Introduction to Blog
I have created this Blog to replace one which I had previously with Fortune City. They were taken over by Topster and, by the time I found out, it was too late to retrieve my content from Fortune City. So, I have to start from scratch. My wife's name is Marie, mine is Frank and we live in Stratford, East London. She loves singing, I love playing the guitar and together we go outside doing gospel songs. We have a re-chargeable amplifier for the guitar and microphone on a luggage trolley and between the trolley handles there is a box with gospel leaflets for people to take.
Oasis Over 60s Club
On the 24th of May we went to the Elim church in East Ham to give the over 60s a country and western themed gospel meeting. We had been there before the previous year. The welcome we had there was heartwarming. We hope we get asked to go again.
Sunday 10th June outside Morrison's
Once a month we have a Sunday off from our own church to go outside doing hymns for the passers by. We usually go to this site in Stratford and get some good responses. This time a couple came up to us, saying they had heard us before, and the woman informed us that her father's funeral was taking place on Friday. They asked Marie to go and sing a song there. We agreed to this and Marie will be singing "Nearer my God to Thee" with my guitar accompaniment at the funeral in a Catholic church.
On the evening of the 14th of June I visited an exhibition at the Travellers' site in Major Road Stratford, just next to the Baptist Church of which I am Secretary. I got talking to one of the representatives of Newham Council who attended and he was quite interested in the church's history. I said I would let him have some old pictures. He mentioned that he himself was a Catholic. I said that, co-incidentally, my wife would be singing the next day at a funeral in a Catholic church and showed him the photograph of Marie and me on my phone. He said "I know her! She's from St Lucia!" It turned out that his mother, who had called Marie a few days ago, was my wife's cousin. I couldn't wait to tell her.
The Catholic Funeral
We went to the church as arranged and the priest suggested that we did the song while the body was being viewed. This we did and Marie was repeatedly thanked afterwards. After the service, it was raining quite heavily and I had forgotten to bring a plastic bin bag to protect the amplifier from the water. I stayed at the church with the amp while Marie went off to try to buy bin bags. However a kind lady whom she knew and who had been at the service took her to her home and gave her a couple. Ironically the rain had stopped by then but better safe than sorry as they say.
We were sitting in a bank and a lady came up to us, evidently recognizing us. My wife, who is better than me at recognizing people she has not seen often, could not think who she was. It turned out she had previously seen Marie singing. She said how lovely her singing was. She had made the same comment previously when she met her in Ilford.
A Miraculous Encounter
A few months ago, a Pastor Daniel had phoned us from the United States, having seen the phone number on our church Web site. He had asked me if we could use some Olympic themed tracts which he had available. Although we did not take him up on his offer, we both enjoyed speaking to him and Marie in particular loves American accents. He said he would be coming to London for the Olympics and we hoped to meet him some time.
Today we arrived by bus at Stratford station. We had earlier discussed the route we would take home and could easily not have gone to the station. A man offered me a tract asking me if I would like to hear the Good News. I said we already knew the Good News and had been earlier that day at our church coffee morning at which there were tracts available in various languages. He asked me my name and I answered "Frank". He then correctly gave my surname. This was Pastor Daniel and he recognized Marie and myself as he had seen us YouTube. (I had sent him a link during the course of an email exchange. You can see the video below. Stratford has changed quite a bit since it was shot). We both hugged him, being so overjoyed that we had met him in this way among the Stratford Olympic crowds. Marie invited him to come to our church in a couple of weeks time and looks forward to announcing his presence.
Frank & Marie in Stratford
Map of Stratford
Here is a map of the local area in which we perform.
We had one of our Sunday mornings off from church on the 29th of July to do some songs outside Morrison's. We set out in sunshine, then it started to rain and, by the time we got to Morrison's, it was pouring. We set up under the shelter of Morrison's awning facing the Broadway. Then the rain stopped. It was then on and off.
We were aware of the tightening up of security in Stratford while the Olympics were on and, when we saw two policemen approaching, I wondered if they were going to stop us. They just walked past in front of us while we were performing so there was no problem at all.
We kept going until there was a clap of thunder, after which we decided to call it a day. We managed to get back in the dry, which was fortunate as we had no macs, umbrellas or plastic bag to cover the amplifier.
Celebration and Healing Meeting
In the summer we were invited to do some songs at a celebration and healing meeting in Stratford which took place on the 25th of August. We had a very warm welcome and our contribution was obviously much appreciated. This was brought home to us all the more when we were given an envelope with £50 in it. We do not seek monetary rewards but were grateful for it, not least because of what it said about the blessing they had received from our ministry at the meeting.
God blesses. Satan retaliates. Jesus triumphs.
On Sunday the 4th of November we had arranged to have the morning service off at our church to do songs outside. However, as it was wet, this was not an option on the day. We considered going to a couple of other churches but, as we had got back in the early hours from a surprise 70th birthday party for Marie's cousin, we had got up late and so would not have been in time for the start of either service. But I suggested going to the church where we had played for the Saturday evening Celebration and Healing service (See the last entry) as they started at 11.30 am on Sunday mornings. I also suggested that Marie took the words of some songs in her bag in case she was asked to sing. I would not take my guitar as if we expected to do something but would play their keyboard if they did ask. So off we went to to the house a few minutes away, at the back of which was the hall where the meetings were held.
When we got there we found that there was no keyboard, or for that matter guitar, in sight. Also their computer, which they used to play Christian music videos to sing along to was not producing any sound. The Pastor's wife, Comfort, as she led the service welcomed us warmly and said she had tried to get in touch with us to help and the Lord had led us to go there that morning. . At this point the pastor himself had not arrived as he had something to do elsewhere. During the course of the meeting Comfort commended the musical ministry of Marie and myself which she had first encountered outdoors and said we would be asked later on to minister in song. I thought I'd have to play the tambourine which Comfort was playing for their songs for want of anything else to play. However, later in the service the pastor arrived. He quickly produced the keyboard and set it up. Then Marie sang the songs she had brought with her while I played the keyboard. After that we were asked to lead them in various other hymns which were put up on the screen. This we were glad to do. We knew the Lord had led us to be there that morning. Much was said about how the Lord could use the gifts Marie and I had. They are interested in making a CD of us as they have the studio equipment.
