15 December 2021

Moving home for Christmas...

The last time we sat on our Corsham lounge 
floor was in July 2013 as we packed
up for Tanzania!
 ...or is it “driving home for Christmas”?!  This time last year, we were wrapping up our time in Tanzania, saying our hot and sweaty goodbyes, and packing up our worldly belongings into five suitcases!  Exactly one year on and we’re getting ready to pack up once again and make the move from the old silk mill in Malmesbury to our revitalised house in Corsham!  This time round, instead of a 7,000 mile flight, we’ll only have a 15 mile drive in a hire van, the temperatures will be slightly cooler, and we’ll finally be able to unpack our lives into a house that we last lived in 8.5 years ago!  During the last few months the painters have painted, the plumbers have plumbed, the carpetters have carpeted, the electricians have electrified, the kitcheners have kitchened, and the plasterers are now plastered!  And thanks to Ebay we’ve been able to replace most of what we sold when we were emptying the house to go to Tanzania!  Here are a couple of tips for those looking to collect washing machines and bookcases: make sure the outflow hose is ‘corked’, otherwise your car seats will get very wet!  And always check the measurements of the bookcase you’ve said ‘yes’ to on Freecycle, otherwise it will be a wasted journey!!    

It didn't take a genius to realise it wasn't
going to fit!

WWW
. Working for the Word for the World. In our last blog post (September) I mentioned my new role with the Bible translation agency The Word for the World.  Coming into this role, I knew quite a bit about Swahili/English translation but very little about Bible translation!  The past few months have therefore been a journey of discovery as I learn more about the need for Bible translation.  Did you know that out of the 7,361 known languages on planet earth only 717 of them have a full Bible, and only 1582 languages have the New Testament?!  There is still much work to be done with nearly 4,000 not having any Scriptures.  Things are at least speeding up though, as it now takes only 3 years (?!) to translate the New Testament, whereas it used to take 40! 

A Malawian reading his Sena bible
Last week we were able to send funds to Malawi for the distribution of 5,000 Sena Bibles.  The personal connection for me is that the town they are being sent to (Nsanje) is a place I stayed in briefly during the early 2000’s whilst on African Quest, and the man in charge of the distribution happens to be a good friend of a Malawian pastor I stayed with whilst there and who I am still in touch with.  If I’m honest I don’t have too many pleasant memories of Nsanje!  Sauna-like heat, plenty of dust, the early morning squawking of the guineafowl, mice nibbling on my toes during the night, and a bout of malaria - not the ideal place to get sick!  But I do remember helping to distribute Bibles in that area, which were published and printed by ….The Word for the World!  Isn’t it great when these so-called random connections happen, bringing people and situations together, across the miles and across the years?!  It’s all to do with the Sovereign God whom we worship, who is in the habit of orchestrating events for His glory! 


Here’s another personal connection from the more recent past!  Our current fundraising project is called ‘Sponsor a Verse’ – and the language we’re currently focussing on is the Lughuru language.  Guess where that language is spoken?  In the Uluguru mountains just behind Morogoro, which is of course where we lived for 7 years!  And I had nowt to do with choosing that language!  The Lughuru are a people group numbering just under 1 million and, although their New Testament was completed in 2015, they still don’t have the OT.  Our translators are halfway through, so the push is now on to see it through to completion.  If you’d like to contribute to this work, please get in touch, or ‘sponsor a verse’ by donating £26 using this link: www.sponsoraverse.org – you’ll get to choose a verse, and then be sent a piece of artwork (your choice of design) with the verse of Scripture in English and Lughuru.  It might be hard to believe, but it’s even more colourful than the ‘sponsor a toilet’ certificate that adorns toilet walls in many a Christian household! 

Ruth’s New Job!  Ruth also has a new job.  In November she reduced her hours with Inspired Act and began work as Corsham Baptist Church's new Administrator.  Thankfully both offices are only 5 minutes’ walk apart, and only 15 minutes’ walk from home.

Celebrating a defining moment! Immanuel – God with us.  The history of the world is full of stunning moments!  Whether it be the end of world wars, men walking on the moon,  developments in medicine and vaccines, great political speeches that inspired change, or sporting comebacks (who can forget Dennis Taylor in the 1985 World Snooker Champs?!).  I’m sure that we all have particular incidents and moments that were defining for us.  Yet there is one moment that is more stunning than anything that has ever taken place: the coming of Jesus into the world.  There has never been another moment like it in the whole of history.  God breaking into the world He created is a remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime event!  And whilst the incarnation of the Son of God might be hard for us to get our heads around, think about what it was like for the second person of the Trinity about to perform the most sacrificial act of all time!    

