Yesterday was the Feast of St Barnabas, the Encourager. It was also my mother's birthday, which is almost inconsequential, except that she's always been a great source of encouragement for me throughout my life. It was, also, the day I'd chosen to embark on a walk around the Sheffield (West) Methodist circuit, a distance of about 14.7 miles, primarily to raise money towards a £20,000 target we have set ourselves at Wesley Hall over the next 12 months.
I had contacted all the chapels in the circuit, asking them for sponsorship but also asking for someone from the church to be at the chapel to greet us when we arrived and provide us with refreshment (and a toilet break). I'd given them a rough idea of when I expected to arrive, so that they wouldn't be sat there all day. I also offered to pray for them, and invited them to pray for us as we journeyed on.
The result was fantastic: at every place we called bar one there were between 2 and 9 people to meet us; the refreshments were freely offered and gratefully received, and at two places others joined us on our travels for part of the way. Prayers were offered and received, and money collected - in some places people were quite apologetic that they hadn't collected the money yet: that wasn't important. What mattered to me was that they were there, and we could encourage one another and pray for an out-pouring of God's Spirit at this Pentecost season. It was a great help to me that a couple and their infant daughter drove out to meet us at one of the chapels - they were going to walk with us, but by then it was raining, and later a lady came out of her house to wish us well as we prepared to tackle a long, winding hill (which I didn't think was that bad really).
I hope that the prayers offered yesterday will be answered, and that God will pour out the Spirit afresh on those congregations we visited yesterday. And up to now I reckon we've raised at least £600, which isn't a bad day's work really. I stand encouraged.