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Category Archives: Christian Biography

91 – Helen Roseveare

Eleven years ago I met Helen Roseveare for the first time. She had not long celebrated her eightieth birthday. I’d read her books and knew her story and somehow or other I had been invited to stay. It was great to actually meet one of my heroines. She was not only encouraging, she was challenging. It was an environment – all be it just for a weekend – where i felt safe to be honest with her and Pat, her friend, about the challenges and struggles of my own little life. Even though she had been through so much herself (if you don’t know what I mean then read her books) my problems didn’t feel too insignificant to share. And the words she gave me before I left on the flight from Belfast to Inverness were straight forward – just telling me to keep on going. And I’m thankful to her and to God that I have through His strength.

After that she came over to my congregation to do a conference. It was at this conference that she gave, as part of her message, four little words that I believe are the backbone to her life and reinforced, for me, the message of her books, the message she gave me before I left Belfast and the message her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, gives all believers.

“Jesus is Worth it”.

Towards the end of that conference I had the pleasure of taking her and Pat for a tour of the Black Isle – a Scottish peninsula near Inverness. What took place at lunch that day is one of several distinct ‘Helen and Pat’ memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. If you’ve not met either of them – let me describe these two women of God…

They’re smart. Neither of them are short in the intelligence stakes. They both graduated in medicine at a time when to be a female graduate in any discipline like this was rare.

They’re cosmopolitan. Both women have travelled extensively – and they travelled before the easy days of online booking and satnav.

But if you, a stranger, were to sit down at a table next to them you wouldn’t look twice. You would presume – like the people sitting next to us probably did – that they were just two little old ladies. But that’s one point where the church and the world differs – God’s kingdom never puts the word ‘just’ before any category of person – particularly little old ladies.

Our neighbouring diners were given a visual and audible lesson in this when after lunch Pat and Helen’s conversation started as follows:

“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to get back to Afghanistan but it is a beautiful country, and the Lord is at work there…” – or words to that effect.

As my chin dropped I could see the looks on the people at the table beside us as they turned and stared. Two women they had just spent the last hour ignoring were talking about a trip they had made to what was now one of the most notoriously violent countries in the world.

Helen and Pat started reminiscing about people who had lived and worked in that region and about the brief time they had spent in a nation that was now in the thick of a conflict that threw up words like Taliban and Terrorist.

I drove them back to my parent’s house and before too long they were on their way back to Belfast discussing no doubt their plans for the development of the girls clubs they were involved in and the future fundraising for their local church.

So don’t make assumptions about little old ladies… especially when you hear the word church and missionary in the same sentence … they may very well have been where we will never go, have done what we wouldn’t dream of, and have given up what we just aren’t willing to.

 

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Countdown to Christmas 11, 12, 13

The three books in this post all have a link to the Christmas season… one is more obvious than the other two.

The Christmas Story by Carine Mackenzie

The subtitle to this is The Bible Version. Simply because we need to be clear that the story we quite often see portrayed in nativity plays and on Christmas cards isn’t the story we read in the Bible. When we read the scripture the shepherds and the wise men are not in the same part of the story. And there is a lot more to Jesus’ birth than simply the little town of Bethlehem. If you want your children to see that the birth of Jesus is important but that the child in the manger becomes the saviour on the cross then this is the book for you.

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1673/-/sr_1

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas, at least in the U.K., without a Narnia blockbuster on the T.V.  Clive Staples Lewis has worked his way into the festive season like Carols at Candlelight or a giant tub of office chocolates (I’m still hoping we’ll get one of those this year.)

So in honour of one of the 20th centuries greatest story-tellers we have two books that introduce different ages to his life and christian testimony.

The Little Lights Series has a title: Can You Imagine? http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1590/-/sr_2

and the Trailblazer series for 9-14 year olds has: The Story Teller

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/744/-/sr_3

 

My Twelve Books of Christmas #4

miracles

 

The reason I’m blogging about this book is that May Nicholson has been like an echo in my life throughout this spring and summer as I’ve worked on a new title of hers: Precious to God.

Miracles from Mayhem: The story of May Nicholson

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/554/-/sr_2

Precious to God

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1772/-/sr_1

As I tried to sum up her testimony in a few hundred words I felt that in order to do the best job I could before this book went into the Blythswood shoe boxes for this Christmas I had to actually see where May was working right now. So at one point during the summer I visited her ministry centre: Preshal in Govan, Glasgow for the first time. I was glad to have Irene Howat with me – as the ‘Ghost Writer’ for May’s books she was a valuable source of information before and during my visit.

It was at Preshal that I realised the importance of ‘storytelling’ in the lives of the people who have experienced Christ’s healing within the doors of that wonderful place. As I sat down, eating several slices of hot buttered toast and steaming cups of tea, several people came up to me and said, ‘Can I tell you my story.’ And I went away at the end of that day – exhausted – Yes – but also challenged, encouraged, and amazed.

