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).

Throughout the year our Evangelists are often invited by churches to report on the work of OAM in a deputation meeting. Because no such meetings are possible at present, here is a report video to keep supporters and supporting churches informed.

The Mission Committee set aside 20th April to review the full-employment status of our workers whilst all normal activities are curtailed. In other words, do we ‘furlough’ staff and avail of the 80% under the ‘Job Retention Scheme’? The Committee unanimously agreed to continue paying full salaries for all our workers.

As a Christian, gospel and faith organisation, depending on God for everything, we feel that going down the furlough route to dependency on the Government is not a correct way of thinking. God has been good to us in providing funds (through our supporters) adequate to meet the current and immediate future needs. While taking the Government route is permitted for Charities like OAM (i.e. it is not illegal, underhand or devious) the application of their scheme is to prevent redundancies along with supporting those needing ‘shielding’ and those looking after children at home, where a school has closed.

During these unprecedented times we are grateful to the Lord for the opportunities afforded to us online. Many of our Evangelists have been able to produce short gospel videos which we have shared on our website and through social media. These have been widely viewed and have prompted some correspondence from non-Christians leading to profitable dialogue. The Office in Luton remains open, manned by one member of staff and we are encouraged to receive requested for our ‘Enquirer’s Packs’. Our Evangelists are able to benefit from this time aside from the regular work in prayer, reading, study and preparing new material.

Thank you for your continued prayerful and practical support for the Mission. May the Lord use this time for His glory and the furtherance of the gospel and may the time come soon when we can be out, once more, proclaiming the glorious gospel of Christ in the open-air!

Former Committee Chairman, Graham Cole passed into the presence of his Lord on March 31st, 2020.

We express our sincere condolences to his wife, Pam, and the family at this time. Please remember them in your prayer.

 

 

Tribute

I first met Graham when I visited his home fellowship for deputation meetings on behalf of the Mission.  Although I didn’t know him very well, I was impressed by His love for the Lord, his love for God’s Word and his evangelistic zeal. I suggested to the Mission Committee that he should be invited to join the Committee and he was duly appointed in November 1992. His banking background was invaluable when it came to matters of finance. Graham became chairman in 2004 and held that position for many years, eventually retiring from the Committee in November 2015.

During those years of working with Graham, I came to value him more and more. It is difficult to speak too highly of Graham. All who worked with him held him in the very highest esteem. If I had to summarise his life and ministry in one phrase, it would be the character from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, ‘Mr. Valiant for Truth’, for that seems a fitting description.

Any hint of compromise was totally foreign to Graham. He stood foursquare on the truth of God’s Word. He radiated his love for the Lord and was always eager to share the truths of the gospel with others. I saw him in action at Epsom Races and at Tower Hill in London, one of the sites where he preached fearlessly on many occasions. The gospel message he proclaimed was never in any way obscure. It was straight to the point – Heaven or Hell at the end of life’s journey, always centring on the cross.

Alongside his work with the Mission, Graham took a major role in the work of the Gospel Hall that he and Pam attended in Welling, being involved in leadership generally and in the children’s and young people’s work there for many, many years. One of his unique ministries was the visits he made to Bexleyheath Broadway late on Saturday nights where he would mingle with those coming out of the pubs and clubs and offer gospel tracts. He often suffered abuse and sometimes physical danger but nothing would deter him. He was set for, “The defence and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7) that Paul spoke about. Again, that is how we shall remember Graham.

Mention must be made of his sense of humour. We were never in his company for long before laughter would be ringing out. So, we thank God for all our memories of Graham, knowing that he has been an outstanding example to us. We do pray for dear Pam and the other members of the family at this time of sadness, thinking particularly of the difficulties that the current restrictions are creating.

Alan J. Greenbank (Retired General Secretary)

 

The Committee met online on the 25th March to discuss various things pertaining to the work of the Mission. Whilst we still have the usual business to conduct, obviously the Coronavirus situation has dominated much of our discussions.

In the light of Government advice, on 17th March a memorandum was issued to all Staff and Associate workers suspending all normal open-air activity. This includes preaching in the open-air and also distribution of tracts (on the street and also through letter boxes). There is a Government ‘stay at home’ policy currently in force which forbids anything but essential travel (for food, health reasons or work (where you cannot work from home)). We understand the frustration of wanting to share the gospel outside at such a time as this, but we must act in accordance with Government advice and maintain a good testimony. We would not wish to be seen as ‘irresponsible’ at the moment which would bring shame upon the gospel.

However, we are looking to develop further online resources to reach out during such times. Our hope is that staff and supporters to share these widely through social media, emails and messages. We are encouraging our workers to spend time reading, praying, studying and preparing new resources (open-air talks, videos etc.). We have also, inevitably, cancelled the Leeds Team Event, Family Conference and also the Tissington Well Dressing outreach. We will keep other future events under review based upon the latest advice from the Government.

In support of our workers, the Committee’s decision at this time is that we will continue to employ staff on full pay.

We look forward to the time when we can be out once more, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ in the biblical, effective and face-to-face manner of open-air evangelism!

Latest, up-to-date, Government information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

As believers we look to our Sovereign God and cultivate a deepening reliance on Him.

Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.’

(Psalm 125:1-2)

 

26th March 2020