Then this evening, Monday, Marie fell over in the kitchen and screamed out that she had banged her head hard. I immediately prayed for her and have every confidence that the Lord has touched her and there is no lasting damage done. She is talking and acting normally, just as if nothing had happened. Hallelujah! There is healing in the Name of Jesus!
The Recording Studio
The 19th of November saw us going to record some songs in the studio connected with the fellowship we visited first on the 25th of August and then on the 4th of November. On both occasions they had so appreciated what we had done that they offered us the opportunity to make a CD. Our first recording session was yesterday with 8 songs being recorded. The recording engineer is a very gracious Christian brother. We plan to go back in 2 weeks time and hope to have a CD produced before Christmas.
On the 26th of November we paid another visit to the studio. Marie had been feverish and coughing with a sore throat for a couple of days but her throat had improved. However she struggled somewhat with more demanding songs and we only recorded two more songs which not too large a vocal range. This meant that we have now recorded 10 tracks and we were told we would have a rough CD available next week. We can't wait to receive it and play it during a church coffee morning!
Just before Christmas, we were delighted to receive the CD which we had made in the studio. I burned some copies to give to friends and they were received enthusiastically. Then I got one stuck in my laptop and have so far been unable to get it out. Therefore we had to ask a friend to burn more copies. We have a waiting list for those that want them. We have to admit we enjoy listening to it ourselves.
Encouragement in Sainsbury's
On the 11th of January 2013 we had gone into Sainsbury's for some shopping and met a woman who attends the church at which Marie used to lead a choir as well as being a steward and pastoral carer. (She had left that church some years ago owing to the choir being considered surplus to requirements by a new pastor. She had come to my church and that is what led to our falling in love and marrying). This woman had heard Marie singing outside. She repeatedly said what a beautiful voice Marie has. And I can't help thinking she's right!
Red Nose Day
On Friday 15th March we went shopping at Marks and Spencers ilford. The arrangement was that Marie left home first without me and went to Barking. (I knew it must be to get me a birthday Card at Daisy's Den).When she phoned me to say she was getting a bus from there to Ilford, I headed for Ilford myself to wait for her in M&S if I got there first. For Comic Relief they had near the entrance a man playing a keyboard, which had recorded on it backings to various songs from the 1950s and 1960s. He also had a microphone which people could use Karaoke style. I went and sat near the checkouts to await Marie. Eventually I decided to get up and go nearer to the music. I there found my wife with the microphone joining in with the keyboard man on "Teddy Bear". She then followed up with "Suspicious Minds" - followed by an explosion of myrth from the three of us. We then went to start our shopping but then I left her with her trolley to go back to the music man. Marie did not realise that it was me singing "Rock Around the Clock" until I told her. I also asked if I could play the keyboard and, given permission. I played "Jambalaya" and one or two other tunes, including one I had written myself. I was pleased that, while I was playing, some people put money in the collecting box. We'd done our bit for Red Nose Day.
Believer's Baptism and Baby Blessing
On the 23rd of June 2013 Marie and I had one of our Sunday mornings off from our church but, on this occasion, instead of doing street ministry in song, we visited another church where a young lady who used to come to our own church was going to witness to her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by being baptised (i.e.by total immersion). At the same service her 3 month old baby was going to be blessed. Others of her friends who normally attend our church were also there. After the service, lots of us went to her mother's house for a meal and music. Most of this was recorded but I had taken my guitar and Marie and I did three songs. One of these was "Wings of a Dove", in which one of the verses refers to Jesus being baptised. Another was "When Mothers of Salem", to which Marie had added an extra verse, bringing in the name of the baby who had been blessed at the service. This verse had originally been written for another infant blessing at our own church with the name of that child included. in this case the name was changed to that of the baby. The weather was cold and windy with a hint of drizzle but we were blessed.
Problem with the Amplifier
On the 21st of July we went to do some songs outside Morrison's but did not spend as long as usual as the sound on the amp was very fluttery and rattly for some reason. However a Christian lady came up and asked if we were "doing it for the Lord". She said she was going into Morrison's and would come back to listen. It was while she was gone into the store we decided we had to stop because of the problem. Marie went into Morrison's to find her and explain why we were not continuing. She found her easily although she had never seen her before and was thankful to God for that.
Some days later Marie found outside Costa's a lady from the Parish church, to whom we had given one of our CDs, sitting with a friend. She told Marie that she appreciated our CD more than a professional one that she also had as the singing came from Marie's heart. Co-incidentally there was another woman sitting a little way away who had a long time before we made the CD said the same thing about Marie's singing when she heard us live. Although the two had never met before, Marie asked this other woman to come and tell the woman from the Parish church what she had said on that occasion. Small world!
I was checking the amplifier today and believe it should be o.k. the next time we go out and do some songs.
