Hearing God’s voice during lockdown
Lockdown has meant more time (for many) to spend with God in prayer and study, to reflect and listen to what He is saying about the future. Sue Wetherall reflects on how God has spoken to Emmanuel Church at Ham Christian Centre and how He is starting to bring new life into being
From 'Flicker to Flame'
Over the many years of faithful service, our little church was continuing to dwindle in numbers, despite having had encouragements that this church was to 'never give up, never give up' as one of our precious ladies, who is now 93 and homebound said with much conviction.
We had also had encouragements from two ladies within the LBA who had spent a day with us, and also felt that this church was not to close.
One of our leaders had retired through ill-health some months ago.
'Lord, what is happening, guide us and lead us, please'
I had been asked to be a leader nearly three years ago. We fasted and prayed.
In October 2019, He gave us Revelation 3:7-8
“And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write:
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens, and no-one will shut,
and who shuts and no-one will open, says this:
I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut,
because you have little power and kept my word, and have not denied my name."
This was with a picture of a young plant growing and another with three candles and a pile of white stones.
Despite the encouragements, the church continued to dwindle in numbers. We were already down to three or four at most. With two leading and two who often didn't come due to ill health, or went elsewhere, things were not looking good.
Then one of the leaders was diagnosed with a very progressive cancer in April 2020 and has now been promoted to Glory.
Covid came with all its challenges.
During the lockdown, I joined Hampton Wick Baptist Church zoom, and was really blessed and encouraged.
Yet, and yet, my heart was with Emmanuel Church at Ham Christian Centre.
God seemed to be impressing on me that He would download strategy to me.
I had no idea in what context this would be. I do belong to an intercessory prayer group so we prayed.
Then on 18 June, I received a prophetic word for my life, but also for the church in Ham.
The opening of this word was 'I have called you to lead!!!
You see, I have always seen myself as a good 'seconder', an assistant or helper, but God had other plans. He had been preparing me for such a time as this. For years!
I had to get out of my box, my comfort zone, for that it what it was and jump 'into His arms' and His Church.
His plans. His strategy. I am one who had struggled with doing anything in public but fine, one to one!
God graciously gave His strategy for Emmanuel Church with His instructions.
For the last few months, I had been studying the Book of Nehemiah. This was to be the bedrock of God's Plan for Emmanuel Church. The Bible says that 'without a vision, we perish'
Although God did not want this church to close, we had no vision for the new season.
Nehemiah had been given a VISION by God - to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
He was in exile (lockdown). He went before the King of Babylon and could have lost his head. God gave Nehemiah favour. He asked the king to allow him to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Not only that, he asked the King for safe passage, through marauding lands, back to Jerusalem. Also, for the money and tools for the task. After all he had no money of his own. What faith! He went and re-built the walls with a TEAM in 52 days!
Although I cannot produce the whole strategy for our church, I will give some of the points, fitting in with Nehemiah's vision from God.
That Emmanuel will be a team ministry. This is the season for team ministry. At this time, there was only me in a lovely building!
Keep to the vision that He gave
Enquire of the Lord in everything
Keep the unity of the Spirit
Keep a short account of wrongs. Deal with them quickly.
To clear the church from all hiring's. He will provide as we seek Him, 'because as the prophecy he gave me says 'I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail'
Prepare the church to be used throughout the week
He will bring in many ministries.
The community of Ham will be impacted and many families will be saved.
Persecution will arise, but as we seek Him, we shall rise above
(In the book of Nehemiah, Sanballat and Tobiah and those they influenced, gave Nehemiah a hard time, but Nehemiah kept his eye on the 'ball), the vision God had given him.
So, as we have taken a small step to meet again in the Church. God has already added with four mature believers who have prayed and believe they are being called to Emmanuel.
They are people of prayer. I have known all of them for many years.
God is so good. He is the Master Builder. He is re-building this little Church, which has a rich history, brick by brick.
This reflection was shared during the Small Church Connexion zoom webinar in September, where 47 people across the country gathered to share experiences of recent months - click here for the general report