Nigel Ring on January 18th, 2018

Regular readers of my blog will know of my love for and involvement in Burundi. We now have a need and I would really appreciate your financial help.

The Problem
Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world and one that lives in crisis due to political instability. A few years ago a Burundian friend realised that one of the reasons for so many living in poverty was the cows. He felt God say ‘Cows are the problem – cows are the solution’. Since he implemented the ‘solution’ over 400 families have been lifted out of abject poverty and the number is rising steadily.

Why are cows the problem?
The traditional Ankole long horned cow is seen as a status symbol – the more you have the greater your status. Yet it is in fact bad news! It yields very little milk (max 2 litres per day for 10 weeks after calving), roams and overgrazes the land, keeps children out of school in order to follow them into the hills and so on.

Why are cows the solution?

  • The Friesian cow continuously yields up to 15 litres per day
  • It can be contained in a paddock, thus releasing the children to attend school
  • It can be fed elephant grass, a cash crop which provides income for the farmer
  • 15 litres are far more than most families need in a day so the surplus can be sold
  • All the milk is pasteurised so health is improved
  • Pasteurisation requires labour so provides employment
  • Families, especially children, get improved health through regularly drinking milk
  • Selling the milk provides others with employment
  • Income to the families from the sales allow for school fees to be paid, an improved diet etc

So this is a win-win good news story! Have a look at the video (don’t forget to turn on the sound!).

Milk for Transformation Enterprise 2018

Check out the new Milk for Transformation film and discover in just 2 1/2 minutes how a whole community has been transformed and lives are being impacted across Burundi through cows and their milk. In the coming days we will be sharing plans for scaling up this amazing enterprise so even more people can be helped and how you can be involved. Please like our page to keep updated!

Posted by Hope for Tomorrow Global on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

 

Milk for Transformation
This project has been running successfully for six years. During that time pasteurisation equipment has been purchased (some specially designed and built) to replace the crude method of boiling all the milk over charcoal. But, due to the current internal unrest it has been difficult to maintain the process; the equipment has had to be repeatedly relocated as it has no permanent home.

How you can help
Now land has been purchased and funds are being sought to put up a building. Are you or your church able to help this important initiative? I rarely use this blog to ask for money but I do so unashamedly now. Will you please help us? You can donate here.

For more information about this initiative please click here.

Thank you!

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Nigel Ring on January 10th, 2018

This is a remarkable Study Bible, a ‘must’ for every African or anyone who loves Africa.

Goal
The goal of the African Leaders who produced this study Bible was to ‘help us grow strong in Jesus Christ and to give us insight about God’s word to the continent and to the world as God’s word through African eyes’.

Why ‘African’?
As a study Bible this one is full of illustrations and teachings to apply the scripture culturally to everyday life in Africa. It includes excellent articles and ‘learn notes’ interwoven with the biblical text to help the reader apply what he or she has been reading to their own cultural situation. There are 130 of these.

Articles include topics such as ‘Caring for God’s Creation’ (following Genesis), ‘African Traditional Beliefs and the Bible’ (after the book of Joshua), Youth and African Society’ (after 1 Kings), ‘Missions’ (after Romans) and so on. They are written by Africans for an African audience. For instance, the article on Discipleship opens with a story about a Nigerian student who, post conversion, applied for a job and was expected to produce a bribe. What was he to do? His new found faith and discipleship led him to refuse and he ended getting another offer.

As well as the usual footnotes on every page there are also many application notes to show how the scripture applies in day-to-day life. Further, ‘learn notes’ follow relevant chapters. Examples, which directly apply the topic to an African context, include ‘Ancestors’ (after 1 Chronicles 10), ‘Proverbs in the Bible and in Africa’ (after Proverbs 6), ‘Angels and Demons’ (after Isaiah 6) and ‘Curses and Blessings (after Colossians 3).

Text
The text is based on the New Living Translation carried out by an international team of theologians and first published in 1996. It is claimed to be ‘both exegetically accurate and idiomatically powerful….the result of precise scholarship (by 90 Bible scholars) conveyed in living language’.

The version used here includes revisions ‘to increase the level of precision and…. easy to understand quality’ and dates from 2015. As such it is very accessible even for those for whom English is not their first language.

