The Easter X Factor

The Easter X Factor Mission in St Austell was a great time of blessing – thanks to many people’s prayers. The Bishop of Cornwall, Tim Thornton, and I grew closer. He is an exceptional brother and we discovered loads of new things about each other - not least that he can do a brilliant impression of me! The team of volunteers assisting in the mission included local people and evangelists from ‘Through Faith Missions’. Two ladies, Sandy Chapman and Mary Blackburn, came down from the north of England to spend hours in the prayer chapel praying for all aspects of the mission.

There were many School Assemblies at the Infant & Junior Schools. Clarence the Frog delighted the children with a story of ‘How did the cross get on the hot cross bun’. My legendary ventriloquist skills always make people smile, but with Bishop Tim as my assistant with others from the frog family, either Horace or Florence, the assemblies were hilarious, at the same time as clearly conveying the Easter message. Twice, I chose children to help me who, it turned out, were the most difficult in the school but behaved impeccably during the assembly.

The new local cinema collaborated with the mission and showed ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and ‘The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe’ for a pound a head. The latter was better attended but both were great opportunities for the sharing of the message.

There was much Door to Door visiting, although the bad rain during the week limited this. Every evening Tim and I went into one of the local pubs and had really interesting conversations. We’d given a leaflet to one girl who turned out to be the barmaid at the Queen’s Head. She said ‘This is freaking me out!’ So we gave her a gospel - the Lord has his hand on her.

A large number of women attended the special Pampering Evenings and God worked in different women’s lives. The afternoon Tea Dance that Tim and I attended was a most unusual venue but using Clarence and Florence together in a ‘Love Story’ was great fun. We then pointed to the love story we are all involved in. I prayed with people afterwards.

The early morning ‘Men’s Breakfast’ proved a big hit, with many more men attending than had been expected. To assist the staff, Bishop Tim and I ended up as waiters - a source of great amusement to many of the blokes but also a signal of our serving role. Tim spoke really well to them all and was really funny.

One day we visited the local Niles Bakery to see pasties made and to chat with the workers. We presented them with a Bible as we did this. On our next visit, which was to the local St Austell Brewery, a firm which has been in the same family for many generations, we were shown around, met the staff and were given a scrumptious meal but with this came the biggest challenge for me when the managing director asked us if we would ‘Bless the Beer’. My problem was that I am teetotal and have been since age 11 and signing the pledge. In the end the Bishop blessed the beer and I blessed the workers and prayers were said for responsible use of alcohol.

A woman worker was prayed with and she hugged me at the end saying, ‘I feel so different, I feel full of love’. I explained to her that it was the Holy Spirit.

The Eden Project proved an excellent venue for an ‘Any Questions?’ evening and we were challenged by the questions.

There were Maundy services and mine, at the Trinity Methodist Church, was special because a minister’s widow, who has been in hospital for 7 months - and who still is ‘in’ - came out to share in the Lord’s Supper.

Towards the end of the week we were joined by Rev Dr Mark Wakelin of the Connexional Team. He was a great ally and ministered to me in a special way. Good Friday was a highlight for me with a packed church in St Dennis. Like John Wesley long ago ‘I offered them Christ’ and there was a large response of people to the challenge of coming to the communion rail to take up a small wooden cross. A number of people made this response for the first time. I then drove quickly to the town centre to join a Walk of Witness with a cross.

That evening a presentation of the musical ‘The Witness’ was performed with an excellent cast of teenagers from the circuit.

On Easter Day, the climax of the mission was in the services around the town. I took a communion breakfast at Carclaze chapel with Mark, followed by an inspiring communion service in the recently built Mount Charles Church, where the huge congregation included a large number of couples with small babies who came to the communion table at the sharing of the Lord’s Supper.

Thank you for those who have so kindly supported the appeal for funds with the Venture FX project. This is very much appreciated.

I am going on mission to Southport next, as part of ‘Summer Fire’ from 31st July to the 6th August. If you’d like to be part of the team or are interested please contact the mission secretary Eunice Palmer on eunice.palmer@btopenworld.com or ring her on 0191 536 7007.

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