Evangelising City Workers
On New Years Eve 2012, one of the attenders at our church's Watch Night Service was an evangelical nun who attends a Pentecostal church. Marie met her again twice in August 2013 and she mentioned a vision she had about evangelising City workers visiting pubs and cafes after work. Having heard Marie sing, she suggested that we visit her to discuss how we could be involved. So we went round her house where we met a Nigerian pastor from a South London Church who was also interested in the project. We had a good time of fellowship and, after prayer, arranged an outreach for Monday 19th August near Farringdon station. The Pastor had a car and would bring his own amplifier with wireless mikes, into which I could also plug my guitar. When the morning of that day came, Marie had an upset stomach. I prayed for her in the morning and we agreed that it would not stop us from joining the outreach. We went round to the nun's house where she also prayed for Marie.Then the pastor drove us all to Smithfield, where he parked his car in the car park. Then, after a time of worship and prayer in the chapel of Bart's Hospital, we proceded to a place some way away, opposite some pubs and cafes, where we set up the equipment. Marie sang some songs with the nun joining in with those she knew.. In between the Pastor preached the Gospel. One man said Marie had a lovely voice. Another man came out while the Pastor was preaching and asked for the volume to be turned down as "everyone can hear it". He stood next to me with his cigarette in his hand. I could have told him to take his cigarette away as we could all smell it. The Pastor responded on the mike by saying he apologises if anybody thinks it's too loud but the love of God demands that we did what we were doing. Marie, who was feeling ok after the earlier prayers, suggested singing "In the Name of Jesus", which she did three times. This has had a good track record for getting rid of opposition previously. The final song was "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". We noticed that a young lady sitting with others at an al fresco table was singing along with it. Marie thanked her for her support and she came up and said how well.Marie sang and I played. After some final words from the Pastor, we packed up and moved on prior to returning home. We were grateful to him for dropping us right home. It was really a blessed day. We look forward to the next time which may possibly be in Paternoster Square.
Searching for a Battery
We have not added anything to our Blog for some time owing to problems we had with our portable amplifier. Researching on the internet, I found that the reason the amp was playing up was that its battery had lost its capacity to charge any more. So I removed the battery from the amp and made enquiries on the Internet and by phone to try and find a replacement of the type I needed. My enquiries were unfruitful for weeks as I was finding the the batteries tended to be very expensive. They were very heavy lead construction and, being sourced in America, cost a lot for delivery, several times the cost of the battery itself. Then in October however I managed to find a suitable type on Ebay located in Wales for a total cost of only £18. I ordered this and have now put it in the amplifier and tested it. So the amplifier is ready for use again outdoors when we have the time and suitable weather. In the meantime we took part in a Lupus awarenes service in Ilford on the 12th of October, using the amplification belonging to the church where it took place. Also we have bookings to perform in an informal concert at an Elim church on the 30th of November and a party on the 14th of December. We must get practicing again!
Back on the Road Again
On the 16th of November, after a long interval caused by our battery problem, we once again went outside to do songs. First we went near Morrisons. There were a group of men, somewhat the worse for wear, drinking on a bench nearby.We started by doing some popular old non-sacred songs. At times the men were a bit distracting but they did us no harm. The amplifier was working well with the new battery in it. After a while we started doing hymns and gospel songs. The drinking men were still there and we hope the message of the gospel will have got through to one or more of them. Several people came to express their appreciation. These included a friend of Marie's, Madeleine, who comes from St Lucia as she does. Madeleine had recently informed her of the efficacy of sour sop, a tropical fruit, in fighting cancer. Although this has become very expensive because of the demand for it, we had since bought some for Marie's oldest son who has prostate cancer. He has eaten some and, partly we believe due to prayer and possibly also the sour sop, has been feeling better since. When we had been near Morrison's for an hour or more, Marie suggested that we went and did some more gospel songs on the space near Stratford station. We are very glad we did. We were very much welcomed by other Christians who were there to give out tracts and witness to people. These included an American brother, Rob, whom we already knew and it was good to see him again. He has a ministry witnessing to Moslems, which we saw him doing at the time. There were also two more ladies from St Lucia, which was of course a very encouraging encounter for Marie. And she was specially encouraged when Michael, a man she had known at the Central Baptist church, where she had years before been a choir leader, pastoral carer and steward, came up, having recognized her, and was so delighted to see her after all that time. She had lost contact with him and his family. We gave him one of our cards with phone numbers and email address on. Altogether it was a very satisfying afternoon and we were so grateful the new battery in the amplifier was working so well. It had been a tricky task for me removing the old one and inserting the new, which involved taking the amplifier apart. God is good!
Responding to a Church's Call for Help
A lady deacon from a church we have visited a few times recently, knowing about Marie's choir experience and my playing music, asked us some weeks ago to help her out with a Christmas programme. The first of the practices for this was last night. We had not known quite what to expect but really had a good time. Marie helped children learn the singing of the carols. I played them on the piano and also helped a boy with a classical guitar by calling the chords over to him. I also showed him some chords he didn't know and gave him tips. A girl produced a violin and brought to me saying she could not get a sound out of it. I saw that it had no bridge. This found hidden in a narrow pocket in the case so I put it in and started to tune the violin. Sadly the E string broke and the tuning peg for the A string would not budge to tune it. I heard her play something on the remaining strings and she sounded quite good so I was sorry she could not play that evening. Hopefully next Friday she will have a new string and her brother who usually tunes the instrument for her will have been able to deal with the sticking peg. Besides helping the children with the singing, Marie sang "Down from His Glory". I did not have my guitar but I borrowed the boy's guitar to accompany her . Not surprisingly,the lady deacon has asked her to sing something during the Christmas event. Next week I will bring my own guitar as I feel more comfortable playing that.
I really found this to be a satisfying evening. For Marie it was not so easy because of difficulty in disassociating any new situation from the way she has been treated elsewhere. I pray and trust this will get easier for her in due course.
Modern and Ancient
On Friday 29th November we had our second session with children and Christmas carols as started the previous Friday. This also went well with similar activities to the first week. One girl did an excellent job singing "Ding Dong Merrily on High", which she had not heard until Marie taught it to her that evening. A couple of the adults did a good job on "Kum Ba Ya" despite having insisted they could not sing.
On Saturday 30th November we paid a return visit to the Oasis Over 60s Club in East Ham who were having a Christmas social. There was a devotional time followed by games poetry and food. Marie met a man there from St Lucia who knew some things about people she knew over there, so that was a very encouraging encounter for her.
Our part on this occasion was to do 3 songs on the stage. Marie used one of their microphones and my guitar was plugged into their own system and it all went very well. The man from St Lucia commented very favourably on Marie's singing and my guitar playing.
The expressed there appreciation with a "Thank You" card which is shown below.
