Latest report video to keep our supporters and supporting churches up-to-date, is now online. Please feel free to share it with anyone who may find it helpful.
Having interpreted the law and Government guidance the Mission took the decision to begin returning our Staff Evangelists in England to the streets from Monday, 22nd June (Wales and Scotland followed shortly afterwards). This return to open-air evangelism saw new social distancing and hygiene procedures established to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the testimony of the Mission. These measures are kept under regular review. Following a review at the end of June we felt the time was right to allow Associate workers in all regions (aged 69 or under, who have no underlying health conditions nor show any COVID-19 symptoms) to begin resuming their open-air outreach from Monday, 6th July.
We are grateful for the careful adherence to these measures put in place to facilitate a return to open-air work and we have been greatly encouraged by the opportunities our workers have encountered since restarting. A further review was held by the Committee on Wednesday, 15th July with some changes to our current practice agreed. Both national and devolved governments have agreed a timetable for ‘shielding’ to end – 31st July in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, 16th August in Wales. Based upon this timetable, we are now in a position to allow our Associate workers (aged 70 and over, not showing any COVID-19 symptoms) to resume open-air work from 1st August in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and from 17th August in Wales.
However, those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable having previously received a letter advising them to shield are advised to take particular care. UK Government advice states. ‘You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible’. In the light of this, we recommend those in this category to consider carefully the risks to their health. No-one is required to go out and it is left to the discretion of each worker. However, please remember this is based upon current Government guidance which, as you are aware, could change as they review measures.
Those who do return to open-air work must adhere to the same hygiene and social distancing measures in force that our Staff Evangelists and Associate workers are currently subject to. This change also includes registered supporters in the open-air. Those aged 70 and over, not showing any COVID-19 symptoms may now support open-air work from 1st August in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and from 17th August in Wales. However, those classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ having
previously received a letter advising them to shield are advised to take particular care and asses the risk to their health.
We thank the Lord that he has enabled our evangelistic output to gather momentum in recent weeks. As the seed of God’s Word is sown, we look to Him that it might fall on good ground and bear fruit in the salvation of the lost. ‘But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.’ (Matthew 13:23).
22nd July 2020
We last communicated with you on 12th June in order to explain the careful steps we were taking to return our Staff Evangelists to the streets. We gave due diligence to interpreting the law and up-to-date Government guidance and, in the light of those, put new measures in place to enable this return. We began doing this with six of our workers on Monday, 22nd June and we were so encouraged by the response. Most open-airs saw people stopping to listen, taking literature and engaging our workers and their supporter in conversation (socially distant).
As a Mission we committed to reviewing these measures carefully on Monday, 29th June. Those involved in that review process were encouraged by the reports from our Staff Evangelists and now believe it is appropriate to begin expanding the work once more.
From Monday, 6th July (in all regions) we are now in a position to allow Associate workers who are aged 69 years or younger, who have no underlying health conditions nor show any COVID-19 symptoms, to return to street evangelism. Unfortunately, is it unwise for us to allow our Associate workers who are 70 and over to return at this time (this is because those within this age bracket are at greater risk). Whilst this will be good news for some and disappointing to others, we are moving forward in a careful manner. The Committee will review this at their next meeting.
Associates workers who are able to return to open-air outreach at this time will be subject to the same working conditions that our Staff Evangelists are currently operate under. These measures include:
- Associate worker plus one local supporter (who must be registered with OAM in order to demonstrate compliance to new measures).
- Social distancing (with signage to encourage this).
- Hygiene procedures (regular hand sanitising and regular cleaning of touched surfaces).
- Limited literature available from this display board and/or a small literature table (with signage encouraging the taking of literature but discouraging unnecessarily handling items).
- No active distribution (handing out) of literature.
- Restricted duration of 90 minutes for each open-air.
- Associate worker and supporter should travel independently (avoiding public transport).
It was these measures that were under review on Monday, 29th June and we deemed wise to continue. These are careful steps facilitate a return to our streets following the Coronavirus pandemic. No Associate worker will be forced to return should they feel vulnerable in any way.
In view of the local situation in Leicester that has been announced on 29th June, all open-airs in the city are immediately suspended. It may be necessary to do this in other areas too, as and when the Government identify localised coronavirus ‘hotspots’.
In the light of this, we continue to heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27). Please pray that our careful steps would be to God’s glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom.
30th June 2020
The latest report video to keep our supporters and supporting churches up-to-date, is now online:
It can be viewed here.
Please feel free to share it with anyone who may find it helpful.
On Tuesday, 17th March, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee took the difficult decision to suspended all our activities in the open-air. Recognising the risks, we sought to:
• Protect our workers.
• Protect those we come into contact with.
• Protect the testimony of the Mission.
