Happy New Year and may God bless you abundantly in 2019.
As we look back over 2018 we give thanks to God for all that he has achieved in and through us in the last year. The following gives a few highlights from the last year. In January I had a short trip to Ireland to see friends Dave and Heather Houlton installed in their new parish in LetterKenny. I had a snowy trip to Harrogate in February for the New Wine Leadership Conference which was very rewarding with teaching from Kris Valloton from Bethel, California on Poverty, Riches and Wealth. I’m just re-reading his book as I prepare a teaching series for our parish.
We had a wonderful worship evening in February to prepare for a mission trip to Pakistan. It was great to see friends from Slough, Chesham and Edgware worshiping together and dancing around the church to I want to Walk with Jesus Christ. The evening included the new St Margaret’s Handbell ensemble playing their first ever performance, and a band with talented friends from all over London and Chesham.
During the trip to Pakistan Hammad filmed the video for Paak Roo (Holy Spirit) and led worship in Lahore, Islamabad and Okara. (just discovered Hammad’s song is covered by choir in India on youtube!) I did some teaching for pastors in Youhanabad at Lahore Evangelical Ministries. We also invested in a replacement jeep, which turned out to be a time consuming and more expensive than anticipated with replacement gear box and clutch plate required. We spent an interesting day on the roadside in a remote part of the countryside waiting for the jeep to be fixed only to be towed home, while Hammad continued to Islamabad for the next show. We learnt lots of lessons in patience and trusting God through this experience. Thankfully the jeep is now working well.
Back in the UK Hammad was busy teaching guitar on the Stonegrove regeneration estate, culminating in a performance at the community Royal Wedding Celebration.
Easter was a joyous occasion with new community involvement. We held a Passover Supper for 72 with the help of Christian Mission among the Jews, the local Girl guides helped build the Easter Garden and the Deputy Mayor attended our Easter Sunday service. Our Palm Sunday walk of witness and outreach in the Town Centre including singing in the Broadwalk Shopping Centre with Edgware and District Churches encouraged to prayer walk the town to change the spiritual atmosphere.
We were blessed to see Shechem friends in April who helped us progressing our churchyard project to provide a sanctuary to the community of Edgware. The generosity of God and faithful believers leaving legacies to St Margaret’s has paid for a new lighting project, the redevelopment of our small church hall, and redecorating the church (which is happening this week).
On the home front we provided sanctuary to a church member who was in desperate need and stayed with us for 6 months. She is now settled with the right to work, a place to live and a job for income – Praise God. There was also good news and answers to prayer for Hammad’s Sister and family with a successful visa appeal and leave to remain in the UK. After years of hardship they can final start looking for work and feel secure in this country. We are blessed to have our friend Sarah the Bard still living with us and flourishing with new writing projects and youth work developing locally. We enjoyed shared ministry in music and community projects.
Our ministry in Edgware parish included taking 6 people through the CPAS growing leaders course; leading a parish weekend away to High Leigh conference centre where John and Ann Coles blessed us with teaching on the Prodigal Son and we blessed them with worship throughout the weekend. Sally ran her first confirmation course for 11 teenagers and 8 adults with several former Muslims among the group that were confirmed in July. Sally is supporting one potential candidate through the discernment process for ordained ministry and one candidate who is in training and on an extended placement with St Margaret’s before his curacy starts in 2019.
Sally’s application for Rector of Edgware Parish was unsuccessful but with good feedback from the Bishop and with the appointment as Sub Dean for the West Barnet Deanery, representative on Area council and Diocesan Synod there are many new challenges for her in 2019 we whilst continuing to grow the church spiritually and numerically in Edgware.
Our second year at New Wine gathering in the summer saw more people from the parish joining us camping at the Bath and Wells showground. This annual outing is strengthening the prophetic ministry within the parish and building confidence in hearing from God for the encouragement of others. This was also a good antidote to the distress of Hammad being attacked verbally and physically whilst doing music in Edgwarebury park at the beginning of July. It seems we must being doing something right as we have come under attack from strangers and so called friends as the enemy seeks to undermine our work for God. We thank God for the support of prayerful friends who have stood by us in difficult times.
In September we went on mission to US and Canada playing for Asian churches in New York, Philadelphia and Toronto. We were treated to a wonderful day trip on the River Hudson visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by our friends and partners in this mission Kamran and Maria Gill. Hammad did some guitar teaching with young people and we included kids’ songs in our worship sets to involve all ages. A last minute teaching opportunity allowed Sally to share testimony regarding a faithful lady from St Margaret’s who had just passed away. Organising a funeral via conference call from New York was unexpected but effective. This was the third funeral for significant church members this year and by the end of the year we had lost 5 of our senior members to glory. Funeral ministry continues to be an important part of God’s work for us here.
In October we held another fund raising concert to prepare for a mission trip to Pakistan. We gave an update and prayed for the situation with Asia Bibi hoping that she would be freed by the appeal court. Our prayers were answered and she was released in the middle of the tour. Fortunately Sally had just left Pakistan as the news was announced and missed all the rioting that followed her acquittal. We continue to pray that Asia Bibi will be allowed to leave Pakistan and enjoy her freedom. Hammad had a successful tour although had a few near misses and traveling adventures, but he was kept safe by God’s hand. Sally joined the peaceful protest outside the Pakistan Embassy in London to call for Asia Bibi’s right to freedom. The legacy from Hammad’s tour in Pakistan included two new videos for Christmas songs that were released just before Christmas( click these links to view in Youtube Noor-e Khuda and Charni Vich Dera). Sally also enjoyed sharing Growing Leaders material with the LEM pastors group in Youhanabad and visiting Lyn Masterson a missionary friend based in Lahore.
November and December were very busy months with a large parade and service to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI and the plethora of opportunities to share the good news of Christmas via nativity plays, carol services and meals for the community. We had the joy of sharing the Christmas story with Torch, a charity supporting blind and partial sighted people. Sally brought the story to life with sounds, smells and touch whilst Hammad led joyous carols in his distinctive style. We continue to enjoy life in a busy parish, and our often blessed by kind words, gifts and encouragement from people we meet. We have just spent a lovely three days resting in Latimer Hall with Xena, enjoying walks in the countryside and catching up with old friends for food and worship in Chesham.
Thank you to everyone who prayers for us regularly and supports us in so many ways. We apologise for not providing more regular updates on our website but sometimes we cannot announce our plans in advance because of multiple threats against Hammad in the last two years.
In 2019 we will release the new song that we wrote for St Margaret’s – The Shepherd’s Call and hopefully produce videos for one or two of our other English compositions.
May God bless you and your family in the coming year.