A wonderful day yesterday, meetings organised by dear friend Simon Allaby, and – much to my astonishment – Graham Jefferson: I’ve known Graham since about 1985, when he was Pastor of New Life Church, Durrington, Worthing, and I (then, among other things) ran a Christian video library (Video Aid – remember it??). Over the years our paths crossed, but not since the early ’90s. Graham heads up ‘Fresh Streams’, the charismatic pastors wing of the Baptist Church, in the south east: Simon does a similar job for ‘New Wine’ – so it was a day of cross-denominations, meeting other old friends, and God doing some wonderful things for people. So good to see people from totally different backgrounds coming together in genuine friendship.
When I saw Graham walk in to the venue – a beautiful brand new Anglican church, St Andrews, in Furnace Green, I thought to myself, ‘Goodness, he really looks like Graham Jefferson…!’. Had a lovely time reconnecting with him, his successor at New Life, Phil & Rebecca Amos: Phil had arrived with his right ankle heavily strapped, with Achilles tendon damage, so I asked him if he was runner: he is, and especially wanted to play in a football match on his son’s stag day – Saturday! Off came the strapping, achilles healed – literally!
The Vicar of St Andrews is a fantastic guy. Richard Poole, a man with a huge vision, and a church so welcoming, with the most amazing hospitality to go with their wonderful premises. I’d like to think that our paths will cross again in the future, got on so, so well with him.
Another lovely Baptist guy, Philip Cook, from Portslade Baptist, West Sussex, arrived with a 12 year history of ankylosing spondylitis (I have no idea if that’s how you spell it!) – his spine crumbling from the top down, and the bottom up, with one titanium disc and multiple surgeries doing nothing more than add to the intense 24/7 pain. All Philip’s pain went: what that means in terms of his spine, only a scan will tell, but something must have happened to it as he was healed of all pain…
A good few others had a significant reduction in spinal/back pain, too: and it was great to have not only Simon there to pray with people, but my lovely buddy Mark Hendley came down from Maidstone, for the morning sessions (9.30 – 2pm – though that was more like 3 pm by the time we’d finished praying!): and then the lovely Glyn Moreton & Gerry Page came for the evening, from Old Town Community Church, Eastbourne, so they got stuck in, too! Glyn & Simon were with me in Cali, Colombia last November: and Mark & Gerry will be with me, along with Simon, this November! Leading the worship – outstandingly – all day, was long-time friend Nick Harding (he with the ‘named after me’ second son!!), his brother Steve, and a guy from Nick’s church, Paul. Nick will ALSO be in Cali in November, so it was a sort of practice day for the guys!
And, to mark a truly remarkable day, Sue Attwood, formerly of Eastbourne, now Littlehampton, came: Sue was one of my sister’s best friends at Victoria Drive Baptist Church, Eastbourne – 50 years ago! We reckoned it’s about that long since we last saw each other – I was in short trousers then, so it might even have been longer. It was so lovely to see her.
All in all, a wonderful day, with many healed, others in process. Richard told us at the end that he, and another Crawley curate, should have been a the Deanery Synod: the curate commented to Richard that normally he’d go to that meeting, and have all life and hope drained out of him, but last night, he left pumped up, fired up, and full of faith… they’re the testimonies I love as much as anything!!
So, a genuine ‘flying visit’ to Sussex – over Tuesday night, back home this afternoon, tired, sore knees, but elated….