"Thank You" Card from Oasis
A Busy Weekend
On Friday evening, the 13th of December, we went again to the Pentecostal church where we are helping out with the children's Christmas programme, with Marie helping on the singing side and I with the music. Then, as the actual event we are practicing for is next Saturday, the 21st, we agreed to go to their morning service, since their Sunday School time is currently being used for the practices.
On the Saturday we had another engagement. We had been invited to do some songs at a tea party in a home in Manor Park. We did quite a few, including some old secular favourites as well as gospel and carols. One lady said that one of the songs "One Day at a Time" really touched her. She did not however recall that the song, recorded by Lena Martell, had been in the charts years ago. The wife of another man who was there told us he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. We are praying for him.
When Sunday morning came, Marie remembered that her daughter-in-law had invited us to a carol service in Ilford on Sunday evening. She therefore needed to get on with cooking the dinner on Sunday morning. So we decided that I would go to the church and give what help I could while she stayed at home to do the cooking. I went along accordingly and helped 2 boys with a guitar piece. One used my guitar to play the melody as he had broken a string on his own.I wrote out the chords for the other boy so that he played the accompaniment on his own guitar. It was satisfying to hear how good they sound together.
Lost and Found. What a Christmas Present!
On Friday 20th December we went for the last practice before the day of the Carol Concert at the Pentecostal church. There were some items which we had not seen before as we were not directly involved with them.
Saturday 21st of December was the day of the Concert itself. It was arranged that there would be a final practice beforehand. When we left home, Marie had her red handbag containing her purse, phone, glasses and flat keys. When we got on a bus she realised she no longer had this. She was very distressed. We got off at the next stop and retraced our steps to the stop where we had got on to see if we could see the bag on the ground. There was no sign of it. We got on another bus and asked the driver where we had to ask about property left on that number bus in case her bag had been droppped on the previous bus. He gave us a piece of paper with a phone number written down. Then we went on to the church for the concert. Despite the anxiety aboiut the bag and its contents, Marie did well with her own solo and conducting the other singers. At the end, the person organising the concert expressed her thanks to us for the help we had given.The next morning I called the number the driver had given me but no red bag had been handed in at the bus depot. I also called at a shop we had visited before getting on the bus on the Friday but the bag had not been dropped there. Things looke grim. But we made it a matter of prayer knowing that God can do the impossible.
We went on that Sunday morning to a church in Forest Gate. Normally I would have turned my phone off but, in this case, I just put it on silent. It's a good thing I did. Marie's purse in the lost bag contained some of our little cards with phone numbers. During the service I felt a vibration. We were sitting near the entrance and I popped out to take the phone call. A woman with an East European accent told me a red lady's handbag had been found and that two ladies were on the way to a certain bus stop in Stratford to hand it to the owner. They would be there in half an hour. Marie wanted to stay for the service but I told her I had to go urgently to meet them. I got a bus back to Stratford,speaking en route to the lady who had phoned me so that she could give my description to her friends who did not speak English. I told her I would show them one of the same cards as those that were in Marie's purse. I waved to them as I approached the bus stop. The bottom line was that Marie got her bag and its contents back intact. Thank you Jesus|
Blessing After the Wilderness
It is now April 2014 and have sadly not had anything to add to this blog since December 2013. This was partly to do with the weather but more to do with the fact that the way certain people who should have known better had treated Marie had caused her to lose her incentive for singing, as well as getting too involved with churches. However on the 29th of March I received a text from Sister Comfort at Every One Matters inviting us to do some songs at their meeting in Balaam Street Plaistow on Sunday 30th March or the 6th of April. (This was the organisation which had appreciated Marie's singing and my playing so much that they had , enabled us to make a CD in December 2012 when they were based in Stratford) I texted back that we already had an invitation to another church for the 30th but we would, the Lord willing, attend on the 6th.of April.We practiced some songs on the Saturday and also Marie prepared some goodies in a basket to give our friends in appreciation of what they had done for us previously We set off on the Sunday Morning intending to catch a 241 bus in Stratford to take us to the place. I saw from the timetable that we would have a fairly long wait for a 241 so we decided to board another bus to take us to where we could catch a 325 in Plaistow. While we were waiting at the other stop, a minibus passed us with "youmatter2" on the side. It stopped a few metres down the road. It was our friends who had stopped to pick us up. We got in and were taken to the centre where the service was.They do a good work bringing the gospel and a new start in life to vulnerable people. After Pastor Comfort had prayed, her husband, Pastor Johnson introduced a DVD which included, among other things, the graphic testimony of a man who was delivered by the Lord's power from an occult gang and protected from their reprisals by divine miracles.There were some hymns and Bible readings and then Marie and I were given a spot to do 3 songs, which were greatly appreciated. We had to leave the service soon after as Marie still had quite a bit of work to do in the kitchen, but I was blessed to hear her tell them without encouragement from me that we would visit again in 3 weeks time (as we already had plans for the 2 intervening Sundays).. I was further blessed to hear Marie say while I was typing this that she would like to go out when the weather is good to do some Easter songs. I trust that this is the start of her being healed from the appalling way certain callous and domineering people in the church we have now left have treated her. We pray for those who did it that God will move in the fellowship concerned and create a more Christlike atmosphere.
Starting Outside Again
We had hoped some time during Easter to re-commence doing songs outside but, although we had practiced some songs ready, a combination of weather and other things we had to do had prevented us from doing so. I was glad that Marie had the desire to get started again as the callousness of certain people had made her lose confidence for a long time. However, today, on the Wednesday after Easter, without any further prompting from me, she expressed the desire to restart. So, in the late afternoon, after we had done some shopping, we took our equipment and headed for Stratford station. We arrived to find that there were no other performances going on there so we set up near the bus station,facing the steps up to Westfield,which had quite a number of people sitting on them. The fact that people were coming home from work by train and bus meant that we had plenty of passers by. One man appeared to be recording us on video. Some took tracts from the little box between the handles of our amplifier trolley, while others expressed their appreciation by putting coins in the same box, although this was not what it was intended for. Several came up and spoke to us, encouraging us. As Marie was singing one particular hymn, a woman with a small daughter came up and told us she had not heard it for a long time. She encouraged us to keep on doing what we were doing and invited us to visit her parents' church, Another lady, who had been preaching in the area, came up and, hearing about the traumas Marie had experienced, prayed for us both there and then, which we appreciated. Also the daughter of a man who had died recently came up and Marie stopped the song she had just started to speak to her. When Marie had finished singing I took the microphone and summed up with a short gospel message Altogether it was an encouraging resumption of our outdoor ministry, for which we were very grateful.
