PENTECOST

This Sunday we look forward to celebrating one of the greatest days in the history of the church – Pentecost. The powerful outpouring, transforming, filling of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the church.

Rather than reading today friends, be blessed with the following clip (4 mins). A visual representation of a defining moment. As you watch it, may your heart and soul be stirred, blessed, and ignited. More than that,  may we hunger and pray to see such a day in the life of all our churches today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLa-lj0zCGg

D. MacNeil

Praying For The Persecuted Church

In celebrating Pentecost, the day the Church of Christ was birthed, we want to stand with and for all those who are part of the persecuted church. We hear frequent stories of incredible suffering, cost and sacrifice, and all of this is being exacerbated since the Covid-19 pandemic.

I want to draw your attention to two countries today that we can pray for, but please also pray for other parts of the world. As we thank God afresh for our religious freedom, we pray in earnest for those who don’t have it. ‘Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.’ (Hebrews 13v3)

NORTH KOREA:-

The 2020 World Watch List revealed that 1 in 8 Christians worldwide are persecuted for their faith, a figure that has risen in recent years.

North Korea has been the No. 1 most dangerous country for Christians for 19 consecutive years. Christians are spied on, abused, and imprisoned for their faith. Open Doors estimates that 50,000 secret believers live within the walls of the country’s intricate prison system.

North Korea is often in the news for the political actions and human rights violations of its regime. There is serious concern that a COVID-19 outbreak would lead to devastating results—in a country with little healthcare and dilapidated hospitals. So far, North Korea has yet to confirm any cases. “I humbly request your prayers for the North Korean people—my people,” A former prisoner shares. “Pray for the vision to open the hearts to care for the people they lead, particularly the children and the elderly.”

INDIA:-

Christians in India face horrific levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year. Several states in India have adopted anti-conversion laws, and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party – the ruling political party)  have made it clear that they would like to make these laws nationwide. Such laws are often used as an excuse to disrupt church services and harass Christians and make it incredibly dangerous for Christians to share their faith with others.

Hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians in India are being severely affected. As previously shared, the lockdown is having a devastating effect on the huge number of Indians who are daily wage labourers and now can’t get food. As another Open Doors partner shared, “In the slum areas people are now totally dependent upon the food being distributed by the government and social organisations. We constantly receive calls and messages from Christian communities where people have no food for their children or family members. It is heart-breaking to hear about the difficulties our brothers and sisters are going through”.

India’s poorest communities – where many of the country’s Christians live – are also particularly vulnerable to the virus. There’s no space for social distancing in a slum, and hygiene levels are always low. “Masks and sanitisers would be a luxury for them,” says an Open Doors partner. “They don’t have even one proper set of clothes to cover their bodies, nor soap to wash their hands.”  

In many cases, even before the lockdown, Christians in India were denied access to water, education, or government rations on the basis of their faith. In Jharkhand, for instance, Christians were made to use a river used for sewerage for their drinking water. In another town, Hindu extremists put a picture of a Hindu god on the local water pump for drinking water and said Christians couldn’t use it. This will only get worse during this current crisis. Please remember them in prayer.

This article was complied with information from Open Doors - https://www.opendoorsuk.org/

D.MacNeil

Mental Health Awareness Week

Here at ESPS Ministries we are in full support of and very grateful for Mental Health Awareness Week UK 18-24th May.

According to statistics 1 in 6 people in the UK will experience mental health issues each year. In recent times there has been a welcome increase in the amount of organisations who are profiling and providing support for Mental Health issues. This is an issue close to our hearts as we look to provide support and encouragement for those in ministry.

Sadly there still appears to be stigma and a silence around mental health in many of our churches and Christian ministries. Many pastors, pastors spouses, and leaders have done, and still do, suffer in silence, isolation, and despair, feeling a sense of shame and guilt preventing them from speaking out. There can be a false belief and a mis-informed theology of illness where any sickness in body or mind is interpreted as weakness, sin, or a test of our faith, so the fear to speak out and seek help can be enormous. Vulnerability, trust issues, and life in the goldfish bowl can also shackle many from reaching out for the help they desperately need.

Lies need to be confronted and broken. We need to allow ourselves to process our true thoughts, feelings, and needs, as well as confronting the often negative internal dialogue concerning what other people may think about us. Shame also needs to be broken, especially if a person is on sick leave or is taking prescribed medication. These are actually part of the wonderful provision God makes for us to help us move towards wholeness and wellbeing.

A fresh perspective of the truth of who we are, and how we can get help to recover is needed. All of this needs to be talked about freely. We also need a fresh understanding and experience of the unconditional love and compassion of God for each of us.

The Covid -19 pandemic has left many people feeling more fragile in their mental health. Many pastors are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, are over functioning and even facing burnout by supporting others without getting support themselves.

