“40 years married…would you lead us in the renewing of our marriage vows?”

This was the request I received recently from two very good friends. Both are keen and active supporters of SAMS and it was a pleasure to lead them in a short service of renewing vows. As I thought about them, their lives together, and how the Lord has used them I thought of seeds and service. These two words sum up their lives together. In the Lord’s service, both in South America and here in Ireland, they have been used to plant seeds which are bearing much fruit and everyone who knows them sees their servant hearts. Mission is about sowing seeds and reaping a harvest. Neither sowing nor reaping will happen without humble Christ-like selfless sacrificial service. Recently when I was in Lima Peru I had the joy of meeting a remarkable Christian couple called Julio and Norma. In 1980 Julio was the first Peruvian to be ordained in the Anglican Church in Peru. I asked both of them if they knew an Irish missionary called Raymundo Mills who had worked in Lima with his wife Beth some years ago. Their faces lit up and her eyes filled up. Norma said to me “El es mi padre espiritual!” (He is my spiritual father). Julio and Norma’s home is now a school in a poor area of Lima. They had a vision for reaching the children of the area for Christ and giving them the opportunity of a good education. Now 128 children and 10 teachers occupy their home. As the school expands their living space contracts! As money comes in more classrooms are added by building up. I was deeply moved when I saw the quality of their work and ministry. Their daughter Isabella is the Headmistress and is doing a superb job. This has all come about by seeds planted many years ago through a missionary family from Ireland. The Mills family knew the Lord had called them to serve in South America and they did. Julio’s family have that same heart for service and they are making a difference in the lives of many children and families.

I wonder is the Lord calling some of us to new adventures of obedience in 2014. Are we being called to new steps of faith? Are we being prompted to new waves of generosity? Are we passionate about service or have we lapsed into lethargy? Jesus, the Servant King calls us to serve! Some of us will sow and others will reap but the Lord Himself will give the growth. May seeds and service be marks of our lives and churches!

As I finish, and in case you were wondering who I was referring to…Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary to Gordon and Beryl Whitehead! The seeds they planted continue to bear much fruit in Santiago Chile. They are still planting seeds here in Ireland. May they, and we, keep going!

Bishop Ken