London Journal – Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today we set out for East London to attend the service of the Forest Gate Church, where Elias Moyo is the pastor.

I dragged a small but very heavy suitcase full of books from my friend Glenn Schwartz (and written by Glenn) to be delivered to Elias.

The service began about 10:45 and concluded soon after 1:00. As the service began, there were no more than 20 people present, but an hour later the long, narrow hall was nicely filled, with about 60 people. This building is the facility of a Seventh Day Adventist Church; the Forest Gate group rents it for Sunday services.

Elias had me give greetings from the church in North America and tell about my work and about he Brethren in Christ around the world. In the question and answer time people had a variety of questions:
What about the Pentecostal movement and the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit?
Can there be more interaction between our congregation and the team of missionaries who work in London?
What suggestions do you have for us as we try to relate to people of other religions?
They were especially moved by the report I had given on the suffering of the church in the state of Orissa in India.

Here are Pastor Elias and Fadzai.

Next, off to Speakers’ Corner to join our friends there to listen to the speakers and engage in conversation with anyone who wanted to talk.

A regular speaker is this man, who has strange political and religious views – as strange as his costume.

I did not venture a conversation with “Mr. Flag.” I did have meaningful discussions with atheists, Muslims and Christians.

One young adult who identified himself as an atheist was especially pleasant and engaging. With a smile he said, “Look. You Christians and Muslims have a lot in common. You both believe in God and have your holy books. Why don’t you just make peace with each other?” I told him, “Even though you don’t believe in God, God believes in you.” He then pointed out taht his girl friend is a Christian, and so is one of his parents – his mother, as I recall.

M was another young adult who is a Muslim, from Somalia, who talked on and on about the necessity of believing that God is one, and the absurdity of thinking taht God ever became human. After much talking he did pause long enough to listen to what I had to say. I pointed out John 1:29, “Look, teh Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” M found it preposterous that God would make someone die for our sins. If God wants to forgive, why doesn’t he just forgive? When M and I parted, we shook hands and I said, “I would consider it a privilege if we could see each other and be together in the life to come.” He seemed to be a bit taken aback by this and had no further comment.

Here is Joe America, 19 years old, a believer for two and a half years, who is courageous enough to get up on a ladder and speak about Jesus.

And here is a lively discussion in progress.

The weather today was cloudy, cold and windy, so after dark we were all glad to retreat to Pret A Manger, a restaurant that is common here and that we have taken to. We like their sandwiches – unusual combinations such as chicken and avocado.

Sundays here are exhausting but stimulating, so again we went to bed exceedingly tired but full of praise to God for the joy of being alive and part of his kingdom.

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