come and see

John 1:46 “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.“Come and see,” answered Philip.


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Strong Foundations – The Wise and Foolish Builders

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthews 7:24-27)
 

Our craft to illustrate the Parable of the Wise and Foolish builders was quick and simple, but still very effective:
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Now although small, the rocks do have a bit of weight to them, so ordinary cardboard will not do for the backing. I managed to beg some offcuts of picture mounting board from a local picture framer and then chose to place a thin piece of card on top of that to make it more visually appealing.

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  • First, write your message on the card.
  • Next, use something sharp – I have a small embroidery stiletto- to make four holes in the cards (do the backing and front cards together). Make sure these holes are just inside the outline of the stones.
  • The next bit is the most tricky. Using two pieces of red ribbon (ours were 20cm long, but it depends on the size of your rocks), thread the two ends of one through two opposite holes, and the other through the other two holes – do not pull tight yet! Put the stone in place underneath the ribbon; we used glue dots to make sure it stayed in place. Then turn the card over, pull the ribbon tight, and tie all the ends together.
  • You may want to add more ribbon to use as a hanger for these little plaques.

 

We found some fantastic resources from other people to use this week – here are the links. And at the end of the page you will find the prayers which we wrote for the service. www.max7.org have a great video of the story:

 
and www.missionbibleclass.org have a fun version of “The Wise Man Built his House upon the Rock”

And from www.dramatix.org.nz we used their skit “House Building 101″

Prayers:
Jesus is the rock on which we build our faith and our life. Hold on to these rocks as we pray, just as we hold on to the presence of Jesus here with us and in our daily lives.
 
When I say: Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
The response is: Hear our prayer
 
And in the pauses, you are invited to add your own prayers – aloud or in your hearts.
 
Loving God, when the foundations of our world shake and crumble, we know that we can stand firm on your promises.
 
We pray for the people of Nepal. For all who have lost family, friends, and homes, and for all who are providing aid and assistance. We of all people know that the road to recovery is not easy, and the Nepalese are only just starting on that journey. We pray for them as they rebuild their lives and communities.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for all those beset by the storms of ill-health. Let Your healing Spirit work in their minds and bodies, restoring them to strength and well-being.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for the rebuilding of the Community of Faith, both here and throughout our country and the world, and for all who work to build your Church, bringing light and hope to those whose lives are built on shifting sands. Strengthen and uphold all who minister in Christ’s name.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
We pray for our own homes and families. Let your love and compassion be a guiding force in our lives and our relationships with others. Make us alive to the needs of our own community, and help us to share one another’s joys and burdens.
 
Lord, in the name of Jesus, our rock and foundation
Hear our prayer
 
When the storms of life rage, Lord keep us safe in the strength of Your Word and promises.
Amen


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Gardening Tips – The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)

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With this Parable in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to have a quiz to see whether people could match the seed to the final result. You could use any plants or foods in season, but we used an apple, a tomato, pumpkin, a bread roll (used yeast as the “seed”), and pictures of a sunflower and the Mustard tree. Make up a set of cards for each team, each card with a different seed taped to it, and see whether they are able to match the seed to the correct item. Well done to our teams who got them all correct!
 
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For something to take home we got everyone to plant some mustard & cress seeds. Sprinkle the mustard and cress seeds evenly over a double thickness of kitchen paper, damp but not wet, laid on a plate or a shallow plastic dish Make sure the paper doesn’t dry out. Now as there will really be nothing to show for this work on the day, do prepare an example at least three or four days ahead.
Of course the big advantage with this “craft” is that it can be eaten – just snip the greens off just above the paper once they reach 4cm tall.

 

The Message:
8_cell-1This is what 8 cells looks like. It is called a blastocyst and is so small you can only see it with a microscope. It is alive and could be anything. Any guesses?
Mike and I saw one once, it was Luke.
We all start out very very small, each one of us just a few cells, that became a few more, then more, then more, to become who we are today, much bigger than when we first began.
Luke needed certain things to grow into the healthy boy he is today. He has needed the right food, a safe place to live and he has also needed love and guidance.

Mustard seed
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This is a mustard seed and with the right conditions, it will grow into a large tree. It needs the right food, with the right amount of water and sunlight.

Parables are stories Jesus told that use everyday things to help us understand something spiritual. Jesus used the example of the growth of a small mustard seed into a large tree as a way to describe the kingdom of God.