Presentation
The text is appropriately illustrated with maps, diagrams, line drawings, charts and timelines to help the reader contextualise the portion he is reading. These are not only informative but also help to lighten the presentation which in places is quite dense.

The following video helpfully summarises the features and benefits of this Study Bible.

 

 

Commendation
To review a book of over 2000 pages in 500 words is an impossible task! But I do strongly commend it to all believers who live in, are rooted in or have an interest in Africa. You will not only gain insights into the truth of God’s word but also into aspects of African culture. Personally, I have started to use this Study Bible alongside my ‘Bible in a Year’ daily reading scheme (McCheyne) and am finding it not only gives very helpful commentary on the passage but also, through the notes, it is  giving me more insight into African culture – a double blessing!

Availability
The Bible may be bought from many of the usual outlets but I encourage you to buy it from Oasis International who have taken a lead role in its production and have outlets in several African nations. Click here.

Finally, if you are reading this in a more affluent economy why not give a copy to a friend in Africa?

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Nigel Ring on January 1st, 2018

First, Happy New Year!

Church life tends to run in seasons which may involve changes in name. My personal history is intimately linked with some of these changes in Brighton.

In 1981 my family moved to Brighton to fulfil the calling God had put on our lives to draw closer to Terry Virgo and serve his vision. Those were the early days of what is now the worldwide family of churches in over 20 apostolic spheres of Newfrontiers.

Brighton and Hove Christian Fellowship becomes Clarendon Church
When we arrived we joined Clarendon Church, formerly the Brighton and Hove Christian Fellowship which was started in 1978, meeting in a primary school. They had moved to the Clarendon Church building in 1979 and, when we joined, the membership was at about 200. Due to growth we outgrew the building and in 1986 started two, then four, other congregations around Brighton and Hove, five in total. In 1988 God drew us together once again to meet at the Odeon Cinema for two years before he spoke prophetically that we should hold multiple services at the Clarendon Villas building in Hove as a step of faith that he would give us the larger building that we had been looking for.

In February 1991 he revealed that building to us, what is now the Clarendon Centre. We applied for planning permission but were turned down unanimously by the planning authorities. But we knew God had given the building so appealed. Some of that story can be seen by clicking on the picture. (Nb Only the BBC News report is relevant. Return to this page at that point.)

  

 

In December 1991, after much prayer, the planners’ decision was overturned – a previously unheard of reversal after a 100% rejection – and the outline permission we had sought was granted in the form of full planning permission, a significant upgrade!

Clarendon Church becomes Church of Christ the King (CCK)
As a church we set about converting the two-story building and started meeting there in 1993. At this time the name ‘Clarendon’ became irrelevant, being the location in Hove where we had been meeting. We took the name Church of Christ the King.

Then came the big push to add a floor to allow up to 1000 people to meet there. This was completed in April 1996 and the loans people had generously made to allow this to happen were paid off in the last week of 1999, as we entered the new millennium.

CCK becomes Emmanuel
On December 31st 2017 another season was launched. Many gathered to say farewell to the name Church of Christ the King and to take the name Emmanuel Church. Sadly I could not be at that meeting but have since seen the presentation that was made to the church. It is inspiring and full of testimonies of lives changed. That is what the gospel is about. I urge you to watch it and pray that you too will be inspired as you enter this New Year. Click on picture.

 

 

Happy 2018!

 

 

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Nigel Ring on December 7th, 2017

 

Saturday February 10th 2018. 10am – 4pm
St Peters Baptist Church, Eden Close, Worcester, WR5 3TZ

 

This day conference is aimed at those who either are thinking of or are in the process of planting a Church or congregation in a deprived area in the UK. The day will be hosted by Jim Harper and Colin Baron. The speakers are Martin Charlesworth and Nick & Christina Hoult.

Martin is the co-author of 2 books “The Myth of the Undeserving Poor” and “A Church For The Poor”. Martin will be speaking from his vast experience from being the senior pastor of Barnabas Community Church in Shrewsbury, to his role as team leader of Jubilee+ and his extensive research from his latest book “A Church For The Poor”.

 

Nick and Christina will be drawing from their amazing story of how God used them to plant a Church in their basement that has grown mainly with new believers on an estate in Birmingham to a thriving Church with 2 congregations. They will tell the Southgate Family Church story and share the lessons learnt along with principles acquired along the way.

