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Generational stories

On receiving a note, I carefully open the envelope, not sure of what’s inside. There’s one note sized piece of paper, written on both sides, from a woman at Church. I start to read it, and tears begin to fall down my face. The prophetic word written on the pages spoke right into my situation. It helped me to be honest with where I was, and to have hope in what God was doing. I pondered it in my heart and over the years I have enjoyed watching it come to pass. Thank you, God. 


I’m leading a service, and one woman is often baffled as to why we have to keep explaining scripture and I’m a little confused as to why not. As time goes on and we get to know one another she explains how she was taught to read, and interpret the Bible through the school she grew up in. I discover that what I was learning at Theology college, she was learning in her childhood! Her knowledge of scripture and the varying ways to interpret it were inspiring.  


As I chat to different couples in the church, stories of how they used to gather for food, prayer and teaching in each other’s homes becomes a theme. They hear that local families are gathering in a similar way again and their eyes light up. They know what fellowship and community looks like and are encouraged to see that others are continuing to prioritise their faith and others in the same way. 


I hear stories of men and women who were called to share their faith with students. How many gathered in large rooms and gave their lives to Jesus and how some keep in contact all these years later. One man in particular would call those who became disciples of Jesus regularly, and have gatherings in homes to encourage and equip them on their journey. 


I’m celebrating with my family, and as we drive home and walk to our front door there’s a glorious chocolate cake on the doorstep. A church member had remembered, cared and wanted to help us celebrate. 


The more I spend time with the older generation, the more I am in awe of their trust in Jesus. These stories are all from men and women aged 70 and over, some with dementia. Stories from a generation of Christian brothers and sisters who were raised in a more overt Christian culture than the one we have now, who went to church as a child because it was the norm, who may have learnt about Jesus and biblical interpretation as a child, who knew that sharing Jesus in our increasingly secular culture was the priority and were not scared of being bold, and who knew that the little acts of love and welcome were vital to sharing the love of Jesus in this world. 


As pioneers we often rant and rave about Church needing to be different, of the old guard not wanting to change, and sometimes rightly so. But what about the phrase we so often banter around: ‘working with what God has given us?’ What about the generation of disciples who, although were brought up in a different culture from our own, have so much to teach us about faith, perseverance, hope and mission? We may need to contextualise how we respond to each story, but they can bring us hope and encouragement.  


I’ve recently been in mourning for the church, because our elderly brothers and sisters who have trusted in Jesus their whole life will soon be gone. There’s a generational gap following our elders, and the prayer, faith and hope from these Christians will not be there. Which means Church will look different anyway. But some of the most encouraging, challenging and fruitful conversations I have had, not to mention glorious cakes, have been with those over 70. So, what am I saying? Well, I’m aware that some of you reading this will be in the generation I’m writing about. Please share your stories with us, to encourage us, to give us boldness and hope. To everyone else I encourage you to spend time with the older generation this week, to be curious and share God stories together. 

Jo Allen Director: South West


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