As we have heard, so we have seen

Michael Schluter, December 2003

The following is a shortened version of Michael’s talk at the 20th Anniversary Service on 15 November in Cambridge.

Reflecting on 20 years at the Jubilee Centre, I have recognised many of the same patterns of God’s dealings with his people from both the Old and New Testaments. There are four ways, in particular, in which we have seen God at work.

We have been greatly blessed

The psalms speak of children and grandchildren as a blessing from the Lord. Stretching the analogy, the Jubilee Centre’s offspring include Keep Sunday Special, Credit Action, the Newick Park Initiative, Cambridge Papers and the Relationships Foundation (RF). ‘Grandchildren’ include City life, Concordis and Keep Time for Children.

We have also been blessed to see the power of God. For example, in 1986 we saw the truly astonishing defeat of Mrs Thatcher’s Sunday Trading Bill, the only defeat of a Government Bill at Second Reading since 1945.

A third blessing has been material provision. God gave Israel manna for 40 years in the desert. They were not allowed to store it up for the next day, but had to learn to rely on God one day at a time. So it has been for us: seldom have we had much in the store; sometimes we have gone to the brink; always God has been faithful. Many of you, I know, will have been used by God to keep us going over these years. Thank you!

We have been guided

We have had some wonderful experiences of guidance. For example, four years ago we were closing down our work in Rwanda and as we prayed about what to do next, two things happened. We received a letter ‘out of the blue’ from an old friend who had close contact with leading Sudanese. Unaware of our situation, he asked if we might consider starting an international peace effort in the Sudan . At about that time a young man walked into our office. He had just finished a PhD on conflict in the Horn of Africa and came to find out about our peace-building work as Christians. At just the right moment God provided someone who understood the conflict in Sudan, having met many of the key players. He is still with us four years later.

We have been tested

God did not make life easy for David in the years leading up to his becoming king. In the New Testament, too, things happened that the early church could not easily understand. In Acts 12 we read that Herod killed James – one of the three closest friends of Jesus who had so much to offer. Why such an early death? Both David and the early church were tested; we too have been tested:

  • We lost the KSS battle in 1993. After such a long struggle, why did God allow it?
  • We were flooded in Jubilee House in 1996 and had to move out for six months.
  • Roy Clements, our spiritual mentor and former chairman of the JC advisory board, is lost to us.
  • Our attempt to launch a consultancy company to promote Relational Audits failed.
  • We have had great difficulties recently with our African partner in the work on Sudan and have now separated from him.

We cannot always understand these things. There have been tears, but we know the Lord records our tears (Psalm 56:8).

We have been forgiven

Remember how Israel as a nation strayed from following God and ended up in exile? Yet God forgave them and brought them back. In the New Testament Peter denied emphatically three times that he even knew Jesus, yet Jesus forgave him.

We, too, have made mistakes, for example at a strategic level. More seriously, I realise that on many occasions I have not treated staff as I should have done. There are some, I suspect, who even today feel a sense of grievance. Also, there have been many times I’ve complained and been ungrateful for all God has done for us and given us. But I know I am forgiven, for God is faithful and promises to forgive if we confess our sins.

Blessed, guided, tested, forgiven; As we have heard so we have seen. (Psalm 48:18) That is why we celebrate!

Thank you for sharing the ups and downs of this work of exploring and applying God’s word to public life. Thank you to those who have prayed for us, worked with us, donated funds, commented on drafts of manuscripts, sent messages of encouragement, bought and read our publications, and shared our vision and passion that God’s word will once again transform the life of nations. Praise God with us for all he has done in the past and all he will do in the future.

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Category: News and Reviews

December, 2003

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