Book here
I urge you to attend. There is no charge but it is necessary to book. Click here.

 

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Nigel Ring on November 29th, 2017

The issue of children being accused of being witches would be way outside the experience of most of us. Yet, in some parts of the world, this phenomenon is widespread.  What makes the situation worse is that the resultant child abuse through various ‘deliverance’ practices is often carried out by church leaders, although there are also many church leaders who are working hard to address and stop this form of abuse.

Susie Howe, wife of one of the elders of a Newfrontiers church in the UK, came across this practice while ministering to vulnerable children in Africa. A previous posting tells you about that work. Since she became aware of this practice, she and others she is working with have expended immense energy in trying to stop the practice and to teach church leaders who may be ignorant of Biblical truth, about God’s heart on such matters.

In this conversation with Susie, she shares some of the stories about such abuse and what she is seeking to do in partnership with others, through the coalition Stop Child Witch Accusations, which she helped to found. Parts of the interview are quite disturbing, but I urge you to watch it prayerfully and to be open to the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

 

 

Having watched the video you may have further questions. Please refer to the SCWA website where there is a Frequently Asked Questions section.

 

 

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Nigel Ring on November 21st, 2017

 

Remarkable changes are taking place in Zimbabwe. Let’s look at recent events.

Recent history
Tuesday November 14th
According to a post on Scott Marques’ Facebook page church leaders ‘had the joy of being lead by the President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Dr Shingi Munyeza – at the national AGM – in what felt like extraordinarily sincere repentance by the church. We turned away from all trust in man, all trust in money, all idolatry, all hatred, all corruption, all greed, all bitterness, and all sin which has had devastating sway in the church, let alone the nation as a whole. We cried out to God that He would work out His purposes WITH US, and then THROUGH US to the nation. I was greatly inspired by this genuine humility and faith.’

Scott continues: ‘Two of my favourite sentences from Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy for Zimbabwe from many years ago, over which I often reflect are :

(1) ‘The river is going to flow through Zimbabwe and I see a powerful torrent of water, a mighty rushing torrent, many fish.’
and
(2)’..this army will be used to stop war and bloodshed.’

Wednesday November 15th.
The Zimbabwean army takes over the radio and television stations and surrounds Robert Mugabe’s residence, putting him under house arrest.

Sunday November 20th
Robert Mugabe is stripped of his leadership of ZanuPF. He later speaks to the nation but refuses to step down as president.

Tuesday November 22nd
Impeachment proceedings being put in place.

Liberty will come to that nation in the space of one day
I have recently been reminded of a prophecy brought by Ginny Burgin, a respected prophet in the Newfrontiers family of churches, in June 2002 at the annual Newfrontiers Leaders Conference in Brighton.

Simon Pettit (who was bringing apostolic oversight to the Newfrontiers churches in Zimbabwe at that time) invited the Zimbabweans onto the platform during the prayer meeting. PJ Smyth gave a report on Zimbabwe and the dire state of the political and economic situation there. However he also gave a positive report on what God was doing in the church in the midst of hardship. Another leader, Mbonisi, thanked the Newfrontiers family for its support. Then another came and gave a number of prayer points for Zimbabwe and the churches there. This was followed by prayer during which Ginny Burgin brought this prophetic word:

 ‘I saw the word “Zimbabwe” in a big thick cloud of black smoke and I felt as if God wanted me to say that the stench has arisen to his nostrils, the abomination of the sin and pride of man. And just as Abel’s blood cried out from the ground so it is as though a piercing cry from the very ground of that nation rings in my ears. And I hear the cry. I hear the cry and you have such a great high priest in whom and through whom righteousness and peace have kissed together and from whom flows forth justice like many waters and this night I write righteousness, peace, and justice over that land.

Righteousness, peace, and justice let it be written over that land. And I am writing on the hearts of the evangelists the word “Zimbabwe.” And many from many nations will go and that place will not be dry and barren and ransacked and desolate but that place will know the free fall of many waters, that place will know many many rivers, that whole continent will open up for I have written my word by the power of my Spirit over it. And I tell you, liberty will come to that nation in the space of one day.’

Pray!
One day! How should we respond to current events in the light of these prophetic words? Do we just thank God and wait? I don’t see that in scripture; we seem to be called to pray the fulfilment of prophecy into being.

