Monday, August 17, 2020

Summer 2020



Hello friends, hope this update finds you well.  

CC York & Bible College

CC York

CC York has resumed limited in-person Sunday services and a few prayer meetings during the week but we are still operating online as well.  We’re not sure when we will be able to resume the full gamut of our other ministries such as coffee morning for the older folks and prison ministry but we will walk through those doors when the Lord opens them.

After being surprised by Covid, we were able to finish the spring semester online and had a wonderful graduation ceremony via Zoom.  The students worked very hard and embraced a difficult situation.  They even continued meeting online for devotions several times a week.  Praise God for their diligence.  

We have decided to move full speed ahead for the fall semester of the Bible College.  We have a number of students planning on coming and barring any unforeseen circumstances are looking forward to seeing the Lord’s hand at work in yet another group of students who have drawn apart for a season to study His Word.  I am planning on teaching the book of Joshua and the Gospel of John.  Please pray for the Lord's good hand to be upon us. 

Evangelism

It’s funny- in conversation I quite frequently tell people that I don’t have the gift of evangelism and that I’m an introvert and such and that I dislike walking up to people for the unsolicited purpose of initiating a conversation about Jesus and salvation.  I’m just being honest.  But the Lord has a way of regularly bringing people to me just as I'm out and about and they initiate a conversation and then I steer it toward the things of the Lord.  Not long ago I was walking down by the river in York and a group of young people (3 girls and 2 guys) asked me what my favorite football team was so in jest I said the Philadelphia Eagles (the correct response would have been more along the lines of Liverpool or Manchester United) but it was all in good fun.  My South Jersey accent always gives me away so that was their next question and after chatting for a few minutes I asked them if they had ever heard the gospel before and would they be willing to listen. 

River Ouse in York
They said yes and put down their cigarettes and I shared the message of the gospel with them and then a bit of my own testimony and they were very polite and allowed me to pray for them when I was finished.  It was one of those encounters that had the Lord’s fingerprints all over it and I could feel His Spirit at work.  I didn’t extract a commitment from them but they allowed me to pray for them and they heard the clear message of the Gospel and I encouraged them to search the Scriptures and to seek after the Lord.  

Then again a few weeks ago I was walking by the seashore in Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast and I had a similar experience sharing the gospel with an older man named Patrick.  There’s a beautiful choreography of heaven as we’re led by the Spirit.  The Lord has a way of using the things in our lives that we perceive to be deficiencies for His glory: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).  To be a servant of Christ is one of the greatest blessings in all the world.  Jesus said that "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34).  As we walk by faith, we get to step in and take part in the work that He is doing in the world. 
Scarborough
The Harbor in Scarborough

God knows how to diffuse light

I've recently been reading in Job and chapter 38 provides an awesome account of God answering Job out of the whirlwind.  The answering is really a series of rhetorical questions that the Lord asks Job.  He asks the following question:

 “By what way is light diffused, Or the east wind scattered over the earth?” (Job 38:24) 

I was thinking about this and one thing is clear, that God is able to diffuse light and also to withhold it.  The physical phenomenon of light and the incredibly complex process by which the human eye perceives it are remarkable; even more so is the idea of spiritual illumination that physical light is representative of.  As our Lord Jesus was being crucified, light was withheld over the earth from the sixth hour until the ninth hour (Matt. 27:45) in a divine demonstration of the gravity of what was happening as human sin was being atoned for.  As the Israelites were on the verge of deliverance from bondage, the ninth plague caused a situation where the Egyptians were stymied by the darkness but the Israelites had light in their dwellings (Exod. 10:21-23).  God is able to give light to His people and at the same time withhold it from those who oppose Him.  "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:5).  We are living in some pretty dark times if we look on the externals but from God's perspective there's quite a different thing going on.  Jesus said, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).  The world doesn't see it, but we see it.  We have light in our dwellings.  These are truly exciting days as we behold the face of Jesus and walk in His light.  Praise God for the Rock of our salvation!  Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Thoughts from York

Hello friends, hope you are well and that you're experiencing the joy of the Lord in the midst of the current situation.  Much has been written from a spiritual perspective concerning the Covid-19 pandemic so in giving an update from York I didn't really feel a pressing need to add to the many articles and social media posts that are already out there.  But there is a word the Lord has spoken to my heart during these days of quarantine:  Don't try to live in any season other than the one you're in at present; the next one will roll around soon enough.  God in His wisdom has caused the whole world to slow down.  All the ministries were in full stride at CC York & Bible College just as they were in many other places around the world and in a matter of a few weeks it all went silent with the exception of ramped up online ministries.

