The mission week is now well and truly over. In the end it was a strange sort of a week. The odd thing about mission weeks and the like is that you find yourself immersed in a place for 7 days, beginning to feel its concerns, fear its dangers and temptations, despise its idols, see its tremendous potential, only to then pack up and return home.
As a result, intercessions and thanksgivings form the most obvious, easy, immediate way to stay connected to (God's) long-term mission in Saddleworth.
I give thanks for the fact that the gospel has established a foothold in the area. In the midst of some middle-class gospel-apathetic do-goodery God has established his Church. I pray that his people there will buck the trend (numerical decline) and go from strength to strength. May there always be faithful people in Saddleworth.
I also give thanks for those Church members who turned up, invited friends, and provided prayerful support for the mission. I pray that all three churches we visited will grasp a much clearer vision for serving Christ in the Church and in the village.
I also give thanks for being shown considerable hospitality, warmth of fellowship, and being allowed to share in the material goods (mainly homes and food) of many Church members across the seven days. I pray that such hospitality would become the bedrock of 'life-on-life' discipleship, creating a culture of mutual pastoral care, accountability and spiritual zeal.
I give thanks for the Christian influence in the schools. For the regular assemblies taken by the vicar, for the Christian teachers, for the Christian headmistress of one school in particular. I pray this influence would continue and grow, and bear fruit in conversion. I pray that over time this influence would blossom into fully-grown Christ-centred biblical-worldview education.
I give thanks for the chance to witness a little on the ground, (at times) mundane, non-urban gospel ministry. I give thanks for the chance to see the pitfalls, dangers, potential distractions, and the internal and external pressures which face many ministers in their charges. I pray for all the leaders of the family of God in Saddleworth, that they'd plough a straight line.
I pray against the devil and his schemes, against disunity and apathy, against the idols of 'the good-life' and of 'churchiness', against the idea that the only way is down, against false hopes and false paths to growth, and for Saddleworth's future in God's plan to glorify himself in the Son.