Over the past week I have been at three conferences, here is a review of each:
This was a conference, put on by Churches for All and Premier Radio that promised to broaden and deepen thinking about disability and the engagement of disabled people with church life. Carol Pearson invited me along in order that I could share my eyes with her (she's blind) but I ended up having my own eyes opened wider as I listened to all that was said. Two main themes rang in my ears through out the day - the first was that we are all made in the image of God and therefore we all have that dignity. The big thing for me was probably the simplest thing but the most profound - relationships are key. Instead of seeing the disability and feeling sorry for or going for aggressive healing prayer, build relationship. Even with the person who appears to be unable to communicate - as we spend time we will see that their communication is just different. It was great to spend time with Carol and with Lesley, who with her husband heads up a great work into a sheltered housing complex for adults with learning difficulties.
Gary, Anita and I were at a Front Edge conference on Saturday, this time in Shrewsbury, and preaching in a local church in Stafford on Sunday. It is so good to be reminded by Lex Loizides that we are a people who have been given authority over sickness because Christ himself has that authority and has given it to us. We need to recognise that authority and move in it. That said, I then went to the church on Sunday where 2 people responded to the gospel for the first time, 4 recommitted as well as 2 people saying that their headaches went in a moment and strength was brought to a badly injured knee. I am still waiting hear on other stories from the morning, but know that God was at work as the gospel was preached.
Prayer and fasting
Then for the last two days I have spent in Peterborough with Sean and Josh John at Newfrontiers Prayer and Fasting. A great time in the presence of God, being filled again with his Holy Spirit and hearing all that is going on in our family of churches.
In all a busy, but greatly inspiring week on so many levels. God is at work in so many areas of life that we don't see or know about and is using people that we would just pass by, which has become even more evident to me over this week. We have our role to play in the advancement of the Kingdom here in Reading but we are also part of a much bigger church that comprises of many brothers and sisters who are not like us and who are doing incredible things.