The year 2010 is a landmark year in my Christian journey. Having been challenged to consider the church’s engagement with the wider community I was shocked to discover how disconnected I had become with the issues and concerns of other members of society whom I had somehow ignored.
That was the year I read a rather provocative book by John Stott, “The Radical Disciple” where he wrote, “When Christians care for each other and for the deprived, Jesus Christ becomes more visibly attractive.”
But the most inciting jolt to my smug complacency that year was the publication of a survey commissioned by North Down YMCA which concluded that many local churches made no attempt to engage with the wider community and those that did often came with their own agenda. There was also little evidence of cooperation between churches.
Whilst some of the survey findings were challenged, several Christians from different denominations felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to respond in a tangible way by identifying & responding to the needs in the wider community. In this context BICCI was birthed.
Some of the resulting initiatives include Storehouse North Down, participation in Kilcooley Neighbourhood Partnership, an inter-church community support project in Breezemount, & the launch of the Disability Inclusion Group. The most recent initiative is Churches Enabling Seniors.
I was an old man set in my ways, a long serving church elder, what some might regard as a respectable pillar of the Christian community, but I realised that I could still step up to make a difference. We all have unique skills. Whatever yours are why don’t you ask the Holy Spirit to stir up the gifts within you and say “Here am I Lord, I am ready to serve you”. As I have proved, like Abraham who was 75 when he left Haran for Canaan, you are never too old to respond to the call of God on your life to be a father figure and to give birth to a fresh expression of His kingdom.
Derek is a member at Hamilton Road Presbyterian