On Sunday 27th April, Marie and I went again to worship with the people who had enabled us to make the CD the December before last. Marie had told them on our last visit that we would go again in three weeks time and this was the day. When we arrived the group, which included a number of men who were under their care one way or another, had already started. We heard on the television there the testimony of a former drug dealer who, having been in prison, had eventually found Christ and was now working in an organisation that helps churches to manage their finances the best way. There were a number of readings from Psalms with Sister Comfort relating them to the need of individuals for Christ. She sometimes burst into songs, which I joined in on the guitar as soon as I found what key she had started in. After more more than two hours, Marie and I did some songs. The first one was "At This Blessed Easter", a song to which Marie had written the words, set to the tune of a modern Jewish style Christmas song, written by a famous Christian songwriter. After the songs, there was another TV program with the testimony of a young lady who had died, been shown scenes in heaven and hell and then come back to life. We were impressed by, among other things, the thought that a pastor could be in hell for exercising partiality,as there is a lot in churches, as we have ourselves experienced it, though not in our case from a pastor but from somebody who wanted to become one but was not accepted. After the screened testimony, Marie and I were asked if we could do "Amazing Grace", which we did. Before we left, the pastor gave me an envelope, which I knew contained money. I said to him "We owe you so much!" thinking of the CD we had made. But he insisted that I accept it. When I looked in the envelope at home I found that the amount in it was more than I had expected it would be. We felt blessed to be so appreciated. It helps to compensate for the fact that we have been victims of discrimination elsewhere.
A Tiring Anniversary
The 17th of July was our 8th wedding anniversary. This was incidental to what happened on the day. The day before we had had a call from Sister R, the evangelical nun with whom we had taken part in some outreach to City workers last year, asking if we were free the next day to go Paternoster Square for another such outreach. She said the Nigerian pastor who had been involved with us last year was coming with his amplifier and there would be some young people from her church there as well. As the location is near to the CLC Bookshop it was agreed that Marie and I would go down early and spend some time there and the others would phone us when they arrived in the area. The plan was that we would go to pray in a nearby church before doing the evangelism.She said the name was something like St. Vegas but she hadn't been able to check it exactly. I thought this was an unlikely name, sounding as it did to me like the patron saint of gamblers. Still, we hoped to find it ok. Accordingly, Marie and I arrived early in EC4 by bus, went to CLC, spoke to the staff there who know us and waited for the phone call. I then called Sister R who said she and the pastor had just arrived in the city and were looking for somewhere to park the car. The young people were not coming after all. She tried to explain to me how to get to the church in question and we went looking for it. To cut a long story short, we did not find it, despite a lot of walking, and in the end went back to Paternoster Square and called to say we were there and would wait for them to arrive. In the end they got there and, after setting up the equipment, did one hymn. After this was finished, a warden in a yellow visibility jacket came up, saying it was lovely music but we needed permission to do it there as Paternoster Square is private property. He said he would get the number we needed to call and he gave it to us. The pastor tried calling the number but got no response as it was evening. So we had to stop. However the encounter with the warden was an encouraging one as he was Christian himself. He appreciated what we were doing but had to do his job. We started walking back to where the car had been parked and Sister R pointed out the church she had been referring to. The name was St Vedast, which I still thought was funny name, like something out of space fiction. It was closer to St Paul's than I had thought. We got a bit of a shock when we arrived at the NCP car park. They had charged for 4 hours parking,whereas the car had only been there for about 2 hours. The Pastor paid to get the car out but said he would complain. I gave him something towards the cost. He gave Marie and me a lift home. This had been a rather tiring anniversary for us. Before we try going to Paternoster Square again we will make sure to obtain permission. And it's probably advisable to find another car park.
Happy Gathering Outside Foxtons
On Sunday 8th June, on a beautiful summery morning, we took our equipment and set up outside Foxtons in Stratford. We had some teething troubles, with the music stand slipping down and precipitating the song folder to the ground and the pages coming out. While Marie was picking these up, I was having trouble trying to get the amplifier going. When it was working and Marie had some semblance of order with the song sheets, we started the songs. There were some people sitting on a bench listening. Soon a woman came up with a little girl. The woman was a Christian and reminded us that she had sung along with Marie on a previous occasion. She did so again with some of the songs. Then a lady came up who attends St John's church. She produced a song sheet and asked Marie to sing one of the songs on it "I am a New Creation". So we obliged. She stayed with us a long time. We gave both of them one of our contact cards before they left us. After Marie had finished singing a song called "The Blood that Stained the Old Rugged Cross, I took the microphone and gave a short gospel message. Later on Oscar, a Jamaican Christian whom we knew, came up. Taking the microphone, he started singing "The Old Rugged Cross" I picked up the key he was singing in and played while Marie harmonized. He interpolated phrases pointing people to Jesus. He stayed with us for a while as we did other songs. A young couple came up, listening intently and clapping along with the music. Later the young man introduced himself as somebody involved in hip hop. He appreciated our music, despite the difference of our style to the music that he produced. He said both he and his girlfriend were Christians. She disappeared for a while and then reappeared with two bottles of mineral water which she presented to us. We did appreciate that. This had been a very enjoyable session for which we thanked God.
