26 September 2021

In praise of mountains…..and The Maker!

Scottish mountain
The mighty Ben Nevis
What do these names all have in common: Moriah, Gilboa, Sinai, Tabor, Olives, Zion, Carmel, Hermon?  Yep, you’re right - they’re all mountains mentioned in the Bible.  Maybe the clue was in the title, or maybe you just know your holy mountains!  Significant biblical events took place on each of these mountains. Some of them were indeed super-significant for the whole of humanity!  As a lover of the mountains I am chuffed that they feature so much in the Bible – apparently more than 500 times!  Well, during this sabbatical ‘year’ I (Steve) have had plenty of opportunity to head to the hills, and in the process have been extremely blessed. This year has turned out to be a year of mountain madness for me!  These little legs have clocked up 235 miles over 73 summits, climbing over 79,000 ft in the process, in places like the Lakes, the Brecon Beacons and the Highlands of Scotland – where much of the walking has been easier than pronouncing the summit names! 

I was introduced to the mountains at an early age by my dad, and over the years have loved being in the hills - but since returning from Tanzania, that thirst for the heights has been even stronger.  Why such a desire?  There’s many an answer to that one, not least because I haven’t been able to scale many UK heights in the last seven years!  However, the answer is best summed up in the words of one of my favourite Runrig songs: “When I walk among the hills I can hear you. When I walk among the hills I feel near you.”  I’m not entirely sure who the band were referring to, but for me, when I apply those words to myself and God, it sums up why I enjoy being on the heights so much.  There is something special about being out in the wilds of God’s creation.  The majesty and grandeur of the mountains causes me to want to praise the Creator, and makes me marvel at the fact I can pour out my heart to the Maker himself.  For me, the mountains are places where praise flows more freely and where I feel closer to God – and I thank Him for the opportunities I’ve had this year for more mountain time!  These adventures have certainly played a part in helping to restore my energy levels. 

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.” (Hab 3:19). 

“He who forms the mountains…..and treads the high places of the earth……the Lord Almighty is his name.” (Amos 4:13). 

“Praise the Lord….you mountains and all hills…..let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted, His splendour is above the earth and the heavens.” (Psalm 148).

What else has been happening?  Our time with AIM officially came to a close at the end of March, although just a few weeks ago, I was able to attend the AIM Fellowship conference, this time as a retired AIM missionary, which still sounds rather strange!  Due to complications associated with the wretched Covid bug, the planned Oak Hall trips to Israel and Austria were cancelled, but Ruth and I were able to enjoy a family holiday in the Outer Hebrides, where we cycled through the islands of Lewis and Harris.  Apart from the expected saddle-soreness, a few punctures, bike-chain malfunctions, and lost car keys, the trip went without hitch!  Lochs and beaches, mountains and moorland, white-tailed eagles, seals and sunsets, picnics and dolphins – an awesome Scottish adventure!  I’ve been able to do a bit of gardening work here and there, and we’ve also been able to visit a few RSPB reserves to get our birding fix.  We’ve been out running, we’ve read books, and we’ve spent good time with family……and since the middle of May, Ruth has had the pleasure of being back in work and being the chief bread-winner!  

Over to Ruth: I’ve been working with Inspired Act since May as Operations Manager. The  company specializes in providing professional role play actors for training situations. It’s been a steep learning curve and an interesting insight into a world of which I knew little, but I’m enjoying it. 

Our house in Corsham has finally been returned to us, although not without its issues, as I am sure many a landlord has experienced!  We hope to be able to move from the ‘mill in Malmesbury’ back into our house towards the end of the year when a few necessary refurbishments have been completed!  It will be good to be based in Corsham again and to be able to walk to work!

It’s been so good to attend Corsham Baptist regularly over the last few months and to reconnect with people.  I’m looking forward to being more involved in church life, especially as restrictions lift and activities return to being face-to-face rather than online.  I’ve already signed up to join the monthly craft group!  

A New Chapter: Actually, I’ll be working with an organisation that deals with 1189 of them (chapters!).  After nine months of ‘time-out’ the opportunity is now there for me to get back in the saddle!  On 27th Sept I’ll start working for a ministry called “The Word for the World”, which is a Bible-translation agency.  The ministry was started in South Africa back in 1981 and there are now supporting offices in USA and the UK.  Across 15 countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, 165 Bible translation projects are currently in progress, or have been completed by TWFTW.  The aim of the organisation is to train and equip indigenous people to translate the Bible into their own languages.  Even in this so-called advanced world that we live in, there are still many places that don’t yet have the Bible in their own language. The stats are that 2,500 language communities already have some, or all of the Bible – but that still leaves a staggering 4,000 languages without access to God’s printed Word!  The aim of TWFTW is therefore to help alleviate Bible poverty across the world, and to bring the good news of Jesus to people that haven’t yet received it in their own tongue. 

So, where exactly do I come in, especially as I have absolutely no experience in Bible translation?!  My remit will be to represent and promote the work of The Word for the World here in the UK, mainly through preaching and presenting in various churches, but also at various conferences and events.  I’m hoping to inspire people into supporting the work of Bible translation as part of the task Jesus gave us in the Great Commission verses, but in preaching God’s Word I also want to encourage believers to get deeper into their Bibles, making more of the fact that we have such easy access to God’s written Word.  If you feel there might be an opportunity for me to visit your church, please feel free to get in touch. And if you want to find out more about the ministry, the unique way in which Bible translation is done by TWFTW, and in which countries they work, please click on the following links for more info: 

The Word for the World UK – Translating the Bible into every language (twftw.org.uk)

The Word For The World Bible Translators (twftw.org)       

On the UK website you’ll also find details of the “Sponsor a Verse” project, so if you want to send someone a Christmas present with a difference, or simply want to invest in helping TWFTW in their translation work, please click here for more details. 

And if you would like to be kept up-to-date with the work I’ll be involved in, plus the wider work of the ministry, please send me an email and I will add you to the mailing list.  You will then receive a short emailed newsletter approximately once every two months from TWFTW.  So, just so that it’s crystal clear - if you only want to receive the “Life in the Lancs Lane” blog update, then you do not need to do anything: this will be a general ‘Steve & Ruth’ update sent out twice a year, but if you want further updates on TWFTW and my involvement in the ministry, I do need to hear from you. 

Praise & Prayer Points:

- Thanking God (and Ruth!) for the opportunity I’ve had to take time out. The stomach issues have settled, the head is clearer, the energy and enthusiasm is returning, and the sleep is a bit better than it was! 

- Thanking God that Ruth has had employment for the last four months, and for the fact we’ve felt very settled in the old Silk Mill here in Malmesbury. It’s been such an ideal stop-over place whilst waiting for our house in Corsham to be vacated. 

- Please pray that I would settle into my role with “The Word for the World” and that, as I continue to preach, “I would fearlessly make known the gospel” and “correctly handle the Word of Truth”.     

Thanks for your prayers,

Love, Steve & Ruth

Bird of the month - the bearded tit.  We didn't take
this picture but we saw them at RSPB Titchwell
on a short break to Norfolk - the fulfillment of
a birding ambition!

Celebrating Ruth's birthday in August with pizza!