The friends newsletter is published 3 or 4 times a year and provides strategic information mainly for those not attending Magdalen Road. It is for those who want to partner with us in praise and prayer and sometimes practical support, as we seek to display the glory of Jesus to the peoples of East Oxford and the world.
Friends Newsletter - Easter 2012
Dear Friends of Magdalen Road Church,
As Easter approaches I have been meditating on Jesus' words in John 12:24, six days before his death.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Jesus applies it to himself. He will soon die, but his death will unleash a torrent of blessing which will flow until the end of time. On the first Good Friday he won forgiveness for millions from every tribe and nation, and every age. And three days later like a fertile seed he burst forth in new resurrection life, as the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29). We are still reaping that blessing today.
But Jesus also is telling us that it applies to us. In verses 25-26 he says that anyone who wants to follow him must also lose their life in order to find it. Easter is a time to meditate in the wonderful work of Jesus, and also the extraordinary, dying-and-rising nature of our life in him.
A few weeks ago at Magdalen Road Church, we initiated a period of prayer and fasting for our future as a church. The elders have tentatively proposed that we should seek a building for the main church which can accommodate us appropriately, and also that we should plan to plant a new church within the next three years. Both seem somewhat daunting, so we feel that we need the Lord's confirmation or redirection over the next few months. For me it has been a wonderful time of reaffirming my willingness to do anything that God calls us to do. I have sought to search my heart for false motives and to strengthen and purify my desire for God whose love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). I have sensed the Lord working in me in exciting ways, and I have been excited to see the Lord working similarly in others. May you be similarly blessed this Easter.
Developing our Training Fund
With Dan Steel's arrival the church has received an exciting burst of growth and energy. Alongside numerical growth, our preachers' group he been revitalised, our evening service has been reborn with much better attendance, and there is general excitement in the air. However the main item of news that I want to draw your attention is training.
A while ago we launched our training fund to help fund people who come to us for training of one kind of another. A number of Friends generously donated but at that time suitable candidates did not come forward. However in the last few months that has changed. By this autumn we are likely to have two trainees. These are both young men who feel that the Lord may be calling them to some kind of gospel ministry in the future. They will do a year with us, attending the South Central Ministry Training Course, and being involved in various ministries in the church, including our international student work iConnect. These two appointments will use all the money in the training fund.
In addition we have recently agreed to be the supporting church for Pete Bentley-Taylor. Pete has been a member of St Ebbes for a number of years, most recently involved in their StEP congregation. Pete, however, feels called to free church pastoral ministry and so he is moving across to Magdalen Road to gain experience in a non-Anglican setting. He will study part time at the Cornhill Training Course, he will probably have to work part time as a teacher, and with his remaining time he will gain practical experience and mentoring with us. I have known Pete for a number of years and am very excited about supporting him. In addition Vaughan Roberts of St Ebbes has written extremely warmly, commending him to us.
These exciting developments mean that there is now a need to replenish the training fund and indeed to seek to grow it. We would like to ask you whether you might be willing to consider either a one off contribution, or preferably to start giving regularly to this fund. We would love to be able to offer some financial support to Pete, his wife Susie, and their baby son Joshua. If you felt able to help support them then a designated gift, or better still a commitment for their two years of training would be enormously helpful. Additionally we are looking for funds which will replenish the main training fund so that we are in a position to offer trainee positions in 2013-14. If you would like to help please contact the church office for details of how to donate.
It is a great privilege to be involved in the formation of young people and set them on the path of sacrifice and fruitfulness. It is also wonderful to know that we have generous praying partners like you. Thank you.
This comes with my very best wishes for a blessed and fruitful Easter.
Peter Comont, 04/04/2012