As St David’s Day dawns so does the last month of Sabbatical. What has happened so far, and what is planned for the remainder?
The Story So Far
I mentioned in my previous update that the pattern from the end of January is mainly of a week away followed by a week at home. Here are some highlights of trips away. Not because time at home is not interesting, but because it is harder to write about the excitement of reading and thinking, and breathing.
When I last wrote I was about to travel to Ghana for a week’s training on adult education. What a delightful and refreshing trip! The workshop, organised by Langham Preaching, was to equip their trainers and facilitators, enabled me to catch up with the training that my co-workers in Togo and Benin received last year. I was also able to spend time with men I have worked with in Togo and Burkina Faso, as well as to meet Femi and Emeka, Langham’s coordinators for Africa. At least four of the Africans present had attended the Cornhill Training Course in London and we found we had a number of mutual friends. (For Wembdon people, Ben Burge currently attends this course in London).
The following week we went as a family to Birmingham to help City Church think through some issues in Parenting, as well as take a sightseeing trip round the amazing library, and of course have a curry.
If I remember rightly, Birmingham was my second-choice university if I did not get the grades I needed. Had that happened, I think it might have been OK.
John Stott’s books exerted a significant influence on my Christian life. They still do. Langham Partnership was also the fruit of his vision, and it was a privilege to spend a week’s retreat at the Hookses in Pembrokeshire, where John Stott (now in glory) wrote most of his fifty or so books. I was there with writer and speaker Mark Meynell (also an associate Director with Langham Preaching). He mainly wrote and I mainly read. We both ate, walked and talked. Since the main house was unoccupied, we had a peaceful time, except for storm Doris.
On Sunday I will travel (DV) to Dakar, Senegal, to take part in a Langham seminar. I had hoped to be observing to learn from Mike, the experienced trainer who oversees the francophone work, but the seminar has been so heavily subscribed that they have started a second track. As a result I will be teaching one track and Mike leading the other. Nevertheless it will be good to be teaching again, and I hope to put into practice some of the ideas picked up in Ghana. Although there is inevitably a lot of work, I usually find these trips refreshing.
The final overseas trip will be to the Bible Institute in Brussels and to visit a church in one of the regions where friends of ours are in pastoral ministry. I am looking forward to returning to the country where I spend my early childhood, as well as meeting with friends to encourage and be encouraged.
I mentioned my vow to spare you the weekly essay. But to prove that I am alive, I thought I would bake a cake each week. Pictures have appeared on facebook to show the progression of sponges. I did not bake while in Ghana of course. For some reason I thought that the Hookses would not be equipped for baking, but I was wrong. However the nearest shop is an hour’s round trip, which was too far to pop out for some eggs, flour, and flour. Maybe next time.
If you’re a praying person
Thank you for praying for me, and for us as a family, and for the church. Please continue. Please pray that I would be an encouragement to the various people I will meet and work with over the coming weeks, and that the rest of the Sabbatical will prepare me to return to parish ministry with renewed vigour and vision.