The first was from Tom - after Sunday evening he resolved that he wanted to be a bell ringer this year. With that in mind he went to work with the intention of asking some probing questions with one of his colleagues around evolution theory. He ended up having this conversation with a person who has a PhD in zoology! He wasn't threatening he just listened and posed questions and has left it in such a way that he is able to continue the discussion at a later date. For this woman her training and her world view is a big obstacle to her finding Jesus - Tom asking clear questions and gently getting her to question her own position is an outstanding way to start someone on their journey of faith.
The second was told by Andrew - the pizza man (that is the regular pizza man who now knows the family!) came to the door on Monday evening which started a conversation which both surprised Andrew and left him full of faith. The pizza man asked Andrew what he did for a living, Andrew was able to tell him of his work for the church and the fact that this is a year out for him. The conversation went from there culminating in the pizza man taking a way an RFC leaflet and asking if he could come back and find out more. A relationship built over time opens up to be an opportunity to help someone take the next step in their journey of faith.
These are two guys who are determined to be RFC campanologists this year. They desire to be those who celebrate what God has done in the life of an individual by racing to the church office and ringing the bell when they have the joy of leading someone to Christ. These two stories are replicable, we just need to be thinking this way on a daily basis.
Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15:
'Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...'
We have a great hope, we have a great God and he has given us a great gospel. We don't have to know all the answers to all the hard questions - we can be like Tom and ask questions about why people believe certain things or we can be like Andrew who was willing to tell a bit of his story in response to a question - but we must be those who are willing to tell what we do know. Each person who is a Christian has a story to tell of how they came to know Jesus. That in itself is the story of a miracle and is a story worth practicing and telling.
There are 232,662 people in Reading. There are 120 churches. If 100 people on average are in those churches that adds up to 12,000 people going to church. If there are also 5,000 backsliden or non-church attending Christians in Reading, that amounts to 17, 000 people. In which case there are 215,660 (at least 2 were saved last year through RFC) in Reading who don't yet know Jesus. Among that number there will be people that God had written into the lambs book of life and we are to be like treasure hunters in trying to unearth those jewels. Like treasure hunters we will have many disappointments, but we will hopefully strike gold as we keep trying.
Whether it's a colleague at work, a delivery man, a neighbour, a friend you have made at a club you attend, the person who you often share pleasantries with at the check out, whoever it maybe lets love them enough to see their lives totally transformed by the cross of Christ.
At the outset of this year let's resolve to be individuals who will ring the bell this year as we see people of our town find the hope, love, peace, joy and faith that we enjoy.