More Fellowship in Plaistow
On Sunday 22nd June we took the guitar and the words of few songs to join in fellowship with the pastor and his wife who devote their lives to helping and evangelizing those with difficult backgrounds. I had made sure before I went that I had tuned the guitar to my pitch pipe so that it was in tune with their keyboard. When the pastor's wife started singing I would find what key she was in and follow the chords. There were some very challenging testimonies on their video presentations, which stimulated thought, particularly about the shallowness of Christians' commitment to the Lord. Marie did some songs with my accompaniment and the pastor's wife recounted how she had first seen us in action outside Morrison's and been impressed. This had led to their enabling us to make a CD. They appreciate us and we appreciate them. We will try and visit them more frequently.
Singing, Playing and Being Entertained
On the 3rd of July, the hottest day of the year so far, we went to do some songs near Stratford Station. It was encouraging to see some people walking past singing along and others taking photos and videos. Those who came up to us included a Christian lady from Ghana. Marie and I said to her in unison "Etesen?" or "How are you?" in Twi. Several Christians who had their own ministries preaching or giving out tracts in the area came up as well to greet us and tell us to carry on the good work. We were particularly encouraged when the Pastor's wife from the very church where Marie led a choir for 8 years came up smiling and saying to Marie "I didn't know you can sing!". The choir was disbanded long before she and her husband came to the church so how was she to know, unless someone had told her or, as in this case, she discovered it for herself. A lady came up and asked if we had made a CD. Marie said we had but it was not professional. The lady said that she considered her singing was better than professional. it turned out that she worshipped at a Kent branch of KICC. An African man, one of the people giving out tracts, sang along with a couple of the songs. Also two people from the church which of which I had until recently been a member came
Towards the end of our session, a young lady came up to us asking if we had been there long and would soon be finishing as she had come to busk. She was very impressively dressed and made up and had with her a hi-tech amplifier. We said we would soon be finishing. We did a couple more songs and, after "Amazing Grace" I took the microphone and, using the testimony of its writer, John Newton, spoke of how Jesus can transform people's lives. Then the African man borrowed the microphone and also gave a brief gospel message. After that, the young lady, who was Spanish and whose name was Andrea Gorse, set up and started her routine. Her backings were recorded on her amplifier. We stayed around for some time to listen to her. She was a most impressive performer singing some classics such as "Come to the Cabaret" and "I Will Survive". When I asked her if she had applied to Britain's Got Talent, she said she had had an audition but not been called since.I have seen her on YouTube but her performance seems to have become more polished since those early videos were recorded. I saw bus station staff and police enjoying her act. Eventually we decided we had to go and, on the way to get a bus, spoke to a policeman. (Marie loves speaking to the police anyway). He spoke very favourably of her performance and of ours.
Potential Bookings and a Homeless Man
On Friday the 25th of July we received texts from Zion Church, an Asian Fellowship with whom we have worked before, asking us to join them the next day,for outreach in Ilford. I texted back that we would be there, weather permitting. However we had a disturbed night so that Marie hardly got any sleep and was very tired. She did not feel up to going to Ilford so I sent a text to apologize that we were not able to go and they sent a text back saying they would pray for us and asking if they could help. However we decided that the next day , Sunday, we should go and do some songs in Stratford instead of visiting a church.This nearly did not happen however. The next morning there was a spiritual battle. It was clear that the devil was trying to stop us going. Marie's depression erupted at the thought of things that had happened to her in recent months. and she became very angry with me, thinking I had not been sufficiently supportive to her. Things she said included the statement that she had finished with singing or going to churches and she wanted me out. There was much discussion between us and I prayed for her. Later in the morning, I saw from the way she was dressing up that God was moving. She was going singing after all. We set out, holding hands and heading for Foxtons, where we set up our equipment outside. The first song we did was "I've a Message from the Lord, Hallelujah!" (I would mention that, while we do some of the newer worship songs, our repertoire has more of the older ones, from books such as such as Sankey's and Redemption, which tend to be neglected in modern services. We miss them when we visit churches which concentrate on the ultra modern ones as some of these tend to be jerky and sometimes less that tuneful). We were soon joined by a Pentecostal lady who had previously seen us speaking to one of the ladies who preach outdoors in Stratford. She had not known however that Marie sang and I played outside. She stayed with us, joining in for a long time. She asked us for contact details as she would like us to sing at her church and she knew of somebody else who may be interested. I had two of our contact cards in my wallet and gave her these. She also asked how much we charged and I said we didn't charge.
While Marie was singing, we noticed my stepson, Colin, speaking to a homeless man for some time. He then came past us saying that "My friend is homeless and nobody cares!" Now I am diabetic and Marie had brought out a little bread snack for me in case I got hungry. I did not feel that I would need it and determined, when we had finished, to ask Marie to let him have the snack instead of me. In the meantime we carried on and were joined by a Jamaican friend, Oscar. The last time we had been doing the songs in that spot, he had joined us and sung "The Old Rugged Cross". He did the same again, repeatedly interspersing the singing with preaching. I accompanied his singing on the guitar, He disappeared for a while and then came back again singing "The Old Rugged Cross" several times more, again combined with bits of preaching. He also sang "Trust and Obey". While he was doing this Marie was taking time off to speak to the homeless man again about the Lord and also to some Bulgarian young people sitting on a seat. When she returned she said to me "I feel the Lord would have me give your food to the homeless man". I said I had intended to suggest that when we finished. He was very grateful for it though it was not much. He later came to us and Marie gave him our bottle of water.
Quite a number of people walking past or sitting on the seats showed their appreciation while we were there, which was the best part of 3 hours. We were very satisfied with the blessing of which the thief, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy (JOH 10.10), had tried unsuccessfully to deprive us. Jesus is Lord!
An Unexpected Opportunity
On Sunday 3rd August we intended to both go together to worship at the London City Mission hall where both Marie's sons had been dedicated as children. However, by mutual agreement, I did not set an alarm for the morning and we lay in bed rather longer than we normally would if we were going to a morning service. I had really accepted that we would not be going to one but thought perhaps we might go to a service later in the day, or else go to do some songs outside as we did last week. But Marie asked me to still go to the LCM hall while she stopped at home in case her eldest son,Colin, who does not have a key, arrived. She would like the opportunity of telling him where I had gone because of its association with his childhood. I agreed and went off, rather late I am afraid, to the mission hall. After a fairly long wait for a bus, I got there just as the hymn before the sermon was being announced. Three young ladies went to the front to lead the singing but no-one went to the keyboard and there were no other instruments. I asked if there was no-one to play and, being told there was not, I went and played this hymn, I also played the final one after the sermon. Afterwards people came up to me thanking me for my help and I was asked if I would go next week as the keyboard player would still be away so I said I would. Marie says she will come with me.