When Jesus started out in his ministry, there was just him. As he walked along the shore he saw two fishermen: Peter and his brother Andrew. Jesus said to them “Come follow me” and they did. Then Jesus invited James and John, and kept adding others until there were 12 of them. Things had started to grow. Jesus and his 12 disciples travelled around, and as Jesus taught and healed people, he gained a great following. After Jesus died, it was thought that Christianity would die out as well. But Jesus, the son of God, rose from the dead, and Christianity has spread throughout the world. A small beginning of one to 12 to so many many more.

Each one of us is a part of God’s kingdom, and as we tell others about Jesus and live our lives in a way that people would want to know about Jesus, we are also growing the Kingdom of God.

Growth is not constant. Some seeds can take much longer to germinate, they might look as they are doing nothing but deep inside things are changing. This can be the same for people. Sometimes we have periods of sunshine, and at other times it can feel like it is cold and raining and it’s a bit harder to keep going. Just like a plant, we need both sunshine and rain to grow.

And we need pruning to bear more fruit. God wants us to let go of bad habits so that we can be more like him.
God has given us a free will to choose what we want to do. He wants us to want him, like he wants us. He wants us to love him, as he loves us. He wants us to know him, as he knows us. So whether you choose to grow your faith or not, is your choice. Whether you have faith and trust that God is doing the best of you in the periods of rain or pruning, when he challenges you, it’s your choice.

Like a mustard seed we need certain conditions to grow our faith. We need to be open, to love and trust God. We need to do what God asks. And as our faith grows, the kingdom of God will as well.

Vanessa


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Yes, No, Maybe – a Tale of Two Sons

Continuing our theme of Parables of Jesus, we looked at the story of the man with two sons, who asked them both to go and work in the Vineyard.

Matthew 21:28-31: Now, what do you think? There was once a man who had two sons. He went to the older one and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’‘I don’t want to,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. ‘Yes, sir,’ he answered, but he did not go. Which one of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The older one,” they answered.

IMG_0948The Craft:
For this craft you will need green paper, pens, glue, magnets, and small purple pom-poms. Cut out leaf shapes and write your chosen verse on them (make sure you do this first, as the “grapes” get in the way afterwards!). Glue on the pom-poms – 10 will give you a nice cluster shape – and then glue flat fridge magnets to the back. We wrote on them “Working in  God’s Vineyard”, but this is a really adaptable craft and can be used for many themes – for example, at the recent Community Fair where we had free craft making sessions, we did this for the Fruit of the Spirit instead.

The Message:
As a bit of background to this story let me read you from a few verses beforehand:

Matthew 21:23-27:Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Jesus had just confronted some of the highest-ranking, most powerful and influential authorities of the time, and the tension is high. He criticizes them for not recognizing that the Ministry of John the Baptizer came from heaven – that is, was authorized and given from God. And He insinuates that these religious authorities are also failing to recognize the same authority and divinely ordained ministry in Him.  He then goes on to tell the Parable of the two sons, which we have just heard.

So, is it a simple morality tale – do what you have committed to do; obey your Father; work hard? Or is it something more?

The Jewish authorities that Jesus has just confronted thought that they were doing what God had called them to do, but they got so distracted and pulled aside by nit picking adherence to the laws they had developed, that they lost sight of the true calling of God and were therefore no longer doing what He had called them to do. Worse, they were tying people up so much in made-made rules and regulations that they could not feel God’s presence in their lives for fear of offending the temple authorities who had control over their earthly fate.

We are all Children of God, so this Parable tells us that God asks all of us to work for Him. And some of us say “Yes!” with great eagerness and enthusiasm….but then the bills still need paying, there is the school run, the housework, catching up with friends, and I really need that time to relax. And so, not through malice or deliberate intent, the work of God gets sidelined for the work of me.

And some reject God’s word and call; God is nothing to do with them; they will not get pulled into all that superstition and nonsense! But God calls none-the-less. He continues to call. However far we turn away from Him, He does not turn away from us. And sometimes it is in spite of ourselves that the Light slips into our lives and everything becomes clear – and then we turn up in the vineyard and work and work for God’s purpose in this world.

If we fail to answer God’s call, it does not necessarily mean we are evil or worthless people. The religious authorities Jesus criticizes in the Gospels were not, either.

