice, my generation was the first able to put self-interest first. My year at school must have been the last to have had children whose fathers were killed in WW2, I have a good friend David whose airman father was killed over the Skaggerak. My brother and I celebrated our joint (150th) birthday this month, his generation knew the discipline of National Service, mine did not. I remember fearing for him, as a reservist he was called up to Scotland to man the early Navy computers at the time of the Cuba missile crisis. In the USA, my generation faced the Vietnam debacle. For U.K. baby boomers however, it was party-party, and two generations later, self-interest regardless of the cost to others, is our national outlook.

Repeating myself (a privilege for over-70’s) after earlier blogs, I cannot forget the lesson learned in 1964 in Nigeria’s ‘New Life For All’ campaign’, and then again in the early 1980’s in Northumbria’s Mission:England programme. Only when churches pray humbly together, for each other, only then can God the Holy Spirit reverse spiritual decline to the point of death. In Nigeria’s ‘New Life for All’ it was a deep work, lasting today. In the North-East’s ‘Mission:England’, many old churches were revitalised, and new ones formed, but I fear its effect was not so lasting.

‘When my people pray…’
In my role as North-East coordinator for Mission: England, our emphasis was first: Christians across the denominations praying for one another in 12 areas across the Tyne/ Tees region, then second: church-member training with courses such as ‘Is my church worth joining?’ and ‘Caring for new Christians’, 100’s of well-run sessions were organised, led by set-aside curates (with their bishops’ blessing). The eight days of crusade meetings at Sunderland’s Roker Park football stadium were icing on the cake, Billy Graham the coagulant for 500+ churches of all denominations, between York and Berwick. Thirty years on, and Britain is another country – secularised, polarised, and communication revolutionised by the internet.

However, A big positive:
However much in the 1980’s ‘a Global Village’ was spoken of (becoming a little closer to reality in Tearcraft/ Traidcraft circles with which I was closely involved), the internet now makes the world a virtual village in more ways than one, and ideas are shared quickly and globally. The Islamic State I.S. or of the Levant recruits very successfully with glossy e-literature (‘Dabiq’ is now in its 8th edition). So far, while Christian websites proliferate, only the faithful (admit to) look at them. In February, I sat in the public gallery of the Church of England Synod’s for three hour-long debates on ‘Developing discipleship’, ‘Resourcing the future’ and ‘Simplification for mission and growth.’ Only Elaine Storkey mentioned internet communication.

Pray for a fulcrum, around which or who, churches will join together in evangelism. For Catholics, Pope Francis is doing a good job, but for Protestants? Billy Graham was God’s gift to the churches of the 1950’s to 1980’s, but it is hard to see one person fulfilling the role today. If any ‘Statement of Faith’ is needed, the Lausanne Covenant is as good as any I know, with its emphasis on often-repeated affirming and rejoicing. In the Synod debate, it took a guest Pentecostal bishop Joe Aldred to say, with regard to churches together in mission: “we are stronger together, we are weaker apart, it is as true in discipleship as anything else.” I did not hear of anyone else encouraging inter-denominational approach of mission.

I propose a web-based network of international Christians, sharing electronically prayer, around the challenge of discipling U.K. Christians to be more effective in presenting the Gospel, to all not-yet-Christian cultures now around us, and identifying young Christians with a gift of communication via social media, YouTube, etc.

Two leaders I contacted last summer who agreed to pray with me:
Prof. David Wilkinson (Principal, St John’s College, Durham) said: “I am excited by this vision and we do need to partner with our sisters and brothers around the world. Very happy to pray with you.” He recommends a setup called CODEC recently set up by the College. See Andy Frost (of Share Jesus International) based at Raynes Park, recommends Also: have a passion about using online media. Andy helped set Lumo up: Jonathan Oloyede of Nationwide Days of Prayer ( organises an amazing nationwide prayer meeting by telephone.

I hope very soon, to persuade Christian leaders from other countries to sign up to this vision of a web-based network. So many of course face far more than we do, very different and often life and death challenges.

A friend called Simon is helping me work on a new website. My working title is:
Global Churches Mission U.K.

Easter Saturday / Easter Eve

Caravaggio's Thomas

Caravaggio’s Thomas

Last Saturday, April 4th was Easter Eve for western Christians (often mistakenly called Easter Saturday, which is the Saturday ­after Easter).  Today is Easter Eve in Eastern (Orthodox) churches, which celebrate Easter tomorrow.  So, not too late to says “Happy/ blessed Easter.”  “Christ is risen, Alleluia!  He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”

Statistically, each Easter I have been alive, there have been more Christians alive in the world than ever before, and it will probably remain so for the rest of my lifetime.  Probably also, an ever growing percentage of the world’s population become Christian. However, the North American Pew Research Center predicts that the 34.5% of the world’s population that are Christian today, will remain static for the next 40 years.  The number of Christians will continue to grow (from 2.17billion in 2010 to 2.76billion in 2050, mainly in sub-Sahara Africa) but as an overall percentage of a faster growing world population, it will remain static.  The number of Muslims on the other hand will grow (it is predicted) from 1.6billion in 2010, to 2.76billion in 2050, an overall increase in percentage of world population from 23.2% to 29.7%.  The reason given by Pew Research is because Muslims have “a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates.” PF_15.04.02_ProjectionsOverview_populationChange_310px In fact of course, fertility is the wrong word, it is family size that is meant, Pew gives a world statistic for that – Muslim women each have an average of 3.2 children, ‘Christian’ women have 2.7 children per woman.  And here I put ‘Christian’ in quotes – the label covers a huge range between Christians only in name, to those for whom biblical faithfulness in interpreting their faith is crucial. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya writes this Easter:  “It is becoming clear that we must see the once missionary nations of the West as now themselves mission fields.”  He goes on to say “the focus of the struggle for biblical faithfulness has shifted from North America to England.”  I could go on, but better for me to focus on the only worthwhile response that I know of, which is emphatically not generated out of fear, but out of obedience to the commission of Jesus after his resurrection and before his ascension, to ‘make disciples of all nations…’  During his earthly ministry, he commands his followers to “pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” I have written often enough on this blog now, that only when Christians of different denominations pray together, will we be better disciples of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit of God in Christ  can work unhindered across an area or region. So, what about an appeal to Christians around the world, to pray for a Global Churches Mission U.K: 2015-2020 ?  I have made a few attempts to make such an appeal, here is another….

I have recently re-read a 12-page publication “Evangelism in South London 1992”. it written for a Southwark Diocesan Conference that year.  Then, I was simply trying to encourage South London churches to pray together for effective evangelism (It fell on deaf ears).  I want to expand its ‘call’ – for Christians in churches overseas to pray for effective evangelism across the whole of the U.K. The booklet makes no mention of the internet, the World Wide Web was still in its infancy.  In 1992 I was still thinking in terms of traditional prayer meetings, and information for prayer disseminated by post.  Now, conference call prayer meetings are simple to set up by telephone, as Jonathan Oloyede of Nationwide Day of Prayer has been pioneering, and several social media platforms are available for instant information sharing. The booklet refers to “dark matter” (page 11) and has a David Austin cartoon about it on the cover.  I did not know then that a serious attempt would be made to investigate dark matter, or the misnamed ‘God particle’ (actually called by the scientists looking for it, the goddam particle).  And, little did I know that I would have both a son and daughter and their families living practically on top of the Large Hadron Collider at Cern! More about Global Churches Mission to the U.K. in my next blog. EISL April 2015 a