York Minster
York is normally bustling with tourists this time of year; instead the bells of empty churches echo down empty streets.  It's very peaceful.  The Spirit is burning deep and it's a beautiful thing.  It's very quiet at the Bible College.  The students have all returned home to their various respective countries but we are continuing the semester online.  I've been teaching through the Book of Acts and the Gospel of Mark and those classes are now available here on YouTube for anyone.

I've been reflecting on the idea that the church is not the apparatus.  The church is a living spiritual kingdom that cannot die.  We its members are living stones being built up into a spiritual house that cannot be destroyed (1 Pet. 2:5).  It is in this temple that we worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  It seems quite likely that we will resume meeting in buildings in the near future and that will be a great blessing when it happens, but if for some reason that were not to happen, the church will not have lost her identity because her true identity is in Christ, not in infrastructure.  Over the last 2,000 years the church has been underground and above ground, meeting everywhere from catacombs to cathedrals in different seasons and places.  Her identity has always been the same, regardless of the apparatus particular to any given season.  Jesus said that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).  He is building His church and I for one will be eternally grateful that He has included me in His doings.  I believe the Lord is doing good things during these days.  Job in the midst of his suffering speaks of a tree that has been cut down and all that remains is the stump in the ground, apparently dead.  Everything above has been lopped off, similar to our present situation.  This is what Job says of that tree:

For there is hope for a tree,
If it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that its tender shoots will not cease.
Though its root may grow old in the earth,
And its stump may die in the ground,
Yet at the scent of water it will bud
And bring forth branches like a plant (Job 14:7-9).

This is an exciting season where God is doing something new, and there will be new things on the other side of this.  More than just the scent, we have living water of the Spirit (John 7:38) and our root is the Root of Jesse, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 11:10).  Surely we will see His hand in the coming days and one day soon we shall see Him face to face!  Amen.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Christmas 2018 Update


CC York
Hello friends!  England is getting chilly, wet and dark so Christmas must be on the way.  York is lit up and festive, which balances out the gloominess this time of year.  It’s a great blessing to be a part of Calvary in York where there are so many people from different backgrounds but united in the love of Christ.  We have ministries that reach out to every age group, from moms with tots to care home residents.  Last Sunday we sang Christmas carols in a local care home.

Bible College
Yet another Bible College semester is wrapping up quickly.  Graduation is this Friday.  It’s been a great semester with a very sincere group of students representing England, Ireland, USA, Canada, Israel and Germany.  I’ve been blessed with the privilege of teaching through the gospel of John and it’s been a wonderful journey.  Next semester Lord willing I will be teaching through Acts and the gospel of Mark.

Prison Ministry
We are still doing our monthly service in HMP Humber prison.  Tomorrow (12/9) we will be having our Christmas service and I will be leading Christmas carols for the prisoners.  With staff and chaplaincy changes in the prison, we are praying about what the future holds and also looking into some opportunities to minister in other prisons (all in Yorkshire).  Please pray for the Lord’s will regarding this.



Hull Outreach/Bible Study
We have consistently been doing street worship and evangelism in Hull on Friday evenings.  One of the remarkable things is that we have never gotten rained out, which is purely God’s grace given how much it usually rains in the north of England.  Many times it has been raining in the car on the way over but by the time we get to the city center it stops and then sometimes it starts again just as we are finishing.

Hull City Center Fountains


     We’ve had some really great conversations with atheists, agnostics, Muslims, nominal Christians and a few strong Christians as well.  Hull is a bit of an immigrant destination with people from all over the European Union as well as Africa and the Middle East.  Sometimes the enemy would have us believe that no one is interested in hearing about the gospel but we have learned that many are open to at least listen.  We sow the seed and entrust the results to the Lord.