This is what the Christian author Jeff Lucas wrote about the miracle of the incarnation: “What did it feel like Jesus, the day that you peered over the parapet of heaven and prepared to take your dive into humanity?  Did you stare and recoil at the swirling madness below?  Did the stench of hollow religion drift up and wrinkle your nostrils?  You were to take a dive from your lofty, ordered, Father’s house, down and down and still further down, into the murky morass of blood and pain so far below.  You were to plummet from that calm place of love and song, into our writhing chaos: from the world of rapture - to our world of rape and rebellion: from immortality - to the grime and tedium of time.  Did you look around you at the sea of stunned angel faces, bowed and paled now at the sight of this holiest sacrifice?  Was there any moment of farewell as you stepped, in a millisecond of time, from being the richest to being the poorest?  Can we tiptoe for a moment onto that holy ground, and consider the magnificent Christ becoming a tiny, embryonic speck?”

It's one of my favourite Christmas quotes and one that I’m sure I’ve used before, but it’s a quote that causes you to ponder in wonderment at what the real celebration of Christmas is all about. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)  It’s an amazing fact that God should stoop to clothe Himself in humanity to put His rescue plan into operation.  We praise God for Jesus, and all that He has done for us.  It’s also our hope that as we prepare to see in another New Year, that having the Word of God, the Scriptures, would become a reality for many more people, and that this powerful Word would find dwelling in more and more homes across the world. 

Many thanks for your prayers and support. We wish you a healthy and happy Christmas, with huge amounts of best wishes for 2022. See you in the New Year!  

Praise & Prayer Points: 

  • We’re thanking God for the way He has provided and guided during this last year. This is what we wrote exactly a year ago whilst preparing to leave Tanzania: “At this point, we’re still not sure what the next chapter looks like, and the canvas is looking fairly blank! However, we believe that the Artist in charge of the next tapestry will reveal the pattern according to His timing and purpose”.  Well, as the year unfolded, so did the new pattern!  Local employment has been provided for Ruth, and an unexpected door was opened for me to work for The Word for the World, enabling me to be involved in an itinerant preaching ministry.  

The new/old house in Corsham
  • Praise God that a lot of work has now been completed on our house in Corsham without any setbacks, and we’re ready for the move on 18th!  We're also thanking God for various people who have helped us in this process.  We’ve loved living in Malmesbury and we’ve very much enjoyed the silk mill setting.  It’s provided ‘an office with a view’, and the opportunity to watch kingfishers whilst working! 

  • Please pray for Steve as he represents TWFTW and preaches in various churches; that he would “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and that God would “enable him to speak God’s Word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29).  

  • Please pray that the distribution of the 5,000 Sena Bibles happening this week would go well; that they would fall into the hands of people who are hungry for God’s Word. 

Steve's Diary Dates: 

9th Jan: Corsham Baptist morning services

13-22 Jan: Bible teaching on Oak Hall Ski trip to Switzerland  

6th Feb: Preaching at Strete Evangelical Church, Devon (AM) 

12th Feb: TWFTW Board meeting in Bedford

13th Feb: Ladyfield Evangelical Church, Chippenham morning service

27th Feb: Preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mold, North Wales 

3rd Mar: TWFTW Presentation – Ladyfield EC, Chippenham (PM) 

6th Mar: Preaching at Wootton Baptist, Bedford (AM) 

13th Mar: Corsham Baptist morning services

20th Mar: Preaching at Hebron Evangelical Church, Carlisle (AM) 

27th Mar: Corsham Baptist morning services  

3rd April: Orrell Park Baptist, Liverpool morning service

12-21 April: Oak Hall Israel/Palestine trip - to be confirmed

24th April: South Oxhey Baptist Church, Watford morning service

29th Apr – 2nd May: Bible by the Beach, Eastbourne  

5th-8th May: “IllumiNations” Europe Conference (Bible translators) in Scotland

Bird(s) of the month: the humble starling!  Steve saw 3,000
of them on the Somerset Levels last month in their murmuration

Random Stats and Facts about Christmas! 

It was the custom to eat goose at Christmas until the 16th century when Henry VIII decided to tuck into a turkey instead!  Over 90% of the UK population will eat turkey on Christmas Day. 

We use enough wrapping paper at Christmas to cover the island of Guernsey!!

In the UK the Holy Days & Fasting Days Act of 1551 states that every citizen must attend a Christian church service on Christmas Day, and must not use any kind of vehicle to get to the service!  This act has not been repealed! 

Pope Julius I declared Christ’s birthday as December 25th in AD440. Before that, in pagan religious calendars, 25th Dec marked the birthday of the sun. Now it marks the birthday of the Son! 

When was Jesus actually born? We know from Luke Ch 1 that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the angel visited Mary. John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was a priest serving in the Temple during the course of Abijah (Luke 1:5), which apparently corresponded to June 13-18 in that year. Assuming that John was conceived at the end of June he would therefore be born in March. Mary goes to see Elisabeth when she is 6 months pregnant which would mean she visited in December, which was at the start of Mary’s pregnancy. If this is correct, Jesus would have been born in September. So much for “In the bleak mid-winter”!