May 2017  Alive Mission
Uppingham  Leicestershire


Richard Scott reports…

The Uppingham mission had a somewhat staggered start. Local involvement began by advertising the mission in the marketplace on Friday and then via that evening’s pantomime. An unusual way to begin a week’s mission; but after 5 years of prayer and with newspaper and radio coverage adding to prayer walking every street and leafletting every door, the Alive Mission was at least known to some before we hit town!  Our team of twenty arrived on Saturday and set to work that afternoon on the doors.  The three Churches involved (Anglican, Methodist and Congregational) worked so closely together that they eschewed our usual team structure, preferring instead to see us as one combined Away team – which linked very closely with the excellent Home team, some of whom joined us door to door.  A joint Commissioning service was held on the Sunday morning where team member Sam Buchanan gave an excellent testimony, with the congregation literally open-mouthed as he described having actually witnessed three people being crucified during his time working with the British Army in Ethiopia.  An evening event where Christian magician Steve Price entertained completed an excellent day.

Richard  Towncrier smallThe week continued with door to door work, which had been wonderfully organised, with doors in every street counted and parcelled up into manageable segments for pairs to visit each day.  Highlights from the door to door work included:    After chatting with and extensively praying for a distressed Hungarian young lady the rain encouraged Val Jacobs and myself to seek shelter – and joining three idling builders in the next door garage seemed ideal. They heard the Gospel having understood very little initially – a situation sadly not uncommon in Uppingham. The previous day, Brian Hart and I noticed a man wink at us before driving to the allotment.  Following him, we learnt that he wasn’t sure about faith, but in answer to our new Q4, told how he’d prayed for his terminally ill friend – who then survived another 20 years! A builder told of praying for his new born daughter – who survived. Our job is to get them to see that the God they’d prayed to is real, hasn’t gone away and loves them and that they’ll meet Him one day, with faith the only element ultimately that stands the test of time.
Not all the conversations on the doors were easy, we came across theologians and  scientists/philosophers, and in truth, some of these discussions  were  quite  tricky!  One  woman  was  angry  at  God  for taking  her  husband  10  years  previously.  Another  man  who’s  young  son  had  leukaemia  sadly  refused  prayer.  But a lady,  who’d  lost  her husband 5 years ago to  a  motorbike  accident, not only  remained faithful but was very happy for us to chat with her grandson  who  sprawled  over  the  roof  of  her  car.  As ever, it’s not what happens but how people respond that matters.
An evening at the Falcon Hotel  entitled  God  and  Cancer  was  also  a  success with  a  brilliant  local  testimony  from  Anna  Wilkinson  concerning  her  brain  tumour  and  a  panel  of  four  taking  audience  questions,  either  side  of  my  talk.  Four  people  responded,  using  the  “Tell  me  More”  cards,  with  some  attending  for  healing  prayers.

MagicianOn  Saturday  morning,  35  men  listened  to bishop Donald  (of  Peterborough) at a Men’s  Breakfast.  Having  quipped  that  when  working  previously  in  Cheadle,  the  women  wanted  their  own  event,  but  naturally  nothing  as  unhealthy  as  a  full  English,  a  Keep  Fit  Class  emerged  instead.  Our  ladies,  I  might  add,  went  for  a  compromise  position,  enjoying  a  café  breakfast!  The  bishop  spoke  of  harrowing  Christian  persecution  in  N. Korea and of  a  pastor  from  Zimbabwe. His family were beaten by Mugabe.  Since then, God has used him in rural Cheshire.  Banging  on  doors,  he  tells  his  parishioners  that  he  comes  from  Africa  and  God  loves  them.  Unsurprisingly, the church has grown!  The bishop, himself, had also experienced  opposition.  His  mother  was  so  disgusted  at  his  switch  to  study  theology  that  she  cut  him  out  of  her  will.  Christianity is literally costly.  He  finished  by  reiterating  that  a clerics’  job  is  to  equip  the  lay  to  do  evangelism.  

interview in churchThe last Sunday  morning  saw  the  churches  join  together  in  a  wonderful  Celebration  Service  in  a  marquee,  bathed  in  sunshine  on  Tod’s  Piece.  Supported  by  a  visiting  Methodist  Leader  from  Northants  and  with  prayers  from  both  Home  and  Away  mission  teams,  Geoff  (Task  Force  Leader)  and  myself  were  able  to  reflect,  under interview,  what  the  week  had  achieved.  George  Martin  then  spoke on  the  decisions  that  farmers  and  others  make.  His  text,  taken  from  Jesus  &  Peter  walking  on  the  water,  was  exactly  the  one  acted  out  by  the  youth  drama  earlier  in  the  service!  Unplanned - except by the  Lord.  At least eight responded  to  his  message.
It was encouraging that that 71 people who were spoken to wanted follow up and five follow up groups using a variety of courses were planned. Uppingham is a tiny town in the smallest county but a picture received by one of the team showed a pebble being dropped into pool and a large wave sweeping out over the edge of the pool into surrounding parts.