The valley – New Wine

New Wine United breaks out, Sunday 2nd August 2020

There was no service at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, this week. A number of our congregation attend New Wine at this time each year, so we were asked instead to watch the morning worship from New Wine.

There were the inevitable plugs. With no income from the people who attend United there is a large shortfall. At least they were honest and upfront about it. The preacher, Nicola Neal, the CEO of Every Life International, has got a book out called Gold. Every Life, according to their website—FROM THE SLUM COMMUNITIES OF KAMPALA, UGANDA, TO DEPRIVED HOUSING IN THE UK, EVERY LIFE IS COMMITTED TO SEEING LIVES TRANSFORMED. (their capitals).

The sermon went something like this:

Nocola has seen a list of “13 things people are afraid of.” Top of the list was heights, down the list was spiders and snakes. When in Africa she says her husband has a stick for beating away snakes and rats. If a black mamba is making its way to where your daughter is sleeping…

Fear can be a powerfully debilitating emotion. During this coronavirus pandemic fear has gripped people and nations. Tozer once said, “A scared world needs a fearless church.”

Psalm 23 talks about the valley of the shadow of death. Even when we are going through our darkest times we can do so without fear because the most powerful being in the universe is our shepherd, continually restoring our souls.

Nicola’s husband became ill in autumn last year. Had time in hospital and was allowed home a few days later. A few days after that he has a relapse and she found herself on a 999 call for the second time in a few weeks. She was not allowed to go in the ambulance due to Covid restrictions at the hospital. She was told to wait by the phone but found the waiting too much and ended up on her bed with her hand open saying. “Jesus, I need you.” She then saw a hand come down and a voice say, “I am here.” All the uncertainty dispersed and she was flooded with a peace that had no reason to be there at that time. She was ready to trust in God whether her husband recovered or not. He recovered.

When everything is shaking, God is not shaken.

How can we help people in darkness if we are afraid of the dark? The valley can be a place of great sorrow and ashes but the one who can take ashes and make them into something beautiful is there in the valley with us.

Now is the time for the church to stand up and say there is hope and healing for the nation. We should into people’s valleys and live life with them, pay the price and suffer the cost.

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