Prayer letter NB Ichthus Spring 2017
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
We and sixteen other narrowboats are taking part in a mission called Boats of Hope and will be at Thatcham on the Kennet and Avon canal between the 21st and 28th May 2017.
We are then moving to Newbury when we will be there between the 3rd and 11th June.
We cannot actually claim such a strong voice this time as the one we had when we were told to move onto the waterways fifteen years ago, but The Lord has made it very clear in other ways that we are exactly where we ought to be, and doing what He wants us to do. There have been too many instances of being in the right place at the right time that just cannot be explained by “good luck”.
We are currently on the Thames in Reading at the moment, where we have been invited to stay there for the winter. John helped out on a few boat trips with Salter’s steamers, one of the oldest boat trip companies on the Thames, and they very generously have allowed us to use their moorings through the winter. Barbara fully retired (for the fourth time!) in July and we have never been so busy. Our boat Ichthus has been up and down the Thames with many different people on board, for all sorts of reasons. We’ve had deacon’s meetings, a group of Muslim converts, a couple with a disabled family member, a church meeting, Barbara’s cousin from Australia, and a couple for their honeymoon ! (We were however thoughtful enough to vacate the boat for a week and left them on their own!)
We have also had many opportunities to talk to a wide range of people in churches where John had been asked to preach, as well as secular groups where we talked about canal history. We took part in the Reading boat festival in June, and the Newbury boat festival in July where we were able to team up with our good friends peter and Lin Atwill on their narrowboat Gospel Belle. We were also asked to say a prayer at the start of the festival, for the second year running.
John has also talked to the Salvation Army headquarters in Reading twice, once about our ministry and the second to run a quiz of their Wednesday lunch group. John also talked to the Thatcham branch of the Royal British Legion, detailing about the times we have been able to help ex servicemen through God’s grace, who have fallen on difficult times. We also took part in the Thatcham Festival talking about the history of the canals.
During the year so far we have been able to help in our own church Thatcham Baptist Church, who continue through the members and pastors to provide great spiritual support. Thank you for treating us as nearly normal people! They were also generous enough to allow John to take part in the baptism of a friend.
We are planning an outreach on the Kennet and Avon canal, between the 27th and 28th May in Thatcham and then the 3rd to the 11th June in Newbury. We are working with Boater’s Christian Fellowship to forge links so that we can work with local schools, churches, groups and authorities. At the moment twelve boats have committed to telling boaters, anglers, cyclists, walkers, and canal and river trust employees about God’s love for them. We are hoping through His grace to also provide practical help to anyone God may send.
Other engagements currently booked are:
3rd Dec Christmas carol service Bradford on Avon
20th Feb John preaching Binfield in Reading
27th March Thatcham Historical Society
8th April Argyll Baptist Church talk to disabled group
27th to 28th May Outreach Thatcham
10th June Reading Boat Festival
3rd to 11th June Newbury boat mission with Boaters Christian Fellowship
22nd 23rd July Newbury Boat Festival
We continue to try and keep our home Ichthus looking as tidy as possible. She is named after the greek IXOYE, which is the name for fish, and some may be familiar with the ferocious dinosaur fish called and ichthyosaur. It also has another meaning, and one very special to a Christian’s heart. The letters individually stand for Jesus Christ God’s Son Saviour, and you may be familiar with the fish symbol seen on the side of our boat.
We arrived back in June in Aldermaston for what was supposed to be a quick blacking job on the hull; a bit of routine housekeeping which needs to be done every four or five years. However it was apparent when Ichthus was out of the water there was a problem with the hull. Both sides were very badly pitted probably as a result of another boat being moored close to us with a wrongly wired electrical supply. What had happened is the metal on our boat dissolved and was deposited onto the other boat! There were scores of pits on both sides which meant a long and expensive welding job was needed. Dave the manager at Aldermaston and his staff rallied round and within two weeks we were back in the water with a hull that should last another twenty years. There were also friends from our church, and others in our ministry who rallied round with comforting words, practical support (I still cannot get over a couple who thanked us for letting them paint our boat!) and those who gave financial help to us. Bless you all! It was a very wonderful but humbling few weeks.
If you would like to help support us, either with a one off gift, or a small monthly offering please contact our treasurer on our website: www.canalministries.org.uk
We are safe however in His promise that: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
May He continue to Bless and care for you all
John and Barbara Froggatt