August 2004
Dear Friends

Into the last few weeks now, before moving! The last couple of weeks has been a round of farewells and goodbyes, to schools, groups, circuit churches and churches from other denominations etc. it's a very draining time, but immensely encouraging to hear so many folk say such nice things about us and give us such nice presents. Langley Mill Infants presented me with a new waistcoat designed by the children; Brookhill Leys Infants gave me a waistcoat shaped card and a farewell card for Eric. A lady in Mansfield Road ladies group even gave me a pair of long johns because she knew how cold it can be in Ripley!!

It has felt like a long haul ever since the news of our move to Ripley first broke; why? Because we really do feel as though we're leaving much loved family behind, for that is what you have become to us all. Many folk have kindly said to us "You're not going to be far away!" but in many ways that short distance has made the move harder. Just imagine if you lived in a neighbouring street to your children but you weren't allowed to be a part of their lives and you could only watch as someone else looked after them; That's how it feels to me at this time. We really do have a mixture of excitement, apprehension, but also sorrow and bereavement.

And that's simply come about because of the incredible amount of love and affection we have received. This has allowed our family to be the people God wants us to be. It has been here in Erewash that Rebecca and Vikki have grown into such fine young ladies, each with such promise and potential to work for Jesus; it has been here that Alison has heard and responded to the call to be a Reader in the Church of England; and it has been here that I found such wonderful support during the times I lost my hearing and my eyesight. I value that enormously. I also believe that it was here that my own Ministry has developed and my love for Jesus deepened. I thank you all for the part you played in that.

Please understand that I am not flannelling, when I say that to us "the people of the Erewash Valley, and especially the people of Eastwood, Heanor and Langley Mill, are the salt of the earth." Too often people will run down our area, denigrate us because of where we live. As this letter will go onto the worldwide web (via St. Andrew's website) let me shout it to the whole world "Here are the people of God!"

Scripture says that "you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God ." (1 Peter 2:9) so stand tall, be proud of who you are, don't be ashamed or apologetic for believing in Jesus. YOU are a child of God.

However, with that privilege comes responsibility. The second part of that same verse reads ".. that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."

Be proud of your calling to be God's children, but never lose sight of the need to sing His praises and tell others about Him. That is why we have been chosen, given the privilege of having God as our Father, to praise Him and to tell others through that praise of who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

We do this through our words, our actions, our love for others, our support and our care of others; we do it through the way we live our lives; lives dedicated to Jesus Christ, and lives lived in gratitude for all that He has done for us.

I will continue to pray for you all, and to all my family at St. Andrew's, Beauvale, Newthorpe Common, Brinsley, Heanor, Mansfield Road, St. John's and

Langley Mill Baptist Church I wish you well and may God bless you all powerfully as you work to His praise and glory.

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