God calls us to work for him. He has called us in the past and sometimes we have done what he asked, and sometimes not. The really Good News is that He continues to call us, again and again. He does not give up on us.

What distracts us? What distracts you? Can we take some time to reflect on that.

(Gail)

The Prayers
Holy God, so many thoughts swirl in our heads. Ideas race. Worries and conflicting opinions invade our mind. Slow us down, Lord. In this moment, bring us to a sense of rest in you, to a sigh of relief, and with a deep breath we inhale your love.

Thank you God for the beautiful places we live in: Governors Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, Christchurch, and NZ. We ask that those who work at leading and taking care of these places are given the wisdom and conviction to do what is right.

We pray for those working with the rebuild of our homes and our community: including the Community Hall and our jetty, and for those working on the rebuild of our city. Please give them the insight, skills and resources to continue with this work.

We pray for the leaders of our country and those impacted by the decisions they make. We bring before you the soldiers and their families  already serving overseas and those about to depart. Give them peace and protection as they face the unknown. We pray that your love be breathed into all places of conflict.

We pray for all those who work in your church, including Russell our Vicar,  as they discern your will. For the people bringing your light to this world and its people through their ministries. We pray for individuals, waking each day and dedicating themselves to another day of faithfulness to you. Give them all a renewed sense of purpose, wisdom in their work and a new vision of your love for them.

We pray for all those who are in need of your love, your hope, your guidance and strength, your healing and your peace. We think of those we know, including ourselves, who need this right now.

Help us this week to grow in knowing  more about you, in knowing what you want us to do,  from what we should not do. Help us to be faithful and true to our word. Help us to step out and serve you in the vineyard you have placed us in.

It is in the name of Christ we pray. Amen
(Vanessa)


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A Helping Hand – Luke 10: 25-37

When we looked at the Parable of the Good Samaritan a couple of weeks ago, we thought bandaging people up might be a good game. Well, large quantities of bandages can be a bit hard to get hold of, so we settled for toilet paper. We made it into a bit of a competition too, to see which team could cover their victim patient up most thoroughly in the shortest time. I think the idea is pretty self-explanatory, so go ahead and have fun. Thanks to our “volunteers” for submitting themselves to this!

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The Prayers:
Loving God,
When we talk of our neighbours we think of those who live next door to us.

But when you talk of neighbour you extend our neighbourhood,
to the whole world,to all kinds of people –
the young and the old, the good and the bad.
All those who come from other places,
and from backgrounds different to our own.

Today as we gather here and pray for your blessing on our families and our neighbourhood of St Cuthbert’s Parish, we also think of our brothers and sisters from all over the world thinking especially of your teachings of acceptance and love as you help us to live lives free of prejudice.

Rowena

The Message:
Luke 10: 25-37
A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?”
The man answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’”
“You are right,” Jesus replied; “do this and you will live.”
But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”
Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead.
 It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’”
And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbour toward the man attacked by the robbers?”
The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.”
Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”

As I was looking into different commentaries on this well known parable, I acknowledge the Bible Org for much of the following insight:

Jesus was getting a reputation of having the answers to the big questions, and sometimes he gave answers that were not expected, just as in this reading. A lawyer thought he would go up against Jesus with two questions, but it didn’t go quite as he had planned.

Jesus answers the first question with a question. To “What must I do to receive eternal life” Jesus asks him “What does the Law say?” The Jewish lawyer cleverly sums up the 10 commandments into two: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’” Jesus wanted him to see what he knew. Jesus does not condemn anyone for what they do not understand. He condemns  for what they understand, but do not do.

But the lawyer keeps on going, wanting to justify himself, and asks “Who is my neighbour.” He wasn’t asking who lived next door. He was asking, “Who do I have the responsibility to care for?” as well as “Who can I avoid caring about?” In the next verse Jesus replied  – the Greek word used here means to “take up”; Jesus had been thrown a challenge and Jesus took him up on it. And so here comes the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The road between Jerusalem and Jericho was very steep and it was dangerous because of the many places for robbers to hide. In fact the name for the road was the Way of Blood. So this is a very believable story for those listening. Although Jesus does not identify the man going down to Jericho, since this was a Jewish audience they more than likely imagined a Jewish person. The man is robbed,wounded and left for dead.