Busking Sign


The “No Money” sign pictured to the right is part of the gear I take with me when doing street worship.  Busking (playing music on the streets for money) is a common and accepted practice in the UK and throughout Europe.  The sign helps to clarify our motives and facilitates our presenting the simple gospel with no strings attached.  The sign has also turned out to be a great conversation starter.  Every week people come up and ask why we are not collecting money, and it turns into a great opportunity to share the message of the Gospel.
     In other news, over the past few months I have been getting together to pray with a group of ministers in Hull who recognize the spiritual needs of the city and want to see new churches planted in various parts of the city.  This group has been welcoming and encouraging for which I am thankful.

Prayer Requests
Please pray regarding my involvement with a pro-life group in York (abortion became legal in England in 1967).  Back in the fall some of us from various churches went into the York city center and manned a display the purpose of which was to present the realities of what abortion is.  We engaged people in a Spirit led loving way as best as we were able (speaking the truth in love).  It was an emotionally intense experience but some of us feel a strong leading of the Spirit that He wants us to be involved concerning this issue in an ongoing way but we are waiting and praying for the specifics and timing.

Please pray for the ongoing uncertainties surrounding Brexit.  Parliament is set to vote on December 11 regarding Theresa May’s recently negotiated agreement with the EU.  Uncertain times are ahead; please pray that the Lord would use this to touch many lost souls and that the Holy Spirit would be poured out in the UK.   

I will be in New Jersey from Dec. 15-Jan 8 and hope to connect as the Lord leads.  Many thanks and may the Lord bless you!

Monday, August 27, 2018

August 27, 2018

CC York
Hello friends!  It’s been another super-fast summer here in the UK.  The weather was actually quite nice for most of the summer with many consecutive warm, sunny days although the more typical overcast weather has returned.  They’re all days that the Lord has made.  I’m so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of the body of Christ here in York.  I’ve had the opportunity to teach at the church a few times this summer and am also still in the worship leading rotation.

We were blessed to host the annual CCUK Pastors & Leaders conference in June.  It’s always great to hear what the Lord is doing in other parts of the UK and to connect with different ministries and fellowship around massive barbecues.  The Bible College semester starts this coming Monday so the students will begin trickling in later this week.  I will be teaching the Gospel of John.  This will be my sixth semester serving at the Bible College and it’s always interesting to see the group of students that the Lord puts together for the journey.

Prison Ministry
Please keep our prison ministry in prayer.  There have been quite a few internal changes with staff and policy lately so the future isn’t exactly clear but we know that the Lord is sovereign.  They are now more strictly limiting visitors from the outside, but on the positive side I have received a 5-year security clearance to continue going in.  I would like to do a weekly evening Bible study with some of the guys who have accepted the Lord over the past few months but it needs to be approved first by the powers that be so please pray along those lines.

Hull Friday Night Street Worship
We’ve been doing street worship and evangelism pretty much all summer on Friday evenings.  I have a portable amp and we set up in King Edward Square right in the center of Hull and we flick the switch and just start worshiping the Lord and something happens.  
Worship music has a way of changing the atmosphere. It discomfits the enemies of God (Jehoshaphat set the worship band ahead of the army in 2 Chron. 20).  It gives Christians hope that something spiritual is happening in the city.  It’s also a testimony that there is another kingdom.  We give out tracts and talk with people who stop and it has been a very fruitful time.

Steel Pan Drum Band from Trinidad

A few weeks ago we had a steel pan drum band from Trinidad that was in the UK for Creation Fest and they came over and helped with our outreach.  It was quite a novelty for Hull!  After street worship, we still do our weekly Bible study at Victoria Dock where we are going through 2 Corinthians.  We would really like to find a location in the city center where the people are so please pray for the Lord’s will regarding this. 



