Tiverton Baptist Church

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Tiverton Baptist Church

Unbelievable Change!

As I am writing this article I am due to go and vote for the election of a new councillor to Tiverton Town Council. As we look at the options and who is promising what in regards to education, housing, environment and healthier communities etc., I wonder what change we actually expect to see happen!?

It is all too easy to be negative and cynical about politics, but the opportunity to vote and get involved with making a real difference in our town and surrounding areas is so very important.

I wonder what good examples we have seen put into practice from the various promises that get made by those entering into different levels of government? It is never easy to follow through on stated plans of improvement and we all have a part to play as a community in encouraging our politicians in this challenging task.

Very recently I came across an amazing and unbelievable example of change that took place in Britain back in 1859, and it took place in a community in Coleraine N. Ireland. This is what was recorded at the time on June 9th 1859:

‘On the Thursday evening, the ministers decided that there should be some place where the souls stricken with a sense of their sin should be taken. It seemed to them that there should be more privacy, more quietness for prayer, and that all should be done decently. So it was suggested that the new Town Hall would serve well for this purpose. Permission was readily given, and this noble building was first used by a vast crowd of anxious sinners who agonised with God for the pardon of their sins. The Coleraine Chronicle reported this unusual scene in this way. “Instead of the joyous dance and the stirring music of the ballroom, the walls of the hall gave back the almost despairing groans of the stricken sinner, the heart-felt prayer of a believing penitent, or resounded with the adoring thanks of a redeemed saint. So hour after hour of that remarkable night passed away. One after another, ministers and good men, who had prayed with and comforted the mourners, retired worn out. We (the editor) saw one whom no time or toil could weary. In the niche of a window sat a mother for six long hours, holding in her lap the head of a son, a wicked son who now lay prostrated under the awful power of conviction. Would not God Who had borne with her boy in his years of waywardness, vouchsafe to him a ‘sight of the Cross’? Her patience was rewarded. Before this dark soul a clear light dawned upon the great atonement, and he went home rejoicing that even such a sinner as he could be received by the Lamb of God.”’ (p. 37 in John T Carson’s book ‘God’s River in Spate’)

This account contains much strange words and expressions but the unbelievable and amazing change in individuals described, really happened in what is called the ‘1859 Revival in Ulster, N. Ireland’

I don’t know whether you have ever read or heard of such transformation, and it is very unlikely indeed that we will read of political candidates today mentioning about wanting to see and be involved in this kind of change in people and communities. BUT it has happened many times in the past in lots of different countries around the world, and one

can read of another miraculous transformation of a whole City called Nineveh in the Bible as follows:

‘When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:
“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”

When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had
threatened.’
(Jonah 3 v 6-10 in the Bible)

Christians whole-heartedly believe that even today anyone can experience amazing and unbelievable transformation when they fully trust and follow the following instruction in the bible: ‘For “everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”’ (Romans 10:13 in the Bible).

Patrick Barker
Pastor at Tiverton Baptist Church

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