Normally these things I blog involve Marie and I both doing things together. In this case, although she wasn't there, she still had a part in it as the Lord used her to prompt me to be there.
A Wedding and Outdoor Events in September
Owing to some computer problems I got behind with blogging our September activities but hasten to catch up now.
On the 6th of September we went to a wedding. This was at the church where Marie and myself used to be and I had been Secretary, Treasurer and one of the musicians.. The Bride and Bridegroom had asked Marie to write a song especially for the occasion. We collaborated on writing this. The elder taking the wedding, who had previously been Best Man for our wedding in 2006, gave us a good welcome and we performed the song. We had some encouraging feedback afterwards. As for the Reception, we had expected to go by bus to the venue but the Bride's brother insisted on arranging a cab for us. He did the same after the reception to take us home. We were grateful for the VIP treatment we were given.
Towards the end of September we had a text from Zion, an Asian Christian fellowship, with whom we had worked a long time before, They asked us to help them with a Gospel outreach in Ilford on the 27th of September. We gave our agreement and they offered to collect us with our equipment from home by car. They did so and we set up near the Town Hall. First Marie sang a few hymns and two of the brothers gave gospel messages from time to time. These were mainly in English but also in Hindi. Also the group sang songs in 4 languages. Afterards we were treated in MacDonalds. We love working with Zion, who have asked us to join them the 4th Sunday in each month.
Then on Sunday the 28th, Marie and I were going to do some songs outside Morrisons and, before we had got the the place to set up, a Christian Lady, Carol, who had heard us before, came and greeted us and said she would come and listen to us but she had some shopping to do first. True to her word, she turned up later to listen. Also a man came up and asked Marie to sing "Amazing Grace", which we did. He was very appreciative.
Somebody from Central Baptist Church who had not seen Marie for years came up and greeted her and me warmly. There were other encouraging encounters too. In the end it was the soreness of my hard working fingers which made us stop. Altogether we had had a satisfying weekend.
A Busy Weekend - Ilford and East Ham
Saturday the 25th of October was the day we had agreed to go and help the Asian Christians of Zion Fellowship with their outreach in Ilford. In the morning there was a spiritual battle. Marie had one of her bouts of extreme depression and said she could not go to sing. I sent a text to our contact at Zion, told him what she had said and asked him to pray for her. He texted me back that he would pray for the Lord's victory. Our prayers were answered and Marie and I set out for Ilford. When we got there and met up with Zion, we heard that they had offered a woman a Bible and she had refused it. Marie did some songs, with others singing along in some cases.. She was in very good voice, despite feeling so down earlier. The singing was interspersed with one or other of the men preaching the Gospel. Then the Asians sang some songs in Asian languages. Marie actually joined in with one in Hindi as the words were printed out in Roman letters which she was able to read. Towards the end the woman who had refused the Bible came up and said to Marie "I'm not religious but you have such a lovely voice I sat and listened to you". If Marie had not been there that woman would not have sat and listened to the Gospel being sung and preached. The devil did not want it to happen so had tried to prevent it. He was however unsuccessful. Towards the end I was asked to preach the Gospel in French. (It could only have been Marie who told them that I speak some French). I did so, as requested, in case there were anybody from French speaking countries in earshot.
On Sunday the 26th of October we had been booked to take part in a talent show to raise money for Christian Aid at St Bartholomew's church in East Ham. It was to start at 3pm and we had been asked to get there by about 2.30pm. However, owing to a long waits, firstly for a bus, then for various sets of traffic lights, we only got there at about 2.50pm. However there was time for me to set up, after which I sat with Marie as we watched the acts preceding ours. There was a good variety and quality of performance. Our two songs came towards the end of the first session, which was followed by refreshments and then by another session. Somebody from the church asked us afterwards to come and worship with them on Sundays but the Lord has recently led us to a church where Marie has regained her incentive for worship after bad experiences elsewhere. However we may visit one day as St Bartholomew's service starts an hour earlier that the one at our new church ,which is only in neighbouring Manor Park and normally lasts for 3 hours. Altogether a satisfying weekend, which Satan tried unsuccessfully to sabotage.
On the 14th of December, the new church to which the Lord has led us had one of their Family Sundays. This is a service which is open for anyone to contribute an item. We had arranged with the Pastor that Marie would sing "Down From His Glory" and I would take my guitar to accompany her. We did the song, which was followed by long applause, during which the Pastor put his arm round Marie and said "I think we should have an encore!". The congregation agreed and we did the song again, followed by more long applause.
Then on the 18th of December we had been invited to go again to Oasis Over 60s Club where they were to have Christmas meal. We had been asked to do two songs and had prepared accordingly. We enjoyed the meal,which was followed by a quiz. Then there was "Pass the Parcel". Marie was pleased to win a box of After Eight for this. Then we did two songs. The lady who invited us then asked if we had any more but we had only come with the two as she had requested. It was a pity we had not come with more just in case. We'll remember to do that next time.
On the 21st Of December our church had its Carol service in the evening, attended by Rt Hon. Steven Timms, the local MP, who is a Christian. We were most impressed by the way the opening carol "Angels From the Realms of Glory was sung by the church's singing group "Shekinah". The harmony in the chorus was outstanding. After the service we were speaking to a 19 year old member of this group and I said how much I appreciated their performance. She then replied "You guys bless us so much!", referring to the song we had done the previous week. We feel really welcomed, loved and appreciated in this church.