And now onto the Priest and the Levite. A Levite is someone from the tribe of Levi and they held special positions and responsibilities in the temples. In the culture of that time, anyone who touched a dead person would be unclean. The Priest and Levite could have used the excuse that they didn’t want to touch the man because he might have been dead, and that would have kept them from serving God in the temple. BUT, the Priest and Levite were going “down the road.” Jerusalem, where the temple was, is on a hill. They were leaving Jerusalem and going home. They had just been to worship God but did not stop to help the wounded man. They understood about love but they did not show any love. Their refusal to love their neighbour casts doubt on their love for God.  1 John 4:20 “If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen.”

And now to the Samaritan. Samaritans were seen as an inferior mixed race in the Jewish mind. The listeners would have thought he would pass by too, but look at his actions – he showed compassion. While the Jewish Priest and Levite passed by on the other side of the road, the Samaritan doesn’t. He moved towards the injured man. You must move toward someone in order to love, in order to build relationships. It doesn’t just happen and it isn’t convenient. The Samaritan is moving toward someone who would despise him and may not do the same if the situation were reversed.

When you feel like you want a relationship, maybe even a better or deeper relationship with someone, perhaps it is because you are waiting for something to happen. You are waiting for them to move toward you. Perhaps you need to take the initiative and move toward them. You can’t build relationships unless you do. The Samaritan stopped and took care of his wounds (oil and wine were the traveling first aid kit of the day). He put him on his own donkey and the Samaritan walked. He took the wounded man to an inn. He took the time to take care of him. In our society we are all so busy, that do we take time to reach out and help someone else. Even something small.

He also gave money to the innkeeper to take care of him, and put no limit on how much he would spend to see that the wounded man was taken care of. Remember that this is a Samaritan in enemy territory. He has just told one of his enemies (a Jewish landlord), “Here is my credit card. Do whatever you need to do to take care of him.” Talk about trust and vulnerability!!! This is also significant because both trust and vulnerability are also essential for loving others.

Which of these “proved to be a neighbour?” The obvious answer is that the Samaritan proved to be the “neighbour” to the wounded man. But the lawyer couldn’t even bring himself to say the word Samaritan, so he answered, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

What did the man ask? “Who is my neighbour?” He was asking who and how much do I have to do to love. Love does not ask how far do I have to go. Love asks, “What can I do?”

And Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”

Vanessa

 

 


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Missing Pieces

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)

We are doing a series of services on Parables that Jesus told and started with the story of the Lost Coin. In our reading and research we discovered theories that this might relate to the headdress of coins that respectable Jewish women would have had at that time, and decided to use this as the basis for our craft. We played a visual game with pictures of everyday things, and asked what was missing. Yes, they were all rather obvious, but it was fun to do. Click on the title below the picture for the .pdf file with all four pictures in it.
What's Missing

What’s Missing

After the Bible reading we used this retelling of the story from the point of view of the woman, which was written by Gail.

The Story
“Let me tell you a story.
Now you all know that I am married. My husband is not wealthy, but he is a considerate man and takes good care of me and the children.

My father wasn’t wealthy either, but he provided me with a fair dowry, enabling me to have my headband of silver coins – only 10, which is the minimum for a respectable woman – but as I said, he wasn’t wealthy.

Last Thursday was a bad day. I got up at the usual time, got dressed and went to put on my veil and headdress. But there was something wrong – there were only 9 coins there – one had come loose somehow! Well I searched through my clothes chest, but couldn’t find it there. Then I looked all over the floor, but still couldn’t see it.

I’m sure you can guess that I was by now panicking. My husband is a reasonable man, but even he would have had several words to say at the loss of such a thing – not to mention how people would look at me if I went around with a 9-coin headdress!

Well, after a while (and a few tears, I must confess) I took a deep breath and decided that I had to deal with this in a methodical way.

Firstly I went through my clothes chest again – took everything out and shook it, then felt in all the corners. No luck there, so it must be on the floor somewhere. I’d only put fresh straw down a couple of days before, but never mind that – it all had to be swept up. I lit a lamp so that I could see better, then I started in the far corner and swept out each area separately, shook out all the straw by hand and then replaced it. Two hours it took me – but I found my coin! It had rolled under the table. Must have been when I was clearing up after the meal the night before.

Well, I’m sure you can guess how happy – and relieved – I was! In fact I was so pleased I called my neighbours, Anna and Naomi, in to celebrate with me. That was a time of great rejoicing.”