Don’t suffer or struggle in silence. Speak out. We cannot help others when we ourselves need help. If we as a ministry can support you in any way, then please do get in touch. If you would just like to chat, or if we can sign post you to some of the many helpful organisations available, let us know.

As well as being here to listen, if it would be of help to you, please share your story and experience with us by email, especially if you think it may help others. Anything you share will be treated with the strictest confidence.

And don’t forget friends - be kind, to yourself as well as to others.

God Bless.

D.MacNeil

Mental Health Awareness Week

Here at ESPS Ministries we are in full support of and very grateful for Mental Health Awareness Week UK 18-24th May.

According to statistics 1 in 6 people in the UK will experience mental health issues each year. In recent times there has been a welcome increase in the amount of organisations who are profiling and providing support for Mental Health issues. This is an issue close to our hearts as we look to provide support and encouragement for those in ministry.

Sadly there still appears to be stigma and a silence around mental health in many of our churches and Christian ministries. Many pastors, pastors spouses, and leaders have done, and still do, suffer in silence, isolation, and despair, feeling a sense of shame and guilt preventing them from speaking out. There can be a false belief and a mis-informed theology of illness where any sickness in body or mind is interpreted as weakness, sin, or a test of our faith, so the fear to speak out and seek help can be enormous. Vulnerability, trust issues, and life in the goldfish bowl can also shackle many from reaching out for the help they desperately need.

Lies need to be confronted and broken. We need to allow ourselves to process our true thoughts, feelings, and needs, as well as confronting the often negative internal dialogue concerning what other people may think about us. Shame also needs to be broken, especially if a person is on sick leave or is taking prescribed medication. These are actually part of the wonderful provision God makes for us to help us move towards wholeness and wellbeing.

A fresh perspective of the truth of who we are, and how we can get help to recover is needed. All of this needs to be talked about freely. We also need a fresh understanding and experience of the unconditional love and compassion of God for each of us.

The Covid -19 pandemic has left many people feeling more fragile in their mental health. Many pastors are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, are over functioning and even facing burnout by supporting others without getting support themselves.

Don’t suffer or struggle in silence. Speak out. We cannot help others when we ourselves need help. If we as a ministry can support you in any way, then please do get in touch. If you would just like to chat, or if we can sign post you to some of the many helpful organisations available, let us know.

As well as being here to listen, if it would be of help to you, please share your story and experience with us by email, especially if you think it may help others. Anything you share will be treated with the strictest confidence.

And don’t forget friends - be kind, to yourself as well as to others.

God Bless.

D.MacNeil

Be A Woman Of Perseverance

I love reading stories in the Bible of ordinary women of faith who had a great gift of perseverance. Women who feared God above all else and were utterly faithful to His call and commission on their lives. They have left such a legacy for us to be encouraged by as we see their devotion to and love for God as the greatest driving force, despite all odds.

Some of the more well-known women we glean from include Sarah, Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Mary mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. There are also lesser known women whose lives of perseverance were noteworthy like Shiphrah and Puah – the midwives who refused Pharaohs order to murder all baby boys. There was also Phoebe who is mentioned by Paul as having a position of leadership in a cultural time when women weren’t as accepted as men in leadership. These women and many more are mentioned throughout God’s word as examples and encouragement for us.

As well as biblical examples, many of us will also be able to think of godly women in our own family, churches, or friendship circle whose persevering spirit has left a profound mark on us to this day.

Perseverance is so very important for every Christian. It’s what ‘keeps us keeping on’ as it were. It keeps us faithfully following Jesus, faithfully loving and obeying, faithfully enduring trials and overcoming temptation. It means we keep going and don’t give up. It’s operating from a place of faith not feelings. It’s being steadfast and immovable, enduring and pressing forward through difficulties, discouragement, and even opposition.

Thinking specifically of pastors wives today, perseverance keeps us focused on following God’s call in supporting our husbands in ministry. It keeps us focussed on our faith when circumstances make us want to flee in fear. Perseverance also keeps us praying for and encouraging our children in their faith, and loving them through every mistake they may make. Perseverance reminds us that the reward is worth the endurance, no matter what comes our way personally or in our church experience. It’s not just a good attribute, it’s also a mandate from God to persevere and not give up. ‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him’. (James 1v12)

At times we will feel discouraged, weary or wounded, but perseverance means we will not give up. History testifies to the great victories from both individuals and armies who persevered. Church history also testifies to the perseverance of those who were utterly devoted to following the will of God in spreading the gospel regardless of the cost.

Whatever it means for you and I to persevere, always remember that God can use both positive and negative situations as a platform to shape, mould, and mature us. We are not enduring or persevering on our own strength. It is in God and by His grace that we do so.

What a beautiful legacy to flow form our lives to bless others and bring glory to His name. There is a glorious day coming where heaven will reveal our victories, where persevering brought breakthrough, and breakthrough brought  blessing.

D. MacNeil