Hackney, England (Evangelical Reformed Church ministry, June 29–30, 2012)

Conference at Evangelical Reformed Church, Hackney, England

I was up at 3:45 a.m. on Friday morning to fly to London via Chicago. On the flight over the pond, I was bumped up to a “handicapped” seat. The leg room was great but I got more than I bargained for. I sat next to an elderly woman who couldn’t understand a word of English and panicked half-an-hour before landing.

Between times of caring for her, I caught some shut eye, went over the notes of the eight addresses I am scheduled to give, and managed to finish editing the last chapters for The Beauty and Glory of the Holy Spirit, which I am editing with Joey Pipa. It contains twenty addresses given at last year’s conferences offered by Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. The book will go to the printer July 10, D.V., and should be out in mid-August, just in time for our August 23–25 conference this year.

A chauffeur provided by the Evangelical Reformed Church drove me to my hotel. A pleasant fellow, he came to England from Nigeria at age 20. After a bit of probing, he readily admitted that though his wife attended church faithfully, he only attended occasionally. He pleaded tiredness after working long hours on Saturday night. After I took him to Hebrews 10:25 and stressed the importance of gleaning weekly spiritual food under God’s preached Word, he promised me that he’d stop making excuses and just attend. He then told me that he would go home and tell his wife so she could hold him accountable.

I then did a mini-conference for the Evangelical Reformed Church—a great group of 125 people (all black, many hailing from the Caribbean). They were pastored by Rev. Thomas Tuitt from 1957 to 1991. Tuitt was a thoroughly Reformed and able preacher. He often preached for seventy minutes or more. He left behind a library of nearly ten thousand books. The church has been without a pastor since the pastor’s sudden death, and is being led primarily by an elder, Easton Howes. This is the fifth trip I have preached at this church, and the second time that I did a mini-conference for them on a Saturday.

I spoke about what the Puritans can teach us about living the Christian life. My first address dealt with how to live in this world with a pilgrim mentality (Heb. 11:23) and the second about how to live godly in your own home (Ps. 101:1–3).

Young People Drawn to Church through My Last Visit

Afterwards, I fellowshipped close to two hours with the people, especially twenty-two young friends who started attending this church after my last visit there two years ago. What happened was that a young man named Kenhinde was with a buddy on a subway where he saw a sign that I was the speaker for a conference at the Evangelical Reformed church in Hackney, London.

He turned to his friend: “Hey dude, isn’t that guy the dude that preaches at Met Tab every now and then? I wonder why he’s preaching at the all black church.”

“I don’t know, dude,” his friend said. “But why don’t we check it out?”

And they did. They came with a whole row of guys—all from a Pentecostal church. None of them returned to their church. They became convicted by Reformed preaching, and then persuaded other friends, twenty-two in all, to come to this church. Since then, seventeen of them have embraced the Reformed faith and have joined this church, and several more are in process. According to Easton Howes, nearly all of them have become genuinely converted.

These dear young people wanted to meet with me afterwards to fire dozens of questions at me—and fire they did! I had a great time with them, answering questions about spiritual life, the call to the ministry, backsliding, family worship, head-coverings for women in worship, and many more. I spoke with two young men privately about coming to our seminary.

I also spoke with a young woman named Leandra, whom the Lord converted under my ministry at the Aber Conference in Wales several years ago. She is still walking with the Lord, and is two weeks from completing her speech pathology degree. She hopes to work with people with speech impediments in a local hospital. Her goal is twofold: help them speak better and evangelize them!

It was so humbling to be with these zealous young people, because, of course, I realized that everything about their conversion and coming to this church is entirely God’s doing, not mine. What is more humbling than being used by God for His own glory and the well-being of never-dying souls?

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