 

The Craft
Coin Headdress 1For our craft we made “crown” headdresses and attached 10 silver coins to each one:

  • Take two strips of card and staple them at right angles to each other at either end (see picture). If you prefer you could make the shape a circle, which would just need one long strip of card.
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  • We used self-adhesive book cover to decorate the card; leave it as a roll, then cut a thin piece of the end through all the thicknesses to make long strips, which are then wrapped around the “crown”.
  • Coin headdress
     

  • The thread for hanging the coins off can either be attached as you wrap the shiny strips around, which will make it stick in place, or tied around afterwards. The second method is less fiddly, so a bit better for younger children.
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  • We used a round punch to make coins out of silver card. If you can’t get silver card – or it is a bit too expensive – you could use the self-adhesive book cover on both sides of thin card instead, and then punch out the circles.
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  • Use a normal hole punch to make a small hole in each coin, and then hang ten from each “crown”

 

 

The Message
Isn’t it terrible to lose something – not like a rubber band, but something important, a treasure. I know what I do, you go back to the last place you remember having it …. so then why do I end up looking in the silliest places in the hope of finding it? I mean are my glasses really going to be in the freezer?

Do you know what is worse? Losing someone. I lost Luke once. It’s OK I found him!. Heart rate up, trying to stay calm wanting to panic, trying not to cry – just talking about it brings back how I felt.
I have also been lost. It’s OK I was found— similar feelings to be honest.

Jesus wanted to tell us about being lost and found, not in the way we think of, but about being lost and found to God.

The start of Luke 15 in the Amplified Bible goes like this: “Now the tax collectors and the notorious and especially wicked sinners were all coming near to Jesus to listen to Him.”

That’s right, the really naughty people sought out Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the church leaders were not happy about this, complaining that Jesus accepts, welcomes, and even eats with, these people.

So he told them a parable, which is a simple everyday story with a moral or spiritual lesson. The reading we had today was that parable.

The lesson Jesus was trying to teach to those he spoke to then and to us today, was that God and the angels rejoice and celebrate when one person who is lost is found. When one person who has been doing wrong, realises this and seeks God to do better.

Jesus thought those he was talking to just didn’t get it, so he also told them about the lost sheep – when a shepherd has 100 sheep and one is lost so the shepherd goes out and finds it, then celebrates with this friends and neighbours over finding his one lost sheep.
AND he also told them about the lost son – when a son asks his father for his share of the estate, leaves his family and spends it all, ending up looking after pigs and even eating some of their food, before returning home empty and empty-handed. The father welcomes him home with arms wide open saying “My son was lost and now is found” and then throws a big party to celebrate.

Lost coin; maybe the ladies will get that one. Lost sheep; maybe the men will get that one. Lost son; maybe parents and children will get that one.

When did we get lost? It all started back at the very beginning with Adam and Eve when they ate from the tree God had told them not to. Right back to that first act of disobedience followed by the first feelings of guilt and shame. And that evening when God came into the garden he called out to them “Where are you?”

And God has been calling that out to us ever since.

Let me tell you a true story about how God can find the lost….
His name was John. When he started work he joined with his Dad working on boats. When his Dad retired, he had lined him up another job, working on the land, but John had sea salt in his blood and carried on sailing the seven seas. However, things start to go pretty bad for John. He was captured and forced to join the Navy and he hated it. John gets the chance to change ships and so goes to work on another ship. A slave ship – trading goods for slaves, and slaves for goods. But the crew on this new ship don’t like John and leave him with a slave dealer who treats him like a slave. John was lost, a free man, but treated like a slave in Africa.

But he is found and rescued by a sea captain who had been asked by John’s father to look out for him and bring him home. On the way they encounter a terrific storm, the ship begins to sink, and at that moment John calls out to God to save him. And his life is changed. The ship moves again, the cargo shifts blocking up the gaping hole and the ship drifts to safety.

Later John becomes an Anglican priest having a direct impact on Thomas Scott who set up CMS -Church Missionary Society and William Wilbourforce, a politician whom John encouraged to stay in parliament and serve God where he was. William Wilberforce was instrumental in getting a law passed that ended slavery.

During his time as a priest John Newton wrote many hymns, including one where it tells of being lost and found. Saved by God’s Amazing Grace.

(Vanessa)