Recently, my daily Bible reading took me to John chapter 6. I was struck again by the fact that the chapter begins by large crowds exceeding 5000 people following Jesus, but ends with many of them turning away to stop following Him. Jesus is left with His 12 disciples. It turns out that scores of folk loved following Jesus because of the potential for getting healed and their bellies filled, but that many found Jesus’s teaching hard and offensive. This hard teaching in John 6 caused them to walk away from the gospel: the truth that to receive eternal life one must “feed on Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood.” Many in this chapter come for free health care and a free meal, but leave when the gospels proclaimed. To use Jesus’ phrase, they lap up foo that perishes, but they turn their noses up at the food that endures to eternal life. So, from that, let me tease out some things you can pray for us at Gracemount Community Church:
Our Priorities: In a community like ours it can be tempting to seek to meet people’s present perishable needs: food, shelter, friendship, community, access to services, help into employment, etc… But pray that our priority would always be to present the imperishable food of the gospel as people greatest need.
Our Perseverance: Pray that we would keep plodding on, even when scores of people seem to come for a time and then walk away from Jesus when the teaching of the Bible gets hard. It can be hard to keep going.
Our Confidence: Pray that our confidence in sharing the gospel would be in our Heavenly Father giving people to His Son, and in Jesus losing none of those whom the Father gives Him.
Our Members: Pray that the members of GCC, when tempted to follow the crowds walking away from Jesus, would have an attitude like the disciples to say, “Lord, to whom else would we go? You have the words of eternal life…”P
This update is long overdue. We have been very busy over the past couple of months and time has just marched on. Things have been going well in our work in Bingham and Magdalene since the return of the year. Our community meal has been thriving this year. We have between 40 and 50 people every Wednesday. This is a mixed bunch of believers and non-believers. This has been a great time of getting to know new people and building relationships.
Our community Bible study continues to be a great time of edification for believers, as well as a time of challenge for the lost souls who attend. A few weeks ago, we finished the Gospel of Mark after studying it weekly for 18 months. This was a good serious enjoyed by all. To study the life and ministry of Jesus has been a real blessing. We have recently started a new series studying 1 John. Please pray this is a time of growing together as Christians and a time of counting the cost for non-believers.
On Sunday evenings we continue to meet as a group of Christians committed to becoming members of Hope Community Church. We have been going through a serious called, “Knowing the Living God.” This is a serious which looks at the doctrine of God. Each week we look at one of God’s attributes and how this should impact our lives.
A few weeks again, Rachel and I began a short sabbatical because we needed a time out for spiritual and physical refreshment. This has been good for or us to recharge our batteries and nourish our souls with the Word of God. I have read a few books over this period. One that stands out is a book by Robbie Symons called ‘Passion Cry.’ If you get a chance I would encourage you to buy it and read it. It blessed my soul.
Pete Stewart and Pete Bell
It has been a busy ole time in Barlanark with many joys and many trials coming from our Lord’s sovereign hand. We hope this will give a helpful update for you and will inform your prayers for the months ahead. We are grateful for your partnership in the gospel.
The Lord continues to add his church here with 2 new families joining us in membership & another 3 people to be baptized and join on Easter Sunday. One of these families we didn’t know until our Christmas Family Event & they have since bought a house here!
The baptisms are a local lad who professed faith when we were youth workers but who has now returned to the Lord and his church, a teenager of a church family who has grown significantly in his year at the church, and a teenager whose family have been with us since June and have now been granted permanent asylum from Nigeria. Praise God that he continues to build his church here but pray that the members of our church will together reach out to Barlanark and see more local indigenous people saved!
Family Updates: Pete B is finally starting to make some progress in terms of his health. He has been given a sleep apnea machine and it is starting to make a difference to his fatigue but his headaches are still severe. Lindsey is due at the end of July and this time is having a girl which will be a shock to us all! Pray that our eyes will be fixed on Jesus and that individually and as families, we will be growing in him.
J.S. began working for HeartCry in 2015. As coordinator for Asia, North America, and Western Europe, he currently oversees the missionaries over 10 countries. J.S. currently lives in Virginia with his wife and four children.More By J. S.