First Performance in 2015
On Sunday the 4th of January, the Pastor of our new church, Church of God UK, announced that the following week they would have another of their family Sundays. Although Marie had had a chesty cough for some time and still had not managed to shake it off, we asked, subject to her recovering sufficiently, to do a song during that service. On Tuesday the 6th of January she phoned her doctor as an 89 year old friend who had been suffering from the same condition had been helped by antibiotics. She asked the doctor if she would prescribe antibiotics for me to collect the prescription, since she was not in a fit state to go out herself. The doctor agreed to this. The next day was a busy one for me as, in the morning I had to accompany a friend with bad eyesight, who was is also currently on crutches after a knee operation, to Moorfields Eye Hospital. Then I had a doctor's appointment myself in another area in the afternoon. With Marie's prescription to collect I was not sure whether I could fit it in. However I was able to in the evening and she started taking the antibiotics the next day, Thursday. This was, of course, all backed up by prayer. By Saturday night she was in a fit state to practice a duet with me. The song was "I need Thee Every Hour". I texted the Pastor to say that we hoped to be doing this song. We did it in the service and it was greatly appreciated. We are strongly considering applying in due course for membership of the church as we love the people there, they love us and Jesus is glorified in that place. This was a miracle because Marie had previously resolved that she would not apply for membership of another church and yet she was to one to first suggest applying for this one
Working with Zion in Ilford Again
Owing largely to bouts of 'flu and the weather, the last time we worked with them had been 25th of October 2014, of which I made a report. Then, on the 26th of February 2015, I received a text from their Pastor Solomon, asking if we could go on the afternoon of the 28th. I checked the weather forecast and it was not expected to be too cold, so I sent a text back saying we would go, provided it did not rain.
When the day came, I went for a morning walk, as is my custom. There was a fine mist of rain and some people had umbrellas up. The updated weather forecast said "Rain a.m." so I still hoped it would clear by the afternoon. But when I got home, another complication arose. As the last time, Marie had a fit of depression and she said she could not go to sing. As on the previous occasion. I texted Zion to pray for her and prayed for her myself, also reminding her of the woman who stayed to listen to her singing the last time she had, reluctantly, gone. Again, God answered prayer, she agreed to go and the rain stopped before it was time for Pastor Solomon to drive us both with our equipment to Ilford.
On the way during the conversation in the car with Pastor Solomon, we learned that Zion had on occasions used the building or the church we were now worshiping at and he knew our Pastor Tony. This was a source of encouragement to us, loving the church and the Pastor as we did.
Pastor Solomon drove the car into the Exchange Shopping Centre and, with some difficulty, found a parking space. We then made our way to the place in the high road where we were to minister, Pastor Solomon and I went down by lift with the equipment but Marie used the escalator as she is nervous of lifts. We found some in the High Road already giving out tracts. There were not many on the team this time, partly because of illness and, in the case of Pastor Solomon's wife, because she was in India. I set up the guitar and amplification and Marie started singing along with two young ladies from Zion. We did some well known hymns that all three could join in, with a drunken Rumanian dancing away to the music, and then somebody spent a while preaching the Gospel.Then there were some more songs, followed by yet more preaching. During the course of all this, tracts were being given out. Marie and I were delighted when somebody from our church came up to speak to us. After some songs in Hindi by the young ladies from Zion, one of which they had to sing unaccompanied because I could not manage it on the guitar, I was asked to lead in prayer and we finished. We then went to Burger King for something to eat and, after fellowshipping over the tables, dispersed. Pastor Solomon offered Marie and me a lift home but we assured him that we could manage on the bus ok.
In the evening the rain arrived but it had stayed away for the crucial period. Thank you Lord!
He's Coming Soon
Sunday 14th of June was a Family Sunday at Church of God UK where we now attend. Marie and I usually do a song on these occasions and, although, Marie had been suffering from flu, we hoped she would be in a fit state to do so. Looking for possible songs to sing, Marie picked up my copy of Redemption Hymnal. Her doing so reminded me of a song in the book which was very much in keeping with the theme of our church's Bible study series on the book of Revelation and the return of the Lord. She had heard the tune as it is that of the famous Hawaiian song "Aloha Oe" but did not know there was a hymn to it. I tried it over with her and we agreed to do it, provided she had recovered sufficiently. I decided that, on this, occasion, should take my Telecaster guitar as it was smoother fingering than my electro acoustic,I normally took, and would therefore be more suitable for a tune of Hawaiian origin, As the case for the Telecaster was a very heavy hard one, I took the guitar in the soft case belonging to the electro acoustic, although it was not altogether suited to the purpose. Marie had recovered sufficiently and we did the song at the church. Afterwards I asked the Pastor if I could leave my Telecaster at the church instead of taking it backwards and forwards and he agreed. So I left the guitar in a room at the church and took the empty soft case home. That guitar, which, was for years stored at our previous church had, since we had left, been lanquishing in our living room. Now it, like us had found a new home at Church of God UK. I will use it for those occasions when Marie sings and keep my semi-acoustic for when we minister outdoors of visit other venues.
Further Developments at the Church
Early in 2016, owing to a combination of circumstances causing a sudden shortage of musicians, I was asked to play for the singing at the church. The first week, as my Telecaster guitar had not been brought out and tuned, I played the keyboard. Since then, I have always played the guitar. We are seeking for a keyboard player. It was a challenge for me getting used to the system whereby the Praise and Worship group, or somebody else, started the song and I then found the key and joined in. (At my previous church we had music books for most of the songs, there had been no Praise and Worship group and I, along with the bass player, had decided on the keys in which to do the songs). That had been good practice in familiarising myself with many songs but now in Church of God UK I was learning more flexibility, for which I am very grateful. I love playing for the church. I have recently joined Whatsapp to aid communication with the Praise and Worship group and the choir known as "Shekinah".
For Marie's part, she was asked to join Shekinah as they needed another soprano. So she is now a part of that choir. We are both grateful to the Lord for His leading and the appreciation we have received at the church.
If, having seen us in action on this site or elsewhere, you would like us to come and do some songs at a particular event, please send me a text on 07832901511 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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