2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland (formerly Baptist Union of Ireland) in 1895. In February 1895 there was a “call to prayer” issued to the churches, encouraging them to plead with God to move among our churches. Wishing to echo that sentiment the Executive Committee of the Association have issued a similar call: “unite to pray.”
Throughout 2020 the College will draw your attention to this call to “unite to pray” with a monthly “Friends of the College” blog post linked to the “unite to pray” prayer diary. The May notes encourage us to pray for the churches in County Down. A former student of the College, Henry Capper, currently serves in the Comber church and has written about the challenges facing them in these days:
Has there ever been a time in your life where you have enjoyed, or endured, so much free time? For many of us, our lives have ground to a halt over the last couple of months due to Covid-19. This is a strangely unique time that we are all experiencing, and I for one do not want to waste the free time I have. There has never been a better time to grow through our regular disciplines of prayer and Bible reading.
We are being called to unite in prayer, and specifically for our churches. During this opening week of May, we are thinking of our churches in Co. Down. Since March 2019 I have been working with the Comber church as their ‘Community and Youth Worker’. As you could no doubt imagine my job has looked very different over the last number of months. Having been working with Comber Baptist for over a year now I have increasingly become more thankful for the time I spent as an undergraduate student at IBC. During that time I learnt so much of the core biblical doctrines that underpin my faith today. I am indebted to the faithful teaching that was offered to me from the lecturers as they prepared us for the world of ministry. One particularly helpful piece of advice that has assisted me is the importance of being patient. Effective ministry does not occur overnight. Relationships take time. Implementing beneficial programmes and ideas take time.
On that note, could you pray for the church family in Comber and our current ministry endeavours? Pray that our planned online services and devotions would be God honouring, encourage many and connect with countless others. Pray also that those who do not have access to our online resources would not feel isolated but know the gracious care and presence of our Lord. Pray that all of us would long to be reunited once again as a gathered church.
We have also been called to unite and pray that we would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Growing in sound, biblical knowledge is a necessity for any Christian. During these strange days that we are experiencing it is, above all, crucial to discern the wisdom of the Lord. We have more time than ever to read our Bibles and glean from its everlasting truths.
As I continue to study as a Masters student at IBC I want to use this time well as I read required books. However, one of the greatest areas of temptation I find as a student is to read Scripture and theological books as an end in itself, rather than the means. Desiring to increase in knowledge is a worthy exercise but it is never the end goal for a Christian. What we learn and know about God always must directly connect with how we live. Knowledge is to supplement our faith according to the Apostle Peter (2 Pet. 2:5), it is not to be the ultimate goal of our faith. However, that does not make knowledge anything less for a Christian.
Let us pray that we use these days and weeks, for however long they may last, to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and so that we would better embody Christlikeness as individuals and as churches.