Dear friends,

Warmest greetings to you in the name of Christ.

The word encouragement has been on my mind. I cannot begin to express how much I appreciateit when people go out of their way to encourage me. Encouragement is a very special tonic. I was very grateful that a few people emailed me to express their thanks for the Holy Week and Easter services. I had worked hard on them and it was encouraging to hear how people have been blessed by the words, music, readings from Mark and the prayers.

I hope that people will feel encouraged at our ACM. It will give everyone an opportunity to consider who they might thank and encourage for their work and witness in the Church. So many people commit time and talents in different ways – but who might God be especially directing you to encourage?

We are called and challenged to encourage one another in our faith and commitment to the Church. Endurance is an important aspect in our faith and encouragement from others helps our determination to endure to the end. Hebrews 10: 25 says,

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Some people are particularly gifted when it comes to offering encouragement to others. The apostle Paul stresses that some Christians excel in this gift which really helps to build up the fellowship and unity of the Church. Encouragers are specifically mentioned in Romans 12:8. Paul himself knew what it was to receive encouragement as a Church leader and missionary. He valued it so much. So often, encouragement kept him going.(Philippians 4: 14-16).

One of his great companions Barnabas was known for his gifting in encouragement. In fact, “Encourager” was his nick name. Acts 4:36 describes this good-hearted man as a son of encouragement. He was the man who encouraged Paul just after his Damascus road experience and accepted him as a new Christian brother when everyone else reacted simply with nervousness and suspicion towards the ex-persecutor (Acts 9:27).

Barnabas included and encouraged Paul in new apostolic mission (Acts 11:25-26)

And of course, Barnabas was the one who encouraged the wounded and dejected John Mark after he has failed to stay and work with him and Paul. You could therefore say that Barnabas’s ministry of encouragement helped to write huge amounts of the New Testament as he encouraged both Paul who wrote so many epistles, and John Mark, who wrote the gospel we have been studying.

We can all play a part in the ministry of encouragement. Join in and be a blessing to others and their work for the Church. I do hope you feel cared for and encouraged.

Yours in Christ

Peter