Prayer Requests:
Please pray for our upcoming men’s retreat in September and also the Bible college semester.  Also there is a Franklin Graham Festival of Hope coming up September 21-23 in Blackpool, Lancashire where I have family.  The festival is being opposed by a vocal minority; please pray that the Lord would touch many lost souls and that the Holy Spirit would be poured out in the UK.   Many thanks and may the Lord bless you!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Spring 2018


Salt and Light
Jesus made a few interesting statements concerning our relationship to the world.  In John 8:12 He said that “I am the light of the world”.  But then in Matthew 5:14 He said to His disciples that they were “the light of the world” and also the “salt of the earth” (5:13).  I used to do some camping back in the day and it was indispensable to have a source of light so I used a propane lantern (before the days of extremely efficient LED lighting).  It’s interesting how a lantern works.  The mantle, which produces light as the gas burns, is basically a silk sack that has been impregnated with a variety of oxides.  The first time a new mantle is used, it is lit and the silk burns away leaving behind a shell of oxides.  It is this shell then that produces light as the gas burns.  No light is produced if the mantle is not connected to the fuel source. 
     When we come to Christ, there is in a sense a burning away as the old man dies and is buried in baptism with Christ and raised to new life (Col. 2:12).  When we are born again, we all of a sudden become this new thing in Christ where we are able to manifest His light and love to others.  We have become mantles that will produce light as long as we are connected to Him.  We alone as Christians have this ability, and not of ourselves, but because we have been born again (cf. 2 Cor. 2:16; 4:7).  To be salt and light on His behalf is a wonderful thing.
     Since moving to the UK a few years ago, the Lord has given me many opportunities to share the Gospel with people in a supernaturally natural sort of way.  It’s really quite a simple message, that we’re all broken on the inside as a result of the sin that entered the human race through Adam and Eve but that because God loved the world He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Because Jesus was the sinless Son of God, He rose from the dead after three days and now anyone who believes and calls upon His name will be saved.  It’s a simple message and to some it appears to be foolishness, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).  It’s the greatest message in all the world and one worth sharing!

CC Bible College York
We’ve got a great group of students this semester representing England, America, Israel, Spain, and Finland.  This weekend we will be taking some of them to the British Museum and also to the British Library in London to see some of the biblical artifacts and manuscripts held there.
     This is my fifth semester and each one has a different vibe to it.  I am teaching the Book of Acts and it has been a great blessing.  This past week was speaker’s week where the whole Bible College went to the Yorkshire Dales for a time of seeking the Lord and hearing His voice.  Along this theme, I recently read a great biography of Oswald Chambers (McCasland, David.  Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God.  Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1993).  Chambers had a Bible College that operated in London from 1911-15, deciding to close it down shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in order to minister to soldiers in North Africa.  The biography describes a time where Chambers along with his family and students from the Bible College went to Askrigg in the Yorkshire Dales for a time of refreshing.  It’s interesting that we’re doing the same sort of thing in the same place (Redmire is about 7 miles from Askrigg) about a hundred years later.  Seven students were baptized in the Ure River at the end of the week.  

Baptism in the River Ure


Prison Ministry
I have been involved in prison ministry since I arrived in the UK a few years ago.  I recently went through the application process for a paid chaplaincy position which had become available in HMP Humber prison.  I did not get the position but during the interview process I gave a sermon before a panel which included the governor of the prison and the managing chaplain who is a Muslim imam.  In the sermon I gave a clear presentation of the gospel.  I felt like the Lord wanted me to go through the process with my best foot forward and leave the outcome with Him, so that’s what I did.  I still go into the prison monthly with our CC York team and usually either lead worship or teach.  There are some regulars who come to our service every month so we have been able to establish good relationships with them.  The Lord is doing a good work in the lives of some of these prisoners so please keep them lifted up in prayer.

CC York
It’s a tremendous blessing to be a part of the body of Christ here in York.  The church is an interesting blend of Bible College students, university students, and congregants from various parts of Yorkshire.  I’ve had a few opportunities to teach on Sundays this semester and am also involved in leading worship which is one of my favorite things to do.  Some things on the horizon are the CCUK Youth retreat at the end of May followed by the Pastors and Leaders conference.  Pastor Dave is also interesting in doing outreaches this summer in some of the coastal areas.