Referring to the prophecy in Jeremiah 25:12 foretelling the people of their deliverance from the Babylonian captivity we read in Daniel 9:2,3

‘In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.’

What did Daniel do? Did he sit back and say that fulfilment was inevitable? No! He prayed!

Be like Daniel
I believe that now is the time for us to stand with our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe by taking hold of these prophecies concerning Zimbabwe and praying them into being. Will you join me and thousands of others around the world to see this evil regime removed and for the nation to be restored?

Let us join them in praying for ‘kings and all those in authority that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Tim 2:2).

 

 

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Nigel Ring on November 17th, 2017

The annual Jubilee+ conference is one of the first dates in my diary each year. It combines helpful impartation of knowledge with worship, vision, networking and a time of prayer. This year’s conference in Cambridge lived up to my expectations.

During the week running up to the conference, one of Natalie Williams’ friends at King’s Church in Hastings had said to her that she felt that Jubilee+ has been like a deep-sea oil rig, pushing deeper and deeper, sometimes through rocks that were hard to budge, but that this year’s conference would be as if we had finally struck oil. (Natalie is one of the core team of Jubilee+.)

That accurately reflected the day. During the conference, delegates were coming out of main sessions and seminars saying how profound they were finding them. Others reported key networking opportunities for them, while for others they felt from the very first session they were gaining clarity on what their next step should be. Opening this session Martin Charlesworth shared stories of ministries and fruit that had been directly attributable to some previous conferences – a meeting between two people, teaching that had been given and so on. This would be true of a ministry I, myself, am now involved with.

Feedback from the day was hugely encouraging. During two days of prayer in Sidcup which followed shortly after the conference, several church leaders mentioned that people had returned to their churches raving about the conference. One church leader said that another of his leaders had come back saying it was one of the best days of his life!

A call to church leaders
These conferences are always apostolically endorsed and supported. Indeed, Mike Betts (Relational Mission), in whose apostolic region this year’s conference was held, spoke about Onesimus, sharing how he had been turned from waywardness to being empowered by the gospel manifest in his life. It was a powerful talk!

Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage church leaders to attend this conference in 2018 (date below). In order to support ministries in your church it is important to be exposed to the climate and culture surrounding those who are poor or in need, and to learn about how others are being affected by the pressures of today’s political and social climate. Both the main sessions and the focussed seminars will really help you.

Recordings of sessions
The main sessions and seminars from Churches that Change Communities 2017 are available here.

Next Conference
In 2018 Churches that Change Communities will be held in London for the first time, Everyday Church in Wimbledon. I already have the date in my diary – Saturday 10 November. I hope you will join me. You will not be disappointed! If you sign up for the enewsletter (bottom left of this homepage) you’ll hear when bookings open.

Be there!

 

 

 

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Nigel Ring on November 8th, 2017

From time to time I bring a report from one of the Newfrontiers apostolic spheres when I meet up with an old friend who leads one. It is always such a joy to hear what God is doing around the world and how he continues to show favour on us as an ever expanding family of churches.

Recently, while at a day with the Jubilee+ team to which Jeremy Simpkins and I had been invited, we were able to grab a few minutes to reflect together. I hope you will enjoy eavesdropping on our conversation.

Spheres networking together
When Newfrontiers was redefined in 2011 as a network of apostolic spheres we felt it important that spheres were to be both autonomous and interdependent. As a network of spheres we recognised that some of the ‘knots’ in the net would have particularly strong links with a few other ‘knots’ while retaining more distant relationship with others. Jeremy talks about how this has worked out in his case with particularly strong links with spheres based in Mexico, Zambia and Canada. He explains how this has ‘teeth’; it is not just a theory but he shares how it works out in practice.

The Poor
Jeremy also shares his heart about ministry with the poor, referring to the talk given by Simon Pettit in 1998 about it being an apostolic mandate to remember the poor. This is also available in a shorter version.

 

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Nigel Ring on October 31st, 2017

Recently I had the great joy and privilege of spending a few hours with Ben Virgo of Christian Heritage London (Terry and Wendy’s son) as he walked with my sister and myself around some of the Christian landmarks in the City of London. But he did not talk so much about the buildings as the men and women who were pioneers and martyrs in their generation, and in whose wake we now enjoy so much freedom and understanding of the scriptures. As one who failed history at school I found this afternoon with Ben both fascinating and edifying. I can’t stop telling people about it! Let me share some of the highlights.

