Paul Standley is one of the Trustees of Canal Ministries and, with his wife Sue, have bought a boat which they seek to use for the Lord.
Since getting their Day Boat in March 2019, they have taken various groups and individuals for short cruises on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Those with limited mobility have been particularly blessed, as the boat has disabled access.
On each trip, in the glorious Pennines, they try and share something of the Lord and always pray before setting out. In addition, they have had conversations on the towpath.
Since returning to our home mooring in July, Ten Thousand Reasons has been running trips, including for the local care home, when the disabled access was used to good effect. We started our soup run again on Wednesdays and have been able to share and pray with people.
We sense there is real need among boaters as well as people in general. The opportunities for sharing God's love and introducing people to the new life available in Jesus are very real. The boat is an "ice breaker" and often enables conversations to start up.
11 May was our date of departure from Barnoldswick to begin our long journey to Milton Keynes for the Water Eaton Mission. Ten Thousand Reasons has only been used on the summit level of the Leeds Liverpool Canal, so when we came in sight of Barrowford Locks we felt like Hobbits leaving the Shire.
But all along, God has been good and given us the help we have needed. Initially, we had friends and CRT volunteers helping us with locks. But, as our journey progressed onto the Trent and Mersey, Sue gained the confidence to helm into locks. Chris and Sally joined us in Sale and the fellowship we have had has been great.
We met a man who flagged Chris down to do some gas work, then when the job was finished I was able to pray with him. He was a Christian who had had no fellowship for months. Chris prayed for a man while in a lock, and we have had many other opportunities to share with people and give out literature.
We are now half way through the Mission, many lives have been touched. At least one person has given their life to Christ and the Churches have been encouraged. The disabled access on Ten Thousand Reasons has been well used to give a special time to people whose lives are quite restricted.
Tonight is the folk evening. We have had School Groups on the boat today and we look forward to Saturday's family fun day. On Sunday, Paul has the privilege of speaking at the joint service at the Water Eaton Church Centre and Sue will give a Testimony.
Then on Monday we start the long journey home. Please pray for us.
On 11 May 11 we plan, God willing, to start our journey south from Barnoldswick to Milton Keynes for the Water Eaton Mission. Ten Thousand Reasons has provision for those with limited mobility to get on board, so she will be very useful.
It will be a long journey of the type Sue and I have never done before, so we would value your prayers. Chris and Sally Buck have kindly offered to help us from Sale onwards and we look forward to fellowship and working alongside them on the journey.
We are increasingly excited about this and have seen several confirmations that it is right. Included in these are Colin and Miriam, who will be staying in our house while we are away and working among the Muslim Community in a neighbouring town. We have also have people to help us with locks down the Leeds Liverpool.
We have been able to take several groups out before we go away and have found Roger Carswell's tract on the Queen's Platinum Jubilee a useful resource and well received by our guests on the boat.
Since September, we given a group of Hungarians a trip. After this, we have focussed on the Wednesday Soup Run, although a local Care Home have booked trips in February and April.
The Soup Run has been very blessed. Each time we pray that God will bring people to the boat, and He does. We have also made links with two other local charities, “Share the Care” and “Church on the Street”.
The Saturday before Christmas we did the Christmas Trail / Santa Run. We didn't have quite as many doing the trail as last year, but this was made up for by random encounters. We met the Pendle Paddlers and distributed gifts while we passed (very slowly and carefully) and two Muslim men who came on board for pictures said we had given them joy.
God willing we will continue the Soup Run until Easter and then plan to cruise to Water Eaton for the Mission, with the help of Chris and Sally.
Ten Thousand Reasons is now a Small Skippered Passenger Boat, licenced for up to eight passengers. She also has community boat status with Canal and River Trust. We offer cruises for those who, for various reasons, may not otherwise be able to have such a day out.
We cater for retreats, small group meetings and people in need of emotional and spiritual support. We have recently taken out a group of ladies experiencing either illness or bereavement, and they all found the cruise and being together a blessing. We also hosted a men’s group from a local Church and one young man became a Christian. That was a source of great rejoicing!
We continue to serve free soup and drinks at Coates Wharf (just off the Skipton Road along from Aldi) in Barnoldswick from 12 till 2 on Wednesdays.
On Good Friday we moored at four places between Greenberfield Locks and Salterforth, giving out free hot cross buns and drinks. Along with these we gave out about forty copies of "Are we nearly there yet?", a children's Easter Book. These were very well received.
We were able to share the Gospel and also meet up with Christians from different fellowship in the town. Following this, we have moored at Coates Wharf on Wednesday lunch times serving drinks and biscuits. Each week week it is wonderful how God brings people to us. Some are old friends, others we have not met before, but we are able share and give them copies of our leaflet.
"Last year (2019), we used our boat Ten Thousand Reasons for short outings on the beautiful summit level of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. It was a joy to bless many people.
The peace of the canal helped a friend with terminal cancer and her husband. Elderly people benefited from our disabled access, and friends of our daughter with additional needs were excited by being on the canal.
Sadly, this year (2020) we have been unable to take people out in the same way. So when Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick announced significant redundancies, we asked God specifically about how we could use Ten Thousand Reasons.
The thought came that we should serve takeaway soup from the boat. Sue ran with the idea, ordered biodegradable bowls and spoons, and we set a date to start.
Paul and Sue Standley
Halfway through her pregnancy, our eldest daughter had a scan and was told that the baby had a serious brain abnormality. She was told he would either be severely disabled, or not survive at all. However, she and her husband felt it right to give the baby a chance. Sixteen weeks later he was born. Another scan showed he still had the same problems but, amazingly, he was developing normally. To this day, his only difficulty is a slight problem with his balance. During the anxious days of the pregnancy, we kept singing a song called "Ten Thousand Reasons".
These are the words of the second verse:
"You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger,
Your name is great and You’re heart is kind,
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find."
We knew that God was still kind and still in control, and there were many reasons to praise Him. The remarkable thing is that our grandson has grown up loving music and from about two years old he would sing Ten Thousand Reasons at the top of his voice strumming on his toy guitar. He is now five and thriving.
Many of us have times of suffering in our lives because we live in a broken world, But, we believe there is a God to whom we can turn. He knows everything about us and He has shown His love by sending His Son, Jesus, into our world. He showed us what God is like and died so that, by trusting in Him, we can be forgiven of everything that separates us from God.
There is a verse in the Bible which sums up this good news:
"God so loved the world that he gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16
In Jesus Name & Love
Paul and Sue Standley