"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:1.
As we begin writing this prayer letter, Gospel Belle has recently left the centre of Birmingham, which they say has more canals than Venice. It has been a good opportunity to see how Gas Street Basin has been regenerated to make the best of the canal. But, beneath the lovely restaurants and entertainment, there are some very sad and poor people. We met a young man who was a Christian but, because of the bad things he had done, frequently resorted to drugs to blot out the past. We reminded him that the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. We encouraged him to go back to the Christian rehab centre that has helped him in the past. We pray he did.
We are on our way back to the Somerset Coal Canal near Bath and should arrive sometime near end of September. We hope to spend a little time on the Thames, before entering the Kennet and Avon Canal. The journey to the Llangollen Canal was not without its problems. We broke down twice, but thank God for His provision to get us moving again, with much reduced costs for the repairs and wonderful engineers.
It was well worth the journey as we arrived in Ellesmere to start the Mission on the 28 July until the 5 August. God really blessed this time, with lots of opportunities to give out Bibles, New Testaments, “Super Cool Jesus” books for the children and “Why Jesus?” booklets. The weather was really good, and many locals and holiday makers visited us along the canal. We had eight of our boats moored right near the town and every day we put on a coffee morning by the towpath, with arts and crafts for the children. Many people passing by used the prayer boat and it was encouraging to see so many interested in knowing more about Christianity. Three of our team preached at the local Churches and we felt that part of the Mission was to encourage the Churches in Mission. We had been invited by the Cellar Church but had opportunity to have fellowship with other local churches and had support from them with the events that were put on during the week.
There was a folk/gospel evening in the Ellesmere Arms, where Hazel and James (nb Gabriel) played. We spoke to the landlady afterwards and she was keen to put on more events. Please pray for her. She was very interested in what we were doing. Tracey and Tim (nb Sola Gratia) put on “The Blind Boater’s Talk”. Tracey gave the Gospel very clearly at the end and a number of people attending were really spoken to by the Holy Spirit and wanted to know more about Jesus. The Cellar Church had a youth night that some of our team attended as well, and it was good to see the young people join us on the towpath during the week. Chris and Sally (nb Kairos) had organised the Mission, as they had contacts with the Cellar Church. They have now felt led to stay in the area to continue the work. Please pray for many opportunities.
On the last Saturday, we put on an all-day event. John and Barbara (nb Ichthus) did the BBQ and cooked 200 sausages and 200 burgers. There were free cream teas (150 of them) and free boat trips. We lost count as to how many people asked: “Are you sure it is all free?”. It is a good witness in this day and age when we can offer a free day out to people. It also gave us a wonderful opportunity to talk about the Love of Jesus and the Gospel that is free to those who will accept because the price has been paid. Our musicians playing during the day and every hour one of the team would take the mic and give a short Christian talk.
The Mission ended on the Sunday evening with the team taking the service at the Cellar Church in Ellesmere, with people giving testimony, leading the worship and Chris preaching. Following on from the Mission, the leaders of the Church said that they didn’t know that evangelism along the canal could be so effective and would continue this after the mission. Praise the Lord!
As we have been cruising we have had opportunities to share the Gospel with those we have met. Peter got into conversation with a young man sitting on a seat in Nantwich. He began by talking about creation and God’s Love, which led on to him explaining why Jesus died on the cross. The man was receptive, and Peter gave him a “Why Jesus?” booklet. We pray that he accepted what God was offering him after reading it. We also have met men just walking the canals, needing food or a pair of shoes. Just lovely opportunities to show God’s Love to them.
Love in Jesus' Precious Name
Peter and Lin Atwill
NB Gospel Belle
Canal Ministries - sharing God's Love on the Inland Waterways.