May’s story on its own is a remarkable example of how God can transform a life… sucked into a life of alcoholism as a young teenager May’s life spiraled out of control… until one day people welcomed her into their midst and shared the Good News of Jesus Christ. The transformation was so dramatic that some time later when she was giving her testimony the local doctor was in floods of tears. The last time he’d seen her he’d hardly expected her to live she was so far gone with her addictions. She had in fact changed so dramatically he hadn’t recognised the smartly dressed woman on the podium as the crazed addict he’d treated in his clinic.

May now reaches out to people who face the same troubles as she did… and if you ever get a chance to visit Preshal in Govan one day, be prepared to listen and to wonder.

But in the meantime read this book and others in the Mayhem series… the story always goes on.

Several of the people I met this summer appear in this book – Renewing Broken Lives http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1781/-/sr_1

 

 

My Twelve Books of Christmas #3

rubies

The Third Book in my list is

Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1745/-/sr_1

The Christian church has many women throughout its history who have been vital and energetic workers for God’s kingdom. Most of them do not share the accolades or column space that their male counterparts do. A lot of them are like Bethan Lloyd Jones – the help behind the hero, with their work and influence known only to a few close friends and family.

This book on Bethan Lloyd Jones goes some way to informing the rest of us what only a cherished few were aware of in the past – that Bethan Lloyd Jones, the wife of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, was of great value in the ministry of her husband – her worth was in fact Far Above Rubies.

This is a refreshingly honest account, one that not only challenges and encourages you  but also brings a smile to your face as you read about this witty and wise woman of faith.

I love it when you read a biography and you come face to face with the human, not the ‘biography character’ – and this is what you witness in this book… Bethan Lloyd Jones, flesh and bone and soul.

This is a great gift to give to any woman, particularly a pastor’s wife, but don’t leave out the guys… someone who has enjoyed reading ‘The Doctor’s’ books in the past will relish this insight to his life.

Again here are a couple of good endorsements of the material:

What a rich and colorful portrait, of a godly woman who served her Savior with wit and wisdom…This is a portrait worth stopping to relish and study.

Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition

A lovely portrait of a lovely woman of God!…The wisdom and insight drawn from Bethan’s life will be of great encouragement and help to today’s pilgrims.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Author, Revive Our Hearts & radio host, Niles, Michigan

Mission Partners: Blythswood/20 Schemes

mezhttp://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1653/-

This year we are co publishing with Blythswood an evangelistic booklet which will be available in English and in Albanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian and Russian. This booklet: What’s the Point of Life is going into some of the shoe boxes that Blythswood will send out this Christmas. What’s the Point of Life? gives the testimony of Mez McConnell – it’s a story of hardship and hope. But Who is Mez? What is his story… well here are some of his own words.

“I was only two when my mother ran off leaving my three year old sister and me with our grandparents. From that point childhood memories are a mixture of anger, pain and loneliness.

Abandoned by my mother, I was often clueless about my father’s whereabouts, while his girlfriend-a cruel, angry, and violent woman ‘looked after us’. She wasn’t nice and would get angry with us kids and hit us. She would get angry a lot.”

You might think that this is just another harrowing story about an excruciating childhood but the difference is that Mez discovered a hope that transformed his life. Although his story at times may sicken you, his first brushes with church and Christianity will make you laugh out loud! Mez still suffers from his experiences but you’ll be amazed at how far you can be restored from such a beginning.

Mez McConnell. is now the pastor for Niddrie Community Church, near Edinburgh. He is also the Director of 20schemes which is dedicated to revitalising and planting gospel churches in Scotland’s poorest communities.

No glib remedies: Genius Grief and Grace

9781845503598No glib remedies… that was what John Stott said about this book Genius Grief and Grace and how ‘some of God’s heroes and heroines have been eccentric and neurotic, and have suffered repeated breakdowns’ but “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”(2 Cor. 12:9).

Dr. Gaius Davies introduces us to Martin Luther, John Bunyan, William Cowper, Lord Shaftesbury, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, Amy Carmichael, J.B. Phillips, C.S. Lewis, Martyn Lloyd Jones and Frances Ridley Havergal.

Through their lives and each individual’s unique trial we see how grace operated in each of them.

Davies is not afraid to show how anxiety, guilt, depression and doubt can be present in the finest of Christian lives, but he also goes on to show how divine grace can transform human weakness.

There are no glib remedies but with God’s grace there will be hope.

http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1162/-/sr_2

History Lives – in French

ImageOne of our mission partners Editions de la Colline have started to translate the History Lives series into French. I received on my desk this morning a pleasant surprise – the French edition of Peril and Peace: Les Fondateurs – La Chronique d’Ecclesia. Follow this link to see these books in English. http://www.christianfocus.com/series/show/40/-/s_s_1

If you are interested in purchasing a French edition for yourself the publisher’s email is editionsdelacolline@orange.fr

the website is editionsdelacolline.fr

the French ISBN is 978-2-918495-15-4