For quite a while I have been reporting on this blog what goes on at our regular meetings on the Lord's Day and on Wednesday nights. I didn't do this at first but as these loom so large in my weekly life it seemed strange to say nothing about them week after week. There is an opitimum two or three day turn around time between each one and sometimes I am a little late with my updates.
We are quite late in the week for this one but I think that has turned to my advantage in the end. I say that because on Wednesday we had a visiting speaker. It was Robin Asgher from Cranford. Robin grew up in Pakistan and I first met him when I was a lecturer on the EMF course. He went on to do two years at the Seminary and was my assistant for a year before beginning as a church planter in Cranford, West London. He always speaks about me and that time very warmly.
It was great to have him back then and hear a little about the work in Cranford which now includes opportunities at nearby detention centre with immigrants interested in the Christian faith. The main topic was reaching out to Muslims. We are having a special focus on outreach in the area this month. He has a lot of experience in that area and had helpful things to say.
One reason I am not sorry to have left this report a little is that the next evening we had a visit from Luke Jenner, who had been lecturing on Acts at the Seminary. He is one of many students who, like Robin, were regularly with us during their time at seminary. Generally speaking I think these were positive times for the men involved. We certainly appreciated having them with us. (I am tempted to start listing them but I will leave someone out I'm sure. There are many. Robin, Mark Raines, Ian Middlemist and Andrew Lolley stand out as they also served as assistants). Most of these men are in ministry at present. I get rather discouraged sometimes and one bright spot that makes me confident it has not been as bad as I feel is these former members of the congregation.
The other reason I am glad that I have delayed is that Robin was encouraging us to be friendly to Muslims and to take time to get to know them. Well, today was the first day of door to door and a deacon and I knocked in one of the high rise flats near the church. Most people were out though those who were in were friendly enough. Then we knocked a door and the lady, a Muslim, I recognised from a local shop. She invited us in for a cuppa and we had a good chat while some Hindi gameshow played on a TV in the corner. She was very positive about Islam (though not fasting and unenthusiastic about some of its modern manifestations). One could think of several women in the congregation who might be able to befriend her and I must get hold of a bilingual New Testament for her. An encouraging start then.
We also had our second actual men's meeting. I must report on that elsewhere.