Wycliffe, Tyndale and Wesley
Starting at St Paul’s Cathedral, where Ben told us about Wycliffe and his first translation of the Bible into English, we quickly moved to Paul’s Cross where the first translations of the Bible by William Tyndale were burnt after he had had them printed in Belgium to which he had fled for safety and sent to London. Ben also told us much about John Wesley, both his ministry and his personal life, describing the extraordinary distances he covered to share the gospel with those who were poor and in need, particularly in London, Bristol and Newcastle, a triangle of cities he regularly visited on horseback. Incidentally, Ben pointed out how nearly all the people he was talking about had a passion for helping those who were poor, a notable aspect of the impact of the gospel in this country and around the world.

Newton and Wilberforce
Then, wending our way through some of the older streets of London we came to St Mary Woolnoth Church. Here Ben shared the story of John Newton (writer of Amazing Grace), first press-ganged into the merchant navy, then becoming a slave ship captain, before finding Christ and ultimately becoming rector of St Mary’s. While there he was influential in guiding William Wilberforce to champion the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, something he achieved shortly before his death. We took the opportunity to pray for the nation standing in front of the pulpit from which Newton preached – what a privilege!

Reformation in England
Moving onto the Guildhall we were told of the history surrounding Henry VIII as he sought to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. This triggered the Reformation in England purely as a convenience through which he achieved his purposes. Only later did it take hold as a spiritual awakening. We also learnt of the trial of such reformers as Latimer and Ridley, which took place in the Guildhall. Coincidentally our walk was taking place on the anniversary of their being burnt at the stake in Oxford in 1555.

Elizabeth Fry
Moving through Smithfield, the site of many similar executions in the mid 1500s, we finally came to the central criminal court, The Old Bailey, standing on the site of Newgate Gaol, the women’s prison in which my ancestor, Elizabeth Fry, had such an impact as she went into the gaol to read the scriptures to and support women, many of whom were condemned to death.

I cannot recommend this walk highly enough! I have shared only a few small snippets of what we learnt on that day which was communicated with such passion and life. Everyone should go on this walk! How about giving it to a friend for a Christmas present? Go to Book a Walk

Thank you Ben.

Footnote
Have you yet bought a copy of Freedom Movement? As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg I urge you to do so. You will find it really helps you grasp the history of that period.

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Nigel Ring on October 24th, 2017

How ‘accessible’ is your church?
If someone from a local run-down housing complex in your area walked into your church would they come a second time? Many churches have become so ‘middle class’ that they represent an unwelcoming environment for those from different socio-economic levels of society.

The authors of ‘A Church for the Poor’ come themselves from very different backgrounds. Martin Charlesworth was educated at a private boarding school whereas Natalie received free school meals. In their very disparate backgrounds lies their authenticity and credibility in joint-authoring such a book as this, a book that fills a unique place in the plethora of books about how to build church in our generation.

Analysis
Presented in two distinct parts this book first analyses the causes of poverty and gives a Biblical perspective of the poor. The authors point out that ‘All New Testament churches focussed on remembering the poor in whatever way was most relevant to them. It was a priority not an option.’

They go on to analyse some of the characteristics of our current culture in the UK which contribute to the division between rich and poor.

Drawing extensively from their own stories Martin and Natalie illustrate and corroborate their findings. I was particularly helped by Natalie’s experiences which I found informative and enlightening, my own background being closer to Martin’s.

The way forward
The second part of the book addresses the core topic head on – what does a church for the poor look like and what adjustments should we be making to make ourselves accessible and relevant to this section of society?

In this part of the book the authors become more prescriptive, suggesting the issues in our churches that need addressing if we are to see those from poorer environments come into our churches. If we believe the gospel is for all men, and that God has a special heart for the poor, we have no option but to consider seriously what the authors suggest. ‘We can conclude’, they write, ‘that the church is designed to be a multicultural community where there is space for all sorts of people to belong and flourish.’

A ‘must read’ book
This is one of those ‘must read’ books, particularly by all church leaders. It needs to be taken seriously if we are to fulfil our commission to make disciples of all peoples in our generation. There are two ways to obtain it. Either buy it here, or come to the Churches that Change Communities Conference this weekend in Cambridge and pick up your copy there.

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