Last night we held our annual Light Party. We did the same sorts of things that we usually do – we played some games with the kids, ate some food and watched a short video (see here) followed up with some even shorter comments. Despite the fact that we basically did all the same things that we usually do, the evening felt particularly encouraging.
First, there was the whole anniversary thing. Despite the fact that we would have held a Light Party anyway, there was something special meeting 500 years to the day that Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg. It added to the sense of occasion, specifically given those in the room (more on which shortly).
Second, there were the numbers present. Somebody counted nearly 60 people in the room, around 25 or so were children. For an area like ours, dominated by South Asian Muslims, this is no small return. Over half of the people in the room were non-white and drawn from Muslim backgrounds – although some of these were Iranian converts in membership or regular attendance at the church, this was an encouraging reminder of the Spirit’s work in recent years. Even more excitingly, largely as a result of the relationships built through our regular English Classes, we had the largest attendance of Muslims we have seen at any Light Party I can recall. Several Pakistani and Bangladeshi families (around 20 people in total), joined us for the evening. This was highly encouraging, particularly in an area like ours, and was clear evidence of the Spirit at work.
Third, there was encouraging gospel input. We watched the Go Chatter video about the Reformation and, in addition to this, drew out some brief gospel points. Beyond this, church members were engaging with Muslim people and talking of Christ. There was a willingness to engage and discuss gospel truth. Not only was this encouraging of itself, these relationships will go on beyond this one evening with opportunities to build upon such conversations. A few years ago, such an opportunity would have been utterly unthinkable in Glodwick and many members would have baulked at the suggestion. Again, the Spirit is clearly working.
What perhaps struck me the most was that our Light Party followed an almost identical pattern to the last three years. We planned it, we prayed for it, we invited. There was nothing unusual in the games, food or effort to share the gospel. Yet the Lord brought folk in and provided us with clear gospel opportunities to connect with Muslims and others from the local area.
It is a reminder that the work is the Lord’s, not ours. It is a reminder that our call is to faithfulness and it is the Lord’s to give the increase. It is a reminder that despite whatever discouragements may exist, the harvest remains plentiful and people are prepared to hear the gospel proclaimed. It is a reminder that even a simple and small act of faithfulness – whether nailing up some papers to spark an academic debate or holding a simple party to share the gospel – can yield results that we had never conceived possible because the Lord chose to bless them.
SDG. SDG indeed.