We are pleased to report that tentative steps are being taken to return our Staff Evangelists to the streets. Having interpreted Government legislation and guidance, sought legal advice, and consulted with various Police Forces, the Committee have agreed a timetable for a careful return to the open-air. New social distancing and hygiene procedures have been put in place to mitigate the risks so that we can continue to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and the testimony of the Mission. We heed the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27).
Whilst we are excited about the prospect of sharing the gospel once more on the streets the return will be limited.
Initially, only Staff Evangelists in England will be returned to the streets from Monday, 22nd June (other areas will be reviewed in line with restrictions being eased by devolved administrations). The duration of each open-air will be restricted and each Staff Evangelist will be accompanied by just one, locally based, supporter. Only a limited range of literature will be available to enquirers. There will be no distribution of tracts/leaflets at this stage.
This restrictive approach is in line with Government guidance and is important to facilitate a slow and measured return to the streets. Strategic reviews will take place at regular intervals and will asses these measures.
Unfortunately, we cannot permit our Associate workers to return to the streets at this stage, nor other supporters. However, we hope that following various reviews and further easing of restrictions, we will have more clarity as to when we can expand the work.
Our return to the streets must be careful and prayerful. We have sought to be diligent in our planning and preparation, but we must also be diligent in our praying. Please join with us in praying for this phased return that we might be God-honouring in all that we do and winsome in communicating the good news in our needy land. ‘Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2).
Our dear brother Ken Weaver was born on 11th August 1931 and went to his well-earned rest in glory on 25th May 2020. Ken served the Lord with the Mission from 5th May 1975 until his retirement in 1998, well supported by his wife, Sheila, who died on 26th December 2019. This godly couple worked together at numerous events, including Beach Missions, where Sheila cooked for the team. Ken and Sheila were faithful Christians, praying and serving the Lord together.
I was privileged to have fellowship with them at Barnstable and Bridgwater Fairs, where we assisted Clive Williams in the witness. I also worked alongside them at the Tissington Well Dressings outreach and the International Musical Eisteddfod witness in Llangollen, North Wales. When Crockenhill Baptist Church, where Ken and Sheila worshipped, first hosted a Bible Exhibition, Mary and I enjoyed their fellowship and the lovely meals prepared by Sheila!
I first met Ken and Sheila back in March 1985. We were attending an open-air seminar in Pembroke, South Wales and soon got to know each other very well, and enjoyed each other’s company. Ken designed some of the first display boards used by the Mission and also constructed the first display stands for the Bible Exhibitions.
During my early months with the Mission we worked together in Canterbury. I remember Ken dealing with an enquirer as I spoke to a group of disabled young people. These young people listened well but I wondered how much they were able to take in. When I later mentioned this to Ken, he gently reminded me, “Joe, you were speaking to their minds, God was dealing with their spirits”. That was a big comfort to me. Our God is able to speak through the preaching of the Word by His Spirit into their hearts. We give thanks for many who the Lord spoke to through Ken’s gospel preaching and personal work.
Our visits to Maidstone Prison together proved to be encouraging and fruitful. Ken and Sheila, Mary and myself were present to witness to the baptism of six men who had trusted the Lord through that work. It was a great joy to witness such an event! We were thrilled with wonder at what our God had done in the lives of these men as each one gave testimony to their faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour.
Joe Hayden (Retired Evangelist)
For over 30 years OAM has visited the Derbyshire village of Tissington during their annual Well Dressings festival to show a presentation entitled, ‘The Making and the Message of the Well Dressings’. Each video explains something of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to create these natural collages whilst using the Bible stories, they traditionally depict, to explain the greatest message in the world. We have had the privilege of showing this short presentation to tens of thousands over the years.
We have put together a webpage containing some of our presentations going back over the years, including a special edition for this year: https://www.oamission.com/welldressing/
Further to the last update, our workers continue to be fully employed and we are grateful for the opportunities afforded to us at this time. Whilst we would never have wished such restrictions upon us, we remember and take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign. In recent weeks many have engaged with our online evangelistic resources and our workers have been able to take various services and meetings online along with spending additional time in reading, study, prayer and preparation.
In the light of the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (10th May 2020), we are still not in a position to enable any form of open-air work to restart and must reiterate that all our outside operations remain suspended. This decision will be reviewed at the next Committee meeting. Once clarity for a way forward has been determined, we hope to have an online ‘Staff Conference’ to discuss the implications and ongoing restrictions as we begin to operate once more.
This is a frustrating and challenging period for gospel-hearted workers. We yearn for the time when we can once again proclaim the good news of our Saviour on the streets of our nation. However, in God’s mysterious and providential ways, gospel seed continues to be sown. We look to Him to bring the increase!
May the exhortation the Apostle Paul gave to the Corinthians be our encouragement at this time, ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 15:58).