Despite what some people think when I speak, I am actually a very strong believer in weekly Sunday worship services. So much so that when the clock hits 6.30pm, on a Sunday, I feel I’m in the wrong place if, like now, I’m sitting at home – even if I’ve already been to two services already, as today.
Both events were great adverts for Sunday worship. Firstly, I was at Hillfields Park, Bristol, in the morning, which is always a good place to be. A few years ago they felt they were going nowhere fast, but what a difference a catalytic leader like Ian makes, although he still erans his money as a postman. The consistent feature of my visits there in recent years is the amazing people I meet after the service with the stories of what God is up to in their own lives. This time was no exception and I'll just mention something of Mark's story -
During the service. Mark had already shared how God had helped him at work last week. He was being bullied and this culminated last week with someone pushing him up against a cupboard, with their hands around his throat. They threatened him, demanding he let someone else get the benefits of the new deals he'd achieved. Somehow, he said, he found the strength to refuse. The other guy then forced him to the floor and at this point the boss came in – having been listening to the whole scene he sacked the other guy there and then. Mark is now praying for his persecutor.
After the service, Mark told me that five months ago he was homeless - having lost his property and job in Spain. He returned to Bristol, soon found himself placed into a hostel and feeling he was pretty much at rock bottom. He managed to get a job - door-to-door selling deals for The Bristol Post, which must be a pretty thankless task in today's climate. Anyway, he was on the brink of giving this up one very wet day and finding very few interested people. His boss encouraged him to keep trying and he picked another street by more or less closing his eyes and placing his finger on the map. In this street, he knocked on Anne's door (I met her too) who, describing Mark as looking like a drowned rat, asked him if he'd like cup of tea. Mark describes an overwhelming sense of love in that house, which was unexplainable, but very real. For a reason he can't explain, he asked her if she went to church and she began to talk about God with him as a result. Well one thing led to another and he ended up becoming a Christian.
From there I went to meet the Bristol Chinese Baptist Church to join them for a baptismal service. Four people were baptized and added into a steadily growing fellowship. I’m sure all the testimonies were powerful, but my Chinese is not up to scratch, so I’ll base it on the two who had some translation.Yep, a good day at church.