We worship at Harefield Baptist Church and are committed to helping at certain regular events that they have at the church. Monday mornings Lin helps at a type of Mother & Toddler Group (term time only). Once a month we both help at “Meeting Point”, where the church cook a dinner for the villagers (mostly elderly, widowed or lonely). Also, we attend a fortnightly afternoon Study Group, which we take turns in leading the group.
Henry & I have will have been living on our narrowboat Trinity for 10 years in March . We haven’t got a permanent or winter mooring, so we are classed as “continuous cruisers” which requires us to move our boat every two weeks. We move between Harefield, Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, Watford and Kings Langley during the winter months. We participate in the Boaters Christian Fellowship/Canal Ministries Missions which are held on alternate years usually somewhere in the Midlands.
Over the years, we have got to know a lot of boaters in Rickmansworth who have residential moorings and we have a good on-going friendship with them. We help these boaters wherever we can with their needs and sometimes by listening to their concerns or problems, or other times it’s helping them with boat problems, both practically and financially through the generous donations that people have given to the Canal Ministries Charity.
Lin met a lady while I was in Hammersmith Hospital in January 2014, who lives with her husband in Watford. I told her that I lived on a narrow boat which was moored in Watford at that time and said she and her husband often cycle along the tow path in Cassiobury Park, so I asked her if she would like to visit us and she was very keen. We exchanged phone numbers and she and her husband have been on our boat for a cuppa and a chat and We are keeping in touch with each other and we met for lunch last September. She isn’t a Christian yet but said she was happy for me to pray for her for certain requests (not then and there, but at home) which was great.
Last March (2014), while I was walking Bess (our Lab/Collie dog) in Rickmansworth, I met a lady with her 3 year old daughter feeding the ducks with bread and of course Bess went up to them to see if they had dropped any crumbs, so I started talking to the lady. She lived nearby and I told her about our boat and that we lived on it and she said she would visit our boat. This she did a few days later and brought her husband and 3 children to see us and Henry and we had a great conversation with them. Of course we prayed for them later that evening as we do all the people we meet, and we shall meet up with them again when we are in Rickmansworth.
Last May Henry organised the Rickmansworth Boat Festival Sunday Service which was held at the lock in Rickmansworth. The Baptist pastor and his worship group conducted the successful service.
We had to leave before the festival as we were meeting Peter & Lin Atwill (nb Gospel Belle) in Braunston to travel to Wales together on our boats. I walked with Bess some of the time while we travelled along and put many “Peace of the Canals” tracts on stationary boats. Both Lin Atwill & I took every opportunity to talk to people and give them “Peace on the Canals” tracts.
On the Sunday morning (11th May 2014), we went with Peter & Lin to Hillmorton Anglican Church which was evangelical and not too formal. The lady Vicar told the congregation that we were members of Canal Ministries and should talk to us after the meeting which they did. A guest speaker gave an excellent talk. He spoke about not losing our focus on God by living in the past or having issues with past problems and not to be anxious about the future.
Our next stop was in the Coventry Basin in mid May when Henry & I met a lady called Cilla who said that she was a Christian. She was very interested in what we were doing. Then we met a guy in a disability scooter who stopped to chat. He who knew a friend of ours from Rickmansworth (it’s a small world). He willing took a “Peace of the Canals” tract as well.
The following Sunday, Henry & I went to Bedworth Anglican Church with BCF members Christine & Terry Rigden (nb Grace). Peter & Lin were in Hampshire visiting their family. At the church service Henry was asked to go to the front and speak about Canal Ministries which was good of them. Once again this was a very lively evangelical church with a large congregation. We spoke to a lot of people after the service about what we do and how we witness to people along the waterways.
The next stop was Tamworth and on the Sunday 25th May Henry & I went to Tamworth Elim Church (Peter was preaching in Braunston & Lin went with him). It was a good service with the Pastor Steve Jonathan & his wife Julie who greeted us warmly and they were interested to hear about Canal Ministries.
On our travels we went down some of the locks with a couple on their boat. I had a good conversation with the lady (called Anne), and she told me about her faith, or as she said the lack of it! After our conversation, she did accept a “Peace” tract.
The next place we stopped at was Gnosall and a guy on a bike stopped to talk to me as I was hanging the washing out. He also accepted a “Peace of the Canals” tract.
On the next Sunday, we all went to another Anglican church, St Mary’s in Market Drayton. It was a Pentecost service and everyone was very friendly. We always give the church leaders a Canal Ministries leaflet.
We continued to travel along with Peter & Lin and stopped in Marbury to attend the Anglican church with yet another evangelical vicar which was great. He gave a good message on the “Walls of Jericho”.
Henry thought of a great idea of what we could give to holiday boaters….a paper bag with the Gospel on it with chocolates in it and a tract on a card. Lin Atwill took it a step further with a clear plastic bag and wrapped chocolates in it and wrote the message called “The Gift” was mainly directed to holiday-makers with a lovely photo of two swans with 7 of their signets on the canal. Of course this “Gift” tract was a great success and we enjoyed giving them out and talking to the holiday boaters.
Other churches that we attended with Peter & Lin were in Ellesmere in the “Cellar Church” and Llangollen Evangelical Church.
We met three couples from New Zealand on a holiday boat and we talked to them, giving them a “Gift” tract (with chocolates).
When we were moored in Trevor (which is just outside Llangollen), we met an elderly divorced man who lived alone on his boat. He joined us for meals for two evenings. He poured out his “hurts” from his close family, but we were able to tell him about the comfort that the Lord could give him.
We went to a restaurant one lunch-time and met a couple with their 11 year old son. We got chatting and Henry gave them a bag of chocolates (“the Gift” with the card and Christian message).
We were near Chirk and there was a long queue of holiday boaters going through the locks further down from where we were moored, so we took the opportunity to walk down where they were and talked to them and gave all the rest of our bags of chocolates with the tract.
Peter & Lin went back to their mooring at the Somerset Coal Canal in Bath and we travelled back to Rickmansworth.
We did another Canal-side Carol Service in Rickmansworth on 13th December 2014. This event was very well attended and was a great success. We gave Christmas tracts to everyone as they left.
We were invited to the Batchworth residential boaters Christmas dinner after the Carols which we accepted along with Malcolm Lee a Waterways Chaplin. We were honoured to be there and got to know a few more of the boaters we did not know very well, (more opportunities’).
Henry & Lin