Hull Outreach
We continue to do outreach in Hull every Friday evening followed by a Bible study.  We are currently studying through I Corinthians.  The Bible study is still small but we’ve had the opportunity to share the message of the Gospel with many people on the streets over the past few years.  Please pray that the Lord would bring increase in His timing from the seed that has been sown.  We plan on outreaching with music again as the weather is warming up.

Bible Study at Victoria Dock, Hull

Prayer Requests
Please pray for our upcoming Pastors and Leaders conference at CC York; the Lord’s blessing on the Bible College and church; our service in HMP Humber prison this Sunday; for the Holy Spirit to be poured out in the UK!  Also, I have been able to connect with my cousins and aunt who live about 2 hours from York; please pray that the Lord would touch their lives!  Many thanks and may the Lord bless you!

About me:
I am currently serving at Calvary Chapel York, England where I teach at the Bible College and serve at the church.  In addition to serving in York, the Lord opened the door in July 2016 to begin a weekly outreach Bible study in the city of Hull, about an hour drive from York.  If you'd like to follow my journey more closely, I have a blog (www.pfgoodwin.blogspot.com) that I've maintained over the past few years since setting out from New Jersey.

If you wish to support this ministry, contributions can be addressed to "Shepherd's Staff" with account #1454 in the memo section of check and sent to Shepherd's Staff, 6739 Academy Road, Suite 320, Albuquerque, NM 87109. Automatic EFT can be set up through Shepherd's Staff website: www.ssmfi.org. The Lord bless you!



Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 2017

The Journey


     As I come to the end of my third year on the mission field, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of the journey in relation to life and God’s faithfulness in the midst of it.  As I was preparing to leave New Jersey in December 2014, a few of my former coworkers gave me a slate plaque with the word “journey” in large letters followed by the oft-quoted Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
While that word was given by the prophet in an entirely different context, the Lord spoke to me on that December day as I was leaving my cubicle for the last time that He was taking me on a journey, and that He had good plans which included a hope and a future for my life.  Even in the face of limited luggage space and airline weight restrictions, I decided to take that plaque along for the journey as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and the word He had spoken to me.  It has hung on the walls of rooms I have stayed in along the way.

     From the moment we become Christians we embark upon this epic spiritual journey as the filmstrip of our lives plays out.  We often refer to our life with the Lord as our “walk”.  Abraham went on a journey as he was called out of Ur of the Chaldees- looking for a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10).  Jacob went on a journey and had a vision of angels ascending and descending on a ladder to heaven (Gen. 28:12).  Joseph and Mary went on a journey and in so doing participated in the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus the Messiah in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

     My journey in recent years has taken me first to Austria where I served for a year at Schloss Heroldeck and then to York, England where I have served for the past two years.  The Lord put a handful of ministries on my plate early on after arriving in York.  One of these is teaching at the Bible College.  I just finished teaching through the gospel of Luke and will teach Acts in the upcoming spring semester.  
Christian graffiti in York

     Another involvement is the prison ministry where I have had the opportunity to lead worship, teach, and pray with the prisoners.  An interesting development in regard to this is that a paid part-time chaplaincy position has recently become available in the HMP Humber prison where we minister and I felt a leading from the Lord to apply, so I did, and as it stands now I have an interview at the end of January so prayers are appreciated.

     We also continue our outreach to Hull on a weekly basis.  The Bible study remains small with mainly people from York, but it gives us a reason to be in Hull every week and we’ve been doing worship music on the streets and as a result have had numerous conversations with both Christians and non-Christians.  Please pray for God’s will to be done in this great city.

Music outreach in Hul

In other news, Calvary Chapel York recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary; Terry and Nancy Clark were on hand to help out with a musical celebration of the event.  It was fascinating to watch the photo stream in the sanctuary of what the Lord has done in York over the years.

Well, that’s the update for now.  I will be in the United States from Dec. 14th-Jan. 8th.  I will be speaking at my home church (Calvary Chapel Gateway) on Sunday, Dec. 17th.  Wishing all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in the Lord!